The People's Pharmacy

Joe Graedon, M.S.,and Teresa Graedon, Ph.D.

Q. My husband, son and I all have been diagnosed with major depression and prescribed Wellbutrin XL. We can’t afford the brand name for all of us, so I’ve looked for an authorized generic. I couldn’t find it. Is there one?

Recently, my son’s prescription was filled with bupropion from an Indian manufacturer. After reading Katherine Eban’s book, “Bottle of Lies,” I’d like to return the generic drug. But I don’t know which manufacturer to request instead.

A. As far as we can tell, there is no authorized generic version of Wellbutrin XL. An authorized generic drug is manufactured with the same formulation as the brand-name medicine, frequently on the same production line. That is why people who are concerned about generic drug quality often request the authorized generic, if there is one.

You may still be able to save money on your antidepressant, however. Although Wellbutrin XL 300 could cost more than $2,000 for a month’s supply in the U.S., ordering this brand-name medicine from a legitimate Canadian pharmacy would result in a monthly bill between $43 and $60 for 30 pills.

This information comes from www.PharmacyChecker.com, a site that vets online Canadian pharmacies. To learn more about authorized generic drugs and ordering online, you may wish to consult our eGuide to Saving Money on Medicines. You will find it in the Health eGuide section of www.PeoplesPharmacy.com.

Q. If you know you have been exposed to influenza, start taking an antiviral drug immediately. If you begin the drug as soon as you are exposed, you will significantly lower your chances of getting sick at all.

I was in a situation where four people (three adults and an infant) were exposed to a confirmed case of influenza. We all got prescriptions for Tamiflu, and three of us started taking it immediately. One adult decided to skip the Tamiflu. The people who took the medicine never had any symptoms at all. The one who did not came down with a miserable case of influenza and took a month to recover from it.

A. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states: “Antiviral medications are an important adjunct to flu vaccine in the control of influenza. Almost all (greater than 99%) of the influenza viruses tested this season are susceptible to the four Food and Drug Administration-approved influenza antiviral medications recommended for use in the U.S. this season.” Drugs like oseltamivir (Tamiflu) or baloxavir (Xofluza) work best when taken within 24-48 hours of exposure.

Q. After applying sunscreen to my face, my eyes get irritated within 30 minutes. It doesn’t matter whether I sweat or not.

Do you have any recommendations on sunscreen that won’t be irritating?

A. We’d suggest looking for a sunscreen with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide as the active ingredient. The nonprofit Environmental Working Group rates these as safe and effective. They caution that safety data on other compounds, such as oxybenzone, are incomplete. A recent study showed that people absorb such chemicals into their bloodstreams (JAMA, Jan. 21, 2020).

Other readers have found that mineral-based sunscreens are less irritating to the eyes. One wrote: “I use only products containing zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide. If I apply products with other ingredients to my face, my eyes are irritated for hours afterward.”

(In their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers. Write to them in care of King Features, 628 Virginia Drive, Orlando, Fla. 32803, or email them via their website: www.PeoplesPharmacy.com.)

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