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June 2, 2020 - The supply of antidepressant drugs has dropped during the coronavirus pandemic, and the FDA placed Zoloft and its generic form on its shortage list on Friday.

Zoloft, which is sold under the generic name sertraline, is one of the most widely prescribed antidepressants in the U.S., according to Bloomberg News. The drug was approved in the U.S. in 1991 and is used to treat depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Prescriptions for the drug increased 12% in March to 4.9 million, the news outlet reported, which was the highest ever for the U.S. Then prescriptions dropped to 4.5 million in April.

According to the FDA database update, Pfizer said some versions of its name-brand Zoloft — such as 100 milligram tablets in 100-count bottles — were scarce due to demand.

In addition, several companies that create the generic form said they don’t have enough active pharmaceutical ingredient, or API, to make the drug “due to the impacts caused by COVID-19.”

“Limited supply/out of stock. Cannot support monthly demand,” generic pharmaceutical company Accord Healthcare wrote in the database.

“Continuous production but due to increase in demand API shortage, product is/will be on/off backorder for few months,” generic pharmaceutical company Lupin wrote in the database.

Drug companies don’t disclose where they get active pharmaceutical ingredients, according to Bloomberg, and Lupin and Accord didn’t respond to questions about where sertraline is made. A Pfizer spokesperson told the news outlet that the company produces its own active ingredients for Zoloft.

Some products will be available again in June, the companies wrote in the database, and others will be on backorder for 60 days.

WebMD Health News Brief Medically Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD on June 03, 2020

Sources

FDA, “FDA Drug Shortages, New and Updated.”

Bloomberg News, “Zoloft Falls Into Shortage as Virus Anxiety Strains Supplies.”

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