I have asked here the question convention about best terms to take 5 htp.
Questions like convention about best terms to take X for humans, might be too narrow, because, theoretically, as more possibly-therapeutic molecules are discovered, there could be an endless growth of questions like this. To me that's a problem and I didn't find the possible solution as described below.

When I searched a knowledge base containing administration guidelines on all possibly-therapeutic molecules known in earth (as medicines and/or nutritional supplements) I found only printed books aimed for physicians, edited and published by a given country's health ministry; but nothing standardized globally and available for free read if Wikipedia is taken out of the picture.

I thought; for example:
If there is the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD) as fa form of standardization,
There should be a similarly designed drug standardization.

There are sites like drugs.com or drugbank.ca but there is nothing globally standardized such as ICD for diseases.

A globally standardized drug database could include the following variables, for example:

  • The drug is recognized in at least 1 country as Dietary supplement / Medicine / both
  • Priming tests for sensitivity
  • Priming tests for allergy
  • Ethnic groups that are likely to have sensitivity and/or allergy
  • BMI adjustment
  • On label usages (per global recommend)
  • Off label usages (per local recommend)
  • Therapeutic dosages
  • Best to be taken before meal / in the middle of the meal / after meal
  • foods and dietary supplements that might interact
  • medicines that might interact
  • The drug is best to be taken at which time of day (for example, in general Melatonin is best to be taken at night for some elderly and for some of those suffering from Free Running Sleep Disorder (FRSD) as well.
  • chance for dependency/addiction
  • Possible ways of admittance
  • Communal recommendation for admittance (if there is one)
  • and so forth

Right now, the closest thing I found is individual sites as mentioned above or the drug categories in Wikipedia, but nothing standardized.

As ICD is a global standardization of diseases, is there a global standardization of drugs and if not, why?

2 Answers 2


I think the closest thing to a "standardization of drugs" are the pharmacopeia:


European Pharmacopoeia

Japanese Pharmacopoeia

(just some examples)

As you will notice, these are not global standards, but each one defines the parameters by which a drug is of adequate quality and purity to be deemed that drug. To generate a global standard, it would be necessary to combine some truly massive documents into one, which would require agreement among everyone regarding which standards to use in the unified document.

The WHO has an effort to make such a resource:

The International Pharmacopoeia

But as of now, it is more of a recommendation than a legally enforceable document in most locations (as far as I know). The WHO also has a great document talking about various pharmacopeia:


including their legal basis, origins, and a bit of history about attempts to develop international pharmacopeia.

In that sense, it's somewhat more remarkable that there are internationally recognized diagnostic codes than that there isn't a (legally binding) internationally standardized pharmacopoeia.

See also: https://xkcd.com/927/

The pharmacopeia are more interested in the manufacture and identity of drugs (and supplements), rather than indications or dosage recommendations. These are far too complex and depend on other variables to be collected in a single reference. That's partly why physicians and pharmacists exist, and why you should consult them for medical advice.

Similarly, the ICD-10 is not something like a dichotomous key for diagnosis. It contains a list of diseases and their characteristics for standardization and billing purposes, but it is not a substitute for a physician's care.


The idea that the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD) forms an international standard on health problems is contentious within some groups of people when there is the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), which cross-references the ICD and there can sometimes be conflicting criteria stated, (see https://journal.ahima.org/2016/08/10/dsm-5-vs-icd-10-cm/ for more on that) but that is a separate issue.

When it comes to an international standards for drugs, different countries have different regulations regarding drug use and drug licensing (see https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/drugs-licensing for example on UK drug licensing) and therefore having an international control on drugs would not work.

You mentioned drugs.com (US) and drugsbank.ca (Canada) and there is a go to for the UK medical profession called the British National Formulary (BNF) which is part of the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). I am pretty sure there are similar organisations in other countries controlling the use of drugs.

  • Hello. Thank you for the short-seasoned answer. Only one comment: I personally didn't mean to suggest an obligatory regulation or control, rather, just a standardized manual to ease physicians in general; I think a relative edit on ` and therefore having an international control on drugs would not work.` is a good idea.
    – user8225
    Commented Nov 14, 2019 at 15:23

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