What Is The Best Generic Version Of Wellbutrin Xl - Watson Or Anchen?

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Mimi Says:

My doctor will not prescribe generic Wellbutrin XL but my insurance will no longer pay for brand name drugs. I will have to pay about $7000 per yer for what I am taking now (3 of the 150mg Wellbutrin XL brand name per day). I am reading that the problem with the generics is the time release mechanism and not the drug itself and that some are better than others. Anybody have experience with the generics made by Watson and /or Anchen?

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Verwon Says:

I have no experience using it, but I do understand the problems that can occur with generic medications.

I also did some searching and from what I've found online, most that have tried the one manufactured by Anchen have had good results with it.

However, you may not get the same results, the only way to find out is to actually try it and see how it works for you. There are many aspects to a medication, including the amount of the active ingredient and some of the binders and fillers that can affect how one may work for any given person.

If you do try the Anchen one, please post back and let us know how it works for you.


Does anyone else have any advice or comments to add?

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Mimi Says:

Thanks for responding. I really wish someone that is actually taking the generic would respond. My doctor still doesn't want to prescribe the generic and if she won't prescribe it, I can't try it. This is very frustrating since I thought I was going to be able to get help from the drug manufacturer, but they discontinued the patient assistance program.

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Pam Says:

I take the generic for Wellbutrin XL which is Bupropion XL in 300mg. It is made by Watson. I have never been on the name brand so I don't know of any differences. It helps with my depression and i don't have any side effects. I was getting it filled at WalMart but figured it would be even cheaper if i had it filled through insurance mail order for 90 days instead of 30 days. Just got it today and it looked different and realized it was made by Anchen. Which is why i am on here to see if there are any differences.

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Mason Says:

I thought I'd respond as I was very recently in a similar position. My extensive searching online tells me that *there is* a difference between the brand and generic versions of Wellbutrin. In fact, irrespective of the drug there is always potential for variation between brand name and generic despite what some doctors and many pharmacists will have you believe.

The pharmacist was quick to allay my initial concerns about choosing a generic but what she conveniently neglected to tell me was that the FDA only requires there to be a 20% bioequivalence between the active ingredients in generic drug and brand name one.

Generic drugs use different filler ingredients (dyes, binders, etc.) which can affect the user's response. Sometimes they can create a different side-effect profile entirely. Some generics deliver the payload at a different rate (as experienced by many Budeprion users). Budeprion was originally touted as the generic equivalent to Wellbutrin but people quickly realized it wasn't even close to being an adequate substitute due to the delivery mechanism releasing most of the drug shortly after being ingested rather than in timed intervals throughout the day like it was supposed to.

I originally opted for the generic manufactured by Anchen and felt only a moderate effect after a week and a half. This was my first time filling the prescription so please know I'm not drawing from a long history here. However, after a week and a half of little to no favorable results, I went back and requested (make that demanded) the brand name Wellbutrin. They were reluctant to comply and had to call my insurance company to cajole them into allowing a refill on the prescription so early.

The minute I popped a brand name Wellbutrin pill I noticed a difference. Call it placebo all you like but I felt better. I have to continue my Wellbutrin course for a longer period before I can honestly assess the differences but after the amount of misinformation I've uncovered when searching for "Wellbutrin XL vs generics", I think I'll pay the extra $20.00 for the brand name and take with me a little peace of mind.

Most importantly: educate yourselves. You don't always have to take your doctor or pharmacist's advice. Don't ignore it either, but just having a title doesn't make you infallible. Case in point, the pharmacist at Wal-Mart tried to argue that "Wellbutrin" WAS the generic until I told her to search for "Bupropion" in her computer. Derp. The other pharmacist told me Wellbutrin and generics were identical. Nope. I disagree. It's easy to push misinformation on uneducated masses.

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Mimi Says:

Thanks so much for responding. I don't think you are feeling a placebo effect at all - I (like most of my doctors) believe that most generics are less effective than the brand - some say on average 30% less effective, and in the case of Wellbutrin XL, it is not only less effective, it can be downright harmful. After trying many antidepressants, I first started Wellbutrin 14 years ago and it was the first and only thing that has helped aside from exercise, which I get daily. I progressed to the SR, then the XL and each has been better than the last. I am afraid to try the generic and my doctor is reluctant to prescribe it. I think it is worth a try, with the understading that if it doesn't work, I'll just have to give up something else to pay for the brand ( a lot of something else).
I have already done a lot of googling, but I wanted responses from those who have tried the generics "recently", because things have changed somewhat due to lawsuits involving several of the generics.
t's just my luck that we changed insurance and have no brand name coverage at all, and I can't afford the brand (for 3 x 450 mg per day, it is about $7000 per year which is 100% my cost and does not count towards my deductible.) If it was a matter of $20 more per month, I wouldn't even consider the generic at all.
I thought I was going to get patient assistance from Glaxo Smithkline, but they sold out and the new patent holder doesn't offer it for anyone not on the program at 12/31/10, so I am at a loss as to what to do.
Thanks again for your input even though it isn't what I was hoping to hear.

