The mechanism of action of bupropion is unknown, as is the case with other antidepressants. However, it is presumed that this action is mediated by noradrenergic and/or dopaminergic mechanisms. Bupropion is a relatively weak inhibitor of the neuronal uptake of norepinephrine and dopamine and does not inhibit monoamine oxidase or the reuptake of serotonin.
Bupropion is a racemic mixture. The pharmacologic activity and pharmacokinetics of the individual enantiomers have not been studied.
Following chronic dosing, the mean steady-state plasma concentration of bupropion was reached within 8 days. The mean elimination half-life (±SD) of bupropion is 21 (±9) hours.
In a study comparing 14-day dosing with Wellbutrin XL, 300 mg once-daily to the immediate-release formulation of bupropion at 100 mg 3 times daily, equivalence was demonstrated for peak plasma concentration and area under the curve for bupropion and the three metabolites (hydroxybupropion, threohydrobupropion, and erythrohydrobupropion). Additionally, in a study comparing 14-day dosing with Wellbutrin XL 300 mg once daily to the sustained-release formulation of bupropion at 150 mg 2 times daily, equivalence was demonstrated for peak plasma concentration and area under the curve for bupropion and the three metabolites.
Following single oral administration of Wellbutrin XL tablets to healthy volunteers, the median time to peak plasma concentrations for bupropion was approximately 5 hours. The presence of food did not affect the peak concentration or area under the curve of bupropion.
In vitro tests show that bupropion is 84% bound to human plasma proteins at concentrations up to 200 mcg/mL. The extent of protein binding of the hydroxybupropion metabolite is similar to that for bupropion, whereas the extent of protein binding of the threohydrobupropion metabolite is about half that of bupropion.
Bupropion is extensively metabolized in humans. Three metabolites are active: hydroxybupropion, which is formed via hydroxylation of the tert -butyl group of bupropion, and the amino-alcohol isomers threohydrobupropion and erythrohydrobupropion, which are formed via reduction of the carbonyl group. In vitro findings suggest that CYP2B6 is the principal isoenzyme involved in the formation of hydroxybupropion, while cytochrome P450 enzymes are not involved in the formation of threohydrobupropion. Oxidation of the bupropion side chain results in the formation of a glycine conjugate of meta-chlorobenzoic acid, which is then excreted as the major urinary metabolite. The potency and toxicity of the metabolites relative to bupropion have not been fully characterized. However, it has been demonstrated in an antidepressant screening test in mice that hydroxybupropion is one half as potent as bupropion, while threohydrobupropion and erythrohydrobupropion are 5-fold less potent than bupropion. This may be of clinical importance, because the plasma concentrations of the metabolites are as high or higher than those of bupropion.
At steady state, peak plasma concentration of hydroxybupropion occurred approximately 7 hours after administration of Wellbutrin XL, and it was approximately 7 times the peak level of the parent drug. The elimination half-life of hydroxybupropion is approximately 20 (±5) hours, and its AUC at steady state is about 13 times that of bupropion. The times to peak concentrations for the erythrohydrobupropion and threohydrobupropion metabolites are similar to that of hydroxybupropion. However, the elimination half-lives of erythrohydrobupropion and threohydrobupropion are longer, approximately 33 (±10) and 37 (±13) hours, respectively, and steady-state AUCs were 1.4 and 7 times that of bupropion, respectively.
Bupropion and its metabolites exhibit linear kinetics following chronic administration of 300 to 450 mg/day.
Following oral administration of 200 mg of 14 C-bupropion in humans, 87% and 10% of the radioactive dose were recovered in the urine and feces, respectively. Only 0.5% of the oral dose was excreted as unchanged bupropion.
Factors or conditions altering metabolic capacity (e.g., liver disease, congestive heart failure [CHF], age, concomitant medications, etc.) or elimination may be expected to influence the degree and extent of accumulation of the active metabolites of bupropion. The elimination of the major metabolites of bupropion may be affected by reduced renal or hepatic function, because they are moderately polar compounds and are likely to undergo further metabolism or conjugation in the liver prior to urinary excretion.
