The People's Perspective on Medicine

Analysis Raises Generic Drug Question

For decades the FDA has been telling everyone—physicians, pharmacists and patients—that generic drugs are just as good as their brand name counterparts. According to the feds there’s no need to worry about quality control just because a generic medicine costs 50 percent less than the original. As for the $4 generics at big-box discount chains, celebrate, don’t hesitate!

Everyone loves a bargain—consumers, hospitals and especially insurance companies that have to pay big bills for brand name drugs. That is why generic medications are starting to dominate drugstore sales.

But are generics as good as the FDA claims? Over the last few years we have been hearing from more and more consumers that they are sometimes disappointed with the effects of certain generic drugs.
M.C. wrote to tell us: “My doctor prescribed Toprol-XL several years ago to control hypertension. All went well. Last week my pharmacist refilled my prescription with generic metoprolol succinate. Within two days my blood pressure was sky high–190/100. This has never happened before, so there may be a problem with this generic for Toprol-XL.”

This report is worrisome, especially since we have heard from other patients who experienced heart rhythm abnormalities when switched to the generic form of Toprol-XL. We have also heard from hundreds of people who have been distressed when switched from the brand name antidepressant Wellbutrin XL 300 to a generic.

One person recounted his experience: "Several months ago I switched over to generic Wellbutrin. Within two weeks I experienced the worst case of depression that I can remember. I had the most severe suicidal thoughts ever.

“I had experienced suicidal thoughts before but this time I actually wrote a letter to my therapist and sent it to an email account that would not be found until after the fact. Fortunately, I called him about 30 minutes later and he reminded me of a story   we had talked about in the paper a few weeks earlier about another person who had gotten extremely depressed after switching to the generic.

"I immediately called my pharmacist and got a refill of the regular Wellbutrin. Within a few days I was fine. This ordeal was incredibly frightening.”

Other readers have reported side effects with the generic bupropion (Budeprion XL 300) that they did not experience while taking Wellbutrin XL 300. Some complained of headaches and nausea while others noted anxiety and insomnia.

These are side effects that might be expected if a person got a high dose of bupropion. We asked, an independent testing organization, to analyze the pills. Laboratory tests revealed that “the generic product released drug at a very different rate than the original Wellbutrin XL.”

The news release is available online at People can post generic drug experiences there and read other people’s stories. The full report is available at

The manufacturer of generic Budeprion XL 300 has responded that its product meets FDA standards. That may be true, but many consumers have noted a difference in the clinical effect. Although the FDA assures us that its approval process for generic drugs is rigorous, we are beginning to wonder whether it is good enough.

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About the Author
Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist who has dedicated his career to making drug information understandable to consumers. His best-selling book, The People’s Pharmacy, was published in 1976 and led to a syndicated newspaper column, syndicated public radio show and web site. In 2006, Long Island University awarded him an honorary doctorate as “one of the country's leading drug experts for the consumer.” .
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I was switched from Paxil to Wellbutrin for chronic depression about three months back because the side effects from Paxil were getting to be too much. Paxil had controlled my depression very successfully for about two years. Within two-three months of the change, I’ve become depressed again. I’ve been on the generic the whole time. This website has convinced me to go back and have a talk with my psychiatrist, because there’s no way I could afford the brand name. I don’t know whether to feel bothered or relieved that other people are having this issue.

I tried the generic for Wellbutrin XL and my depression resurfaced to a noticeable extent within 2 weeks. Now I have to keep getting the scripts re-written to fit the insurance companies frequently changing requirements. I often have to go without my meds or pay the full price while getting it resolved.

Started with generic Bupropion and made me throw up and have headache. Switched to Brand Wellbutrin XL 300 and felt great for a year. Now isurance company insist that I take the generic form or pay $377. for a three months supply as apposed to $12.50 for the generic. What are my options to receive the drug that works for me?

I have been taking the blood pressure medication Norvasc for about 5 years. However, my plan no longer covers the cost. After taking the generic for about two weeks I was hospitalized with an irregular heartbeat. I returned to taking Norvasc for a while, but because the doctors told me the generic was a clone of Norvasc & because of the price difference (it was covered by my insurance) I again took the generic. Within two days I again suffered an irregular heartbeat. Norvasc may be ten times more expensive than the generic, but it’s also ten times more effective.

I have been taking Coreg and Norvasc for awhile to control my blood pressure. Now my plan says I have to take the generic pills. The generic Norvasc dissolves as soon as I put it in my mouth. I do not feel right. I made an appointment with my doctor — I couldn’t get one until the end of March. Is the Coreg working? What am I supposed to do? I feel that generic drugs are not as good as the real stuff. What do you think? The real medicine is l0 or more times as expensive. We are at the mercy of the pharmaceutical companies and can do nothing about it. What are our thoughts on this subject?

