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Difference between Aplenzin and Welbutrin

Aplenzin vs Welbutrin

In today’s world, we are constantly running from one appointment to another, fulfilling one obligation after another, finishing one duty after another. Needless to say it makes one mentally and physically exhausted. Sudden displeasing news in such a scenario from any end, professional or personal, like being fired off job, loss of a loved one, major financial loss, divorce, can lead to feeling really low. Frequently, if not remedied early, these feelings can snowball into full blown clinical depression. That is where anti-depressants come in.

Bupropion is a molecule well known for its use in treating depression. Off late it is being used extensively as a drug for those trying to quit smoking. It is an atypical anti-depressant and marketed by various companies under brand names like Budeprion, Prexaton, etc. Welbutrin and Aplenzin are two variants of buproprion itself. Both are used to treat symptoms of depression like feeling low, lack of desire to do any activities, social withdrawal, crying suddenly and out of proportion to a situation, insomnia, lack of appetite, etc.

Welbutrin is bupropion hydrochloride (HCl) produced by GlaxoSmithKline pharmaceutical company. It was approved by the U.S. FDA in 1985 and marketed for treating depression. Significant reports of seizures due to consumption of the drug lead to its withdrawal in 1986 itself. The maximum dosage recommendations were reduced and the drug re-launched in 1989. In 1996, a sustained release formula of Welbutrin was released to be taken just twice daily followed by another extended release formulation in 2003.

Aplenzin is a variant of the same bupropion molecule with another halogen. The molecule is bupropion hydrobromide (HBr). It has been produced by another pharmaceutical giant Sanofi-Aventis. The U.S FDA nodded its approval for this variant in 2008. It is available in three dosage sizes of 174mg, 348mg and 522 mg. Efficacy of both Welbutrin and Aplenzin, theoretically, should be identical.

Both brands have some known side effects like insomnia and headache. These are transient and settle down spontaneously, often without medication. Other common side effects include fever, anxiety, agitation, urticaria, nausea, tremors, hairfall and depression itself. Rarer side effects include increased heart rate, anorexia, confusion, fainting, seizures, delusions, memory impairments, breathlessness, jaundice, etc. Epilepsy-like seizures were the most concerning adverse effect and resulted in withdrawal of the drug in 1986 till the maximum dosage recommendations were changed.

Welbutrin and Aplenzin are both contra-indicated (not to be prescribed) for people with epilepsy, brain tumors, chronic alcohol consumers, anorexia nervosa, bulimia, and using benzodiazepines. People using other anti-depressant medications like monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) should also refrain from adding buproprion to their medication list. One may switch from MAOIs to either Welbutrin or Aplenzin when recommended and monitored by a qualified psychiatrist.

Take home pointers:

Welbutrin and Aplenzin are both variants of the molecule bupropion. They are used to treat depression and stop smoking. They treat symptoms like insomnia, feeling sad and depressed, anorexia, social withdrawal, feeling of worthlessness, lack of desire to do anything, lack of interest, poor concentration all of which are part of depression.
Welbutrin contains bupropion hydrochloride salt and is made by GSK while Aplenzin contains bupropion hydrobromide salt and is made by Sanofi Aventis.
Both appear to be equally efficacious in treating depression. Side-effects are the same too although being a relatively new drug, not much clinical research is available on Aplenzin.


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