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 Generic Wellbutrin Withdrawn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┬ádidn’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. Valerie

    So should i start the generic Wellbutrin XL or should I try another medication because it seems like the generic companies are not delivering the proper ingredients that consists with Wellbutrin

  2. Valerie

    Now im worried i did alot of research of this drug I’m only on the 150 mg just started it the Wellbutrin generic hope it works out for me

  3. Valerie

    Is it just the 300mg dose? Thats what in hearing, i just started Wellbutrin xl generic for a week it is effecting my vision but not going to give up yet.

  4. Jamie

    I was prescribed Wellbutrin for feelings of tiredness and fatigue brought on by another medication. Within days and weeks, I was behaving differently but I didn’t realize what was going on and that it was the medication. A patient and calm-natured person, this made me into someone my friends and family didn’t recognize at times — angsty, agitated, crying for no apparent reason – it ruined my life. Please get this off the market. I had no idea a medication could cause all of these awful things — and the doctor who prescribed said he was not aware I was given a generic and would have never had me take it if he knew it was the generic given the history of severe side effects.


    I have always thought that generic drugs could be made by colleges with pharmaceutical programs. I think our political institutions should bring lawsuits against manufacturers that do not provide the exact ingredients, including delivery methods. Wellbutrin had a good reputation as a antidepressant until manufacturers messed with the delivery systems.

    Wellbutrin was also a very good price from the beginning, until they got greedy…now generics are altering the ingredients and delivery systems and starting to charge more…sort of like the Epipen problem.

    It was brought before the Grand Jury, why can’t we do the same with other drugs, price gouging and harmful ingredients.

  6. Sally

    I’ve been taking generic Wellbutrin for many years. A few years ago I started feeling unwell, and shortly thereafter read that the brand I was taking had been recalled. I was OK until a couple of months ago. I started to feel very agitated, hair-trigger temper, fuzzy-brained. My past experience with bupropion just occurred to me, and in googling it found out that there have recently been a lot of problems with the generic again. Nice to know that I’m not going crazy but no idea what to do about it. Anyone have any ideas?

  7. Amy
    Cary, NC

    I’ve been having problems with Bupropion XL manufacturered by PAR Pharmaceuticals. It feels like I stopped taking the drug or tapered down drastically even though I’m taking it consistently as prescribed.

  8. Alex

    I have tried ALL generic brands of Wellbutrin XL available in the U.S. Sadly, there has been no improvement with the generic formulations. Taking them is like taking nothing and, sometimes, side effects are worse. Insurance does not cover the brand. Therefore, I am stuck paying out of pocket an enormous price. Canada prices are better but still, they are expensive. Generics still don’t work!

  9. Tim

    I have been on Wellbutrin for many many years. I experienced great relief from my severe depression and of wanting to no longer live.

    However in the last 6 months I have been going downhill. Especially in the last 3 months I have felt very agitated, have headaches, am horribly depressed again, and my anxiety is off the charts. And yes, I have severe memory loss. So much so that I feel like I may have Alzhiemers. I suspected that the Wellbutrin was not working but did not check into it until just now. The fact that so many people are having problems should be alarming to the FDA. Seeing others having problems similar to mine only intensifies my anxiety. What do I do now, and where do I turn?

    It is said in this post to not stop taking the med suddenly. Well, that is exactly how it feels, and I haven’t stopped taking it. It feels like it’s just a placebo.

    • Valerie

      Where you on 300 mg or 150mg?

  10. Aaran

    There is even a noticeable difference in generic manufacturers. My husband chooses to get his bupropion filled at a specific pharmacy because he says the brand they use works much better than the one at the new pharmacy we have been going to.

    I’ve always had problems with irritability and depression so I don’t know if it effects me that way as well. A 30 day supply of generic is $9 but the original is $752!

  11. Marilyn
    Buffalo, NY

    I’m a retired RN and since I graduated in 1975 I’ve seen two trends: More medications being recalled after they’ve harmed a significant number of people and more problems with generics. It’s gotten so bad that some doctors admit privately they won’t use generics for their patients unless they must.

