a bottle of budeprion xl 300mg

A decade ago we received a message from J. in Danville, New York. She said:

“I have been taking Budeprion XL 300 mg for three months instead of Wellbutrin XL 300 mg. I find that I am easily upset and cry very easily. Sometimes I feel aggressive. I also have short, stabbing pains in my head. Taking the brand-name drug (Wellbutrin) helped me feel the best I have felt in twenty years–not depressed and able to enjoy being with my family and friends.”

That letter started a saga of woe and intrigue with the Food and Drug administration. When we published J’s message in our syndicated newspaper column, we started hearing from other people with similar stories. At first it was dozens of letters. Then scores. Eventually hundreds of people wrote to say that Budeprion XL 300 and some other generic bupropion products were not working as well as Wellbutrin.

We sent these messages on to the FDA. The answer from executives at the agency was that this was all a tempest in a tea pot. These were psychosomatic reactions (headache, anxiety, irritability, nausea, dizziness, insomnia, tremor, mood swings, panic attacks, depression, suicidal thoughts, etc). A highly-placed FDA staffer insisted that such side effects could not be brought on by the generic drug. Budeprion and Wellbutrin were supposed to be identical.

After five years of arm-wrestling the FDA, we learned that the agency would request removal of Budeprion XL 300 and some other generic bupropion products. At long last the FDA admitted that there were problems with the absorption of these generics. They were not considered “bioequivalent.” Here is a post we wrote nearly five years ago.

Patients Vindicated! Generic Wellbutrin Withdrawn

Fast Forward to Bupropion 2017:

We had hoped that the problems with generic Wellbutrin (bupropion) were behind us. Officials at the FDA seemed more vigilant about approving this generic product. Sadly, we are starting to hear from readers again that they are experiencing problems. Here is the latest story:

Q. I believe you helped reveal the generic Wellbutrin (bupropion) failures several years ago. Is there any chance that there are still problems with some generic pills?

I have chronic fatigue, for which I take bupropion. About eight months ago, I started having bad nausea every single day. I tried everything, but the only thing that helped was Dramamine, which made me too drowsy to function. I even tried lowering my dose of bupropion, but the nausea didn’t go away. (My morning dose stayed the same.)

I read a recent news article (Bloomberg) about the differences between generic and brand-name drugs. I realized the release mechanism of my morning pills might be the problem. I take two bupropion in the morning, get nauseated and crash around midday.

I’m convinced that the pills are dumping the active ingredient in my system far too quickly, causing that rollercoaster side effect profile. It started when I got a new job and thus, a new online pharmacy that sent a different generic.

After that insight, I switched to a longer-acting version and I haven’t been nauseous since. Does the FDA do testing for this type of problem?

A. We alerted the FDA to problems with generic Wellbutrin (bupropion) back in 2007. It took five years for the agency to acknowledge there was a serious problem with some slow-release bupropion formulations. Although these drugs were removed from the market, we have continued to receive complaints about certain generic products. The FDA doesn’t test samples submitted by individuals.

Other Readers Complaining about Generic Wellbutrin (bupropion)

Inez in Preston, MD:

“I have been taking Wellbutrin for years. Of course insurance required a change to generic bupropion. I tried it and it DID work. My pharmacy changed to a different manufacturer. The pills even looked different.

“It was bupropion XL. After a week of headaches, nausea, vivid dreams, etc. (felt like withdrawal; like I wasn’t even taking it) I realized that is the only change and symptoms started a day after the change.”

Carolyn in Colorado:

“I had been on Wellbutrin for 20 years or so. Bupropion or what ever that pill is had an horrible effect on me. It took a year or so to find the right one in the first place. I have tried what they call bupropion and had a horrible time. It also smells like sulfur which I am allergic to.

“Tried another which did not work. Horrible. I am having a terrible time not wanting to end it all. I feel that I can not make it and just want to leave. Why mess with something that works?”

John in Texas reports a similar situation:

“Reading these entries is rather alarming. I have been taking the round small bupropion XL for 2 years. I experienced a drastic improvement in my bipolar 2 depressive symptoms.

“Within the last 2-3 weeks of taking the same dosage, but a new manufacturer, I am having suicidal ideations. These thoughts are persistent. I have never considered thoughts such as these…ever! This manufacturer was just approved. It’s an oblong, white pill. Anyone else out there going through anything similar?”

Laura in Arkansas feels blindsided:

“I feel like I’ve been blindsided by the manufacturers of name brand Wellbutrin. I used to take it and it was affordable. Now, I have no option. It’s too expensive to use. The drug companies get you used to using it then jack up the price so high nobody can afford to pay for it. Thanks manufacturer of name-brand Wellbutrin XL.”

Can You Believe the Price?

