Since its founding in 2002, the Canadian International Pharmacy Association's goal has been to support pharmacists and pharmacies in providing high-quality health care to consumers employing an e-commerce model, and support development of innovative methods of delivering pharmaceutical care using new and emerging technologies.

The nascent world wide web was the central component of our innovative and safe pharmaceutical model. We established Standards of Practice and Policies that reflect our values as Canadian pharmacies and pharmacists, while addressing the realities of online ordering, including the requisite security, legitimacy and trust required to provide safe distance care and mail-order delivery of prescription drugs.

While the internet makes safe medicines available to consumers who can't otherwise access affordable prescription drugs, it also creates opportunities for dishonest operators whose illegal activity casts doubt on the good work and life-saving services of legitimate, licensed, online pharmacy businesses such as ours. Rogue online pharmacies masquerading as Canadian or making unauthorized use of pharmacy certification marks and/or licenses can lure people to their fraudulent operations. CIPA took a proactive stance in shaping the future of the internet as a vehicle for safety and reliability, by working with multiple organizations and government bodies to chart the future.

Health Canada approached CIPA to join the United Nations's Internet Governance Forum (IGF), convened by the United Nations Secretary-General and sponsored by the European Directorate for the Quality of Medicines and Healthcare (EDQM ). In 2009, CIPA participated in the session "Medicines on the Web - Risks and Benefits." The session's main objective was to empower internet users to make wise online medicine decisions, and it was the first time policy recommendations to make such activities as safe as possible were made to governments.

In 2012 CIPA became an active member of the Business Constituency (BC) of the Internet Corporation of Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). In the ensuing years, CIPA has brought our unique transnational perspective to internet policy debates, to promote end-user confidence in the internet, particularly around access to safe pharmaceuticals.

CIPA also engaged more deeply with the IGF. This annual multi-stakeholder U.N. platform brings together the worlds of business, civil society and governments to facilitate discussion around global public policy issues pertaining to the Internet. CIPA leads workshops and panels in discussions seeking 21st century solutions that enable transnational access to medicines.

The realities of how and why people turn to the internet for their prescription maintenance drugs can also be found in other international policy-development fora. CIPA's participation with sessions at the Rightscon Human Rights in the Digital Age (RightsCon) conferences have led organizers to establish ongoing public health discussions on access to medicines from safe online pharmacies. Joining the 2017 panel discussion titled "Online Access to Affordable Medications: Applying Human Rights Law to Cyber Rule-Making", ultimately led to the creation of The Brussels Principles On the Sale of Medicines Over the Internet; a foundational document on safe internet pharmacies in related discussions within both the IGF and at RightsCon.

CIPA is further committed to collaborating with internet leaders and with governments as a member of the Internet & Jurisdiction Policy Network (I&J), a globally represented initiative that holds a vision to: Enable stakeholders to collaboratively address the transnational policy challenges of the digital 21st century, to ensure policy coherence and legal interoperability among initiatives, processes and actors bridging digital economy, human rights and cybersecurity.

CIPA has also been an active member of the Domain Name Association (DNA) since 2017, where we offer our pioneering expertise in online pharmacy to assist the domain name system community shape best practices for the marketing and sale of prescription drugs over the internet.. The DNA subsequently merged with the Internet Infrastructure Coalition (i2Coalition) in 2020, expanding our relationships on the infrastructure side of the internet, where web hosting companies, data centers, domain registrars and registries, cloud infrastructure providers, managed services providers, and related tech companies ensure their voice in public policy.

CIPA continues actively seeking out and participating in organizations and opportunities to help shape transnational access to safe and affordable prescription medicines in a manner that reflects how people around the world use the internet today, and into the future.

We take pride in our policy and governance contributions toward making the internet the trusted resource that we all hope it can - and should - be for citizens worldwide.

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