Popular antidepressant in short supply because of pandemic, says FDA

The coronavirus pandemic has caused a spike in demand for depression and anxiety medication. One popular SSRI anti-depressant that is often prescribed to treat both depression and anxiety is in short supply, the FDA warned in a document published on May 29. The shortage applies mostly to higher doses of the drug with the FDA estimating it will take 60 days to clear the shortages.

Zoloft is the brand name for an antidepressant that is also sold under the generic name sertraline. This medication is prescribed in strengths ranging from 25mg to 100mg for multiple mental health issues, including depression, anxiety, panic disorder, and OCD. The drug remains popular in the US where demand has increased as many people feel the stress of the COVID-19 pandemic.

On May 29, the FDA published a drug advisory noting that there's a shortage of sertraline hydrochloride tablets in the highest strengths, though lower-strength versions of the drug are still available in adequate supply. The document notes that the 50mg / 500-count, 100mg/90-count, and 100mg/500-count tablets are currently either in limited supply or out of stock.

Pandemic behind shortage

This shortage doesn't seem to be due so much to increased demand as it does some sort of supply chain issue related to the pandemic. The FDA document goes on to state that the reason for the shortage is the COVID-19 pandemic and that the manufacturer 'cannot support monthly demand' at this time.

The document states that Accord Healthcare 'is currently unable to obtain the API to mfg due to the impacts caused by COVID-19.' In this case, API stands for the active pharmaceutical ingredient in medicine. The FDA lists all three products as having an expected 60-day shortage, but other details are still fuzzy at this time.

The shortage doesn't impact every sertraline manufacturer, however. Aurobindo Pharma is listed as having 'sufficient quantities' of the drug in all strengths and counts as of May 29; InvaGen Pharmaceuticals has several strengths and counts listed as 'on backorder,' however, while Lupin is showing shortages across all strengths due to low availability of the API.