We just checked with our local chain pharmacy. The cost for one month’s supply (30 days) of brand name Wellbutrin XL 300 was $1,836. Yup, you read that right. That means each pill costs over $60. Put another way, a year’s supply of brand-name Wellbutrin XL 300 could cost a depressed patient over $20,000.

The original developer of Wellbutrin was Burroughs Wellcome. When that company was acquired, the drug became the property of GlaxoSmith Kline, now known as GSK. More recently, the drug was acquired by Valeant, a Canadian drug company.

We checked with PharmacyChecker.com. This organization compares prices. They say that Canadian pharmacies charge roughly between $1.30 and $2.19 per pill for the branded version of Wellbutrin XL 300.

The Canadian Option:

We have created a Guide to Saving Money on Medicine with tips on how to use generic drugs wisely. There are also legitimate Canadian pharmacies where you can buy brand-name drugs at more affordable prices. Access to this online resource may be found in our Guide section:

Share your own experience with Wellbutrin (bupropion) below in the comment section. While you are at it, please let the FDA know if you have had problems with either Wellbutrin or bupropion at their MedWatch site. We told executives at the agency that we are once again hearing about problems with this antidepressant but we are not sure whether they are really paying attention.

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  1. Zinnias
    AL
    Reply

    I have been taking bupropion IR made by Actavis. 100 Mg twice a day.

    Beforehand, I did start on bupropion 150 Mg SR. It made me angry, BUT I actually FELT subtle positive changes. My doctor suggested we try the IR version. Usually I tolerate IR drugs much better anyway. So I have been taking the IR as prescribed. I have not felt any different.

    Recently I came across the leftover bottle of the SR. I decided to try it again (I know it’s important to consult my doctor before changing anything ) but I wanted to just see . I also have always taken my doses at night with no problems sleeping .

    The next day after taking the SR was incredibly different in a good way. It felt like the medication should be. Nothing drastic, just my confidence was increased and my fatigue was not keeping me in bed.

    I’m waiting for my doctor to prescribe the SR again once he gets my request. I don’t have any more SR so I’m taking the usual IR.

    The MAIN POINT OF THIS ENTIRE COMMENT IS THIS:

    The SR i had is by SANDOZ.
    The IR I had is by Actavis .

    I have also had major issues with actavis when I was taking Dexedrine spansules. I had to transfer to adderall ir. My issue is not biased, however, because I had I knew there was a major issue with the ir manufact. Before I looked up who made it . I realize the delivery mechanism is different, but i was taking 200 Mgs twice a day and it would jsut make me feel so flat. Empty – well more empty than I already felt from the sertaline . I know
    For a fact something is off.

  2. Keith
    Kentucky
    Reply

    I have been taking oblong white tablets of bupropion 300 mg XR for several months. On my last refill, I was given round white pills, of what was ostensibly supposed to be the exact same thing. In the last couple of weeks, my depression has returned, and some mild suicidal ideations are starting to return to the point before I started bupropion. I knew the new version was not working when I started smoking again, because bupropion is a very effective anti-smoking drug that helped me quit.

    It is absolutely ridiculous and negligent for the FDA to continue to allow this to happen. These companies are making huge profits from selling bunk pills that endanger people’s well-beings and lives. Anti-depressants are life-saving drugs that keep people from committing self-harm and suicide. All versions of bupropion should have the same effect, and if it is found that one manufacturer consistently has complaints of bad pills, they should be shut down.

  3. Taylor
    PA
    Reply

    I have been taking Wellbutrin XL for 10 years. I cannot tolerate ANY of the generic versions. Within a few days of taking them I begin feeling weepy, less motivated, down. By the end of week two I am full-on suicidal and can barely hold it together. The first time this happened to me I was switched to the generic automatically by the pharmacy and had no idea what was happening or why. I had to retrace everything to figure it out.

    Since then, I have switched insurance plans – not companies, mind you, just got on a different plan due to a new life event (job change, etc) and was therefore issued a new id number. They would make me go through the precertification process all over again, even though I have been “their insured” for about 17 years. So back to the generics I went, just to prove that yes, they really do cause me horrific side effects and lend no therapeutic value whatsoever. Once I am a complete wreck my husband goes into the pharmacy and flips out (not their fault, I know) until they, the doctor, and the ins co. document the event and get the paperwork processed so I can get the name brand again. It’s insane.

    The thing is, I don’t blame the insurance company for not wanting to pay for it. (Not that they are going hungry or anything), but the cost of the name brand is beyond ridiculous. I was at one point taking 3 – 150 mg tablets, which cost the insurance co $4500! My co-pay was $70. Then my dose was decreased to 2 – 150 mg tablets, which cost them $3000. Again I paid $70. Finally, since our premiums jumped by $500 per month this past year (to $1765 for 2 adults), I asked to be put on 1 – 300 mg tablet, which costs them $2000, my co-pay would be $70 but my doctor gave me an rx card, reducing it to $5 per month.

