THE REAL FACTS ABOUT WELLBUTRIN/ZYBAN AKA BUPROPION
February 2, 2003
Currently, the man-made drug Wellbutrin is being marketed as a weight-loss pill. Previously, it has been prescribed for depression and to curve the craving for nicotine. Because of its broad applications and popularity as a prescription drug we made an attempt to elucidate the mechanism of action. Afterall, a drug with so many benefits must elicit amazing responses within the body.
Unfortunately, after reviewing the scientific literature we ended up where we started, nowhere. With relation to Wellbutrin as a potential weight loss pill the recent study, reported in July's Obesity Research, was paid for by the drug's manufacturer, GlaxoSmithKline.(1) It seems that "subjects who completed 48 weeks of use maintained mean losses of initial body weight of 7.5% and 8.6% for bupropion SR 300 and 400 mg/d." (Obes Res 2002 Jul;10(7):633-641)
Looking closer at the actions of the drug, Clinical Pharmacology gave what seems to be a warning rather than a mechanism of action. "Bupropion is a novel antidepressant whose mechanism of action must still be elucidated."(2) And Further, "The mechanism of action of the novel antidepressant bupropion remains unclear after many years of study."(3,4)
The Journal of Clinical Psychology did shed some light on the subject. "Bupropion is widely distributed to tissues and extensively metabolized by oxidation and reduction to at least six metabolites, some of which may be active. Bupropion does not inhibit monoamine oxidase, exerts no effect on serotonin uptake, and minimally alters the reuptake of norepinephrine at presynaptic sites. It does not appear to exert action leading to postsynaptic beta-adrenergic down-regulation, and it has minimal inhibitory effects on presynaptic dopamine uptake."(5)
O.K. the scientists have made it clear that they dont know how Wellbutrin works in the body. So, why are Doctors prescribing it? Well, mabye because its safe, right?
Wrong, Wellbutrin was withdrawn in 1986 because of an unacceptable incidence of seizures. It was released back to the market in 1986 for unknown reasons. We discovered that 6.1% of users suffer from withdrawals due to adverse events based on clinical studies. Additionally, all of the Wellbutrin related seizures occurred in patients who were taking what was considered to be a therapeutic dose or 450 mg/day or less. However, real life data is suggesting much higher rates of adverse reactions.
Wellbutrin is the third leading cause of drug related seizures with cocaine being number one.(6) Health Canada and GlaxoSmithKline (the same company who funded the aforementioned weight loss study) received 1127 reports of adverse reactions to Wellbutrin between May 1998 and May 28, 2001. Among these were 19 deaths and 172 reports of seizures or convulsions. Worse, the Medicines Control Agency (equivalent to FDA) of Britain has confirmed 18 deaths and received reports of 3,457 patients complaining of adverse reactions in the last year!
Despite these staggering figures, the number of children being prescribed Wellbutrin jumped 195% between 1995-1999!(7) Somebody should be tried and convicted!
Nonetheless, we still have so-called experts making erroneous claims: "This is a drug that people have taken for many years to treat depression with few problems or side effects." said Dr. Richard Atkinson, president of the American Obesity Association.
This blatant lie reminds me of the following statement made by the chairman of California Medicine, Dr. Ian Macdonald and published in U.S. News & World Report, "One could modify an old slogan: A pack a day keeps lung cancer away." He was referring to cigarettes.
Fortunately, safe alternatives to playing Russion Roulette with a pill are abundant. These alternatives of course vary with each individual. Find someone who understands history, the human body, nature and bit about chemistry and your on your way to healthy living. Centuries of recorded information guarantee it!
1. Health Policy Journal Health Affairs. July 9th, 2002. Reported by Larry Lipman.
2. Clin Pharm 1983 Nov-Dec;2(6):525-37
3. J Clin Psychiatry 1995 Sep; 56(9):395-401
4. Neuropharmacology 1983 Nov;22(11):1257-67
5. J Clin Psychiatry 1983 May;44(5 Pt 2):74-8
6. J Emerg Med 2002 Apr;22(3):235-9 J
7. JAMA, April 17, 2002 - Vol 287, No. 15
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© 2003 Shane Ellison - All Rights Reserved
Shane holds a Master's degree in organic chemistry and has first-hand industry experience with drug research, design and synthesis. He is committed to raising health awareness by exposing the shocking and sometimes-frightening truth behind FDA approved drugs, sports supplements, and natural medicine. Combined, his unique experience allows his clients to live naturally healthy for life with natural medicine! Learn more by visiting http://www.health-fx.net