Q. I have taken Wellbutrin XL for two years and it has taken care of my depression beautifully. In January my insurance company switched me to the generic called Budeprion XL. I didn’t think twice about it. I just assumed it was as good as Wellbutrin XL.

After a few months thinking I was losing my mind and that Wellbutrin just wasn’t working anymore, it finally dawned on me that I was no longer taking WELLBUTRIN! (I honestly hadn’t even thought about the generic.)

I have been very depressed, crying and irritable with no energy or ambition. While I am not suicidal, it sure doesn’t sound like a bad plan most days. I will stop Budeprion XL immediately even though I will have to pay full price for Wellbutrin XL.

A. More than a dozen people have contacted us regarding experiences strikingly similar to yours. Some of them reported nausea or dizziness as side effects of Budeprion XL; all of them said their symptoms of depression had returned.

We have no scientific evidence that there is a difference between the brand name and the generic. Nevertheless, so many reports convince us that there should be an investigation.

We have arranged with the FDA to analyze any generic pills that readers of The People’s Pharmacy suspect are not equivalent to their branded counterparts. Please describe your experience and send your generic pills with as much information as possible: Name of medication, name of generic drug maker, lot number and date dispensed. (Data may be available from the pharmacy.) Send the parcel to Graedons’ People’s Pharmacy; PO Box 52027; Durham, NC 27717-2027.

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  1. Ann
    Reply

    I have taken Wellbutrin (buproprion) SR 150 mg twice a day for several years (about 7+ years). I take it to stay alert/pay attention and in the past I believe it did help with depression also.

    What is the difference between Wellbutrin and buproprion? What are other alternatives for the same medication or a medication that is very close to this one?

    I lost 2 lb over the summer despite very consistent workouts 4 times a week plus gardening. This med does promote constipation, some dizziness (today for example) and a bit of nausea (today for example). In the past the side effects were minimal/tolerable, and even combatable. Pineapple helps digestion, romaine lettuce eases constipation as well as other veggies. Normally, when I am eating consistently I don’t get dizzy. This morning a banana and a spinach smoothie w/ hemp and chia seeds/almond milk was not enough: I got dizzy after getting up too fast from the leg press.

    I have great reservations about taking a new medicine, but I still need to know what my options are for other medication to stay alert.

  2. nancy
    Ca
    Reply

    I took wellbrutrin for the past 7 years. Originally I lost weight and then stabilized at a healthy weight. I work out and run 6 days a week and eat a very healthy diet. recently my company changed insurance companies and the new company refuses to pay for brand name even with dr’s specific prescription. I was forced to change to generic.

    In 2 months I have gained 20lbs on a previous 115lb frame. I have horrible headaches daily. I cannot get to sleep and cannot stay asleep for more than an hr or two at a time. I went from a solid 8hrs a night sleep to 3-4 hrs of tossing and turning. I drink a ton of water and am always bloated even when I eat little to nothing.

    Gaining all this weight while cutting more and more out of my diet and exercising more each day has been awful. I didn’t put the lack of sleep, headaches, bloating and weight gain all together until stumbling upon these posts while unable to sleep again tonight. I feel that on wellbrutin I actually slept better, had more energy, could focus and felt healthy. Since changing to generic I have been a mess and haven’t understood the cause. I am stopping immediately to see if some of these symptoms improve—- frankly I would rather be depressed and get a good night’s sleep than live like this one more day. I pray dropping this generic drug helps. It is ridiculous that greedy insurance companies can override doctors and that wellbutrin brand name is cost prohibitive.

    I feel at least a little better that perhaps I am not crazy and others have had the same experience. I literally feel sick every day from the bloating and weight gain from this drug.

  3. Andra
    United States
    Reply

    I am on 300 mg of the generic Wellbutrin XL. In two out of my last 5 refills of the drug (I’ve been on it nearly a year, Advantis has been the manufacturer throughout), the drug has been ineffective. I’m in a “bad” batch right now; the last time this happened (about 3 months ago) I got progressively depressed, but had all of my energy back within a couple of days of starting the next fill. The pharmacist at Target said everything is the same across these fills – all the numbers, everything, so there’s no way to know if there’s a difference. I’ve contacted my dr asking for a prescription for 2x150mg to see if it will help. I don’t know what else to do except go on the name-brand exclusively, an expensive proposition!

    I can’t find anyone else with this problem, though last time I saw my dr, a few weeks after the first “bad batch” she said another patient had had the same problem. Is there a way to report this? (The pharmacist said not really.) How can I make sure I get the “good” pills not the “bad” ones, if they’re same mfr and everything? Help!

