About this Author
DBL%20Hendrix%20small.png College chemistry, 1983

Derek Lowe The 2002 Model

Dbl%20new%20portrait%20B%26W.png After 10 years of blogging. . .

Derek Lowe, an Arkansan by birth, got his BA from Hendrix College and his PhD in organic chemistry from Duke before spending time in Germany on a Humboldt Fellowship on his post-doc. He's worked for several major pharmaceutical companies since 1989 on drug discovery projects against schizophrenia, Alzheimer's, diabetes, osteoporosis and other diseases. To contact Derek email him directly: Twitter: Dereklowe

Chemistry and Drug Data: Drugbank
Chempedia Lab
Synthetic Pages
Organic Chemistry Portal
Not Voodoo

Chemistry and Pharma Blogs:
Org Prep Daily
The Haystack
A New Merck, Reviewed
Liberal Arts Chemistry
Electron Pusher
All Things Metathesis
C&E News Blogs
Chemiotics II
Chemical Space
Noel O'Blog
In Vivo Blog
Terra Sigilatta
BBSRC/Douglas Kell
Realizations in Biostatistics
ChemSpider Blog
Organic Chem - Education & Industry
Pharma Strategy Blog
No Name No Slogan
Practical Fragments
The Curious Wavefunction
Natural Product Man
Fragment Literature
Chemistry World Blog
Synthetic Nature
Chemistry Blog
Synthesizing Ideas
Eye on FDA
Chemical Forums
Symyx Blog
Sceptical Chymist
Lamentations on Chemistry
Computational Organic Chemistry
Mining Drugs
Henry Rzepa

Science Blogs and News:
Bad Science
The Loom
Uncertain Principles
Fierce Biotech
Blogs for Industry
Omics! Omics!
Young Female Scientist
Notional Slurry
Nobel Intent
SciTech Daily
Science Blog
Gene Expression (I)
Gene Expression (II)
Adventures in Ethics and Science
Transterrestrial Musings
Slashdot Science
Cosmic Variance
Biology News Net

Medical Blogs
DB's Medical Rants
Science-Based Medicine
Respectful Insolence
Diabetes Mine

Economics and Business
Marginal Revolution
The Volokh Conspiracy
Knowledge Problem

Politics / Current Events
Virginia Postrel
Belmont Club
Mickey Kaus

Belles Lettres
Uncouth Reflections
Arts and Letters Daily
In the Pipeline: Don't miss Derek Lowe's excellent commentary on drug discovery and the pharma industry in general at In the Pipeline

In the Pipeline

« Make Your Compound Go Away | Main | The Referee Reports Are In »

March 19, 2010

The Chemical Suppliers: Customer Reviews

Email This Entry

Posted by Derek

Update, March 19: I've added a few more suppliers to the list, and broken out a third category for the mixed reviews. And I note in the comments that someone claiming to be Kathy Yu from 3B Chemicals is threatening me with legal action. The IP address resolves only to AT&T Internet Services, but there does appear to be someone from that name who works at 3B. I hope, for her sake and that of the company, that this is someone impersonating her, because whoever is leaving these comments is doing 3B no favors.

And since I am reporting opinions, both my own and those of other contributors that I have no reason to doubt, and am doing so without malicious intent, I will cheerfully ignore all legal threats.

OK, here are the lists of good companies and not-so-good companies, based on my experience and those of readers. I've had some personal communications, too, which I've added to the data set. As more reports come in, this will be the post that's updated, so it can serve as a reference.

I should note up front that I'm not listing the Big Guys, since (while they can have their ups and downs), you generally know that they're going to send you something. What we're looking at are the companies that you might not have dealt with, but want to know if they're reliable. And that brings us to the:

