Mother suffers setback on generic antidepressant
Q. I have a concern about generic Wellbutrin (bupropion) manufactured by a company in India called Wockhardt. My mother has been on Wellbutrin for more than a decade. She did well on the initial generic when her insurance company stopped paying for the brand name Wellbutrin.
A few weeks ago, I realized that she appeared anxious and depressed. She wanted to eat all the time, just as she did before she started on the antidepressant.
I checked her prescription and found that the most recent generic refill was from Wockhardt instead of Mylan. When I searched Wockhardt online, I found a record of trouble with the Food and Drug Administration.
These pills smell terrible. How can I tell if there is something wrong with them?
A. We talked with the quality-control chemist on the original team that developed Wellbutrin. He told us that when this drug deteriorates, it has a distinct unpleasant odor.
Many people reported a bad smell with their generic Budeprion XL 300 tablets (bupropion). The FDA eventually found this formulation was not equivalent to the brand name Wellbutrin XL 300.
You are correct that the Indian drug company Wockhardt has recently run afoul of the FDA. An inspection in March uncovered many violations of good manufacturing practice at its facility in Waluj, India. That is where it makes bupropion. Because of quality concerns, an import ban has been imposed on products from that plant.
Q. I was crippled with osteoarthritis in the spine and pelvis, along with bursitis in the shoulders that no medication could help. In desperation, I used the Mediterranean diet as a basis for foods and supplements to fight inflammation. I cut out foods that caused inflammation, stopped taking anti-inflammatory drugs, and, after three weeks, I was free of all pain and able to move comfortably. All this information I gained from reading "Best Choices From The People's Pharmacy."
Now, at 63 years of age, I am able to touch my toes without bending my knees, squat, kneel and run short distances without discomfort. These are things I have not been able to do since I was 18!
A. We're delighted that anti-inflammatory foods and supplements have made such a difference for you. NSAIDs like naproxen and ibuprofen help some people, but they can cause stomach irritation, fluid retention, high blood pressure and kidney damage.
Alternatives such as turmeric, tart cherries, fish, boswellia, gelatin, pomegranate juice and gin-soaked raisins have few side effects and do appear to provide relief from inflammation. Anyone who would like to learn more about the book you read will find information at www.PeoplesPharmacy.com. Since you weren't getting benefit from your drugs, it didn't make sense to continue to risk possible side effects.
Q. I spent years swallowing PPIs like omeprazole for reflux and Barrett's esophagus. My gastroenterologist says the abnormal cells in my esophagus have now healed, so I decided to wean myself off the acid-suppressing drugs.
It was surprisingly easy using OTC Prelief, which reduces the acid in food. The active ingredient is calcium glycerophosphate. I experienced no side effects. Four months later, I'm doing great.
A. Prelief takes the acid out of foods like coffee, juice, tomatoes and barbecue sauce. We're fascinated that it worked so well to ease withdrawal symptoms from drugs like omeprazole.
In their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers. Write to them in care of this newspaper or email them via their Web site: www.PeoplesPharmacy.com. Their newest book is "Top Screwups Doctors Make and How to Avoid Them."