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Mason Says:

You're welcome, Mimi. Don't despair just yet. I'm responding to add a little context to my above post. Please accept the above as pure conjecture. I'm just a 22 year old guy who was prescribed Wellbutrin for mild ADHD-inattentive type. You and I are probably looking for different things out of these medications.

I've read several anecdotal reports from users who have taken the brand name Wellbutrin AND the Anchen and Watson brands who say they don't notice a difference. I know this sounds contradictory to my former post but as you know, with all medicine, it can be highly individualized. Also, the TEVA brand of Wellbutrin was the brand notorious for underwhelming and disappointing so many people.

If you decide to go with generic, I'd say go to Wal-Mart or Sam's Club (as they share the same pharmacy network) and get the generic made by Watson.

I still stand behind the ideas I conveyed in my first post but I encourage people to explore their options to see what works for them. In your case, it sounds like choosing the brand name is cost prohibitive. $7,000 a year? What happened to primum non nocere? That can seriously harm a person's bank account! 7k/year is like taking on an apartment payment or luxury car payment. Yikes!

I say go with generic first and see how you respond. I didn't get any bad side effects from the Anchen brand but it didn't live up to the Wellbutrin hype I had been reading about either. In my case, since the difference between brand and generic is nominal I opted for the former. If I was in your position, you'd better believe I'd be figuring out which generic I'd be taking because I wouldn't be dropping that kind of coin on a pill in this lifetime.

Best of luck.

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Brian Turner Says:

I have been taking the Generic Wellbutrin XL 300 for like 4 months now. I was taking the Watson Version from CVS for the first 2 months and then decided to order the 90 day supply for economic reasons from Medco and they use a different manufacturer Anchen. I really have not noticed much of a difference between the two of them, but to be very honest I have never really even noticed any effect at all from this medicine at all. I have never tried Wellbutrin Name Brand meds, after reading all of these blogs I am thinking that it would be a good idea for me to try Name Brand Wellbutrin.

I just re-filled my perscription for 30 days, so I will not be up for a refill for another 30 days, does anyone know of a way that I can try the Name Brand Wellbutrin to compare it?

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Kim Says:

I've have been taking wellbutrin xl for about 11 years. I switched primarily to avoid the sexual side effects I was experiencing with Paxil. I've had two negative experiences with the generic form. The first was when we were living abroad and could not get the brand name drug. I took the generic version for about 3 months and at the 3 month mark I felt about the same I as did pre-diagnosis. It was awful. I read about the generic controversy, called my US doc and had a year's worth of brand name meds expressed to me. Felt much better with in a week. A few years later (back in the US), the mail order pharmacy I was using switched me to a generic (without my knowledge and despite the written Rx stipulating no substitutions). The generic looked nearly exactly like the name brand (small white round pill, 300 mg - just no "wellbutrin" written on it, and so I didn't realize it wasn't the name brand for about a month....until I started feeling crummy...again. It occurred to me to look at the bottle and realized what had happened. Needless to say, I've been back on the name brand for a couple years without issues. Wish there was a generic I could take...but for me the time release mechanism seems t be an issue. Anyone know of any studies that have compared all the generics' time release mechanism against GKS?

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Verwon Says:

Kim, your problem may not necessarily even be due to the time release that they use.

Under U.S. law, the generics are allowed to differ from the name brand, in the amount of the active ingredient, by as much as plus or minus 20%. The FDA considers this an acceptable therapeutic window.

However, for some people that are sensitive to medications, a sudden switch from the name brand to a generic can cause problems, just like what you experience.

The name brands have to be precise on the amount of the active ingredient, to be approved by the FDA, but suppose that the generic you were switched to was one that was low in the active ingredient, that could have meant that your body suddenly went from the 300mgs it is used to having, down to as little as 240mgs.


Are there any other comments or questions?