  4. DCG
    Reply

    Ditto Ditto! I have only been taking generics for a couple month or so but noticed right away that the oblong ones did not work. Now I find out it may be much worse than that. Took an “Activis” generic oblong this morning, felt sick and anxious (almost full blown anxiety attack) within the hour (both unusual for me). Was it breakfast or the med? Now I’m thinking the med. Now it feels like I haven’t taken anything. This Activis brand was NOT recalled by the FDA (!?).
    I’ve also tried a larger round white generic. That one wasn’t useless. Definitely had that kick. I think that was the Watson brand (?).
    I have experience recent pronounced weight gain. Until now I attributed that to work stress….. but in past episodes of overwork I’ve typically lost weight (skipped meals). Now I have another suspect.

  5. DM
    Reply

    I’ve been taking Wellbutrin for 11 years. I started on it after struggling for a year with severe depression. According to my doctor depression may stay dormant in someone unless it is triggered. In my case a death in the family. He said that most people’s serotonin level will drop when they experience a tragedy, but then it bounces back and you get back to normal. In some people though it never bounces back and you stay in a depressed state, which is what happened to me. Anyway I started on the twice a day brand name and it was great, after a couple of weeks and a few initial days with a major head buzz, I felt like me again. Then, a few years after I started the meds the generic became available and my insurance company switched me over. After about 4 months on the generic I realized I hadn’t been feeling that great. Not as bad as when I was first diagnosed, but still more apathetic and unmotivated than felt right. I was switched back to the brand name and was fine. Last year the co-pay on the brand name twice a day skyrocketed (even with the brand necessary wording), but on the brand name once a day the co-pay was reasonable at $35 so my doctor switched me. I loved it, once a day seemed to regulate far better than twice a day (probably because I wasn’t forgetting the afternoon pill a couple of times a month). Well, my prescription is running out so my doctor called me in a one off refill until I see her next month only when she called it in she forgot to specify brand name so they filled it with the generic. I picked it up and figured I’d just deal thinking, how bad could it be for one month. Well it was bad. After 5 days on this stuff I thought I was going to jump out of my skin. The first day that I took it I noticed an hour or so later than my heart was a little fast and I felt a little amped, but assumed it was just an adjustment to the meds and forgot about being on the generic completely. The next few days I did feel out of it, a bit off, unfocused and unmotivated to do anything other than watch TV which is not me, but I just ignored it. It also took me about two hours to fall asleep on nights 3 and 4 when it usually takes about 20 min. Again, I just thought “well my brain must really be into this TV show”. Day 4 I found myself checking the pollen count because my sinuses were rocking, I had a mild sore throat and felt like a small chest cold was brewing. By day 5 my head felt like it was swimming in a bubble in outer space, I couldn’t focus on anything, I was anxious, my lips were tingling to the point where I wondered if I wasn’t having an allergic reaction to something, my palms were sweating, my ears were buzzing, my head hurt, basically it felt akin to what it feels like right before you have a panic attack except with sinus issues added in. It was horrible. Then all of a sudden I remembered “I’m on the generic Wellbutrin!” I immediately jumped online and found this site along with a bunch of scary articles confirming that yes, all this horrible feeling was a side effect of the Wellbutrin. I stopped taking it and still have some pills from my regular refill that I had saved when I got the generic “just in case” (thank goodness) so I’m off the generic and back on those. I feel mentally more clear, my sinuses are fine and my ears stopped buzzing a couple of hours ago. The generic that I have was manufactured by Anchen which doesn’t seem to be the one most people have issues with, so who knows, but I know that it was def. the meds.
    For those of you who are having issues with getting your insurance to pay if you have your doctor write “brand medically necessary” or whatever wording is required in your state on the prescription the insurance company should honor that. The co-pay will be higher than the generic, but hopefully not astronomically so, mine is a difference of $25.
    Also if you go on the WellbutrinXL website it looks like there are some options to help you get the medication at a more affordable price if the above doesn’t work or is still too costly. I haven’t tried it so I don’t know how insurance cos actually respond, but it would be worth trying at least.
    For the poster who lost 10lbs on the generic. Weight loss is a typical side effect with Wellbutrin, even the brand name that is why it is not recommended for people with eating disorders. It’s great if you’ve been depressed and gained weight as a result, but I guess not good if you’re already skinny. I think the loss of appetite wore off after maybe a year.
    On the subject of urination, both brand name and I guess generic can have this side effect although it is a less common one. When I first started on it I would get the feeling like I had to pee even if I had just, just gone. TMI, but usually if I just went again the sensation would go away. It wore off after a while, I still get it every now and again but not often. On the side effects list it does include more frequent urination, but I’m pretty sure years ago it actually said increased urge to urinate. Which is weird, but whatever, if it means I can get out of bed in the morning.
    I am glad that people are keeping this thread active. It is not only informative, but reassuring especially when you’re in the throes of a generic brand induced anxiety attack (ha-ha) and hopefully this will further the push to get these dangerous generic brands off of the market. Do these pharmaceutical companies give money to the FDA? I can’t understand why they’re so reluctant to pull them off of the shelf.

