WELLBUTRIN XL and Generics

There are different generic versions of WELLBUTRIN XL. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration requires generic medicines to be bioequivalent to their brand name counterpart. This generally means that they work the same way. But there are some things that can be different.1,2

It is important to know the differences and how they can impact your treatment experience.

1 - Appearance


Generic Versions of WELLBUTRIN XL

Graphic representation of WELLBUTRIN XL and generic versions of WELLBUTRIN XL. Not actual size.

  • The generic version of WELLBUTRIN XL may smell, look, and taste different1,2
  • Being given a different generic version of WELLBUTRIN XL that is different in appearance from month to month could become confusing1,2
  • With brand name WELLBUTRIN XL, you will have the comfort of knowing you are getting the same tablet each month
2 - Inactive ingredients
  • Generic versions of WELLBUTRIN XL may contain different inactive ingredients2
  • Inactive ingredients do not affect how well a medicine works but may cause different side effects2,3
3 - Refills
  • If you are taking a generic version of WELLBUTRIN XL, you may be given a different generic each month
  • Each generic could have different inactive ingredients2,3

Only the Brand Has SmartCoatTM Technology

When you are suffering from depression, it can be reassuring to know that your antidepressant is providing you with coverage 24 hours a day. That’s why brand name WELLBUTRIN XL uses patented SmartCoat technology, allowing for a steady release over a 24-hour period.4-6

This means a consistent level of the active ingredient is available in the body over the course of each day.

Ask for the Brand From Your Pharmacy

There are steps you can take to make sure your pharmacist fills your prescription with brand name WELLBUTRIN XL and not a generic.


Tell your doctor you want brand name WELLBUTRIN XL. Ask your doctor to write DAW1 or “brand medically necessary” on the prescription. DAW1 means “dispense as written.”


Let your pharmacy know that you and your doctor want the prescription to be filled for brand name WELLBUTRIN XL.


Check your prescription before leaving the pharmacy. Brand name WELLBUTRIN XL is a creamy white to pale yellow round tablet that has “WELLBUTRIN XL” on it followed by the dose.7

Questions to ask your doctor or pharmacist

For your doctor
  • Who from your office can help me find out if my insurance company will cover brand name WELLBUTRIN XL?
  • Will you write my prescription for WELLBUTRIN XL so that it specifically asks for the brand name product?
For your pharmacist
  • Am I set up in your system to automatically receive generics?
  • Will you ask me before substituting a brand name with a generic medicine?

If you find you have been given a generic, speak to your doctor to confirm he or she authorized this substitution.

Find out about a simple (and fast!) way to get brand name WELLBUTRIN XL filled at the pharmacy and delivered to your home for free!


WELLBUTRIN XL is a tablet that comes in 2 dosage strengths7

150 mg

300 mg

Graphic representation of WELLBUTRIN XL. Not actual size.


  1. Peters JR. From our perspective: the importance of the physical characteristics of generic drugs. U.S. Food & Drug Administration. https://www.fda.gov/drugs/newsevents/ucm471446.htm. Accessed November 12, 2020.
  2. Straka RJ, Keohane DJ, Liu LZ. Potential clinical and economic impact of switching branded medications to generics. Am J Ther. 2017;24(3):e278-e289.
  3. Brown T. Inactive ingredients in medications cause trouble for some. https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/910411. Accessed November 12, 2020.
  4. Fava M, Rush AJ, Thase ME, et al. 15 years of clinical experience with bupropion HCl: from bupropion to bupropion SR to bupropion XL. Prim Care Companion J Clin Psychiatry. 2005;7(3):106-113.
  5. US Patent 6096341.
  6. US Patent 6143327.
  7. WELLBUTRIN XL (bupropion hydrochloride extended-release) Prescribing Information. Bausch Health Companies Inc.
  8. Modell JG, Rosenthal NE, Harriett AE, et al. Seasonal affective disorder and its prevention by anticipatory treatment with bupropion XL. Biol Psychiatry. 2005;58(8):658-667.
  9. Mayo Clinic. Bupropion (oral route). https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements/bupropion-oral-route/description/drg-20062478. Accessed November 12, 2020.
  10. InformedHealth.org. Depression: how effective are antidepressants? https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK361016/?report=printable. Accessed November 12, 2020.
  11. Ashton AK, Jamerson BD, Weinstein WL, Wagoner C. Antidepressant-related adverse effects impacting treatment compliance: results of a patient survey. Curr Ther Res Clin Exp. 2005;66(2):96-106.
  12. Kelly K, Posternak M, Alpert JE. Toward achieving optimal response: understanding and managing antidepressant side effects. Dialogues Clin Neurosci. 2008;10(4):409-418.
  13. Fortney JC, Pyne JM, Edlund MJ, et al. Reasons for antidepressant nonadherence among veterans treated in primary care clinics. J Clin Psychiatry. 2011;72(6):827-834.
  14. Hu XH, Bull SA, Hunkeler EM, et al. Incidence and duration of side effects and those rated as bothersome with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor treatment for depression: patient report versus physician estimate. J Clin Psychiatry. 2004;65(7):959-965.
  15. Gelenberg AJ, Freeman MP, Markowitz JC, et al. Practice guideline for the treatment of patients with major depressive disorder (revision). American Psychiatric Association. Am J Psychiatry. 2000;157(4 suppl):1-45.
  16. Clayton AH, Croft HA, Horrigan JP, et al. Bupropion extended release compared with escitalopram: effects on sexual functioning and antidepressant efficacy in 2 randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled studies. J Clin Psychiatry. 2006;67(5):736-746.

