Q. I would like to know what has happened with FDA’s investigation into generic Wellbutrin (bupropion). Has anyone heard about the results of the studies that were supposed to be completed by March 2013?

There is not a word on the FDA website. Even if the results were late, it’s now been several months.

I was on the brand for years since in the past the generic didn’t work for me. Now my insurance company will not pay for the brand name so I’m forced to switch back to the generic. I’m worried about getting depressed again.

A. Last fall the FDA admitted that one generic form of bupropion (Budeprion XL 300) was not bioequivalent to the brand name Wellbutrin XL 300. The formulation was removed from the market. Visitors to this website played a role in bringing this problem to the agency’s attention.

At that time the FDA asked other generic manufacturers to complete further tests by March 31, 2013. We have repeatedly asked the FDA for the results of these tests but we have not yet seen a report or any data. 

We find it discouraging that the FDA has not released data about other generic bupropion formulations. The most recent response from the agency suggests that it won’t be releasing the kind of specific information we need to assess the bioequivalence of the other long-acting generic bupropion products that remain on the market. That does not seem patient friendly or transparent. The FDA has been bragging about its effort to be transparent, but when it comes to generic drugs, getting data is like pulling teeth. The agency seems to say, “trust us, we know what we are doing.” But we tend to follow Ronald Reagon’s famous admonition, “Trust, but verify.” We would like to see the data so we can verify for ourselves that what the FDA says is true.

Just recently we learned that a bupropion SR product made by Wockhardt of India might have caused problems. Although the FDA has banned importation of products from Wockhardt’s Wuloj plant (where bupropion SR was made), the agency has not called for removal from pharmacy shelves. To learn more about this odd affair, here is a link

Your doctor may be able to appeal to the insurance company on your behalf if the generic does not work as well as the brand name did. Sadly, though, insurance companies fall back on the FDA’s assurance that generic drugs are identical to brand name medicines, even though we cannot see the data to back up this assertion. 

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  1. Greg

    I’ve been on Bupropion for 18 years, since before a generic was available (of the SR, at least). From spring 1997 until whenever in the mid 2000s it became available as a generic, I was on the brand name Wellbutrin SR. Although generic SR (Sandoz or Mylan) does the job as far as regulating brain chemistry and keeping depression in control is concerned, if you were to ask me if at the time I thought brand name SR was superior, the answer would be a resounding ‘yes.’

    I also think the generic may produce more nebulous (or sometimes clear, even) gastrointestinal disturbances, be it constipation or trapped gas or a bit of bloating. Whatever. These are symptoms that for the most part I didn’t really have on the brand name, except for a couple months at the very beginning as my body was acclimating to the drug.

    The bottom line is: For depression, a good generic SR (again, Sandoz or Mylan) will totally do the job in an effective manner. However, to me, it’s more a question of how your individual body will respond with respect to potential physiological side effects, such as weird gastro disturbances, etc.

  2. Chelsea

    Hi I was on Generic Wellbutrin for about 6 weeks and the side effects were horrible. No memory, itchy restless sleep, dark creepy thoughts just overall it was a scary experience.

    Spoke with a friend who is on non-generic and told me to get on Brand that there is a huge difference between the two.

    My doctor prescribed brand for me and the cost was $800!!!!! I did some research and you can get brand for $50 or free depending on your insurance through the Wellbutrin Guarantee Program – here is the link http://wellbutrinxl.com/savingscard/consumer/guarantee-program
    They called my pharmacy and transferred my prescription. So fingers crossed I have a better experience with the Brand. Hope this helps for those of you who didn’t know about the guarantee program :)

    • Greg
      Los Angeles CA

      I’d love to hear your feedback on how well your body tolerates the brand XL by comparison to the negative experience you had with the generic. Less stomach disturbances on the brand than with the generic? Or no? Thank you.

  3. Lynn

    I was wondering if anyone has any suggestions on what I can do? I am on medicare and have the part D. Medicare no longer is covering Welbutrin the last time I filled it, I paid $337.00. I can find one company who will help, but their cost will be $400.00 and $77.00 for the insurance coverage. I can’t take the generic so was wondering how you find a pharmacy in Canada that you can fill your prescription, that is reputable.

    When you look on the internet, there are several but how do you know if you are getting the right drug and it’s really a pharmacy and not a scam?

