Zyban, also known as bupropion or amfebutamone, and popular under brand names Wellbutrin, Budeprion and Buproban, is an atypical antidepressant that is used to treat depression, seasonal affective disorders, and nicotine withdrawal symptoms.
It is widely prescribed – in 2006, it was the fourth most popular antidepressant in the U.S., with more than 20 million packages sold to consumers. Such popularity may be explained by the fact that, unlike other types of anti-depressive medications, Zyban does not affect either sexual function or weight.
The active ingredient of Zyban, bupropion hydrochloride, was first synthesized in 1966 by Burroughs Research. Later, in 1974, it was patented by GlaxoSmithKline, then known as Burroughs?Wellcome. In the end of 1985, the drug was approved as an antidepressant medication by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (under the name Wellbutrin). However, the recommended dose of 400?600 mg caused a significant number of side effects, especially seizers, which made the FDA withdraw the drug from the market only a year later, in 1986. Further research found out that bupropion might be harmful only in big doses, and the medication with a lower recommended dose (up to 450mg/day) was returned to the U.S. market in 1989. In 1996, a safer form of bupropion was introduced – a sustain-release formula taken twice daily, named Wellbutrin SR. In 2003, Wellbutrin XL was approved – even a more convenient type of sustain-release antidepressant on the basis of bupropion hydrochloride, only taken once a day. Zyban was formulated and approved by FDA in 1997, as primarily a smoking cessation help. Quite recently, in 2006, Wellbutrin XL was proven effective in treating a seasonal form of depression, known as “seasonal affective disorder”.
No matter what the name is – Zyban, Wellbutrin (plain, SR or XL), or Budeprion – all these types of medication are largely one drug – bupropion hydrochloride – and have one and the same effect on the user. Bupropion works to effect brain neurotransmitters, particularly dopamine, a “feel-good” substance that treats depression, seasonal disorders, and helps cope with hardships of substance withdrawal. In helping people quit smoking, Zyban reduces the urge to smoke and heals numerous unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. For many people, it would be almost impossible to quit a harmful habit of smoking without the help of medication – and Zyban is now proved to be very effective in eliminating majority of undesirable sensations related to nicotine withdrawal, especially when combined with other supportive therapies, such as homeopathy, counselling, body work, or behavioural modification. According to clinical trials, Zyban’s effect to reduce severity of cigarette cravings is very high: after about a two-month treatment period, only less than 27% of users still reported a desire to smoke (compared to 56% of the placebo group), and 21% still had withdrawal-related mood swings (versus 32% on placebo).
Other positive sides of using Zyban as a smoking-cessation aid are:
– Zyban helps to slow the usual weight gain that is associated with quitting smoking (the placebo group had almost 6 pounds weight increase after two month of a smoke-free life, while the Zyban group only had 3 pounds weight increase); and
– Zyban more than doubles your chances to stop smoking for good after a three months period.