Pharmacology is the study of drugs and their effects. Experimental pharmacology is study through experimental use in controlled situations. Human and animal drug testing falls into the category of experimental pharmacology. Scientists design drugs as well as they can without experimental evidence and then test them on humans or on animals in an experimental setting to gather more information and to perfect their drugs.
The term pharmacology is often confused with the term pharmacy, but they are not synonymous. Pharmacy is the profession dealing with the effective use of medication, while pharmacology is more closely linked to chemistry—a study, not a practice. Research involving experimental pharmacology is generally conducted long before pharmacists or consumers have access to the drugs being tested.
Pharmacologists are constantly engaged in pharmacology research. There are still a whole host of illnesses and disorders that are still considered incurable. Cancer, Alzheimer's, diabetes, and many other illnesses continue to thwart the best efforts of scientists seeking cures. New strains of viruses and bacteria crop up on a yearly basis and claim thousands of lives. Research and experimentation are the keys to curing these potent health risks once and for all.
Health is not always the primary motivator of experimental pharmacology. Drug companies often conduct pharmacology research and experimentation in the hopes of developing a new and valuable drug. Economics can be a very powerful motivator—new cures mean more money. Politics also come into play; a US drug company that has a poor standing with the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) may find it difficult to get its drugs approved for use.
Experimental pharmacology is not contained to the realm of legal, well-meant research. News companies regularly report on drug companies or doctors conducting illegal and unsafe experiments on humans. New varieties of illegal, recreational drugs are frequently developed and tested, as well. Such development and testing, though illegal, does fall under the category of pharmacology research.
In general, before a drug is implemented it goes through a very long phase of development and testing. Much of this begins with theory, but experimentation is of the utmost importance. Experimental pharmacology allows drug developers to witness and record the effects of the drugs they are developing. While such experimentation can involve a great deal of risk, it helps to ensure that the drugs, if implemented, are as safe and effective as possible.