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Antidepressant Zoloft falls into shortage due to anxiety around COVID-19

Published on 02/06/20 at 11:01am
Photo by Myling

The FDA has listed the antidepressant Zoloft to its catalogue of drugs that are in short supply in the United States from a heightened demand due to the coronavirus.

Isolation and anxiety around the pandemic have seen a surge in people requesting mental health services. Zoloft prescriptions were up 12% in March compared to the previous year, with 4.9 million prescriptions according to Bloomberg. This was followed by another 4.5 million in April.

This is also affecting the generic version of Zoloft (sertraline) and the drug companies who sell it, such as Lupin Ltd and Accord Healthcare, have told the FDA they cannot get sufficient active pharmaceutical ingredients to keep up with demand.

The fragility of the drug manufacturing chain is due pharmaceutical ingredients from China and India being harder to come by due to the coronavirus. The pandemic has cut down manufacturing output but has also seen both China and India focus on securing their own drug and active pharmaceutical ingredient stockpiles instead of exports.

Pfizer, the drug’s branded manufacturer, said its 100 milligram tablets in 100 pill bottles were in particular short supply, but said they produce their own ingredients for the drug, unlike the generics companies.

The drug was originally approved in 1991 and treats conditions like depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder and posttraumatic-stress disorder.

Conor Kavanagh

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