In addition to USP, there are three other large pharmacopeias in the world, (EP), (BP), and the Japanese Pharmacopoeia (JP), all of which share the goal of publishing and producing quality standards for pharmaceuticals. Other countries have smaller national pharmacopoeias, and USP works collaboratively with many of them as well as with their larger counterparts.
The preparations contained in these three pharmacopoeias were not all uniform in strength, a source of much inconvenience and danger to the public, when powerful preparations such as dilute hydrocyanic acid were ordered in the one country and dispensed according to the national pharmacopoeia in another. As a result, the ordained that the should publish a book containing a list of medicines and compounds, to be called the , which would be a substitute throughout Great Britain and Ireland for the separate pharmacopoeias. Hitherto these had been published in Latin. The first British Pharmacopoeia was published in the English language in 1864, but gave such general dissatisfaction both to the medical profession and to chemists and druggists that the General Medical Council brought out a new and amended edition in 1867. This dissatisfaction was probably owing partly to the fact that the majority of the compilers of the work were not engaged in the practice of pharmacy, and therefore competent rather to decide upon the kind of preparations required than upon the method of their manufacture. The necessity for this element in the construction of a pharmacopoeia is now fully recognized in other countries, in most of which pharmaceutical chemists are represented on the committee for the preparation of the legally recognized manuals.