11/19/2014 06:26 EST | Updated 01/19/2015 05:59 EST

Smoking cessation drug bupropion may cause more harm than thought

A drug used to help quit smoking and treat depression can lead to harm both accidentally and when abused, a poison control centre in British Columbia warns.

B.C.‘s Drug and Poison Information Centre said it handled 95 cases of buproprion (sold as Wellbutrin and Zyban) exposure last year, including 22 that were admitted to critical care. There was one death.

"Bupropion toxicity following unintentional exposures in young children and adults or following abuse by insufflation [such as inhaling] or injection may be more common than previously thought," Raymond Li of the province’s drug and poison centre concluded in the November issue of the BC Medical Journal.

Buproprion has antidepressant effects and reduces nicotine cravings.

Of the cases reviewed, 22 were therapeutic errors, such as prescribing the wrong dose.

In one previously published case report, a patient developed confusion, agitation and had a seizure after unknowingly taking Wellbutrin, Zyban and generic bupropion that totalled 600 milligrams of the drug a day.

In the B.C. cases, 11 exposures were older children and adolescents, including nine suicide attempts. There were three unintentional exposures in children five years and younger, who were all referred to hospital for observation.