Good Suppliers
ABCR: good prices and hit rate on orders. Very professional.
Activate: expensive, but what's there is there, and it's the right stuff.
Adesis: not cheap, but very reliable and willing to work with customers to deliver similar compounds.
Advanced Chem Tech: recommended for peptide/amino acid stuff.
AK Scientific: several good reports on availability and purity.
Alinda: have ordered one thing from them, which was fine.
Anaspec: good reports on reliability
Apollo: good stuff, but catalog needs to be a bit more in line with their real stock.
Array: very pricey, but it's all there.
Astatech: good experience reported
Bionet: interesting catalog, doesn't back-order you.
Chembridge: a big catalog, but it's all real. Occasional purity problem.
Chem/Impex: good hit rate on availability. Some questions on their chiral purities.
Combi-Blocks: good list of useful intermediates, delivers on them.
Enamine: similar to ChemBridge in many ways. Big catalog. Not the fastest out there.
Florida Center for Heterocyclics: occasional purity issues, but they do deliver.
Frontier: great source for boronic acids and the like.
Life Chemicals: have had good experiences with compound purity here.
Lu: good source for custom peptides.
Matrix: interesting catalog, which they will really ship to you.
Maybridge: on the border of being one of the big guys. Very reliable.
Midwest: good reports on reliability.
Netchem: custom synthesis, but (for once!) with good turnaround and purity.
Oakwood/Fluorochem: good prices and reliability.
Peptide Protein Research: good for custom peptides.
Pharmacore: good stock of intermediates.
Rieke: reliable, only game in town for many odd reagents.
Strem: well known for quality inorganics and organometallics.
Synquest: used to be PCR. Good customer service.
Synthonix: stuff is in stock, customer service is responsive.
TCI: has always delivered, and quickly.
Transworld: very reliable and responsive.
Tyger: have never had a problem with them.
Waterstone Chemicals: good experience on pricing and availability

Mixed Reviews
American Custom Chemicals (ACC): several tales of bad purity and customer service, but others have had nothing but good experiences with them.
3B Chemicals: "will lead you on for months". Several bad experiences reported. On the other hand, I've just heard directly from a colleague who's had good luck with them.
J&W Pharmlab: bad experience reported (delays and purity), but others OK.
Ontario: one good report, but others complain of availability and leads times.
SPECS: mixed reports, but overall positive.

The Not So Good:
Ambinter: seems to source a lot of stuff from mystery suppliers. Many delays.
Any supplier, sad to say, with "Hangzhou" or "Shanghai" in the name. Tend to have absolutely nothing on the shelf, and if there's even a listed price, it's science fiction.
Anichem: very bad experience here with unexplained delays.
Beta Pharma: bad experience reported.
ChemMaker: very negative report on customer service and responsiveness.
City Chemicals: several bad experiences reported
Combi-Phos: several reports of purity problems.
Rarechem: haven't come across anyone with a good report here.
UK Green: a bad experience reported.
Uorsy: nothing ever seems to be in stock.
Zelinsky: several bad experiences reported.

Comments (89) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Life in the Drug Labs


1. E on March 19, 2010 8:36 AM writes...

I'm surprised to see Matrix on the good list. Nothing I have ordered from them has ever been in stock, and delivery time has always been weeks later than promised. Though "interesting catalog" does seem to apply.

Permalink to Comment

2. sgcox on March 19, 2010 8:40 AM writes...

Chemical Diversity is quite good - we often select from list of available suppliers because of the catalog size. Never had problems with delivery and quality.

Permalink to Comment

3. TRL on March 19, 2010 8:50 AM writes...

American Custom Chemicals has been a problem for me too. One time they mixed up shipping and billing addresses, sending the chemical to our corporate office. I have also gotten delivery of compounds ordered not by me, but by colleages at a different research site in a different state.

Permalink to Comment

4. Anonymous on March 19, 2010 9:24 AM writes...

I'll concur that Anaspec and Midwest are reliable and offer great peptides.

Permalink to Comment

5. Anne on March 19, 2010 9:26 AM writes...

Since peptide suppliers are being listed, I'll throw my lot in with JPT Peptide Technologies. They're a German company. Very attentive, responsive, willing to work with us on experiment design when we ordered a peptide microarray from them. I haven't actually used what they sent us, so I have no input on quality, but working with them was very professional and pleasant.

Permalink to Comment

6. sgcox on March 19, 2010 9:27 AM writes...

iteresting publication:

Permalink to Comment

7. Grover799 on March 19, 2010 9:33 AM writes...

3B is terrible. Will wait for weeks then tell you they need to produce the material at a price of 400 to 1000 percent more than list.

Permalink to Comment

8. Kevin on March 19, 2010 9:52 AM writes...

I vote for adding Acesys Pharmatech to the bad list. They sent us Boc-homopiperazine that was 60% pure. Wouldn't respond to e-mails or telephone calls to deal with the problem.

Permalink to Comment

9. processchemist on March 19, 2010 9:55 AM writes...

About one of the "Not so good" listed: a customer of ours dropped by with the specification of a product (intended for human use) coming from this company- residual solvents: 7000 ppm of hexane...
"caveat emptor" when the company has the main office in USA or UK or continental Europe and one or more labs or manufacturers working for them in China...

Permalink to Comment

10. A Nonny Mouse on March 19, 2010 10:28 AM writes...

It should be pointed out that Maybridge no longer makes anything in-house and are dependent on outsourcing partners.

