It is generally recognized that a considerable proportion of the articles in the Pharmacopeia of the United States and in the National Formulary are worthless or superfluous. Repeated efforts have been made to eliminate at least the more objectionable of these articles. These efforts, however, have failed because they have uniformly encountered the objection that the articles or preparations are used by some physicians and therefore should be recognized and authoritatively defined.

The Council on Medical Education and the Confederation of State Examining and Licensing Boards have been trying to restrict instruction and examination in materia medica to the more important drugs. These efforts have suggested the desirability of selecting a fundamental list of drugs with which all medical students and practitioners might be expected to be familiar and to which, therefore, state examining and licensing boards might largely or entirely confine their examinations in materia medica.

How The List Was Prepared

A committee of the Council on Medical Education of the American Medical Association prepared a list of the more important medicaments which was submitted to the members of the National Confederation of State Medical Examining and Licensing Boards. The confederation endorsed the principle and appointed a committee to compile a list which would answer the needs of the state examining and licensing boards. In pursuance of its fundamental aims to secure the development of a more scientific and rational system of therapeutics, the Council on Pharmacy and Chemistry took up this matter. Largely basing its selection on the conclusions of the committee of the Confederation of State Licensing and Examining Boards, it compiled a preliminary list which it submitted for general discussion. This list was sent to teachers of pharmacology and therapeutics, to deans of medical schools, to the secretaries and members of state medical examining and licensing boards, and to others presumed to be interested in the subject, with a request for criticism and suggestions. The replies received were compiled and analyzed and a revised list prepared and again submitted. The list was further considered and revised by the Council on Pharmacy and Chemistry and was then published in a preliminary form under the title "Useful Remedies." The object of presenting the book in a tentative form was to obtain further opinions regarding the list and especially suggestions for making the permanent book of the most practical value to all concerned.

The present book has been prepared on the basis of information, advice and suggestions brought out by the preliminary work above referred to. It presents a brief but practical discussion, from the modern viewpoint, of the properties, pharmacologic action, therapeutic uses and dosage of the drugs in the list. As it contains products the value of which is generally recognized it is hoped that the book may serve as a text on which teachers of materia medica and therapeutics may base their instruction, and state examining boards their examinations.

It is confidently predicted that an intelligent and critical use of these selected drugs will prove their general sufficiency and show that many drugs now discussed in text-books are superfluous and that many newly discovered or widely exploited proprietary preparations have no advantages over those contained in this book.

In discussing pharmacologic action the endeavor has been to present the essentials, giving the details of physiologic action only when they have an evident bearing on the therapeutic uses. The latter have been given concisely, but it is hoped in sufficient detail so that no important uses have been overlooked. In dosage the average doses of the pharmacopeia have been given except in those instances in which the importance of the drug makes it necessary to enter more into detail.

Especial attention has been paid to the various methods of administration and it is hoped that the occasional suggestions for the choice of vehicle will be of service to beginners in prescription writing. For the same reason the strength of local applications has been carefully indicated. In giving apothecary and metric doses the attempt to give exact equivalents has not been made. So far as possible, the use of round numbers has been encouraged.

In spelling the book conforms to the style of The Journal of the American Medical Association, except that the official names of the U. S. Pharmacopeia have been retained in the titles.


The following abbreviations occur in the text:

U. S. P.—The Pharmacopeia Of The United States Of America, Eighth Revision.

N. F.—The National Formulary Of Unofficial Preparations, Third Edition.

N. N. R.—New And Non Official Remedies, 1913.