What is Wellbutrin? Elon Musk slammed for saying drug should be pulled off market

What is Wellbutrin? Elon Musk slammed for saying drug should be pulled off market
Billionaire Elon Musk (L) sparked outrage after slamming the popular antidepressant Wellbutrin (R) (Win McNamee/Getty Images, Wikimedia Commons)

Elon Musk was excoriated on social media after he declared on Friday, April 29, that the antidepressant drug Wellbutrin was "way worse than Adderall" and "should be taken off the market."

The Tesla founder shocked the world earlier this month following his bid to take over Twitter for $44 billion. While his supporters rejoiced the move as heralding a new era of free speech on the micro-blogging platform, his critics voiced concerns about the potential for the spread of misinformation and hate speech that could follow. Now, the world's richest man has sparked outrage for slamming the popular antidepressant to his nearly 90 million followers on Twitter.


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"Wellbutrin is way worse than Adderall imo. It should be taken off the market," Musk wrote on Twitter. "Every time that drug has come up in conversation, someone at the table has a suicide or near suicide story," the SpaceX founder added.



The billionaire was responding to an excerpt from a 2016 New York Times feature titled 'Generation Adderall' about Adderall abuse and withdrawal. "Everyone thinks our present society was caused by social media. I'm wondering whether Adderall plus ubiquitous Google searches have bigger effects," wrote Marc Andreessen, the Silicon Valley entrepreneur who originally posted the excerpt to Twitter.


Musk caught quite the backlash for his comments from liberal blue badges on Twitter.

"Yes, because Wellbutrin is used to treat clinical depression, one of the symptoms of which is suicidal ideation. Maybe you should stick to cars and rockets," journalist Julia Ioffe tweeted.

"I have taken Wellbutrin every day for more than a decade. I would not be alive today, let alone a member of Congress, were it not for Wellbutrin, which saved my life. Mr. Musk might know many things but psychopharmacology is not one of them," Democrat Rep. Ritchie Torres wrote.

"Adderall (and other stimulant medications) are safe and effective treatments for #ADHD. Wellbutrin is a safe and effective treatment for depression. Don’t take medical advice from celebrities on twitter. That’s all," Dr. Paul Rosen added.

"When used under a clinician's supervision, Wellbutrin is a safe medication for the overwhelming majority of people. Please do not take medical advice from Elon Musk," lawyer Matthew Cortland chimed in.

"I take Wellbutrin. It has helped me immensely, and I am grateful that it has been available for me both as a prescriber and a patient," pediatrician Daniel Summers offered. "It is extremely distressing that a man who blithely tosses off uniformed [sic] opinions about medicine is poised to acquire this entire platform," he added.

"Can't believe it has to be said, but don't take medical advice from this disingenuous bellend," musician Holly Figueroa O'Reilly commented. "There's a black box warning on antidepressants warning of the increased rate of suicidality in kids. No evidence that Wellbutrin or any other antidepressant causes suicides in adults," she added.








What is Wellbutrin?

Wellbutrin, or bupropion, is a drug that is mainly used to treat depression but can also be used to help people quit smoking. The antidepressant belongs to a class of medications called aminoketones and works by influencing the way our body produces neurotransmitters like dopamine and norepinephrine, which are crucial to our moods. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, there are no known problems associated with long-term use of bupropion and it is a safe and effective medication when used as directed. That said, one must always consult their physician before ingesting any pharmaceutical drugs.

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