200 Years of Building Trust in Medicine – TEDMED Blog

The Information 2020 Thread is Make room for questionWe look forward to holding our community together and embracing the wonders of our time, incredible achievements, incredible possibilities, and the extraordinary potential of the future. Therefore, we were overjoyed when the United States Pharmacopoeia (USP) decided to celebrate it 200th anniversary With TEDMED. After all, today’s wonders are built on a solid foundation of scientific discoveries. Humanity is especially keen on those innovations that will help people everywhere live longer, healthier lives. In anticipation of a USP presence at TEDMED in March, we spoke with Ronald T. Pervinensei, PhD, CEO, about the organization’s history, current work, and its approach to building confidence in the future of medicine, nutritional supplements, and foods.

Information: We are excited that you and the USP have joined the TEDMED community, especially on the occasion of this mega achievement – the USP’s 200th Anniversary.

Ronald T Pervinensee: Thank you. I am delighted to introduce the USP to the TEDMED audience and look forward to meeting the attendees in Boston in March.

TM: What made you choose TEDMED to celebrate this anniversary?

RP: Today, we are observing an unprecedented transformation in healthcare. The USP’s 200-year legacy is built on trust in healthcare systems and anticipation and response to emerging health challenges. Our founders joined together in 1820 to protect patients from the proliferation of poor-quality medicinal products. Today the background varies by size, geography, modalities, and many other factors. But the value of our work is the same. We are exploring how to build trust in future medical breakthroughs. There is so much in the TEDMED community that we can learn from and interact with just as much as we imagine what the future holds.

TM: This is exactly what TEDMED is all about! Let’s dig deep. What is pharmacy and what does the USP do?

RP: Simply put, the Pharmacopoeia is an official publication that includes a list of prescription drugs and contains how to prepare these medicines, directions for their use, and assays for assessing medicinal quality. US Pharmacopoeia – National Formulary, published by the USP, is the official quality standard for medicines marketed in the United States, and they are also used in more than 140 other countries. USP is a leading independent, non-profit scientific organization that collaborates with the world’s best experts in health and science to develop quality standards for drugs, nutritional supplements, and nutritional ingredients. Through our standards, advocacy, and capacity building, USP helps increase the availability of high-quality drugs, nutritional supplements and foods for billions of people around the world. As the world gets smaller and more connected, quality issues affect everyone. Travel illnesses. Drug resistance grows. Counterfeit medicines kill. The quality foundation that we build helps meet these and other global health challenges. Whether reducing the prevalence of inferior and poor quality medicines or helping to reduce antimicrobial resistance, we are present across 10 global sites that work to protect the health of people around the world.

TM: This sounds like a very modern approach to medicine. Why did the United States need a pharmacopoeia in 1820?

RP: Today, people trust American medicines to be among the safest in the world, but this was not always true. In 1820, the United States was a new country. Medicines are made individually and differently by doctors or pharmacies. There were no regulations, or more importantly, standards, to ensure that what you received in one city is the same as what you received in another city. The strength, quality, and even identity of a drug varied greatly depending on where it was made. Simply put, prior to our founding in 1820, there was no way to ensure that what was on the drug’s label was what was actually in the bottle. Our founders – 11 freelance physicians looking to the future – were concerned about this lack of standardization and worked to protect patients from poor-quality drugs. Three of our founders were not only doctors, but also members of the US Senate – they were the voice the United States needed to ensure the quality of the medicines Americans use. They established the US Pharmacopoeia Convention, which published the first American Pharmacopoeia. Much has changed since our founding but the importance of quality standards for medicines and other new treatments remains – now, our business is more global.

Image courtesy of USP

TM: This year’s TEDMED theme, “Make Way for Wonder,” explores how medicine and healthcare are changing. Is this a topic that resonates with you?

RP: at all. Bizarre and scientific discoveries make medical breakthroughs possible. But confidence makes them famous. More than 800 independent volunteer scientists contribute their expertise to developing and adopting USP standards. It helps build confidence by setting clear quality expectations for medications, supplements and foods. In turn, USP standards help manufacturers around the world bring more quality and affordable products to the market, benefiting people everywhere. A recent study by Johns Hopkins University found that, on average, drugs with a generalized USP quality standard have roughly 50% of generic manufacturers compared to drugs without such a standard. The study also found that quality standards helped facilitate pharmaceutical competition and reduce prescription drug costs in the United States

Image courtesy of USP

TM: How is a 200-year-old organization preparing for the future?

RP: New technologies and treatments – precision medicine, digital therapies, 3D printing, immunotherapy, gene and stem cell therapies, and artificial intelligence – have arrived or are still on their way. As we prepare for dramatic breakthroughs, we must work to ensure trust and quality are established as part of these developments. Unfortunately, widespread confidence is in a precarious position across sectors. Our history has taught us that for innovation to become a widespread reality, both quality and reliability are crucial to its widespread acceptance. USP already works with hundreds of our stakeholder organizations and partners to build confidence in future breakthroughs and to anticipate and address gaps. We know that when a general USP standard is available, we help manufacturers be better able to adopt the new technology, which is often a great cost saving. In addition to holding workshops and round tables on topics such as cellular and gene therapies and digital therapies, USP works with MIT Center for Collective Intelligence And more than 100 leaders from health and science around the world to explore developments and the role that trust will play in shaping people’s health between now and 2040. We will explore the project results from the Trust CoLab with the TEDMED 2020 community.

Image courtesy of USP

TM: We look forward to learning more about Trust CoLab. Until then, what else should the TEDMED community know about the USP?

RP: I mentioned our volunteer scientists earlier. I invite members of the TEDMED community who are committed to making the world healthier, to be scientifically rigorous, and to operate independently of politics or the private sector, to consider becoming a champion of trust. They can learn more by visiting our site website Or by stopping by the USP Lounge at TEDMED’s Social Hub. I also encourage everyone to learn more about the past, present, and future of USP and other opportunities to collaborate with us at

TM: Thank you, Ron, and best wishes for the beginning of the third century for the University of the South Pacific.

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