By definition, prescription drugs are those that, by law, require a prescription before they can be obtained in person but not necessarily when buying prescription drugs online.
These pills are thus distinguished from over-the-counter products, which anyone can buy without first going through a doctor.
Different jurisdictions in different countries have different definitions of what constitutes a prescription drug. They should include a package insert (in Europe this is called a Patient Information Leaflet or PIL) that gives detailed information about how to use the product, contraindications, and possible side effects.
Recently, many people have started buying these products via the Internet - this is for two reasons:
- They don't need to get permission from a doctor
- They are considerably cheaper
While we all like to save money when we can, and the pharmaceutical companies do have a monopoly, this is one example where saving money may not be the best option.
Researchers have tested large quantities of pharmaceutical purchased online, in particular popular products such as Viaga and Hoodia, and found that up to 50% do not even contain the active ingredient they are touted as having.
Perhaps more worryingly, up to 5% of the products tested contained contaminated or dangerous substances.
So although it may be inconvenient and expensive, if you think you need some strong pharmaceuticals, go through your doctor.