The Ninth Decennial Revision of the Pharmacopoeia of the U. S. A. is in many respects the most interesting as well as the most important yet issued, and the explanatory matter contained in its Preface and Introductory Notices gives so much that is valuable, not only to professional persons but also to the intelligent laity, that it seems well to summarize briefly here such points as are of general, - not too technical - information.

The U. S. P. IX, as it is briefly and officially called, possesses far greater actual authority than any former revision, because the National Food and Drugs Act, passed by Congress in 1906 and followed by legislation along the same lines by the various States, makes the United States Pharmacopoeia and the National Formulary the standards for drugs intended to be used for the cure, mitigation, or prevention of disease of either man or animals.

This has made it possible to obtain manufacturing details heretofore withheld from publication, to set an exact standard of precision, and to use the imperative mood, instead of the conditional "if" employed in earlier revisions.

At the same time, while scientifically exact, the Pharmacopoeia seems plainer and simpler than ever before, as a number of compound preparations have been deleted and given over to the National Formulary, while the Pharmacopoeia provides standards for vegetable drugs, chemical substances, and such pharmaceutical preparations as are simple in character and most largely used.

A few compound preparations, much used, have been retained, and an increased number of standardized serums and animal products admitted.

A number of synthetic remedies have been added to the list, and had it not been for the European War possibly more might have been included with permission of the manufacturers.

The word "mil" is now used instead of the term "cubic centimeter." The U. S. Bureau of Standards declared that the latter term was a misnomer, there being a slight difference between the thousandth part of a liter and the cubic centimeter.

The British Pharmacopoeia has also adopted the word mil, which is "short" for milliliter, and this brings uniformity into the two pharmacopoeias in the English language.

A new detail in the interest of uniform exactitude is the adoption of official abbreviations of the names of drugs. As these are intended for prescription writing and drug-room use, it has not been thought necessary to include them in this volume.

Synonyms are also recognized and follow the titles printed in a smaller type. In some cases, even when these synonyms are of a purely popular character, if widely used they are repeated in the U. S. P. IX.

The doses given are averages only. The Metric System of Weights and Measures is of course the only one recognized in the formulas of the Pharmacopoeia, but because of the general use by physicians of the time-honored Apothecaries Weights and Measures, these symbols are also given in the dosage.

For writing formulas in the latter system, Roman numerals are employed to follow, never to precede, the symbol or abbreviation, thus: 3 ii,, gr. xv.

In the case of metric abbreviations, the numerals precede the abbreviation, and are always written in Arabic characters, thus: 5 Gms., 2 mils.

Because of the possibility of mistaking the abbreviation for gramme with that for grain, the former is always to have a capital (Gm.) while the latter has always a small letter (gr). These points are important for nurses to note.

It is important to remember that, because of the absolute exactitude of the metric dosage, it is practically impossible to give true equivalents in the apothecaries system, or to translate one correctly into the other. It is only possible to give an average dose in each system, and the figures for doses are not to be regarded as interchangeable nor as equivalents.

The International Conference for the Unification of Formulas for Potent Remedies has recommended that certain standards for potent medicines be recognized by all the nations of the world. The Committee on Revision of the Ninth U. S. P. recommends that the next Committee adopt these standards. This would mean a long step towards unification of drug standards throughout the world.

An unexpected feature of the pharmacopoeia is the absence of brandy, whiskey, and wines. This is because of the inexact quantity of alcohol which they contain and the consequent impossibility of maintaining a fixed standard of purity.

Alcohol, being capable of exact chemical expression, is used officially in the preparation of drugs.

For medicinal use when desired the physician can order such wines, or brandy or whiskey, according to the standards of the U. S. P. VIII.