At this time, a generic MMR vaccine (M-M-R II) is unavailable. Because MMR is a "biologic" medication, it is under different laws and regulations than most other products. Unless these laws and rules are changed, this medication may never be available in generic form.
Is a Generic Version of MMR Available?MMR (known officially as M-M-R® II) is a measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine. This is a live vaccine typically given as two doses in early childhood.
MMR is made by Merck & Co., Inc. There are no generic versions of MMR.
Technically, MMR is considered a "biologic" medication and, therefore, is under different rules and laws than most other medications. At this point, generic biologics, including generic MMR, 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 Biologics and Generics
When the patents for regular drugs expire, other manufacturers can apply to make generic versions. These companies need to submit a little information proving that their product is equivalent to the brand-name drug, but they do not have to repeat all of the human studies to show that the drug is 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.
However, biologics (medications made using live cells or organisms, also known as "biopharmaceuticals") are regulated under a different set of laws. Under these laws, there is no way for a generic biologic to be approved, unless the 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, recent legislation is aimed at changing these laws. It is predicted that new laws and regulations will allow generic biologics to be made someday soon.