Drugmakers struggle to meet demand for antidepressant Zoloft amid COVID-19

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The FDA reported shortages for antidepressant Zoloft as prescriptions rise and ingredients run short. (Getty Images)

The COVID-19 pandemic has tested pharma's supply chain and spawned several drug shortages. Now, with mental health suffering, antidepressant Zoloft and its generics are in short supply.

A number of drugmakers are having trouble keeping up with higher demand, while some can’t get their hands on active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) to make the medicine, the FDA said Friday.

Lupin, for one, is in “continuous production” but is citing higher demand and an API shortage for its supply shortfall. The company says its product will be on and off back order for a "few months.”

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Another generic drugmaker, Accord Healthcare, is “currently unable to obtain” the API to make the drug due to COVID-19, according to the FDA. Accord does have some lower doses available; its higher doses are expected to be in short supply for 60 days.

Meanwhile, Aurobindo has “sufficient quantities available for current and future demand increases,” the FDA site says. Cipla’s InvaGen subsidiary has some Zoloft generics available, while some doses and bottle sizes are on backorder. Pfizer also cited higher demand for its supply constraints.

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Increased anxiety from COVID-19 lockdowns has contributed to the shortages, Bloomberg reports. Prescriptions for the drug grew 12% in March versus the same month last year, to 4.9 million, according to the news service. That was a record high; scripts fell to 4.5 million in April.

The global biopharma supply chain has been tested for months amid the COVID-19 pandemic as demand increases and manufacturing stoppages have cropped up worldwide. Other medicines to face shortages and supply interruptions include the anesthetics propofol and midazolam, and asthma inhalers. Johnson & Johnson also reported a "temporary" Tylenol shortage.

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