depressed teen holding her head

The FDA insists that all generic drugs sold in the U.S. are “identical” to their brand name counterparts. Visitors to this website disagree.

The latest controversy surrounds generic sertraline (Zoloft). This antidepressant is taken by millions of people. The reports we are getting make us wonder how good a job the FDA is doing at monitoring foreign-made pharmaceuticals.

The FDA insider tells me that the agency has not seen much in the way of complaints about generic sertraline, but we certainly have.

Reports of Generic Sertraline (Zoloft) Difficulties:

Michelle reports:

“I noticed this last month when picking up my Rx refill that the sertraline (Zoloft) tablets were different, but I know there are several manufacturers of medications, so I didn’t think much of it. Now, after almost a month on the new generic sertraline, my anxiety is at another rise; panic attacks are prevalent and I had no idea until just now researching this drug why thus was happening.

“I guess I’ll be switching to a different pharmacy. And trying to ride out the next few days in hell…”

Sharon:

“The generic sertraline from Aurobindo made me feel like I was on some sort of ‘speed,’ and it appears that others are feeling some pretty negative side effects as well. I had done very well for years on the Greenstone generic, but within two days of starting the Aurobindo tablets, I began feeling manic and couldn’t sleep at all. I felt like my brain had gone into overdrive.”

Tim:

“I refilled my prescription for sertraline (the MFG for my drugs went from Greenstone to Aurobindo). I noticed the pill looked different and the MFG seemed different but, I figured it wouldn’t be that big of a deal.

“After 2 weeks of the drug I would go home after work and I wanted to kill everyone. I was so emotional and all over the place. I literally started to feel schizophrenic and not myself. I hated anyone that crossed my path at home, and I would lock myself in my room for hours, wondering what is wrong with me. I just knew I was feeling weird.

“Finally at work, someone mentioned a very similar issue they had where they had a bad reaction to a new generic version of a pill they’ve been taking forever. Going home, I was set to figure everything out, but as soon as I closed the door, I had the worst panic attack of my life. I have had anxiety issues for many years and I have overcome this a million times, but this one sent me to the hospital. I called my mom because I felt strange and I was slurring my words and could only answer yes/no questions.

“My mom came to check up on my and found me face down on the floor having a seizure (ended up being a pseudo-seizure). I was hospitalized for 24 hours. I feel like this is sickening that you can be on the same drug for years and then they’re allowed to switch generic manufacturers without really telling you.”

Mel:

“I have been on Sertraline 25mg manufactured by Greenstone for many years until Walgreens switched to selling the drug manufactured by Aurobindo in July 2015. I have had the most horrific panic attacks and pervasive anxious feelings since the switch. I have never before experienced such mental anguish, which is chemical and due to the change of manufacturer. (I am fortunate not to have any major stressors to blame.)”

Sue:

“I have been on Zoloft since 1991. I switched to sertraline as soon as it was available. I have been stable for several years. Since my last refill I have noticed a gradual decline in my mood. I am ‘down in the hole’ again and can’t seem to find a way out. I have even been obsessing with suicidal ideation again. It’s a scary place to be in.

“Situationally, nothing has changed in my life. I am in a therapy, so I feel safe. I am starting to wonder about the effectiveness of my sertraline I was curious if anyone else has had a return of symptoms while taking sertraline vs Zoloft.”

Jennifer:

“Recently filled my Rx for generic sertraline and was informed the manufacturer changed (went from Greenstone to Aurobindo). I know from past experience this can be an issue but I was trying to go with the flow.

“Fast forward after taking the Aurobindo for 2 weeks and it was scary how dark my mood/thoughts were getting.

“Walgreen’s actually handled it great when I went in to tell them I was not responding well at all to the Aurobindo sertraline and needed to switch back. They were able to get me the Greenstone manufacturer again within a couple of days but it took another 2 weeks to get it back into my system and start to feel like I was in control of my thoughts again…pretty terrifying really. Overall bad experience with sertraline manufactured by Aurobindo.”

Cliff:

“I had the exact same issue as Jennifer. Sertraline was switched from Greenstone to Aurobindo at Wallgreens. I started feeling anxious, lightheaded, and I had a Vasovagal reaction and passed out at work. After 2 weeks of this I have called Walgreens and they have ordered the Greenstone for me. I have been on this drug for over 10 years and I have never had a reaction like this.”

