ConsumerLab.com Finds Generic Antidepressant Behaves Differently from Original Drug.  May Explain Complaints by Patients.

WHITE PLAINS, NEW YORK AND DURHAM, NORTH CAROLINA  — ConsumerLab.com reported today that its tests of a generic version of the popular antidepressant drug Wellbutrin showed differences between the generic and original that might explain recent consumer complaints about the generic product.  In February, readers of The People’s Pharmacy® syndicated newspaper column began reporting problems with a generic version of once-a-day Wellbutrin XL 300.  Prior to generic competition, annual U.S. sales of Wellbutrin XL 300 mg were nearly one billion dollars.

The ConsumerLab.com report, available at www.consumerlab.com/results/wellbutrin-bupropion.asp, shows that the generic product released drug at a very different rate than the original Wellbutrin XL.  Tests also showed that two generic bupropion SR (twice-a-day) products released drug somewhat differently – although these were within the fairly wide limits permitted by the FDA.  Time-released generic drugs often use tablet technologies different from the original product, possibly explaining the variations found.

Personal accounts posted at www.peoplespharmacy.com generally indicate that while taking the brand name antidepressant Wellbutrin XL 300 for months or years, people felt well and their psychological symptoms of depression were successfully controlled. After switching to a generic formulation many reported symptoms such as headaches, irritability, nausea and insomnia – known side-effects of bupropion. Others shared stories of becoming easily upset or aggressive, crying, gaining weight or experiencing a return of depressive symptoms. Some reported thoughts of suicide while taking the generic form of Wellbutrin. A large number of accounts note that returning to the original product brought symptoms under control.

Joe and Teresa Graedon, co-authors of The People’s Pharmacy®, immediately reported these cases to officials at the Food and Drug Administration who assured the Graedons that the FDA would look into the issue. The agency has not yet reported the results of its investigation.  The Graedons, aware of ConsumerLab.com’s experience in testing health and nutrition products, suggested that it initiate laboratory testing to see whether there was any measurable difference between the generic formulation and the originator product.

Tod Cooperman, MD, President of ConsumerLab.com, stated that “This information shatters the myth that generics are always identical to the original and it questions the belief that generics are always equivalent. Even if the active ingredient is the same, releasing it at a different rate may alter a drug’s effects.”  He added, “Generic drugs are essential to keeping medical costs down, but consumers and healthcare providers need to be aware of the potential differences among products otherwise thought to be the same.  Generics are not clinically tested for safety and efficacy, so the consumer will be the first to find out if there is a problem.”  ConsumerLab.com intends to publish additional reports on generic drugs on its website.

The testing was funded by ConsumerLab.com without drug company involvement. The full report is available to ConsumerLab.com subscribers at www.consumerlab.com/results/wellbutrin-bupropion.asp.  The report includes test results, information about other generic versions of bupropion on the market, and a list of other popular extended-release generic drugs.  The Graedons and The People’s Pharmacy® receive no financial support from pharmaceutical companies. Reports of generic drug problems by consumers are posted at www.peoplespharmacy.com.

ConsumerLab.com is a leading provider of consumer information and independent evaluations of products that affect health and nutrition. Reviews of popular types of vitamins and supplements are also available at www.consumerlab.com.  Soon to be released are new Product Reviews of magnesium, resveratrol (red wine extract), potassium, and omega-3 and -6 fatty acids and turmeric. Subscription to ConsumerLab.com is available online.  The company is privately held and based in Westchester, New York. It has no ownership from, or interest in, companies that manufacture, distribute, or sell consumer products.

The People’s Pharmacy® is a leading provider of consumer health information. Joe Graedon, MS, pharmacology, and Teresa Graedon, PhD, medical anthropology, have been writing a syndicated newspaper column (distributed by King Features Syndicate) for 29 years. They co-host The People’s Pharmacy® radio show heard on more than 125 public radio stations. They have written more than 10 consumer-related health books that address pharmaceuticals, herbs and dietary supplements.
For further information, contact Tod Cooperman, MD, at: tod.cooperman@consumerlab.com
Joe or Teresa Graedon can be reached at: peoplespharmacy@gmail.com

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  1. David B. Jr.
    Reply

    My pharmacy recently switched me to a different generic brand of wellbutrin and I start to experience headaches, nausea, irritability and the ability to focus on anything specific. I swiched back and within a few days these symptoms disappeared. I just wanted to post this for anyone who has gone through the same experience. Hope this info can be helpful.

  2. e
    Reply

    @Maggie – not sure about Diovan but my wife is on Klonopin and cannot use the generic for similar reasons (she has tried but it IS NOT THE SAME). We pay big bucks each month for the name brand and insurance covers only about 10% because a generic is available. It is a farce and a shame!

  3. Maggie
    Reply

    Has anyone else seen a difference between MANUFACTURERs of generics? I was on Diovan HCTZ, and was switched to the generic Valsartan HCTZ and my pharmacy provided the one supplied by Sandoz. This month, they switched to the one manufactured by Mylan. It does not feel so effective. Can different generic producers make similar but different products?

  4. carol
    Reply

    I am an RN and have always been thought thought that people who reported different results from generics to be exaggerating. I have been on Lexapro for 7 years and was delighted when the cheaper generic version was available as I pay out of pocket. Two weeks in on the generic and I was crashing emotionally. I switched back to the Lexapro and evened out emotionally. I buy the 20 mg tablets and cut them in half. Don’t know if this affects something in the generic version, but what I experienced was akin to stopping the drug abruptly.

  5. Jean
    Reply

    How would one know whether the generic brands of eyedrops for glaucoma (Dorzolamide and Lantanoprost) are effective? If my generic eye drops aren’t effective, I would slowly and imperceptibly start losing my vision? Any suggestions?
    Thank you

  6. Kellee
    Reply

    I have never taken Wellbutrin but was put on Bupropion extended release, at first it was great then WOW… I like the person above was so verbally abusive and just plain mean and I couldn’t understand why, this was not how I had ever acted. I did also in fact gain weight, fast like 10 pounds of what seems purely stomach fat. I wore a size 3 when I started and now I’m in 5 and 7s-WTH? I was on it from 02/2012 to just 3 weeks ago and I am a lot nicer person now. But I bet it takes me a lot longer to lose this stomach fat.

  7. hmariewv
    Reply

    I took the Azithromycin also and noticed a big difference. Didn’t work like the z pack

  8. hmariewv
    Reply

    I took Lamotrigine also and started having anxiety attacks in the morning. I never had them before and didn’t understand it at the time but now I know they were anxiety . I woke up feeling like something awful was happening and fearful and would cry every morning. Started feeling scared when out places, was more depressed than ever in my life.

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