  6. Lab Lover
    Reply

    Finally! Someone else having discomfort urinating! I’ve had nothing but problems with the Buproprion. Not only discomfort with urination, but completely unable to urinate! I’ve also had SEVERE constipation, resulting in a blockage in my intestines that was brutal. I never want to go thru that again! So I am weaning off of the stuff!
    I also have experienced lightheadedness when standing,uneven balance/ feeling like I might fall and have ringing in my ears, which I didn’t experience before.
    Initially, the Bupropion seemed to help with my depression, and suicidal thoughts, but I’ve been so sick on it, I’ve lost 10 lbs. that I didn’t need to lose. My Pysch. said to give it more time at my last visit 1 mos. ago. I’ve been on it 4 mos. to 5 mos. I also take Cymbalta, and Neurontin for Chronic Regional Pain Syndrome. The physical pain is still so intense, and the loss of MY life (driving, gardening, traveling, basically everything I care about), which maybe many of you are most likely experiencing as well, has caused suicidal thoughts and one attempt, hence, the Rx for the Wellbutrion XL/Buproprion.
    Has anyone else had issues with constipation/urination. I know it’s an embarrassing topic,but I’d like to take the info.(I won’t copy it/compromise anyone’s identity) I just want to tell him I’m not alone in this.
    Thanks, and so glad I found this site!

  7. AL
    Reply

    All of those having issues with the switch! Most insurance companies will accept a reason from the doctor to allow you to get out of having to pay for the name brand! Just tell your doctors that you are having these ill effects.

  8. cab
    Reply

    I am bipolar. I have been taking welbutrin for just over a year. My pharmacist suggested the generic (bupropion xl mylan) as it was cheaper. I agreed happy to save a buck. I was doing so well and then a week into the generic bottle I started getting dizzy. I would be sitting at my desk and all of a sudden get that feeling when you get up to fast. I was irritable, had blurred vision, angry outbursts throwing things, shaking, racing thoughts, suicidal thoughts, I even went back to the pharmacy and asked about what I was going through. They told me it was exactly the same.
    I mentioned to my gp and he said it can be different. I thought nothing of it at the time.
    I would get confused and found it hard to concentrate and then the depression and anxiety kicked in 10 fold. I stayed in the house for almost 2 weeks straight missing work. My social anxiety was back. The worst part was I couldn’t understand why. I had been doing so well. It wasn’t until today when I found this page I finally understood! I’m Not Crazy!!!! I am so relieved.

  9. Erin
    Reply

    Just wanted to share my experience with generic wellbutrin (bupropion). It’s made by Mylan. I would get a bit of seasonal depression in the fall and winter, and sometimes I was just in a really crappy and negative mood that I couldn’t shake. I have Hypothyroidism and in spite of taking medication for that, I never really got my energy and motivation back fully. But I have a lot of stress in my life and I have taken almost all of the SSRI anti depressants in the past and they all make me sleepy. Wellbutrin was the only one that didn’t have that effect on me.
    A bonus was that it helped suppress my appetite so I wasn’t always craving junk food and I lost 2 or 3 pants sizes. I was able to get out of bed with ease in the morning, exercise, and I was in a great mood… Very happy and fun to be around. I could deal with things better because I was in a better frame of mind. The negativity and crying was gone. It also really increased my sex drive. Wellbutrin was almost a miracle pill, or so I thought. But, with almost any medication, there are side effects. Some you can tolerate and some you cannot. Well, I was one of the people who got the rare side effect of acne…. And I’m not talking about just a few pimples. It was all over my face and my skin was greasy too. The acne was cystic… They were deep pimples that would leave scars and to this day I still have dark spots on my face.
    I felt better until the acne just got out of control and then it began making me depressed. Any benefit I was getting from the medicine was being negated by how upsetting the side effects were for me. I began taking birth control pills (ortho tri cyclen) to try and clear my skin, but it didn’t work. I had topical stuff too. Finally I knew I had to give up the wellbutrin and my acne continued in spite of continuing birth control pills. I switched to ortho tri cyclen lo and that made no improvement. So after 2 rounds of antibiotics this year and finally switching to Microgestin fe 1.5/30 I began to see clearer skin. But I still continued to feel unwell mentally/emotionally.
    I decided to do an experiment. I decided to see of the Microgestin would be enough to keep my skin clear if I took wellbutrin again. The same thing as always happened. I felt better, but within a few days, I was getting acne on my face and in some other strange places that I normally would not break out. My skin also looked and felt greasy. I have also made the connection that wellbutrin makes my scalp itch terribly, especially at night. I thought I had dandruff or a scalp condition, but last week I made the connection when my scalp began to itch after I started the wellbutrin. I am very frustrated because it’s the only medicine that helps me “feel” better, but I cannot accept the side effects of constant acne and an itching scalp.
    I don’t know where to go from here because there are no other medications in the same class as wellbutrin. It’s in a league of its own. I guess I will just have to get by without it or try something completely different. I just wanted people to know that it can definitely cause acne. There is no question about it. Think about it.. Anything that can increase sex drive is surely going to affect your hormones in some way. I think that is what happened to me. The best way to stop it is to get off the stuff ASAP if you notice any skin problems or any other occurrence that is out of the ordinary or bothersome to you.

