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Drugs. 2008;68(5):653-89.

Bupropion: a review of its use in the management of major depressive disorder.

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  • 1Wolters Kluwer Health, Adis, Auckland, New Zealand.

Erratum in

  • Drugs. 2008;68(7):980.


Bupropion is presumed to be a dopamine-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor and is an effective antidepressant. It is available as three oral formulations: (i) bupropion immediate release (IR) [Wellbutrin] administered three times daily; (ii) bupropion sustained release (SR) [Wellbutrin SR] administered twice daily; and (iii) bupropion extended/modified release (XR) [Wellbutrin XL/Wellbutrin XR] administered once daily. All three formulations are bioequivalent in terms of systemic exposure to bupropion. Oral three-times-daily bupropion IR was effective and generally well tolerated in the treatment of major depressive disorder (MDD). It was as efficacious and as well tolerated as some tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) and the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) fluoxetine. Moreover, it was associated with less somnolence and weight gain than some TCAs. Twice-daily bupropion SR was also efficacious and generally well tolerated in the treatment of MDD. It was as effective as and had a generally similar tolerability profile to some SSRIs, but had the advantage of less somnolence and sexual dysfunction. The efficacy of bupropion XR in terms of primary efficacy measures was established in two of six well designed placebo-controlled studies. Bupropion XR also demonstrated efficacy in terms of some secondary outcomes in five of these studies. Additionally, bupropion XR was similar, in terms of the primary efficacy outcomes, to the SSRI escitalopram in two placebo-controlled trials and to the serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI) venlafaxine extended release (XR) in two trials (one of which was placebo-controlled), but not in a third placebo-controlled trial where venlafaxine XR was better than bupropion XR. It was generally as well tolerated as escitalopram and venlafaxine XR, but was associated with less sexual dysfunction than escitalopram. Available clinical data suggest that bupropion is an effective and generally well tolerated option in the treatment of MDD, with the newer formulations having the advantage of reduced frequency of daily administration.

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