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Kim Says:

has anyone done any studies on whose generic comes closest to the name brand? I spent $821 for a 3 month supply yesterday....change of insurance with a high deductible and would consider trying (maybe) if I could try a generic that would have the best chance of working.

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donlrich Says:

I'm taking the bupropion xl 300mg (generic for wellbutrinXL) & I am looking for a "prescription program" similar to the wal-mart prescription program which does not have bupropion. I no longer have medical insurance, I refuse to go through med changes(been there done that). If anyone knows of one please let me know.

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Verwon Says:

donlrich, you may want to try applying for the GlaxoSmithKline patient assistance program for the name brand Wellbutrin SR.

The program is based on your income, but in most cases, if you are at less than 250% of the federal poverty level and have no insurance, the medications are free and there is a sliding fee scale for other income levels.

You can contact them about it, or have your doctor contact them at 866-728-4368.

As to other programs, Wallgreens is listed as having a discount program for it, though I am not sure if it's on their $4 list or is just discounted, but if you have one in you area, it doesn't hurt to check.


I receive a medication from the program provided by AstraZeneca, because there is no generic of it and I cannot afford $300 a month for one refill.

Are there any other questions?

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Mimi Says:

Thanks for the comments. After two requests and forwarding a ton of research to my doctor, she is still refusing to write a prescription for the generic. She is adamant about it being dangerous. I have generic coverage that will only cost me $15 per month as opposed to the $7000. Maybe that is why I'm driving an eleven year old car instead of the luxury vehicle you mention; however, if I can't get a generic that works well, I will have to pay whatever it takes to get the brand because I honestly can't live without it, and I am on the max dose - 450mg. I have tried lots of other antidepressants and nothing works like Wellbutrin XL - not even the SR. I just can't believe they cancelled the patient assistance program just as I was about to get on it.

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Mimi Says:

I was on the SR before the XL came out and was doing OK, but the XL is much better, and I'm not sure I could go back to the SR now. I would like to at least try the generic first, but my doctor continues to refuse. I trust her, but I don't see what it would hurt to try it for just a month and see how it works - especially if I could get one of the better generics.
I was refused on the Astra Zenica plan for another drug - they don't look at AGI, they look at your W2 and if you are self employed and paying for your own health insurance ($2000 per month), they don't understand that the amt for that is added to your w2 and subtracted right back out before you arrive at AGI, so it makes it look like you are making a lot more than you really are.

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Carole Says:

I find myself very frustrated about the drug manufacturers, the FDA and to some extent pharmacists but primarily the prescription insurance companies. Please don't get me wrong, I am thankful to have benefits. The brand Wellbutrin XL was the medication I was taking for 7 years. I was at the max dose of 450mg I was doing very well and stable and with the addition of Lamictal was healthy and had not been hospitalized for 3 years; at that point I was healthier than I had been for the prior 13 years. It was great and then unfortunately my insurance changed and the brand was not covered. This is what frustrated me, the new insurance policy stated that if I had a prior authorization in place with my previous pharmacy that I could continue with the brand. That is why I had the prior authorization with my old insurance because there was medical documentation, from many years of treatment, that I needed the brand medication. Not so, the prior authorization process was a nightmare and to no avail I was in fact not going to be able to continue with the brand until I tried the generic dispensed from the new insurance company's mail order pharmacy. In just over a week, ten days perhaps I was in a rapid spiral into a major depressive episode so the mail order pharmacy sent me a different manufacturer of Wellbutrin, the Teva brand generic. I had heard nothing good about the Teva brand but I had to try it and thankfully it was just 3 days and I felt better. Again so aggravating that after a 3 months mail order supply I needed a refill they send me out a different generic manufacturer. Apparently the pharmacy did not have any idea of the problems I had experienced and I had to go through the whole rigmarole again to get the Teva brand. This angers me so and I think what mental health patients face with medication means nothing to the pharmaceutical companies and insurers. I think other patients would agree that finding the right dosage and the right medication takes along time and it is a delicate issue that varies between many people. when a patient finds the treatment that allows them to have a life where they can function to a certain extent of satisfaction that is the medication the insurers should pay for!! This may not be so dramatic for patients with a shorter history of mental illness but it is no secret the problems that countless people experience, all one has to do is google it and read forums like this one. I again find myself disgusted and almost hopeless because after the mail order no longer able to dispense Teva I was relegated to a month to month supply of the Teva at the retail pharmacy. This was the difference between a 3-month supply benefit being $10 to a one month supply being $27, again I am thankful to have benefits. But herein lies the toad, that I the patient, the person paying the medical insurance premiums has to fight to convince the pharmacist that just because a pill has the same active ingredient does not mean it is the same. Apparently the Teva brand is no longer available at the retail level so I am on my 1st day with the Watson brand. This is so unacceptable to me that my wellness is so carelessly and haphazardly handled by the "professionals". This first day not so good, I felt so over medicated this morning, I was nauseous and my face turned bright red and hot to the touch. I know that I have to give this brand a try for at least a week. I hope and pray that it works like it is supposed to and I will not have to try yet another manufacturer in a week. I appreciate being able to use this forum if nothing else that for a sounding board. Health and wellness to you.