Permalink to Comment

11. Maris Turks on March 19, 2010 11:46 AM writes...

MolPort is an upcoming supplier catalog aggregator. For chemicals that are not available from catalogs like Sigma or Alfa Aesar, their ordering service is very useful. They do the communication with suppliers and send me a clear quote (prices they list on the website need to be confirmed). I know that I am still buying from little known suppliers (they clearly list supplier in their quote). However, they make this process easier.

Permalink to Comment

12. HelicalZz on March 19, 2010 11:59 AM writes...

Useful commentary on mostly catalog options. Consider running a user survey of custom shops as well (or is outsourcing this considered sacrilege?).

Permalink to Comment

13. soapchemist on March 19, 2010 12:19 PM writes...

I have ordered from J&W Pharmlab and never had a problem. That said, I think I've only dealt with them on 3 occasions.

Someone not on the list is Ryan Scientific. I have ordered from them and recieved quality product in a timely fashion.

Permalink to Comment

14. Jack Lin on March 19, 2010 12:20 PM writes...

If you have a genuine issue then why dont you provide your names so that the companies can respond. Youre probably a chickenshit whiny American who will soon realise that we Chinese companies will wipe you out in 5 years. Cowards...

Permalink to Comment

15. Kathy Yu on March 19, 2010 12:26 PM writes...

Hello Derek,
If you have not bought from us or have not had experience with us please dont post negative comments about us. Kindly remove them failing which we will have to see legal recourse. I have forwarded your blog to our CEO

Permalink to Comment

16. Rateesh Gupta on March 19, 2010 12:33 PM writes...

The majority of your good suppliers all get their products from us in India and China. I have worked with many of them. American companies have poor quality

Permalink to Comment

17. sigma147 on March 19, 2010 12:36 PM writes...

Re: #14

(yeah, don't feed the trolls - I know)...

If you read the original posts and the comments that were generated from those posts, you'll note that most if not all the companies on the "bad" list have very poor customer relations. To translate, that means these companies have been contacted and have declined to respond in a helpful manner.

Personal integrity and cowardice aside, the idea that Chinese companies will wipe out other international competitors is on its face a laughable situation. Free trade works both ways, my friend. Once the Chinese government recognizes that fact and stops devaluing the yuan you'll see some true competition and collaboration.


Permalink to Comment

18. sigma147 on March 19, 2010 12:44 PM writes...


Maybe you should change the 3B Chem entry to read "will threaten legal action for expressing a poor opinion about their turnaround time."

That said, I've had exactly that personal experience dealing with them: constantly missing shipment dates and moving targets on backorder status without notifying us. We wound up cancelling orders that progressed from 2-3 weeks shipping to 4-6 weeks to several months. I can understand that happening once, but that situation arose on several different orders over a 18 month period in 2008. Since then, they've been in my "unreliable" pile.


Permalink to Comment

19. Kathy Yu on March 19, 2010 12:51 PM writes...

Sigma 147 is a mammas boy. Youre too lazy to make compounds yourself. Why do you buy from us ? Why dont you give me your real name ?

Permalink to Comment

20. magpie on March 19, 2010 12:54 PM writes...

Re:10 So what ? As long as they supply what is ordered. The blog is about good suppliers & the not-so-good ones, the key word being supplier. Looks like this one is touching a nerve or 2 with some people.

Permalink to Comment

21. magpie on March 19, 2010 1:10 PM writes...

Re 19: Since you appear to represent a business supplying goods, entering into juvenile arguments and throwing abuse doesnt seem to be an intelligent way of addressing serious comments about poor customer service experienced by potential clients.

Permalink to Comment

22. J-bone on March 19, 2010 1:21 PM writes...

Kathy Yu's "juvenile argument" appears to be a troll posting. Her 1st post links to the 3B website while her 2nd does not.

Permalink to Comment

23. Hap on March 19, 2010 1:37 PM writes...

Wow. Not that I need to buy chemicals, but when you call people that complain about your service "momma's boys", I probably don't need your products that badly. Thanks for your input.

Permalink to Comment

24. Hap on March 19, 2010 1:44 PM writes...

Well, that's (sort of) good to know. It moves the complaint from "juvenile psychopath in training" to "evil corporate SLAPP threat". I guess that's something.

Permalink to Comment

25. Anonymous on March 19, 2010 1:50 PM writes...

I'm assuming that the Kathy Yu posts are from 2 different people, so I will ignore the second one. Even so (and assuming that the first Kathy Yu is actually from 3B), the response is surprising.

On the basis of one bad report (appearing early in the last comments section, so there was plenty of chance for people to disagree) that appeared without elaborating on details I would not blacklist a company, although I might proceed with caution. If I ever did want something from 3B I would probably not have remembered them being on this list anyway. However, I will now, and for bad reasons.

