The FDA’s reversal earlier this week of its approval of a generic equivalent of the popular antidepressant Wellbutrin XL 300 ends a five-year saga that began with consumer complaints and a crusade by Joe Graedon, the cofounder of the consumer advocacy group the People’s Pharmacy.
In 2007, Graedon began receiving disturbing complaints on his website from patients who had been taking the 300 mg dose of Wellbutrin and had recently switched over to the generic equivalent Budeprion XL 300. Budeprion products are sold by Teva Pharmaceuticals and made by Impax Laboratories, both headquartered in Philadelphia.
“People were saying, ‘I’ve been on Wellbutrin for several years and things were fine and dandy, but once I was switched I started experiencing headaches, anxiety, depression and sleeplessness’,” he said. “People who had never been suicidal were all of a sudden reporting suicidal thoughts.”
At first Graedon said he was skeptical. But after he had received a few dozen messages, he decided to write about it in his syndicated newspaper column. That’s when the floodgates opened: Soon more than a thousand messages poured into the People’s Pharmacy website describing the same symptoms, in intimate detail.
By LIZ NEPORENT, ABC News