I too was switched to the generic budeprion 300 mg. a month ago in an effort to save money. I can’t tell you how relieved I was to have found this website and to hear all of you with similar stories. I knew that something wasn’t right within a few days of being on the generic. First of all, about an hour after I took my medicine I felt like I was having a heart attack. My heart was pounding and I was jittery, sweaty, and extremely panicky. I started having panic attacks again and I needed more of my anti-anxiety medication to try to even myself out.
I talked to the pharmacist as well as my doctor’s nurse and they both tried to tell me that the generic is the same as the name brand. I made sure to let them know that it was absolutely not the same for me and that I would have to pay the higher price for the brand name. I’ve read on other posts that some of you are having a hard time with insurance covering the brand name, so I asked my doctor about this. She said not to worry, that they could not force me to take the generic if the doctor insists that the patient has adverse reactions to the generic. So, after only 3 days of being back on the brand name, I am happy to report that I am starting to feel much better. Thanks so much for putting this information out there.

My son was taking the Wellbutrin XL brand drug and was switched to the generic form twice and there is definately a big difference in his behavior–no way are the two drugs identical. I think the FDA needs to take a closer look at this. In the meantime we will have to pay the much higher cost for the brand.

I was forced to take generic wellbutrin xl because my prescription card required it. They would not honor the 10/20/40 copays. The insurance company doubled the non-preferred name brand copay, said it was a clause written by the administrator, which was my employer.
I took the generic for a month and my life almost fell apart. I realized that it was the medication and my wife and I were glad to pay the extra. I have since filed a compaint with the insurance co., and it will take 60 days to hear an answer from them. I have found a Canadian co which I can order the meds cheaper than I can order them through my insurance.

I have been taking a generic form of regular wellbutrin for 2 years with no problems other than a typical dry mouth side effect. This generic is a powder blue colored pill. I take a very small dosage about 150 mg per day . I split 100 mg tab and take 3 halves a day.
Last month the pharmacy switched to another generic form that the supply company sent them (a pink pill). I was assured that it was the same. But it could not be cut without crumbling to some degree. They were not at least superficially the same drug. Then, and I know this is not a controlled study, my moods were more unstable and I felt more sad and tired and depressed (not seriously but definitely not the same as when on the other pill). I also noticed that the bothersome dry mouth side effect was nearly absent which I welcomed at first but then realized that this was a sure sign that something was wrong.
I asked to have the blue pill back because of the problem splitting the pills. They complied but I think I will inform the pharmacy about my other observations.

The generic version of Wellbutrin XL is ineffective. I have been depressed my entire life, it is a chronic condition passed down my mother’s side of the family. I am very aware of my symptoms, and when my medicine is or is not working. I may as well be taking a placebo. It has absolutely no effect.
I am switching back to Wellbutrin XL today, despite the significant cost difference ($70 vs. $15 for a month’s supply), because Wellbutrin has always worked so well for me. I am extremely disappointed that the FDA considers over 1/2 the pill being gone in 4 hours when it is supposed to last 24 “adequate.” It’s time we as consumers demanded more.

I have always been a big believer in using generics, but a few years ago I was having a problem with CIU (chronic hives) and had one medication that the generic wouldn’t work so I tried the name brand and it worked. I was sure it was a fluke, so on the refill I asked for the generic again. Same result. I’ll still try the generic first, but I now know not to give up on a treatment until I try the name brand. Sorry I can’t remember the drug, happily the problem finally resolved after 8 months.

Medco recently talked me into taking generics of some meds. Their Cardizem generic put me to bed. They didn’t tell me their generic of a drug would be different from ones I took. I’m trying to get used to two of theirs–for warfarin and Neurontin. I’m having spells that feel like my b.p. is hitting bottom. Please insist generics are the SAME as the brand names.

I have found generic Budeprion to be completely ineffective. I was experiencing near clinical depression while on 300 mg/day. When I switched back to Wellbutrin SR 200 mg I felt better within 24 hours.
My psychiatrist has told me that 80% of his patients taking the drug have reported similar experiences. I hope the FDA takes note of this and fixes the problem. My health plan will not pay for brand name Wellbutrin, so I’m incurring a large expense.

I have been taking 80 mg of generic oxycontin for 3 years now and I can tell you that it does not work as well as the 20 mg of the real brand Oxy. at 20 mg. Some times the er works and sometimes it does not. The generic is not reliable at all. I have been treated with both for 5 years now, so I do know what I am talking about……DA>……

My pharmacist switched me to budeprion without telling me and I experienced the worst depression of my life after 30 years of sanity. I found out because my daughter read your article in The People’s Pharmacy and asked me if I was still taking BUPROPION. I said I was and she said to check the bottle. I did and was shocked to find that the name change from Bup…to Bud..had gone unnoticed by me and had not been mentioned by the pharmacy for over 8 months.
The face rash that started the moment I started Budeprion is a 2nd degree burn. The withdrawal face rash will also be a 2nd degree burn but likely all over my body. Warnings should go out NOW.

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