If you want to post and make a positive impression, say that you are a reputable supplier, and sorry if anyone has had problems etc. Don't threaten to sue - I certainly will make a point of avoiding 3B now, as it seems like trouble.

Permalink to Comment

26. ilya12000 on March 19, 2010 1:51 PM writes...

I'd like to add to the "Good" list Astatech - we bought several times from them good material with good price and they were quite responsible.
To the "Bad" list I'd add City Chemicals - they "won" "restricted supplier" status in our company after several chemicals with awful quality and complete lack of responsibility for them.
Thank you Derek for very useful topic

Permalink to Comment

27. anchor on March 19, 2010 1:56 PM writes...

Derek : Great job, but I worry for you my friend. Johnny Cochran's of "garage or garbage company" may come after you! Take care.

Permalink to Comment

28. Old Timer on March 19, 2010 2:23 PM writes...

I didn't know I was going to have to elaborate on my issue with 3B. I don't remember the compound (this must have been in 2007), but I needed something for an exotic catalyst I was going to synthesize. Since I had many other things to make, I did not mind waiting for the compound. 3B had some issue with a PO from our department, so I faxed them the order sheet with our credit card number. Lead time - two weeks. I emailed every month or so asking when I was going to get my order. They said it would probably only be another 2-4 weeks, but I gave up after 5 months or so. I never bothered to check if our credit card was charged (billing was not my department).

In a more recent experience, I just received a compound from Astar ((R)-3,3'-Dibromo-1,1'-bi-2-naphthol). I ordered it at the beginning of September and received it at the end of Feb (or maybe early March). I complained, they offered a 5% discount. I am too patient!

Permalink to Comment

29. CMCguy on March 19, 2010 2:23 PM writes...

Dang I was thinking about suing too although knowing what Chemists at your level makes even talking to a lawyer would be more than potential return.

Perhaps you should talk to a lawyer anyway, not about getting sued, but if you can trademark your list so if any of the "good" companies decide to advertise "We made In the Pipeline's Good Supplier List" you might get to charge a fee. ;)

Permalink to Comment

30. Anonymous on March 19, 2010 2:37 PM writes...

I had bad experience with J&W recently.

Permalink to Comment

31. psi*psi on March 19, 2010 2:53 PM writes...

GFS is consistently good for at least acetylenes and likely other things too. Don't think we ever had any problems from Gelest either.

Permalink to Comment

32. Troggy on March 19, 2010 2:59 PM writes...

I agree with the GFS assessment. They have always delivered (though with the occasional backorder), and are often very well priced in comparison to everyone else.

Permalink to Comment

33. Chemgeek on March 19, 2010 3:02 PM writes...

Compiling a list like this is no different than any product or service review found online. Look up something like "Sony TV reviews" and you'll find pages and pages of people praising and cursing Sony TVs. Expressing an opinion is completely legal and within the rights of most humans.

Permalink to Comment

34. David Formerly Known as a Chemist on March 19, 2010 3:17 PM writes...

Putting a company on the "bad" list based on one or two negative reports doesn't seem very useful to me. I suspect that most everyone reading this thread has had at least one bad interaction with many of the companies on the "good" list. I have, but still consider them "good" suppliers.

Permalink to Comment

35. David P on March 19, 2010 3:41 PM writes...

It is true that one bad experience with a company doesn't necessarily mean they are always bad, which is a danger with this kind of survey. But it is often the case that chemists have very limited exposure to some of these companies and we hesitate to use them if we are unsure of what will happen. Knowing that some of these smaller companies ARE reliable makes me much more likely to give them a try, moving away from a default position of using the ones I know wherever possible.

Permalink to Comment

36. Prof Mark Pepys FRS on March 19, 2010 3:42 PM writes...

We have had excellent, timely, reliable good value products from Peptide Protein Research, including new chemical entities. I can't recommend them highly enough.

Permalink to Comment

37. Imants on March 19, 2010 3:58 PM writes...

I generally agree with #34. There are exceptions. When a company receives your payments, does not deliver in 3 months even though promised in 1 week, refuses to return the funds - buyer not only has a right to share this experience, I would almost feel obligated to do that. However, there is no place to share this information.

The real value of a review is only for an actual purchase - like Amazon and eBay do it. Because if someone would start a voting website like Bizrate, the scammers would just write a lot of excellent reviews for their own company. I still this that it is an excellent idea to share the experiences here. But it is just a start. As David mentioned, every company sooner or later runs into a problem. It's how they deal with it that matters.

