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Towards a Regulatory Framework for Internet Pharmacies

Towards a Regulatory Framework for Internet Pharmacies


Published on November 1, 2019

November 2019

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Global Health Foresighting Fellow Aria Ilyad Ahmad hosted "IGF 2019 WS #92 Public Health Online: Shadow Regulation-Access to Medicines" at the 2019 Internet Governance Forum. Towards a Regulatory Framework for Internet Pharmacies was prepared as a background paper for the event.


The objective of this discussion paper will be to explore these challenges (but also opportunities) through a case study at the intersection of public health and Internet governance: the regulation of Internet Pharmacies. Driven largely by lack of access and affordability, Internet Pharmacies represent one of the fastest growing markets. While millions of consumers increasingly turn to the Internet for medicines, there are critical gaps in regulatory standards and best practices within and across national boundaries. Instead, we have a patchwork of largely discretionary regulatory regimes that are developed and enforced by particular stakeholders, with impacts that ripple across varying jurisdictions. This has at least two implications with respect to public health and consumer choice. On the one hand, the lack of regulatory coherence can undermine access to affordable and quality medicines from legitimate Internet retailers. At the same time, current efforts have failed to adequately respond to the risks posed by Rogue websites selling falsified or substandard products, often without a valid prescription.


Global Health Foresighting



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Aria Ilyad Ahmad, Research Fellow, Global Health Foresighting Alum

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