Lists of drugs with thumbnail descriptions, more portentously called monographs, have long been used in American medicine. There seems to be a need for them; many have appeared from time to time and many more are now available. There are the carefully prepared and selected official reference lists with national application and legal or quasi-legal status: the Pharmacopoeia of the United States, the National Formulary, and New and Non-official Drugs. Then there are the non-discriminating lists compiled with widely disparate editorial standards, orientation, and audience appeal: the truly encyclopedic Merck Index, the American Drug Index, Drugs in Current Use, The Physician's Desk Reference, The Modern Drug Encyclopedia, Pharm-Index, and many others. Finally there is the special group of drug lists based on a parochial type of editorial purpose: the hospital formularies.
The first group, the official lists, sets pharmaceutical standards for meticulously selected, effective, and well-established drugs. The second, the