These are chemicals which are useful in studying, testing or inventing new drugs and pharmaceuticals. Pharmacological research chemicals are not themselves pharmaceuticals, but many can be useful in producing pharmaceuticals.
Many pharmaceutical research chemicals are also useful for toxicology, especially for testing blood and tissue samples for exposure to different drugs and chemicals.
Agricultural Research Chemicals
Also called ‘agrochemicals’, these are used to develop, test or produce fertilisers, pesticides, herbicides and other chemicals farmers and ranchers use in their work. As these products are made for eventual distribution to end users, often in more or less unregulated circumstances, the agrochemical industry tends to use code names or brand names to make it more difficult for other chemists to duplicate their work.
Research Chemicals in the Law
In a legal context, ‘research chemicals’ are once again defined by the way they are used. They are any chemical used in chemistry, medicine, agriculture or veterinary science. They are not medicines, drugs or treatments, but can be used to develop or produce these substances by skilled chemists.
Because this is an important legal distinction, most countries require manufacturers to label research chemicals clearly. Making sure these labels are clear and consistent helps governments, ports and trade authorities identify those chemicals which are not ‘controlled substances’, and allow them to pass into commerce normally. As so many research chemicals can be described as ‘a fine white powder’, it is clearly in both the manufacturer’s and the government’s interest that police and regulatory resources are not wasted on false alarms and testing.