    My own personal experience is illustrative: When changed from Lexapro brand to the generic, my symptoms returned. Once back on the brand, I was fine.

    Recently a family member became severely depressed when the pharmacy suddenly switched him from the brand to the generic version of Pristiq. After many weeks of horrible suffering the doctor finally got the insurance company to switch back to the brand Pristiq. After about a week and a half, the depression started to lift. Many generics simply cannot be considered “equivalent” when the binders and fillers and other aspects of the compound such as the time-release mechanism or compounds are different than what is found in the “brand” name drug. If these differences cause the medication to be absorbed, released or metabolized differently then they should NOT be considered to be “equivalent”.

  12. JJ
    Boca Raton,FL

    These claims of lack of efficacy and negative effects of generic Wellbutrin are 100% FACT. For YEARS.

    Who wouldn’t want an inexpensive generic to work? Who doesn’t want to feel their best and by the most cost-effective means? This is criminal and beyond that, one of the cruelest acts bestowed upon consumers in this United States of America. Despicable.

    I’ve ridden this roller coaster. What’s needed is a new drug in the same family. Wellbutrin is in a class all its own. Need a competitor and the manufacturers will ALL get themselves in line.

  13. Linda
    Flint, Michigan

    I wondered about the difference in the pills other than general appearance. I had not heard of the problems with the generic replacements. But now it makes sense.

    I have been irritable, shaky, quick to snap and show anger. I am unbelievably tire at times. I feel like someone pulled my plug and a need to sleep right now! RIGHT NOW!! but it doesn’t really help.

    My brain feels foggy and fuzzy. I just realized I ran out of the original round pills and have been taking the new oblong pills. Makes you think. I have moments I feel some what normal but it comes back. Makes it hard to get much done. It’s starting to make so sense now.

  14. June C.
    League City, TX

    I started taking Wellbutrin about 2004 and found that if I took 150 mg in the morning and 150 mg in the evening I did just fine.

    I don’t remember when I was switched over to BuPROPion Hydrochloride Extended Release tablets, USP (SR) but for me either one has worked equally well, same dosage. Maybe the company that makes them makes a difference–SANDOZ. I have personally ( and fortunately) not had any of the problems
    that others have had. I sincerely hope that each of you find the relief you are looking for.

  15. James

    The psychiatrist who originally prescribed brand-name Wellbutrin XL for me agreed with my assertion that the generic was not equal to the task. She had heard the same story from too many other patients.

    I have tried the generic twice, for varying lengths of time, and found it worse than useless. Of course, no insurance company I have ever had, including Medicare, will cover the real thing because, well, you know, money. The fact that Canadians can buy the exact same pill for 3% of what American pay makes the situation all the more galling.

  16. Ann
    Houston TX

    The generic Wellbutrin does not work half as well as the real drug. I was taken off Wellbutrin and given the generic. Within 6 months I realized something was wrong. I started with the crying, depressed feelings, not feeling well, in a word “Depressed .”

    I realized that this started when I started the generic Wellbutrin. I spoke with my doctor and told him something was wrong with the generic version. All my problems were back again. I wanted to go back to the real Wellbutrin.

    My meds are filled thru Express Scripts for my company insurance. I have to pay a considerable extra charge for a 3 month supply out of my pocket, but it is worth every dime. I am back to feeling much better.

    The generic Wellbutrin is still not working in 2016. It isn’t in your mind it really does not work well. I would send to Canada or Mexico to get the real thing if it is taken away because of the cost factor. It really works and that’s worth every dollar you spend. How sad that some insurances won’t cover it. Greed and money go together for many of these drug companies ­čśö

  17. Dr. Judith
    Kfar Saba, Israel

    Wellbutrin was also listed as a medicine which helps people stop their smoking habit. I prescribed it for a heavy smoker. He was given a generic equivalent. It made him so nervous, he doubled the number of cigarettes he smoked.

