There are currently no generic versions of IPOL available on the market. As with other "biologic" medications, this vaccine is not allowed to be made in generic form. The laws for manufacturing generic biologics are changing, however, and it is likely that a generic IPOL could become available in the near future.
Is a Generic Version of IPOL Available?
IPOL® (inactivated polio vaccine) is a vaccine given routinely to children to provide protection against polio. It can also be used in certain adults at a high risk for contracting the disease.
IPOL is made by Sanofi Pasteur, Inc., one of the major vaccine manufacturers. Technically, IPOL is considered a "biologic" medication and is, therefore, under different rules and laws than most other medications. At this point, generic biologics (including generic IPOL) are not allowed to be made. However, the laws are changing, and it is likely that generic biologics will be permitted in the near future.
Understanding Generic Vaccines
There are no generic vaccines because vaccines are biologics. Biologics are products that are made using live cells or organisms. The cells or organisms are used to produce certain complex proteins or molecules that are used as medications, and the medications are known as "biologics" or "biopharmaceuticals."
When the patents for regular drugs expire, generic companies can apply to make generic versions. These companies need to submit a little information proving that their product is the same as the brand-name drug, but they do not have to repeat all of the human studies to show the drug to be safe and effective.
Human studies are expensive and time-consuming, and generic medications are less expensive because they do not need all the human studies.
Currently, biologics are governed by a different set of laws. Under these laws, there is no way for a generic biologic to be approved, unless the generic manufacturer completes all of the human studies necessary to approve a brand new drug. Because such studies are extremely expensive, it is likely that a generic biologic would not be any less expensive than the brand-name product.
Essentially, if a generic biologic were to be approved, it would not really be a generic, but a new and separate drug that would not be equivalent to the brand-name product. However, as mentioned, recent legislation has been aimed at changing these laws. It is predicted that new laws and regulations will allow generic biologics in the near future.