    Now, we have moved to another county, must switch insurance companies altogether, and none of the new ones cover the name brand. I have no idea what I am going to do. I can’t tolerate SSRI’s. I have tried other meds similar to Wellbutrin, but this formulation is the only one that works well and without major side effects or drug interactions.

    I do not understand how they can charge so much for a medication, especially one that has been around this long, has generics (useless, but still). There must be something that can be done…You can’t let people just go off medications that help them because you want to get rich charging $60-70 per pill (well, obviously, you can). All the other meds I take – different categories – are generics. No issues with them. This is the only one. There must be help for people like me and all the others whose stories I’ve been reading…

  4. LinKay
    Fort Worth, TX
    Reply

    CORRECTED (sorry)- I have taken Wellbutrin XL 300mg, or a generic thereof, for 19 years. It has always worked perfectly when taking either the brand name or the generic version manufactured by PAR. About 10 years ago I was switched to TEVA, became extremely depressed and suicidal for months- literally almost lost my life to this stuff- before they happened to switch manufacturers again at the pharmacy and I was fine. I didn’t put 2 and 2 together until much later when TEVA recalled their product because people were killing themselves and/or having seizures from it. Fast forward to 2017- In January the Pharmacy again switched manufacturers, and in addition to nausea, motion sickness, and headaches, all of which began within a day or two and never ceased; within 12 days I was incredibly depressed and once again having suicidal thoughts. For the first time in nearly 10 years. THIS IS NOT OKAY!!! Why is the FDA allowing consumers to suffer in this way? They themselves state that PAR is the only company to perform an independent Bioequivalency study on the 300mg. Since it’s not required, the other companies all did not. I will never let them switch me to anything besides brand name or PAR ever again. This is criminal. And the worst part is, pharmacists just look at you like you’re imagining it since nobody passed the literature on to them.

  5. LinKay
    Fort Worth, TX
    Reply

    I have taken Wellbutrin XL 300mg, or a generic thereof, for 19 years. It hasn’t always worked perfectly when taking either the brand name or the generic version manufactured by PAR. About 10 years ago I was switched to TEVA, became extremely depressed and suicidal for months- literally almost lost my life to this stuff- before they happened to switch manufacturers again at the pharmacy, and I was fine. I didn’t put 2 and 2 together until much later when TEVA recalled their product because people were killing themselves and/or having seizures from it.

    Fast-forward to 2017- In January the Pharmacy again switched manufacturers, and in addition to nausea, had motion sickness, and headaches, all of which began within a day or two and never ceased; within 12 days I was incredibly depressed and once again having suicidal thoughts. For the first time in nearly 10 years. THIS IS NOT OKAY!!! Why is the FDA allowing consumers to suffer in this way? They themselves state that PAR is the only company to perform an independent Bioequivalency study on the 300mg. Since it’s not required, the other companies did not. I will never let them switch me to anything besides brand name or PAR ever again. This is criminal. And the worst part is, pharmacists just look at you like you’re crazy o imagining it since nobody passed the literature on to them. This is real!

  6. Mary
    Nebraska
    Reply

    I had really wonderful results using the Mylan generic 300mg xl for the past 6 months. I renewed my prescription at a different pharmacy and now I’m on the Anchen brand. My emotions are unpredictable and I’ve taken to crying about everything. I have increased anxiety and stress, where before I was able to cope much better. I worried that they had messed up my dosage but now after reading everything I am flabbergasted and hoping I can get back on the mylan brand and hopefully feel some relief.

  7. Sharon
    UT
    Reply

    After reading all of these comments, I think what makes me the most upset is how many sufferers of depression who were prescribed Wellbutrin at one time, tried the generic version their pharmacist gave them, and then either had no response, or worse, had some horrible reaction(s). Then they decided that Wellbutrin would never be the “right” medication for them – when in all probability their lives could have been greatly improved by the REAL thing.

    I will never forget the month of October, 2004, when the Wellbutrin I was taking (I don’t remember the exact formula) started working in my system, and my dysthymia subsided enough for me to recognize that the sun was shinning, and that my grass was green, and that I had a hundred reasons to be thankful to be alive. I realized for the first time in my life that most other people must feel like that every day, WITHOUT any medicine. I will be eternally grateful for this life changing drug.

    I wish more people who suffer from depression could really experience it’s effects. Now how do we get rid of all the phony generics, and get ones like Sandoz the attention they deserve, so doctors and pharmacists can use them?

  8. Mandi
    California
    Reply

    I feel like I’m going through withdrawals or something similar. I’ve been taking The Sandoz generic Wellbutrin for a month and felt great. I had no anxiety at all and just some constipation and dry skin. It’s been three days on the Activis generic, and my anxiety is off the charts. I can’t sleep and just start sobbing. My pharmacist is getting me the Sandoz version again, but I have to wait a few days. I feel shaky, scared and very similar to how I felt when I got off Prozac.

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