Pharmacopeia – An Introduction

Pharmacopeia – The word may sound like an alien to many at first instance, but it is related to everyone’s day-to-day life. Created from two Greek words: pharmakon meaning medicine and poiein to prepare; Pharmacopeia essentially translates to ‘process of making medicine’.

It can be best described as a formal publication of approved pharmaceutical standards that contain the list of all medicinal drugs with their uses, preparation, dosages, formulas, and usage effects published by an authority like a country or a global body. Technically, it consists of a series of monographs, which are descriptions of chemical information, preparation, and function of each drug ingredient manufactured or marketed in a country.

Every year countries around the world add new sets of established drug formulations to their Pharmacopeias with more and more advancement in medical science and research. This not only has been enhancing the healthcare sector but also the wellness industry. Pharmacopeias are not only limited exclusively to medical drugs but a whole lot of formulations that are on the borderline of cosmetics.

Why? Because over the years there has been a significant change in consumer behavior concerning health and wellness products, unleashing the creation of a huge health-conscious consumer segment. This is giving rise to the age of cosmeceuticals, and their growing importance in the space of pharmacy. cosmeceuticals, a more marketing term is used for products having cosmetical value with ingredients mentioned in the monograph of Pharmacopoeia, classified as a drug.

Importance of Pharmacopoeia:
Pharmacopoeia is a vital component of drugs and cosmetics safety systems and an instrument for the protection of patients and consumers. The primary purpose of pharmacopeia is to help ensure these medicines and their constituents are safe, effective, and of fitting quality.

Role & Functions of Pharmacopoeia:
Pharmacopoeia helps furnish quality specifications for ingredients and their general requirements for applications. The prevalence of such specifications is of utmost importance for proper functioning or regulatory control of the cosmetics sector. Pharmacopoeial standards form the base to establish quality requirements for preparations of individual pharmaceutical formulas in their final form used in cosmetics and beauty products. The utility of pharmacopeia can be considered at two levels. At the national level, it promotes the improvement of products and helps eliminates those substances that do not obey the limits of the standards. At the global level, pharmacopeia ensures that countries that have to import pharma products obtain substances of a certain quality that can be controlled based on the standards.

List of pharmacopoeias:
At present around 140 independent countries refer to 30 large and small national and 3 large – African, European, and International- pharmacopeias. As many as 60 active pharmacopeia commissions carry out the work of developing and maintaining these compilations.

Global Perspective:
At the global level of the Pharma regulatory field, International Pharmacopoeia issued by the World Health Organization strives to achieve wide global uniformity of quality specifications in pharmaceuticals. But the most popular publication of the list of medicinal drugs followed worldwide is the American Pharmacopoeia standard. Called the United States Pharmacopoeia, or simply USP, not only has the most expansive focus on the pharmaceutical industry worldwide but also has a prominent role in setting standards for the cosmetics and personal care industry. It has remained a practitioner-based, non-governmental standards-setting organization unlike any of its other global counterparts.

Indian Pharmacopoeia (IP):
Consumers must have come across the word ‘IP’ printed on medicines as well as some cosmetics products. Well, it is Indian Pharmacopoeia, the official record book of standards under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act 1940 and Rules 1945, containing all manuals of medicines manufactured and marketed in India. Interestingly, the first IP standard list was published in 1946. It is now a mandatory suffix used in all non-proprietary drug names of products in the Indian subcontinent. Indian Pharmacopoeia is published and maintained by the Indian Pharmacopoeia Commission on behalf of the Union Health Ministry. The set of standards published under the title Indian Pharmacopoeia (IP) historically follows from the British Pharmacopoeia.