What’s Going On with Generic Sertraline?

You have just read a few of the messages we have received about generic sertraline problems. We have no way of knowing at this time whether there is a bioequivalence issue like the one we discovered with generic Wellbutrin several years ago. The FDA ignored our concerns for years, telling us that the complaints we were getting were likely imaginary.

We did not give up and many years later the FDA discovered to its chagrin that Budeprion XL 300 was not bioequivalent to Wellbutrin XL 300. Budeprion XL 300 and another generic bupropion were removed from the market because they were not equal to the brand name antidepressant.

The only way we can get to the bottom of this sertraline issue is if people contact the Food and Drug Administration and share their stories. The agency does not make it easy, however. You will need to know the manufacturer, the lot number, the expiration date, and the NDC identifier. Your pharmacist can supply this information if you push her. Here is a link to the Consumer Voluntary Reporting Form FDA 3500 B. You can also report electronically by going to the MedWatch page.

Feel free to report your experience with generic sertraline below in the comment section. Let us know what generic products are working and which might be causing problems.

We will send your story on to executives in the Office of Generic Drugs at the FDA. You will also be able to share your own experiences with others so that they will know what to expect if they too are having troubles with generic sertraline.

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  1. Emma
    EU
    Reply

    I’d been on Sertraline for over 15 years and last month, the pharmacy switched my brand to Aurobindo with a very casual “they are all the same, don’t worry”.

    Within a week, I could not feel the normal benefits of the tablets. I felt under immense pressure, incredibly high anxiety, sleep disruptions, visions, crying a lot, palpitations. I felt wretched and that I couldn’t function and that I was poisoned. I thought I was having a psychotic break or dying or both. This was the worst I had ever felt in my life.

    Nothing else in my life had changed. I went to my doctor who immediately said we will switch back to the more expensive tablets and had to put me on oxazepam for at least a week for the transition. Cost saving should not put health at risk.

    Do not accept Aurobindo sertraline!!! If any pharma person tells me that Aurobindo sertraline are safe, then I challenge them to take the medicine for a month and see how they feel!!!

  2. Pinky
    Silicon Valley
    Reply

    Such horrible news that Greenstone has stopped manufacturing sertraline. I go the run around when I called Pfizer to see who will be making the generic for them. I ended up being given a number that was for Greenstone’s medication line!

    Rite Aid gave the option ordering Northstar (horrible!), Lupin, Cipla (meh), Exelan and Accord (never heard of the last 2). I guess I will request Zoloft or Lupin.

  3. Wanda
    California
    Reply

    I have been taking sertraline for 8 years. There is definitely a problem with aurobindo brand. I started with greenstone and felt better than I ever had before. Then got switched to North star. It was ok, no terrible side effect but, not as good as greenstone. Then aurobindo, I was full of anxiety and dizzy, afraid to drive to pharmacy and get different manufacture. They treated me like I was overreacting. They actually put a label saying North star on top of the manufacturer label of aurobindo! I asked my Dr for a name brand script and researched Pfizer coupons. I wish I can tell you that all worked out great but, it hasn’t. I take 100 mg daily name brand for 1 year and it’s like it just stopped working for me.
    Without a doubt, all manufacturer are NOT created equal!!!

  4. Juan
    Anaheim, CA
    Reply

    Aurobindo should be take off the market. It has happened to me a few times when I was on prozac for years, by Sandoz, and all of the sudden my pharmacy changed it to Aurobindo, and all hell broke lose. I started feeling out of place and with higher anxiety, and sure enough: It was the change in manufacturers. Once i got Sandoz, it took about a week for me to start feeling like myself again.

    A second instance is now as of September 2017. I decided to change from prozac to Zoloft but the mistake was that they gave me Zoloft manufactured by Aurobindo, and two weeks into it I was not feeling any better, and my anxiety was even greater. As I can see here many people share the same type of story.

    It should be illegal for pharmacies to change manufacturers without letting you know. I have my doctor specifically request the manufacturer that I know works for me. Right now I’m out of work because of the severity of the condition, so I’m now completely off Prozac three weeks and taking Zoloft for two and a half weeks (from Aurobindo). It’s like not taking anything. Good thing I’m taking Wellbutrin and Ativan during the transition that keeps me at least ok for the time being.

