Used in the treatment of depression, Aplenzin® is a medication manufactured by Sanofi Aventis. It is commonly prescribed to treat major depressive disorder. Aplenzin® uses the active ingredient bupropion hydrobromide, an aminoketone antidepressant.
Bupropion, in various chemical forms, has been used in the treatment of depression since the early 1980s. The way in which bupropion works in the relief of depression is not well understood, but the chemical appears to block dopamine uptake. Bupropion products are also sometimes prescribed for the treatment of seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and as an aid to smoking cessation. Aplenzin® can be prescribed as a replacement for the depression treatments Wellbutrin®, Wellbutrin SR® or Wellbutrin XL®, which contain the related active ingredient bupropion hydrochloride.
Aplenzin® comes in tablet form, with the dose prescribed most commonly being a once-a-day pill in one of several strengths, from 174 milligrams (mg) to 522 mg. The risks associated with the depression medication, such as the risk of seizure, rise with the strength of the dose. This means doctors may initially prescribe the lowest dose for patients, or switch patients from an existing Wellbutrin treatment over to an equivalent dose of Aplenzin®. Patients may not notice antidepressant effects from the medication until four weeks or more from beginning treatment.
When taking Aplenzin®, the most common side effects patients may experience are a loss of appetite, weight loss, skin rash, a dry mouth, shakiness, ringing of the ears, sweating, agitation, trouble sleeping, anxiety, neuralgia, stomach pain, dizziness, a sore throat, frequent urination or a fast heartbeat. Less common side effects are seizures, hallucinations, delusions, difficulty concentrating, restlessness, confusion, paranoia, hives, itching, rash and fever. The treatment increases the risk of high blood pressure, especially when using nicotine patches, and patients with liver or kidney problems should inform their doctor prior to taking the depression medication.
Aplenzin® is recommended for people over the age of 18 and is not approved for children. Aplenzin® should not be taken by people who have had eating disorders or seizures, or by people who already take bupropion-based medications or monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs). People who have abruptly stopped using alcohol or sedatives should not use Aplenzin®. The use of antidepressants is specifically correlated with increased risk of suicidal thoughts in young adult patients, but anyone who is taking depression medication should be monitored for behavioral changes, deterioration of depressive symptoms and suicidal thoughts.