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Helping Americans Get The Truth About Prescription Drug Savings
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When you lose count of how many folks have the same suspicion about a prescription medication, action is compulsory. Joe and Teresa Graedon, founders of The People’s Pharmacy, not only have an admirable track record of telling health consumers how it is, but also listening to those in their readership. Years ago, they took on the Food and Drug Administration in regards to Budeprion XL distributed by Teva Pharmaceuticals, the supposed generic equivalent to the popular antidepressant, Wellbutrin XL. Many readers complained that it just wasn’t cutting it compared to the brand name version. In fact, many people reported that when they were switched to the Teva generic Wellbutrin XL, their depression returned. 

The experience of one of the hundreds of readers that wrote to the People’s Pharmacy regarding Budeprion XL is as follows:

“I began having this sense of doom, shortness of breath, chest pain, crying episodes, dizziness, nausea and feel out of it. Finally, I put it together that this was related to the drug because when I wouldn’t take it I would begin to feel better. Not normal, but better. I have reported this to the FDA and will be seeing my doctor this week. I believe Budeprion XL is making me very sick and will not take it ever again.”

So, what the heck happened with generic Budeprion XL?

Apparently, the FDA had approved Budeprion XL 300mg after undergoing no actual testing. Instead, they relied upon results of Budeprion XL 150mg. So, the Graedons spoke up! In fact, they asked ConsumerLab.com, sister company to PharmacyChecker, to test the product. Sure enough, ConsumerLab.com discovered that the 300mg version was clearly not bioequivalent. Several years later, the FDA ordered bioequivalence tests and finally, through those results, which found, like ConsumerLab.com did, that the People’s Pharmacy was right, and forced the drug off the market.

As of February 2020, the Graedons say there is no authorized generic version (i.e., a generic with the exact same formulation as the brand) of Wellbutrin XL available.

What can people do about their depression now?

If you weren’t familiar with our prescription prices hellscape, you may say “That’s scary, but now that you know, what’s the big deal? Just switch back to the brand!” Ah, but life — and its inevitable financial hurdles — isn’t so rosey. Wellbutrin XL 300mg sold at U.S. pharmacies, like Walgreens or CVS, costs more than $2,000 out-of-pocket for just a month’s supply.

“So use insurance!” — Not so fast. Of our most merciful health insurance companies, few are willing to cough up the cost of expensive brand meds when there’s an FDA-approved generic on the market. Despite the small but mighty uproar on lack of true generic equivalence, this is the case with Wellbutrin. Your insurance company likely covers the ineffective, generic Budeprion XL (people are still complaining about it) and not the brand.

I’ll cut to the chase: Wellbutrin XL 300mg is available to order from Canadian pharmacies for 97% cheaper than it’s sold in the U.S. And it’s the exact same medication. Actually, that expensive Wellbutrin XL sold in U.S. pharmacies is manufactured and sold in Canada as well.

Compare Wellbutrin Prices

Wellbutrin XL is sold in other countries besides Canada, although we would like to point out that one PharmacyChecker-accredited international pharmacy’s website notes that it’s manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline. If you decide to order internationally, you can always ask the pharmacist to tell you 1) exactly where your medication is manufactured; and 2) where the dispensing pharmacy is located.

Comparing Wellbutrin XL Costs & Manufacturing in the U.S. vs. Canada vs. Other International Pharmacies

Drug Name
Strength
Quantity
Average U.S. Retail PriceLowest Canadian PriceLowest International PriceSavings through Accredited International Pharmacies
Wellbutrin XL
300mg
30 tablets
$2,191.20
Product of Canada; Manufactured by Valeant Pharmaceuticals
$60.00*
Product of Canada; Manufactured by Valeant Pharmaceuticals
$42.90
Product of Turkey; Manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline
98%

Prices collected February 2020 for quantity of 30 tablets | Average U.S. Retail Price from GoodRX  | *As the Canadian-based pharmacies only offer quantities in 90 or 180 tablet packages, this price was calculated based on the 90-day supply price.

Below are U.S. pharmacy labels of Wellbutrin XL 150mg and 300mg.

In their regular column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from health consumers. Write to Joe and Teresa Graedon via their website: www.PeoplesPharmacy.com.

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