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Established in 2002, the Canadian International Pharmacy Association ("CIPA") is a Canadian association of licensed pharmacy businesses offering mail order pharmacy services to Canadian and international consumers.
Although CIPA presents itself as representing reputable pharmacies selling verified products, many of the pharmacies listed as members sell products "sourced from unreliable countries such as India and Turkey, which have never had to pass through Health Canada's regulatory process for safety and efficacy," according to independent researcher Prof. Amir Attaran. In 2014, Prof. Attaran sent a detailed letter to law enforcement alleging that several pharmacies represented by CIPA were involved in criminal acts.
According to Managed Care, an industry magazine, about a million Americans a year get drugs from licensed Canadian pharmacies that are certified by CIPA. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT), and five other sponsors have introduced legislation that would allow Americans with a U.S. prescription to order a 90-day supply of medicines from a licensed Canadian pharmacy. Yet according to Prof. Attaran, CIPA works hard to mask the unsavoury activities of its members, meaning that this legislation could create a dangerous situation for patients in America.
CIPA has appeared frequently in the news as an advocate for safe online pharmacy practices and the lower prices of drugs available outside of the United States, though not without significant controversy. CIPA standards and practices have been described as "likely becoming a major part of the health care system in the near future". In 2009, CIPA was invited to present at the United Nations Internet Governance Forum on "Medicines on the Web - Risks and Benefits". In February 2010, CIPA was selected by Google to be its official verifier of pharmacy advertisements in Canada, but lost that status in April 2012. CIPA has also been selected as Canadian verification authority for Microsoft Bing and Yahoo! online pharmacy advertising.
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