    It’s sad that the industry only cares about the bottom line (profit), which I’m assuming that is the reason pharmacies order Aurobindo because it is cheaper. But in reality it is garbage, and you be better off not even taking it.

    So two experiences for me is too much hence my comment and the fact that Aurobindo should be removed from market.

  5. Jessica
    USA
    Reply

    Hello! My new doctor wants me to try Zoloft. The problem with brand name Zoloft is that it costs over $600. I don’t have insurance, so I have to get generic. I know psychotropic drugs are notorious for having problems when generic vs. brand name, so I’ve been researching variables. I’m very glad to have found this site! I asked my pharmacy – RiteAid – specifically to order Greenstone Sertraline. They told me that Greenstone no longer makes Sertraline AT ALL. They also said that the ONLY manufacturing company that sells Sertraline in the US is Invagen. I am looking into this. I am going to switch pharmacies after this (not just because I find this all fishy). Just in case this is true, and the only Sertraline available in the United States is made by Invagen, does anyone have any experience with Sertraline by Invagen?

    • Wanda
      Reply

      Go to the Pfizer website and you can get a coupon for Zoloft reducing the price to 30 dollars and have it filled through Walgreens. Hope this helps

    • Natalia
      Reply

      Hi, I have been taking Greenstone for a while and experienced the switch from Greenstone to other manufacturers which equaled to horrible migraines everyday until I realised what the issue was.

      I have an issue finding a refill for Greenstone brand, but found that there is a savings card for the brand name sertraline. May have to try that one.

  6. Jerry
    Florence, AL
    Reply

    Bad news for all of us Greenstone sertraline users: it is no longer being manufactured. This is terrible news for both me and my wife. More so my wife since had a horrible experience with one of the other generics.

  7. Felicia B
    British Columbia
    Reply

    After taking teva-sertraline for years, the pharmacy switched to siv-sertraline. Shortly after the switch I noticed a pronounced decline in my mood, and experienced horrible discontinuation symptoms. After complaining to the pharmacist and switching back to teva-sertraline, I feel like a normal person.

  8. Jenny
    Orkney Islands, UK.
    Reply

    Hello, thanks for letting me share my experience of Sertraline. Its been a nightmare. Within a month of taking 50 mg dose I started getting a choking combined with nausea sensation on a regular basis. Soon after, I started getting shakes, my teeth literally rattling in my mouth. My moods became much more intense, sadness and panic increasing, especially with the new symptoms. Next few months came the convulsions, whole body spasms, totally involuntary. Had to quit my job and my studies it got that bad.

    My muscles started getting really weak. I’ve put on three stone in weight. My back hurts. Sex drive, what sex drive? Went to the doctor, who told me I needed a higher dosage, put me on 100mg. The convulsions got worse, started choking then vomiting every single day. It felt like a sort of suppressed pressure cooker feeling, my anger levels shooting up til I withdrew into my own world because I didn’t trust my temper. Literally sick with rage for no reason, the only relief to write it all down, forcing the pen through the paper just to release.

    Then choking again, so badly I have been putting my fingers down my throat just to get the vomiting over and done with. Sleep patterns became disrupted, ended up on zopiclone way too often just to get some relief from it all. As the symptoms got worse, so did my anxiety, because I just didn’t understand what was happening. FINALLY a friend of mine said, ‘Jenny, get off that Sertraline’. I was in shock, because I’d never even connected that was the cause. Took me two months to ease off it slowly, with the support of my doctor, and am now slowly feeling better. Feel like I’m getting my life back. I’m still suffering suicidal ideation, plus shaking, nausea etc are still there, thankfully getting less though I’ve been told it could take awhile.

  9. Jenn
    Chicago
    Reply

    I am so glad there are so many comments here. I have been on 100mg of Sertraline and with my new mail order, I have felt out of control. Irritable, angry, and quick to frustration. My last batch of Sertraline subsided all of this. I found out that my last batch was manufactured by Aurobindo and then it was switched to CIPLA. I’m having such a difficult time on CIPLA, it feels like a placebo. I’m so frustrated and disheartened to realize that generic drugs have such different effects. This is completely unhealthy and unsafe for us all.