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Kim Says:

Does anyone know if there has been a congressional pubic hearing to address this? I think the FDA (in the last administration) dismissed the claims that were brought by the group that investigated. However, we do have a different administration and Kathleen Sebelius may be more amenable to listening. Patients sharing these types of experiences and doctors backing them up about the dangers and differences b/w name brand and generic could be powerful. The other idea is to contact a member of the senate committee that is responsible for the FDA. Would be especially poignant if one of the following Health Education Labor and Pensions Committee members is your senator. Boxer or Feinstein not on this committee or I would.
Democrats by Rank
Tom Harkin (IA)
Barbara A. Mikulski (MD)
Jeff Bingaman (NM)
Patty Murray (WA)
Bernard Sanders (I) (VT)
Robert P. Casey, Jr. (PA)
Kay R. Hagan (NC)
Jeff Merkley (OR)
Al Franken (MN)
Michael F. Bennet (CO)
Sheldon Whitehouse (RI)
Richard Blumenthal (CT)
Republicans by Rank
Michael B. Enzi (WY)
Lamar Alexander (TN)
Richard Burr (NC)
Johnny Isakson (GA)
Rand Paul (KY)
Orrin G. Hatch (UT)
John McCain (AZ)
Pat Roberts (KS)
Lisa Murkowski (AK)
Mark Kirk (IL)

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Carole Says:

There is going to be a public hearing on Date and Time: The public meeting will be held on May 10, 2011, from 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Location: The public meeting will be held at FDA's White Oak Campus, 10903 New Hampshire Ave., Bldg. 1, Conference Rooms 4101, 4103, and 4105, Silver Spring, MD 20993-0002.

Contact Person: Mari Long, Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, Food and Drug Administration, 10903 New Hampshire Ave., Bldg. 32, rm. 4237, Silver Spring, MD 20993-0002, 301-796-7574, Fax 301-847-3541, mari.long (at) fda.hhs.gov;

Peter C. Beckerman, Office of Policy, Food and Drug Administration, 10903 New Hampshire Ave., Bldg. 32, rm. 4238, Silver Spring, MD 20993-0002, 301-796-4830, Fax 301-847-3541,
peter.beckerman (at) fda.hhs.gov. of Dockets Management (HFA-305), Food and Drug Administration, 5630 Fishers Lane, rm. 1061, Rockville, MD 20852. It is only necessary to send one set of comments.

Comments: Regardless of attendance at the public meeting, interested persons may submit either electronic or written comments regarding this document by June 10, 2011. To ensure consideration, all comments must be received by June 10, 2011. Submission of comments prior to the meeting is strongly encouraged. Submit any comments that you plan to present at the public meeting to the docket by the date of the public meeting, but note that either electronic or written comments generally may be submitted until June 10, 2011

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mimi Says:

I finally got my doctor to allow me to try a generic - I didn't want to, but the brand isn't covered at all by my current insurance and it was going to be over $7000 per yr vs. $15 per month. I am trying the Watson brand because per my research that is the best, but who knows. I'm on day 2 and can't tell any difference so far, but I guess the brand is still in my system. It might take a while to tell a difference. I'm surprised that you liked Teva because they were one of the companies sued by patients for causing really bad side effects including suicidal thoughts, etc. Maybe after the lawsuit (patients won/Teva lost), they changed something and it is better now? Hope you are doing OK. It is a pain to have to fight for what is a necessity!

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mimi Says:

I could contact Lamar Alexander, but I'm not much of a political activist - what, specifically, I am asking him to do/support. I understand that in general we all want better supervision/enforcement from the FDA, but is there something specific I need to state in the letter?

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mimi Says:

Carole, What, specifically, is the public hearing going to address?

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