  10. Mary R.
    Reply

    Hi there. I took the BuPROPion HCL 300 mg XL for 1 week and it was a horrible experience–instantly I had intense headaches, blurred vision, angry outbursts, and could only sleep 4 hrs. per night…I want the Wellbutrin XL name brand but can’t afford them….hmm may have to consider another AD I hope your experience is better than mine was!

  11. JR
    Reply

    I used the brand Wellbutrin about 10 years ago and it worked wonders for me and popped my out of the bad funk I had been struggling in. Recently, through a series of personal tragedies I found myself slipping back into that same awful funk, so I went to the Dr. and got another prescription for Wellbutrin. The pharmacy gave me the generic brand and at the time I didn’t think anything of it… well after a week of taking the crap I had so many side affects – dizziness, shakes, cold sweats, blurry vision, super spacey where I couldn’t even finish a sentence, memory loss… it’s been horrible and thought maybe I should have the doctor switch meds for me.
    Thanks for the posts of others users I am now certain that it’s the generic and called the pharmacy to get the real deal, unfortunately they said I would have to have wait 3 three weeks for my insurance to pay for it or pay $330 – grrrr. I wish the FDA would pull this drug. If you’re new to Wellbutrin DO NOT TAKE THE GENERIC.

  12. Assy
    Reply

    I’ve taken Welbutrin xl 300 for 13 years and in generic form. All of the pills up til now were white and round. I’ve been taking another generic for a week now that is OVAL shaped and white and made by Actavis. I’m so dizzy and sad. Just feel like a turtle wanting to stay in my shell. My vision is almost vignetted.
    Anyone else have this problem with this particular manufacturer?

  13. Matt C.
    Reply

    Kayla,
    Vastly different reactions to anti-depressants are common. Contact your doctor as soon as you can about trying a different medication. I had to go through 5 different ones before we found the right one for me.
    About thought of suicide: Please call someone you trust right now. Talk to them about what you are feeling. They won’t care what time it is or if you are interrupting their favorite TV show. Feelings of hurting yourself can quickly escalate. I found that out the hard way. You can even call the suicide prevention hotline. 1-800-273-8255. They are there to help and understand what you are going through. There is no shame in calling. Please, talk to someone tonight. You have nothing to lose and I’m willing to bet you will benefit from it.
    Matt

  14. Kayla
    Reply

    I have the same issue. Nausea and dizziness. I can’t take it! I’ve been taking this for about a month (maybe a week more) and it hasn’t helped one bit. My anxiety and depression are completely out of wack! I’ve never been for suicide. I did think about it slightly when I was on Adderall in sixth grade. I’ve been very against it, but I feel I have been thinking about it more and more. Like what!? I’m nineteen in March I’ll be 20 and I shouldn’t be feeling like this. I really cant stand it. I should be happy and feeling great. The problem is, I’m not.. Help!
    Also:
    *I haven’t been thinking clearly since I’ve been on it and I’ve noticed. It’s actually scary. A few weeks ago while I was washing my hair in the shower, I was thinking about getting a trim. Yes that’s normal, but that’s not the freaky part. Then I started to think about shaving my head. My hair is down the the top of my pants. I would never shave my head!
    * Another time, I thought about cutting my finger.
    * The first day I took it, that night, I woke up in the middle of the night. At first I thought it was a dream. I felt like something was choking me. I couldn’t breathe. I was trying so hard I get up but I couldn’t. I finally did, and went to my kitchen. Looking frantically everywhere for what, I have no clue. Then I randomly woke up and realized I was in the kitchen and I was looking for my inhaler. Turns out I had a panic attack. Weird because I’ve never had one in my sleep ever before. I have slept walked before, but panicking like that was weird.
    * I haven’t had headaches from this. Thank god! But I have been more irritable than usual. I mean I’m grumpy, but I’ve been way worse.
    Any notes, suggestions, anything please reply to my comment. Thanks.

