Date: 23 Feb 2010

Introduction

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Abstract

The origins of veterinary pharmacology and therapeutics are the same as those of the equivalent human disciplines, lying in the administration of and responses to plants and extracts of plants containing pharmacologically active compounds. The history of Materia Medica, and then the emergence of pharmacology and therapeutics in humans have been extensively described. Appelgren (2009) has provided a recent summary of both the human and parallel veterinary developments. He describes the early records contained: (a) in Egyptian papyri (1800–1200 bc), the contents of which became known only from 1822 when the Rosetta stone was translated and; (b) in the writings of the Greeks (notably Hippocrates, 430 bc) and later Galen (94 ad). Hippocrates' and Galen's prescriptions dominated European medicine for many centuries, through the medieval periods, until superseded in the Age of Enlightenment. As Appelgren points out, we can certainly conclude that the same “drugs” were used in animals and man up to and beyond the Age of Enlightenment. There was, however, at this time an expression of concern relating to the use of drugs therapeutically in animals on the basis of human experience. As voiced by the Swedish botanist and doctor Carolus Linneaus, “human medicines are used for animals without knowledge if they work, which is devastating barbarism”. At that time much of the progress in veterinary medicine was made in France, and Linneaus sent Peter Hernquist to France to learn the scientific principles underlying veterinary medicine. In 1791, Charles Vial de St. Bel left the Lyon school to found the first veterinary teaching establishment in the English speaking world, the Royal Veterinary College in London, later to become a constituent College of the University of London.