  18. J. David
    Springfield, MO, USA

    My patients had good luck with the Saskatchewan Pharmacy. One of my friends though got pills from what he thought was a Canadian pharmacy, in a different Province, without Atenolol in them, went into withdrawal and generated more than $10,000 in ER charges and suffered discomfort and blood pressure elevations until the problem was correctly diagnosed.

  19. L
    Bulverde, TX

    My husband was prescribed buproprion (generic Welbutron) for depression. He became even more agitated and not very nice. He was taken off after a week. He has other issues, which make him very crabby and the buproprion exacerbated the meanness.

    I took Welbutrin in the past and had very good results.

  20. AES
    Florence, SC

    Wellbutrin worked for me in ways that helped my depression and even my Attention Deficit Disorder for 15 years or so.

    About 6 years ago, I noticed changes in my behavior and reactions that directly correlated to the changing appearance of the pill itself. Research revealed that the specific labs and providers made a significant difference. I use RiteAid and found that specifically requesting (every month) for the lab to be ‘Watson Labs’ determined if I would get the same old tried-and-true results or not. That particular lab seemed to get it right where others seriously missed the mark.

    About 3 years ago, all the options were narrowed and I was unable to find meds created by that place. Was reluctant to believe that the specific lab could make that big of a difference but I am convinced of it now.

    I’ve been trying totally different meds for the last 2 years, trying and hoping for the same positive results that I had gotten for those first 15 years. No such luck, yet.

  21. Debbie

    I was on Wellbutrin XL 300 in 2007 for a few years, brand name. It was affordable then. Then price went up and insurance refused to pay so went to generic. Side effects were so bad I stopped taking it.

    Now I am going through a bad time again. My husband has PPA and Alzheimer’s. I need to be taking Wellbutrin again. I tried generic but felt worse: horrible thoughts, nightmares, aggressive actions. But brand name too expensive.

    This is the United States of America, why can’t we get brand name drugs at a decent price? Generic drugs are a cheap joke.

  22. Skip

    I was given the original drug about 8-10 years ago. I think my first month was 200my. I started to have memory loss, some big things I forgot but small things like going to the pharmacy to buy a couple of things and at the pharmacy, I forgot what I wanted to buy. The second month, my doc went up to 300mg and I had maybe double the memory loss that month from the month before. I was now mad and worried. I called the mfg and the gal was very nice, she said she worked for the company a long time and she didn’t know of any memory loss with this drug, but she said the big guy, who knows everything about their drugs was walking by and she would ask him. Five minutes later she comes back to me and said YES, this med could have a memory loss side effect.

    In a nice way, I told her why was this not on the long list of 20 side effects, so I would know right away this was a problem drug for me? And she couldn’t answer me that. I hung up, threw the rest of that drug down the toilet and told my doc that that drug was done with me (it did help with my depression). In maybe a few days to a week, my memory loss issue was 100% gone and I was normal again, no memory loss again. Hope this helps some of you folks who could use this information.

    • Pamela

      It is extremely irresponsible to throw medicine down the toilet and into the municipal water supply that is recycled – or any waterway for that matter, instead of in the garbage. (There are other ways of safely disposing of drugs either through once a year collection or that can be found through hospitals and doctors I would imagine.)

  23. Kate

    I have been taking Bupropion HCL 150mg XL, generic for Wellbutrin XL 150mg. Other than dosage, is this the same as described above? I have been taking it for about 20 years with no side effects whatsoever. I swear by it, it really has made a difference in my mental well being. The price is still affordable and covered by insurance.

  24. Linda
    Kirkland, WA

    Re generic Wellbutrin, I was surprised that there was no mention of extreme dry mouth. I am not exaggerating when I say that I was unable to say one word without having to take a drink of water. I had only been taking it for a few days. My doctor put me on the brand med and I haven’t had any side effects. She said several of her patients complained of this.

  25. June

    I take Bupropion HCl 150 mg. I had lots of nausea. I’ve been taking it for about a year, I will monitor it closer. Thanks for the info!

  26. Anne

    I was very nauseated and dizzy. I was only on it a couple of days so I quit.

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