I have always wanted to add this feature to MolPort website. We are somewhat unique among databases - we also organize purchases. So we are like Amazon or eBay. We could allow buyers rate their purchases. Chemists would win because they would have a place to look up the reputation of a new supplier that sells something unique. Good sellers would also win because lowest price no longer is the only selling point. Reputation should matter.

Permalink to Comment

38. Medchemist on March 19, 2010 4:46 PM writes...

I had a bad experience with Pfaltz-Bauer, and know others who have had similar experiences too. I ordered an arene building block, which was marketed as a single isomer. A TLC revealed 4 spots of roughly equal intensity. HPLC revealed 6 peaks. The proton and carbon spectra were terrible too. Needless to say, the material was trashed.

Permalink to Comment

39. milkshake on March 19, 2010 4:47 PM writes...

Anichem: I orderedN-acetyl protected substituted piperidine, they sent me the free piperidine hydrochloride. The rest of the molecule was correct but sans aceyl.
J&W Pharmlab: I ordered one ludicrously overpriced pyridyl-sybstituted amine and they sent me instead a material with the Boc group still on the amine. They insisted that they had great NMR and LC/MS of the stuff they send be. On my insistence they revealed that they actualy run theit NMR in D2O, and obviously thei missed the 90% of Boc-containing material because it does not dssolve in D2O. And so on.
I hate to do detective work when I order 1 g for $800, but I learned the hard way and ever since I check the identity of starting material when dealing with the sketchy suppliers.

Permalink to Comment

40. Anonymous on March 19, 2010 5:08 PM writes...

Anyone ever bought from Butt park ?

Permalink to Comment

41. Handles on March 19, 2010 6:19 PM writes...

I remember getting a few things from Butt Park about 5 years back without any troubles.

Permalink to Comment

42. Anonymous on March 19, 2010 8:52 PM writes...

I have worked and ordered with American Custom Chemicals. They delieved the chemicals within the promised delivery date. We haven't had any problems with them yet.

Permalink to Comment

43. CrazyDave on March 19, 2010 9:20 PM writes...

I've only ordered from Butt Park (affiliated w/Ryan or Maybridge?) once or twice, but it was always fine. Even of it wasn't, the amusement of showing my coworkers the label would have been worth it.

Permalink to Comment

44. Cobalt on March 19, 2010 10:06 PM writes...

We're actually banned from even requesting quotes from 3B. Why they still show up in our ordering database is a mystery, however...

We've had more of a positive experience with Combi-phos. We had a purity issue at one time but they worked closely with us to solve it. They've got some useful reagents not available (at least in any acceptable purity) from anyone else.

Permalink to Comment

45. Pharma Conduct Guy on March 19, 2010 10:09 PM writes...

Derek is performing a great service with these kinds of posts. I'm continually amazed at how some companies with poor quality and bad customer service can survive. In a free market, information asymmetry is the reason these poor performers hang around. Hopefully, posts like Derek's will help bring about positive change, or at the very least, save someone else from aggravation.

Fortunately, as per US law when asserting facts, the truth is always an absolute defense against accusations of slander or libel (with very rare exceptions). Also, thanks to our Constitution everyone is entitled to to freedom of speech, and as Derek correctly stated, expressing an opinion is a form of protected speech.

Permalink to Comment

46. GladToMoveToProcess on March 19, 2010 11:47 PM writes...

Re 38: We had the same experience with them about 40 years ago in grad school - an aromatic, with (only) 3 main components; desired one was the least abundant. La plus ca change or something.

Permalink to Comment

47. A Nonny Mouse on March 20, 2010 4:54 AM writes...

Butt Park was set up by and ex-Maybridge guy with a rich daddy. Also to come out of there was Key Organics and Peakdale. More recently their ex-people have set up Atlantic Research Chemicals and Advanced Chemical Intermediates (ACI).

Permalink to Comment

48. Anonymous on March 20, 2010 7:24 AM writes...

Re 46: 40 years ago !! and they are still in business ? There must be money to be made selling 3 compound mixtures for the price of one !!

Permalink to Comment

49. milkshake on March 20, 2010 9:15 AM writes...

I would put Pfaltz and Bauer into the crappy category too: they are less expensive but take lot of time to deliver and the purity of their chemicals is atrocious

Permalink to Comment

50. jblinks on March 20, 2010 1:22 PM writes...

I find it strange that after one of companies mentioned legal action, Derek promptly elevated them to a newly created category. It looks like this list is based on the author’s whims and lacks credibility.
As a scientist, I would expect a more logical approach from Derek rather than a listing ‘based on my experience and those of readers” and “some personal communication”.

Permalink to Comment