Vaccines represent half the products on the FDA Biologics Product Shortages list. As a result, providers and patients may purchase them online, a process rife with patient safety risks. We examined vaccine online availability by assessing up to 5 identified online sellers. We determined if sites were accredited by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) VIPPS program, listed as US or international, employed social media linking to suspect online pharmacies, and if they were on the NABP Not Recommended list. All vaccines were advertised by online pharmacies and through data aggregation and social media sites, none were VIPPS-accredited, and most were on the NABP Not Recommended list. We found some online sellers advertising vaccines as over-the-counter. We extended our analysis to WHO Essential Medicines List vaccines and found all are also available online from suspect, non-VIPPS accredited sellers. Stakeholders should be aware of these online patient safety dangers.
Keywords: Vaccine shortage; Drug shortage; Illegal online pharmacy; Fake vaccines; Global health