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654 Health News Update

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Wellbutrin XL is a once-a-day antidepressant that has become quite popular. Some patients have found that a generic substitute does not work in quite the same way. An investigation by ConsumerLab.com showed a striking difference in the way the two drugs dissolve.

Most of the health information on the Internet is general. One Web site is devoted to providing people with personalized evaluations of drug risks from side effects.

The lines are open for calls from listeners at 888-472-3366.

Guests: Tod Cooperman, MD, president of ConsumerLab.com

Hugo Stephenson, MD, President of iGuard.org

Tieraona Low Dog, MD, Director of Education for the Program in Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona, Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Medicine and Clinical Lecturer for the University of Arizona College of Pharmacy
www.drlowdog.com

Christopher Gardner, PhD, Director of Nutrition Studies, Stanford Prevention Research Center at Stanford University.  

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I will have been taking this drug for a year in November. I was taking the brand name Wellbutrin XL for the first 4-5 months. Since taking the generic I have noticed some of these adverse symptoms. Due to the severe blinding headaches and anxiety I have been trying to taper off of this medication. In the meantime, I will be switching back to the brand name in the next couple of days--now that I know these issues are related to the generic version of the drug.

I RECEIVED THE GENERIC VERSION OF WELLBUTRIN XL ON MY LAST MAIL ORDER. AFTER TAKING IT FOR ONE WEEK I FELT THAT OVERWHELMING FEELING AGAIN. I CALLED MY DOCTOR AND GOT THE BRAND AND EVERYTHING WAS FINE. GLAD TO SEE THAT I WAS NOT THE ONLY ONE THE GENERIC DIDN'T WORK FOR.

Please explain the difference between Cerefolin versus a generic form of folic acid. Why would one want to choose Cerefolin over other straight form of folic acid?

Hi Joe & Terry,
Enjoyed this weekend's program on generics and wanted to share my story with you:

I discovered the discrepancy between generic/name drugs almost 20 years ago when I was treated for depression. My doctor prescribed Tofranil, and within two weeks I was feeling better than I had in my entire life (at age 29). I took this medication for six months, life was wonderful, and then when I went to fill a new script found out that my insurance company had started directing pharmacies to fill any prescriptions with generic meds wherever one exists. I, like most people, naively assumed that they would be the same or the FDA would not have allowed them to be interchanged.

Within three days of starting Imipramine, however, I began to notice a difference in the way I felt; within a couple weeks my mood was flat, all the joy had gone out of me once again, and when I complained to my dr., she did not believe that it could be the generic. Instead she thought I was metabolizing the med and she increased the dosage. This did not help and things continued to go downhill; finally she had to acknowledge that something was different, so she wrote a new script with a stipulation for name brand, but things were never the same as they had been initially--the depression was alleviated, but the side effects, esp. anxiety, dry mouth and gastric upset (none of which I had experienced the first time), became intolerable and I had to work off of it after a year.

In the years that followed I was put on more than a dozen anti-depressants but nothing ever worked properly, or I had allergic reactions, and even have permanent side effects from taking Paxil. Finally I just gave up and have been off meds for several years, and of course am miserable. I can't help but feel that if I'd never taken that generic medication everything would have been fine, but naturally this can never be substantiated.

I've always been extremely sensitive to medications (normal height/weight but can only take about half the recommended dosage in most cases), so this may be a clue as to the type of person that may not benefit from generics.

Thanks very much for your program ~
MJBurton

I felt validated to see that there is, indeed a difference between the generic anti-depressant and Wellbutrin XL. I went from the 150 mg brand name to 300 mg generic and felt awful within the first week with all the same overwhelming feelings. On a hunch, I switched back to the brand name and my symptoms went away. I'm not sure if insurance will be kind and reduce the price for Wellbutrin XL even though there is a generic, albeit poor imitation.

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