  4. Deborah G.
    Winston Salem NC

    I, too, have had the brand vs. generic experience though mine was with Cymbalta. Brand worked great, insurance company took advantage of the advent of the Affordable Care Act, as I believe ALL insurance companies have done, and used that as an excuse to cut benefits, raise premiums and shorten their RX list of coverage. Result? I was switched to generic Cymbalta and became a whole new me, raged-out, suicidal and unrecognizable even to myself. I tried two different manufacture sources. I’ve been off it since mid-July, and I’m still having brain zaps. Now my Doc wants to put me on brand necessary Wellbutrin XL. My cost: $1,204.33 per month. That’s with BCBS.

  5. rj

    I have always been on the name brand here in Canada, our health care is far superior than the health care in the USA, I take remron, valeant wellbutrin and a couple other pills. I just think when you’re on pills that are involved with the brain you can’t take chances and play around with it, it is hard to regulate all the new generic drug manufacturers and they try to keep costs down on their pills and thats why they are putting out garbage pills.

    I do have great benefits and they do pay 95% and the wife’s pays 85% so 3 months of valeant 300mg wellbutrin costs $9 and all the rest are fully covered but to get to my point a lot of manufacturers have a co-pay program, those of you that want name brand wellbutrin, valeant has that program and you guys should look into it. Valeant is far superior than any other wellbutrin manufacturer out the. Please look into program and stop playing around with your brain. I have a friend that swears by the mylan brand wellbutrin, but that all she’s ever had and its been great for her so some may work some may not work, I just know that my wellbutrin will not change because the pharmacies have to carry the name brand and a few generic brands, and they can change the generic brands from day to day, one day mylan next week teva and the next a different brand.

  6. ray

    Has anyone had good luck with valeant brand wellbutrin, or is there a better brand?
    People’s Pharmacy response: Wellbutrin is the brand name drug.

  7. cpmt

    some generics are better than others depending the manufacture. some people have good results with some and when their insurance changes the manufacture (the same generic medicine) stopped its benefits and the same generic don’t have the same effects and is not the same.

  8. SG

    Hi Folks,
    For me, the TEVA brand (their SR version) is what has worked perfectly for me for about eight years (1x/day 150mg SR in conjunction with Adderall for ADHD). I don’t remember if I ever took brand. But now, TEVA is no longer making any Wellbutrin generics. I switched to the Sandoz generic and I’ve had feelings of lightheadedness. I remembered that this lightheaded feeling was the same feeling I had when my psych and I tried going from 150mg/day to 200mg/day (TEVA). So maybe the issue I’m experiencing now is due to too high a dose. It’s quite possible that the TEVA brand didn’t get into my system well and so had a lower effective dose, which worked perfectly for me. So I’m going to try 100mg/day of the Mylan generic and see if my lightheadedness goes away.
    I’m no supporter of generics… but I’m telling my story because I don’t think it’s always about brand = good and generics = bad. It can simply be a matter of finding the right dose on the formulation you are taking. Or maybe switching to another generic.
    I certainly think the FDA should be tougher on generics to mimic more closely the behavior of brand. But feeling like a slave to the brand and the insurance company isn’t great outcome. And there are lots of generic choices for Wellbutrin. I’ll report back how I do on the 100mg SR Mylan version.

  9. DM

    OMG!!! I have been taking Generic Wellbutrin on and off for 10+ yrs. I was first prescribed brand Wellbutrin. It pulled me right out of a deep depression. I was doing fantastic. Because of the cost however I had no choice but to switch to the generic version. Within a short period of time I began experiencing the less effective results. I discussed with my Dr. And therapist numerous times that I’m just not myself. This is not me.. My Dr has tried other medications by themselves and with the Wellbutrin over the years but I just can not find the person I used to be… I ‘ve tried to trace back to when The last time I felt normal. It was when I was on brand Wellbutrin.
    I have also questioned my Dr many times (in fact again just at my last visit ) if there was a difference between the generic and brand drug or if one pharmacy’s drug supplier was better then anothers. He assured me they were exactly the same except for the cost.
    Then Today I was reading once again (as I have several times in the past) the side effects of Wellbutrin. I some how came across an article about the FDA findings on the generic Bupropion not being as effective as Wellbutrin. I have been thinking this for years !!
    Is this my answer? I am desperate? Will the brand Wellbutrin bring back my life?
    I am certainly going to bring this finding to my Dr attention ASAP. Pray for me that it is my solution as I hate the person I am now and want myself back. Oh Yeah, I forgot, can I afford it? :(
    Any advice, info, or help anyone can offer would be greatly appreciated! Thank you for reading!