  10. Rick
    Wisconsin
    Reply

    I have been having this same problem for 10 years. I also thought it was just me noticing differences. I have been taking the generic Lupin brand with varying side effects with each refill or every other. I believe it to be a difference in the change of lots.

    I have switched pharmacies and asked for the Greenstone brand. I will give a update on my findings. It is absolutely ridiculous that this isn’t monitored better! This issue (I believe) took my sister’s life as well as a good friend’s sister after getting new or refilled prescriptions and committing suicide!

    They claim that suicide can happen in younger people; however, both of these beautiful souls were not younger people! We need to get this resolved. I’m all in on a class action lawsuit to keep the industry honest and stop the suffering madness! Where do we go to get this moving?

    • Julie
      NC
      Reply

      Rick, I am interested in a lawsuit as well as petitioning Congress for better oversight, QC controls of all our medications, and testing for bioequivalency for ALL generics. I also believe that every drug manufacturer allowed to sell in the U.S. needs to be required to make all products and parts of products inside the U.S., no exceptions. This should help reduce the foreign companies from sneaking in products from countries whose quality standards are not equivalent to ours. Contact me via email please: juliesroses at gmail.

  11. Nancy G
    chandler az
    Reply

    6-2-2017– I have been taking 25mg of sertraline hcl for 3yrs- with no problems. new refill manufacturer was changed from lupin to aurobindo- I noticed pills different color. Took 34 pills so far and have been on a downward spiral–don’t feel like my self,depressed, agitated,anxious, impatient,low energy no mojo, crabby, not motivated I have to push myself to do anything, tired but can’t sleep –thankfully i only take this 1 medication- so I figured it out myself. I called optimum rx and they only had the manufacturer of aurobindo I told them to cancel prescription. Called walgreens and spoke to pharmacist to see if they had sertraline from lupin said no and can’t order it– they suggested I try sertraline by cipila . Guess I will try it but I am scared to death due to the way I currently feel. Just want to feel good like i did on sertraline manufactured by lupin life was good.

  12. Fred
    California
    Reply

    I had taken generics from Northstar, Camba, and now Lupin. Lupin has not worked well at all, so bad in fact that I actually called several pharmacies around the area for Greenstone. Thankfully the Good Neighbor pharmacy carries Greenstone and I will begin using it tomorrow. I’ll follow up and report. As of now, I am about 50% normal. I blame Lupin brand generics. Garbage.

  13. Gail
    San Bernardino, CA
    Reply

    I am having the same problem with sertraline manufactured by CIPLA USA, INC. I have been taking 150mg Zoloft or Sertraline for almost 20 years. Recently, Rite-Aid switched to CIPLA brand. It’s almost like I’m not taking anything. I feel like I did 20 years ago. My doctor recommended upping the dose but I would prefer to try a different brand.

  14. Connie
    Usa
    Reply

    Hi, this topic has been my life since 1994. It is at its worse now. 2017. They changed batch numbers. Just a simple molecule makes me sick. I’m sick now trying out different batch numbers. Due to my other medical problems I take 4 additional mess. My med bill was over 700 dollars for one refill. This is with Medicare D. I am going to have to go through detox on this because of price. Zoloft isn’t even covered. I’m scared. My Medicare check will not cover all my meds.

    I’m thinking of leaving the USA and buy Canadian. Heck. For the amount I save it will pay for the trip. But, will the batch numbers match? Why do I anxiety attacks? Sad for USA.

  15. Barb
    AZ
    Reply

    Oh my goodness. So that’s what is wrong with me. I am in the middle of moving, trying to find a new house, since my old one is sold. I thought it was the stress of the move that was making me so jittery, so unbelievably nuts. Couldn’t sleep; heart racing; headache; total anxiety.

    Then I looked at the sertraline RX thinking, this one is not the usual pill. Walmart switched from the Packs (Greenstone) to Aurobindo without telling me why. The pharmacist says it was Norstar, but the pill identifier on line says its Aurobindo.

    I don’t care. I called Walmart after reading all of this here and pharmacist says OK, we will go back to the other one. There should be a law about these generic-switching pharmacies, making it illegal to do this to a person. Where is the lawyer???

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