There is limited information on the pharmacokinetics of bupropion in patients with renal impairment. An inter-trial comparison between normal subjects and subjects with end-stage renal failure demonstrated that the parent drug Cmax and AUC values were comparable in the 2 groups, whereas the hydroxybupropion and threohydrobupropion metabolites had a 2.3- and 2.8-fold increase, respectively, in AUC for subjects with end-stage renal failure. A second study, comparing normal subjects and subjects with moderate-to-severe renal impairment (GFR 30.9 ± 10.8 mL/min) showed that after a single 150 mg dose of sustained-release bupropion, exposure to bupropion was approximately 2-fold higher in subjects with impaired renal function, while levels of the hydroxybupropion and threo/erythrohydrobupropion (combined) metabolites were similar in the 2 groups. Bupropion is extensively metabolized in the liver to active metabolites, which are further metabolized and subsequently excreted by the kidneys. The elimination of the major metabolites of bupropion may be reduced by impaired renal function. Wellbutrin XL should be used with caution in patients with renal impairment, and a reduced frequency and/or dose should be considered [see Dosage and Administration (2.7) and Use in Specific Populations (8.6)].
The effect of hepatic impairment on the pharmacokinetics of bupropion was characterized in 2 single-dose trials, one in subjects with alcoholic liver disease and one in subjects with mild to severe cirrhosis. The first trial demonstrated that the half-life of hydroxybupropion was significantly longer in 8 subjects with alcoholic liver disease than in 8 healthy volunteers (32±14 hours versus 21±5 hours, respectively). Although not statistically significant, the AUCs for bupropion and hydroxybupropion were more variable and tended to be greater (by 53% to 57%) in patients with alcoholic liver disease. The differences in half-life for bupropion and the other metabolites in the 2 groups were minimal.
The second trial demonstrated no statistically significant differences in the pharmacokinetics of bupropion and its active metabolites in 9 subjects with mild to moderate hepatic cirrhosis compared to 8 healthy volunteers. However, more variability was observed in some of the pharmacokinetic parameters for bupropion (AUC, Cmax , and Tmax ) and its active metabolites (t½ ) in subjects with mild to moderate hepatic cirrhosis. In addition, in patients with severe hepatic cirrhosis, the bupropion Cmax and AUC were substantially increased (mean difference: by approximately 70% and 3-fold, respectively) and more variable when compared to values in healthy volunteers; the mean bupropion half-life was also longer (29 hours in subjects with severe hepatic cirrhosis vs. 19 hours in healthy subjects). For the metabolite hydroxybupropion, the mean Cmax was approximately 69% lower. For the combined amino-alcohol isomers threohydrobupropion and erythrohydrobupropion, the mean Cmax was approximately 31% lower. The mean AUC increased by about 1½-fold for hydroxybupropion and about 2½-fold for threo/erythrohydrobupropion. The median Tmax was observed 19 hours later for hydroxybupropion and 31 hours later for threo/erythrohydrobupropion. The mean half-lives for hydroxybupropion and threo/erythrohydrobupropion were increased 5- and 2-fold, respectively, in patients with severe hepatic cirrhosis compared to healthy volunteers [see Dosage and Administration (2.6) and Use in Specific Populations (8.7)].
Left Ventricular Dysfunction
During a chronic dosing study with bupropion in 14 depressed patients with left ventricular dysfunction (history of CHF or an enlarged heart on x-ray), there was no apparent effect on the pharmacokinetics of bupropion or its metabolites, compared to healthy volunteers.
The effects of age on the pharmacokinetics of bupropion and its metabolites have not been fully characterized, but an exploration of steady-state bupropion concentrations from several depression efficacy studies involving patients dosed in a range of 300 to 750 mg/day, on a 3 times daily schedule, revealed no relationship between age (18 to 83 years) and plasma concentration of bupropion. A single-dose pharmacokinetic study demonstrated that the disposition of bupropion and its metabolites in elderly subjects was similar to that in younger subjects. These data suggest that there is no prominent effect of age on bupropion concentration; however, another single- and multiple-dose pharmacokinetic study suggested that the elderly are at increased risk for accumulation of bupropion and its metabolites [see Use in Specific Populations (8.5)].
A single-dose study involving 12 healthy male and 12 healthy female volunteers revealed no sex-related differences in the pharmacokinetic parameters of bupropion. In addition, pooled analysis of bupropion pharmacokinetic data from 90 healthy male and 90 healthy female volunteers revealed no sex-related differences in the peak plasma concentrations of bupropion. The mean systemic exposure (AUC) was approximately 13% higher in male volunteers compared to female volunteers.
