Pediatric bupropion-induced serum sicknesslike reaction

J Child Adolesc Psychopharmacol. 2004 Fall;14(3):478-80. doi: 10.1089/cap.2004.14.478.


This reports the first 2 cases of serum sicknesslike reaction to bupropion in children (age 12 and 14). Serum sicknesslike reactions are an example of immune-complex medicated disease. The cardinal symptoms of serum sickness are fever, lymphadenopathy, arthralgias or arthritis, and urticaria. Symptoms usually resolve without long-term sequela following discontinuation of the exogenous antigen. It is likely that serum sicknesslike reactions to bupropion are either relatively rare or underrecognized and underreported. Between May 1998 and May 2001, GlaxoSmith Kline received 172 reports of seizures (a well-known adverse drug reaction) and only 37 reports of serum sicknesslike reactions (Wooltorton 2002). We do not know if children and adolescents are more prone than adults to develop serum sicknesslike reactions to bupropion. Luckily, the reported cases of serum sicknesslike reactions to bupropion have not caused irreversible morbidity or mortality. Nevertheless, the symptoms are painful, temporarily disfiguring and disabling, and warrant prompt medical attention. Parents and patients should be educated about this potential side effect at the onset of treatment, because symptoms are similar to many infectious childhood illnesses, and the treatment of serum sicknesslike reactions to bupropion should include the discontinuation of bupropion.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Bupropion / adverse effects*
  • Child
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Serum Sickness / chemically induced*
  • Serum Sickness / diagnosis*
  • Serum Sickness / immunology


  • Bupropion