  10. R R

    Have you tried the Valeant discount program. I’m now getting a 30-day supply of the 300XL for $50.00 a month. It might even be lower depending on your insurance but at most $50.00 I’ve been on the PAR 150mg 2X a day, Watson 300XL and Actavis 300XL and only the PAR 2X a day worked well. I just got my new Valeant Wellbutrin and am already noticing a difference.

  11. ch

    I’m trying to find which manufacturer of generic bupropion Xl 300 Mg is better and multiple searches have led to few answers. Is there anyone satisfied taking a generic bupropion Xl? If so-which manufacturer’s buptopion Xl is it (the pharmacy can tell you which manufacturer they use).

  12. Kat

    I have been on generic form of wellbutrin xl for two months and I am not feeling the effects that I have had in the past while taking non-generic form. I can’t afford the brand name and am forced to take generic. I wondered if I started taking the generic sr if I would have better results?

  13. GT

    I started taking Wellbutrin SR about 12yrs. ago. My doctor tried me on Wellbutrin XL and also generic brand Wellbutrin. After much trial and error, it was evident that I could only take BRAND NAME WELLBUTRIN SR. I was able to get help with the purchase of this drug due to its extremely high cost and I had no insurance. When I turned 65 yo and became medicare eligible, I was no longer eligible to received assistance with the brand name Wellbutrin SR. To pay for one months supply of Wellbutrin SR twice a day cost me $450.00. Medicare helped some, but I reached the donut hole in 5-6 months and now it costs me over $200.00 EACH MONTH.
    I had to try the generic Wellbutrin SR because I could not afford brand. I took generic Wellbutrin SR the first day, approximately 2-3 hrs. after taking, I noticed some stomach pain and discomfort but didn’t think much of it. Later that afternoon, I took my other dose of generic Wellbutrin SR and several hrs later my stomach pain and discomfort came back. Still didn’t relate. The next morning I took my first general Wellbutrin SR and immediately had severe stomach pains that almost sent me to the Urgent Care. Only then did I realize that my stomach pains were coming from the generic Wellbutrin SR. I took no more of the generic and got the brand name Wellbutrin SR the next day and started taking only one a day to see if I could do with this dosage to save money.
    After about 6 weeks, I realized that I was headed down the wrong path. I knew I was not feeling right and that I HAD TO TAKE THE BRAND NAME WELLBUTRIN SR to be able to have a functional meaningful life as I had been having for 12 yrs. up until I was forced to try the generic Wellbutrin SR again. I have tried all avenues to get help with this brand name medication and have hit a dead end. Why can’t anyone come forth and test all generic forms of wellbutrin sr and see what is different!!!!!! Yes there is a difference!!!!!!

  14. Becky H.

    I have been on the generic brand “Bupropion HCL 150mg XL” since insurance cut out Wellbutrin. It’s probably been at least 2 years. My dose is 150 hcl xl 3 a day (450). Its been ok I quess even though it does not give me the satisfaction Wellbutrin did. BUT in the last 10 mts I have been fighting panic attacks, which I’ve never had before. Oh my they are horrible! Then just the other day I decided to read over the side effects of Bupropion again. There on the page it clearly stated (could cause panic attacks!!!) WOW! I want off this stuff & am going to my doc next week. I am on it for anxiety & also told it could help cope with my Fibromyalgia. I do not want to feel sedated or drowsy. I have to take care of my elderly parents. Most brands I have tried caused weight gain & that’s not an option for me. I’m 57 years old .
    Thank you

  15. sp

    Quite a while ago I discovered the generic worked better for me than the brand, and it is still working. Oddly enough I got a letter from my insurance company today telling me that they are raising the category for both generic and brand. Not sure if it’s related to this inquiry.

  16. Karen

    I’m forced to switch back to the generic.
    No, we are forced to make a choice between saving money and taking the generic, or paying more money out of pocket and getting the brand name.
    People make choices about what’s important to them all the time. I realize that paying out of pocket for drugs is not the American way.
    Not being depressed again is worth a lot of money.

  17. Thom

    I use to take Wellbutrin (bupropion) generic for depression and fatigue and found that it wasn’t working well. I was told I have poop out syndrome.
    This was several years ago. How long had this been going on with the Indian company? How do I know where it can from at this time? And can I start taking it again, if I was getting a reduced/potent pill? Thanks. Thom in DC.

  18. cpmt

    The insurance co. want the easy way out. They don’t care if a drug works or not and for them it is easier and cheaper to accept what FDA tells us even though they know is not the truth

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