Announced on February 9, 2010, this new policy requires any online pharmacy websites wishing to target advertisements to Canadian audiences on Google Canada (www.google.ca) to be certified to meet CIPA safety and quality standards. Shopping for pharmacy medicine from google.ca just got safer.
CIPA's policies place patient safety as the highest priority and the Association is pleased to be recognized by Google as the proper certifier for Canadian pharmacy advertisers. Over the last eight years, millions of consumers in Canada and the United States have come to know and trust the CIPA seal as a sign of safe medicine on the Internet. CIPA President Troy Harwood-Jones declares, "CIPA has been and will continue to be a tireless advocate for consumer safety in distance care pharmacy. We look forward to working with Google to improve patient safety on the Internet."
While this new policy may be a reasonable domestic solution, there is still more that needs to be done to ensure safe access for international patients. The proper certification and approval of international pharmacy ads still needs to be addressed by Google.
Google's changes may have a negative impact on the ability of American patients to access safe and affordable medication from Canada and abroad because it removes legitimate international pharmacies from advertising on Google in the United States. This leaves American patients with increased difficulties in locating sources of safe and affordable drugs.
Eliminating international pharmacy ads is not the solution.
"Removing patient access in the U.S. will not remove patient need," Harwood-Jones points out. "Our website and phone lines are constantly busy fielding inquiries from Americans who cannot afford the life-saving medicines they need at home. These American patients need guidance and direction to locate safe sources to buy online. We must do more than telling Americans to use google.ca to find the medicine they need."
Google's new policy is a positive step to increase safety of online pharmacy advertising in Canada, and CIPA values its role and new partnership. Legitimate international pharmacies, such as CIPA members, still need to be able to have their U.S. ads reviewed and approved by an independent organization with expertise in international pharmacy. As subject experts in this area, CIPA is eager to collaborate with Google and others to develop clear policies for international pharmacy ads built on appropriate safety standards.