WELLBUTRIN XL® (bupropion hydrochloride extended-release tablets) is a prescription medicine used to treat adults with a certain type of depression called major depressive disorder, and for the prevention of autumn-winter seasonal depression (seasonal affective disorder).



Suicidal Thoughts or Actions and Antidepressant Drugs

Antidepressants may increase the risk of suicidal thoughts or actions in some children, teenagers, or young adults within the first few months of treatment. Depression or other serious mental illnesses are the most important causes of suicidal thoughts and actions. People who have (or have a family history of) bipolar illness or suicidal thoughts or actions may have a particularly high risk. Pay close attention to any changes, especially sudden changes in mood, behaviors, thoughts, or feelings. Call your healthcare provider right away if symptoms such as anxiety, irritability, impulsivity, trouble sleeping, aggressive behavior or suicidal thoughts are new, worse or worry you. WELLBUTRIN XL has not been evaluated for use in patients under the age of 18.

Call your healthcare provider right away if you or your family member has any of the following symptoms, especially if they are new, worse, or worry you:

  • thoughts about suicide or dying
  • attempts to commit suicide
  • new or worse depression
  • new or worse anxiety
  • feeling very agitated or restless
  • panic attacks
  • trouble sleeping (insomnia)
  • new or worse irritability
  • acting aggressive, being angry, or violent
  • acting on dangerous impulses
  • an extreme increase in activity and talking (mania)
  • other unusual changes in behavior or mood

Although WELLBUTRIN XL is not a treatment for quitting smoking, it contains the same active ingredient (bupropion hydrochloride) as ZYBAN, which is used to help patients quit smoking.

  • Seizures: There is a chance of having a seizure (convulsion, fit) with WELLBUTRIN XL, especially in people with certain medical problems or who take certain medicines. Do not take any other medicines while you are taking WELLBUTRIN XL unless your healthcare provider has said it is okay to take them. If you have a seizure while taking WELLBUTRIN XL, stop taking the tablets and call your healthcare provider right away.
  • High blood pressure (hypertension): Some people get high blood pressure that can be severe while taking WELLBUTRIN XL.
  • Manic episodes: Some people may have periods of mania while taking WELLBUTRIN XL. If you have any of the following symptoms of mania, call your healthcare provider:
    • greatly increased energy
    • severe trouble sleeping
    • racing thoughts
    • reckless behavior
    • unusually grand ideas
    • excessive happiness or irritability
    • talking more or faster than usual
  • Unusual thoughts or behaviors: Some patients may have unusual thoughts or behaviors while taking WELLBUTRIN XL, including delusions (e.g. believe you are someone else), hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that are not there), paranoia (feeling that people are against you), or feeling confused. If this happens to you, call your healthcare provider.
  • Visual problems: Some people are at risk of glaucoma if they take WELLBUTRIN XL. You should see an eye doctor to determine whether you are at risk prior to starting therapy. If you experience any of the following symptoms you should see an eye doctor:
    • eye pain
    • changes in vision
    • swelling or redness in or around the eye
  • Severe allergic reactions: Some patients have severe allergic reactions to WELLBUTRIN XL. Stop taking WELLBUTRIN XL and call your healthcare provider right away if you get a rash, itching, hives, fever, swollen lymph glands, painful sores in the mouth or around the eyes, swelling of the lips or tongue, chest pain, or have trouble breathing. These could be signs of a serious allergic reaction.
  • have or had a seizure disorder or epilepsy
  • have or had an eating disorder such as anorexia nervosa or bulimia
  • are taking any other medicines that contain bupropion, including WELLBUTRIN or WELLBUTRIN SR, APLENZIN®, ZYBAN, or FORFIVO XL. Bupropion is the same active ingredient that is in WELLBUTRIN XL
  • drink a lot of alcohol and abruptly stop drinking, or use medicines called sedatives (these make you sleepy), benzodiazepines, or anti-seizure medicines, and you stop using them all of a sudden
  • take a monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI). Ask your healthcare provider or pharmacist if you are not sure if you take an MAOI, including the antibiotic linezolid
    • do not take an MAOI within 2 weeks of stopping WELLBUTRIN XL unless directed to do so by your healthcare provider
    • do not start WELLBUTRIN XL if you stopped taking an MAOI in the last 2 weeks unless directed to do so by your healthcare provider
  • are allergic to the active ingredient in WELLBUTRIN XL, bupropion hydrochloride, or to any of the inactive ingredients
  • have liver problems, especially cirrhosis of the liver
  • have kidney problems
  • have, or have had, an eating disorder such as anorexia nervosa or bulimia
  • have had a head injury
  • have had a seizure (convulsion, fit)
  • have a tumor in your nervous system (brain or spine)
  • have had a heart attack, heart problems, or high blood pressure
  • are a diabetic taking insulin or other medicines to control your blood sugar
  • drink alcohol
  • abuse prescription medicines or street drugs
  • are pregnant or plan to become pregnant
  • are breastfeeding. WELLBUTRIN XL passes into your milk in small amounts