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Lethal consequences to recreational use of bupropion (Wellbutrin®; Zyban®)

January 21, 2014

A public safety risk appears to be emerging. Ontario’s Chief Coroner has reports of at least six cases in which the recreational use of bupropion by inhalation or injection was a causative factor in the death. Bupropion abuse is also being observed in Alberta.

Pharmacists should be aware of the potential for recreational use of bupropion via inhalation or injection when considering prescribing and/or dispensing this medication, and when treating patients presenting with complications of use via these atypical routes.

Bupropion (Wellbutrin®; Zyban®) is an antidepressant and is used to treat a variety of conditions including depression, other mental/mood disorders and smoking cessation.

Brand names in Canada:

  • Ava-Bupropion SR;
  • Bupropion SR;
  • Mylan-Bupropion XL;
  • Novo-Bupropion SR;
  • PMS-Bupropion SR;
  • ratio-Bupropion SR;
  • Sandoz-Bupropion SR;
  • Wellbutrin SR;
  • Wellbutrin XL;
  • Zyban

Injecting bupropion can cause damage at the injection site including tissue damage, skin abscesses, collapsed veins, and clogged arteries.

To learn more about this subject, copy the link below to your browser to launch the Emergency Medicine rounds presentation created by Dr. James Truong, North Bay Regional Health Centre, North Bay, Ont. (Caution: graphic content)