The effects of cigarette smoking on the pharmacokinetics of bupropion hydrochloride were studied in 34 healthy male and female volunteers; 17 were chronic cigarette smokers and 17 were nonsmokers. Following oral administration of a single 150 mg dose of bupropion, there was no statistically significant difference in Cmax , half-life, Tmax , AUC, or clearance of bupropion or its active metabolites between smokers and nonsmokers.
Potential for Other Drugs to Affect Wellbutrin XL
In vitro studies indicate that bupropion is primarily metabolized to hydroxybupropion by CYP2B6. Therefore, the potential exists for drug interactions between Wellbutrin XL and drugs that are inhibitors or inducers of CYP2B6. In addition, in vitro studies suggest that paroxetine, sertraline, norfluoxetine, fluvoxamine, and nelfinavir inhibit the hydroxylation of bupropion.
Inhibitors of CYP2B6
Ticlopidine and Clopidogrel: In a study in healthy male volunteers, clopidogrel 75 mg once daily or ticlopidine 250 mg twice daily increased exposures (Cmax and AUC) of bupropion by 40% and 60% for clopidogrel, by 38% and 85% for ticlopidine, respectively. The exposures of hydroxybupropion were decreased.
Prasugrel: In healthy subjects, prasugrel increased bupropion Cmax and AUC values by 14% and 18%, respectively, and decreased Cmax and AUC values of hydroxybupropion by 32% and 24%, respectively.
Cimetidine: Following oral administration of bupropion 300 mg with and without cimetidine 800 mg in 24 healthy young male volunteers, the pharmacokinetics of bupropion and hydroxybupropion were unaffected. However, there were 16% and 32% increases in the AUC and Cmax , respectively, of the combined moieties of threohydrobupropion and erythrohydrobupropion.
Citalopram: Citalopram did not affect the pharmacokinetics of bupropion and its three metabolites.
Inducers of CYP2B6
Ritonavir and Lopinavir: In a healthy volunteer study, ritonavir 100 mg twice daily reduced the AUC and Cmax of bupropion by 22% and 21%, respectively. The exposure of the hydroxybupropion metabolite was decreased by 23%, the threohydrobupropion decreased by 38%, and the erythrohydrobupropion decreased by 48%. In a second healthy volunteer study, ritonavir 600 mg twice daily decreased the AUC and Cmax of bupropion by 66% and 62%, respectively. The exposure of the hydroxybupropion metabolite was decreased by 78%, the threohydrobupropion decreased by 50%, and the erythrohydrobupropion decreased by 68%.
In another healthy volunteer study, lopinavir 400 mg/ritonavir 100 mg twice daily decreased bupropion AUC and Cmax by 57%. The AUC and Cmax of hydroxybupropion metabolite were decreased by 50% and 31%, respectively.
Efavirenz: In a study of healthy volunteers, efavirenz 600 mg once daily for 2 weeks reduced the AUC and Cmax of bupropion by approximately 55% and 34%, respectively. The AUC of hydroxybupropion was unchanged, whereas Cmax of hydroxybupropion was increased by 50%.
Carbamazepine, Phenobarbital, Phenytoin: While not systematically studied, these drugs may induce the metabolism of bupropion.
Potential for Wellbutrin XL to Affect Other Drugs
Animal data indicated that bupropion may be an inducer of drug-metabolizing enzymes in humans. In a study of 8 healthy male volunteers, following a 14-day administration of bupropion 100 mg three times per day, there was no evidence of induction of its own metabolism. Nevertheless, there may be the potential for clinically important alterations of blood levels of coadministered drugs.
Drugs Metabolized by CYP2D6
In vitro , bupropion and hydroxybupropion are CYP2D6 inhibitors. In a clinical study of 15 male subjects (ages 19 to 35 years) who were extensive metabolizers of CYP2D6, bupropion given as 150 mg twice daily followed by a single dose of 50 mg desipramine increased the Cmax , AUC, and T1/2 of desipramine by an average of approximately 2-, 5-, and 2-fold, respectively. The effect was present for at least 7 days after the last dose of bupropion. Concomitant use of bupropion with other drugs metabolized by CYP2D6 has not been formally studied.
Citalopram: Although citalopram is not primarily metabolized by CYP2D6, in one study bupropion increased the Cmax and AUC of citalopram by 30% and 40%, respectively.
Lamotrigine: Multiple oral doses of bupropion had no statistically significant effects on the single-dose pharmacokinetics of lamotrigine in 12 healthy volunteers.
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