Mission & History

Mission and History

USP Mission

To improve global health through public standards and related programs that help ensure the quality, safety, and benefit of medicines and foods.

In April 2013, we updated our mission and logo to celebrate and emphasize the global scope of our work. Learn more about these updates and their significance.

USP History

Learn about USP's rich and expansive history as a standards-setting organization and public health champion by visiting the timeline links below.


Mission and History -1820
  • 1820
    The U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention founded in Washington, DC. All state societies of medicine invited to send delegates11 attended. USP creates a system of standards, and a national formulary. Only 217 drugs meeting the criteria of "most fully established and best understood" admitted. Dr. Lyman Spalding, Dr. Samuel Mitchill and Dr. Jacob Bigelow credited with establishing the United States Pharmacopeia (USP) compendium.

  • 1830
    Committee of Revision created (seven members). First revision of the USP published; revisions continue at 10-year intervals. Surgeons General of U.S. Army and Navy became first federal agencies to participate in USP revision.

  • 1848
    Drug Import Act passed. Federal legislation recognizes the USP as an official compendium.

  • 1850
    Colleges of pharmacy invited to participate in revision of the USP.

  • 1880
    Charles Rice elected chairman of the Committee of Revision, and soon initiates efforts to modernize USP monographs and methods. Clara Marshall appointed the first woman member of the USP Convention.

  • 1888
    First National Formulary (NF) published by the American Pharmacists Association.


Mission and History -1900
  • 1900
    USP incorporated in Washington, DC, as a not-for-profit corporation. USP Convention and Board of Trustees created.

  • 1906
    Federal Food and Drugs Act passed. USP and NF standards for strength, quality, and purity recognized as official.

  • 1932
    The USP Reference Standards program succeeded FDA's short-lived program with standards for Vitamin A and D content in cod liver oil.

  • 1938
    Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act passed. USP and NF standards for strength, quality, purity, packaging, and labeling recognized as official and enforced by FDA. "New Drug" concept established. FDA approves drugs for safety before marketing.

  • 1942
    USP revision cycle changed; USP published every five years. USP continues international activities which began in earnest in the early 1900s.

  • 1949
    USP Board appoints Lloyd Miller, Ph.D., to serve as Director of Revision in 1949, making him USP's first salaried employee.

  • 1950
    After years of working out of the homes of its volunteers, USP purchased it first permanent headquarters on Park Avenue in New York City, NY.


Mission and History -1960
  • 1963
    First United States Adopted Names (USAN) cumulative list published.

  • 1964
    United States Adopted Names Council formed by American Medical Association, USP and the American Pharmacists Association (APhA).

  • 1970
    Position of executive director created, filled by William M. Heller, Ph.D. USP Convention adopts resolution calling for information to be provided to dispensers of drugs in United States.

  • 1971
    USP moves its headquarters to Rockville, MD, USA.

  • 1975
    USP acquires National Formulary and Drug Standards Laboratory from APhA.

  • 1977
    USP and NF scope redefined: USP specifies standards for drug substances and dosage forms; NF specifies standards for excipients.


Mission and History -1980
  • 1980
    USP and NF published under same cover; USP Dispensing Information (USP DI) published.

  • 1990
    Jerome A. Halperin becomes USP executive director (title later changed to executive vice president and chief executive officer (CEO)) at the 1990 USP Convention. USP Members adopt a resolution to explore establishing standards for vitamins and minerals.

  • 1992
    USP begins long-term collaboration with USAID.

  • 1993
    Federal Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Acts (OBRA '90 and '93) name USP DI as source of information that state Medicaid agencies can use for drug utilization review, patient counseling, and medically accepted off-label uses of medicines.

  • 1994
    USP signs an agreement with the American Medical Association to combine the information in AMA's Drug Evaluations database with the USP DI database to develop a single product that contains drug and therapeutic information.

  • 1995
    USP members adopt a resolution to explore establishing standards for botanical dietary supplements.


Mission and History -1997
  • 1998
    USP licensed USP DI and associated products to The Thomson Company and USP DI is published by their Micromedex subsidiary. The new Reference Standard Center opens. MedMarx®, an Internet-accessible medication errors reporting program for hospitals, is launched.

  • 2000
    Roger L. Williams, M.D., becomes USP executive vice president and CEO at the USP Convention in April. Convention Members vote to change name of Committee of Revision to Council of Experts. USP-USAID collaborative efforts evolve into DQI, a program focused on improving the quality of medicines and their appropriate uses in resource-limited countries.

  • 2001
    USP launches the Dietary Supplement Verification Program.

  • 2002
    USP–NF published annually.

  • 2004
    USP and the Chinese Pharmacopoeia Commission collaborate on hosting first joint symposium in China to discuss key scientific and pharmacopeial topics.

  • 2005
    USP opens office in Basel, Switzerland. USP signs Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Chinese Pharmacopoeia Commission.

  • 2006
    USP and the Indian Pharmacopoeia Commission sign MOU to promote greater cooperation. USP opens first international laboratory facility in Hyderabad, India. USP launches the Pharmaceutical Ingredient Verification Program. USP acquires the Food Chemicals Codex (FCC) from the Institute of Medicine.


Mission and History -2004
  • 2007
    USP opens office and laboratory facility in Shanghai, China. USP publishes USP –NF as a three-volume set.

  • 2008
    USP inaugurates new headquarters in Rockville, MD, USA. USP opens office and laboratory facility in São Paulo, Brazil. USP licenses MedMarx® to Quantros.

  • 2009
    USP publishes the USP Dietary Supplements Compendium. First Russian edition of USP–NF published

  • 2010
    Pharmacopeial Forum transitions to a free online resource. Dr. Margaret Hamburg, US FDA Commissioner, and Dr. Francis Collins, Director of NIH, address attendees at the 2010 USP Convention.

  • 2011
    USP completes a 100,000 sq. ft. expansion of its USP–India site. USP creates the Medicines Compendium. First USP Expert Committee established outside of the United States in India. USP/PQM registers in Ethiopia as a nongovernmental organization.

  • 2012
    USP hosts the Pharmacopeial Discussion Group for the first time at USP headquarters. USP granted observer status by Codex Alimentarius Commission. USP–NF translated into Chinese.

  • 2013
    USP introduces a new logo and tagline. USP inaugurates the first satellite site of the USP Spectral Library Global Laboratory Network. USP creates the Herbal Medicines Compendium. The Center for Pharmaceutical Advancement and Training (CePAT) opens in Accra, Ghana.

  • 2014
    USP–China site expands to a 95,000 sq. ft. facility with state-of-the-art laboratories. FCC translation into Chinese released. Ronald T. Piervincenzi, Ph.D., becomes new USP CEO.


USP houses its historical archives at the USP Information Center, located at its headquarters in Rockville, MD, USA. Learn more about the center and how you can view holdings and exhibits.