  15. Kayla
    Reply

    I have the same issue with Budeprion. Nausea and dizziness. I can’t take it! I’ve been taking this for about a month (maybe a week more) and it hasn’t helped one bit. My anxiety and depression are completely out of wack! I’ve never been for suicide. I did think about it slightly when I was on Adderall in sixth grade. I’ve been very against it, but I feel I have been thinking about it more and more. Like what!? I’m nineteen in March I’ll be 20 and I shouldn’t be feeling like this. I really cant stand it. I should be happy and feeling great. The problem is, I’m not.. Help!

  16. Sympathetic in Portland
    Reply

    I read your post with sadness but would like to offer encouragement. I also have Hashimoto’s and am taking generic Welbutrin and am going through a divorce with money concerns and Blue Cross Blue Shield (you see why I had to respond! :^) )
    However I would like to say that until this year I also was on Armour thyroid, thinking it was okay, but then my doc insisted I switch (back, after decades) to Levothyroxine. My TSH started at 25 and has gone down to under 5 over the year as she has adjusted the dosage slowly. Things are so much better now — the grey has largely faded from my life and I am much better able to cope with the challenges, with much better energy. You might like to consider asking your doc about other thyroid replacement choices.
    I am taking 300mg a day of the Sandoz generic. I won’t try going off of it until after the divorce. But I can’t help thinking that the main issue for me was the thyroid, not the buproprion. Also I have been going to an exercise class almost daily and I am positive that has also had a huge effect.
    Somewhere in the brain fog and distress is the real you waiting to live a much improved life. Believe me, it is worth hanging in there for, even if sometimes it may not feel like it. Keep working with the docs to find the combination that works. You will be so glad you did and amazed to look back and feel the difference.

  17. ARenee
    Reply

    I have been suffering with this for years. I have been taking Wellbutrin so many years that I cannot remember when I started. Definitely 10 years plus. I have paid thousands of dollars to take the namebrand. I am on day 2 of generic again because I cannot afford the 407.00 for 30 days namebrand with Blue Cross Blue Shield insurance.
    It’s better for me to go insane. Which is very painful mentally, physically to me and difficult for everyone around me. I was sick with flu like symptoms after one half day of Watson generic. I cant stop crying. I feel like I have a 20 pound brink on my head. The brain zaps are next.
    Unfortunately I am going thru a divorce and have many issues to battle in the next month. I resent ever being prescribed this drug as much as I resent my insurance company robbing me of thousands of dollars. I have to get thru this. I was diagnosed with hashimotos in January 2013. I have been taking 2 grains of armour thyroid for about 6 months. I am trying to eliminate gluten also. I am trying to survive this year.
    I am now wondering if I have been poisoned by this drug resulting in the nodule on my thyroid and my hypothyroid issues as well as the Hashimotos. I believe insurance companies and drug companies are poisoning us. I knew I wasn’t making this up. I cant say that I am happy to see others with an identical issue, but maybe I feel a very small fraction more sane.

  18. Deeboop
    Reply

    I have been on Wellbutrin SR 150 2x day for 10 years (Its amazing what you all have to say about weight gain, sleep, etc!! I thought for a long time if I took second dose earlier in after noon I would sleep better- XL didn’t work for me) I keep the Brand RX on file (and depending on what color the pharmacy gives me- yellow, white don’t work). Generic changes all the time no matter where I go to fill, but usually Tevo or Watson…… Tevo definitely does not work for me!!
    This time (Fred Meyer) my generics are purple and the manufacturer is EON Labs. Imprint E415
    What the heck? The reason for my search on Wellbutrin today was because I’m wondering what/if binders/gluten are in this antidepressant. I know have leaky gut and need to go off gluten. It dawned on me…. I wonder whats in it? If I’m going that drastic on diet… I don’t want to sabotage my healing by taking a drug that could be the problem. Anyone Gluten sensitive, also?

  19. Dena
    Reply

    My story exactly!

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