a sad and depressed woman crying

Sertraline (Zoloft) is one of the most popular antidepressants in the pharmacy. According to our data, over 7 million people take this medicine every day in the United States. That means it beats out fluoxetine (Prozac) and citalopram (Celexa). But ever since Zoloft became available generically, we have heard complaints from visitors to this website. Many report that the generic version of Zoloft does not work as well as the brand name. This is reminiscent of the story of generic Wellbutrin that we reported several years ago. Is it possible to find a generic sertraline that works? This reader is in a quandary:

What Happened to Greenstone’s Generic Sertraline?

Q. I don’t mind taking generic drugs because I can’t afford brand name medicines. The effectiveness of generics varies so widely, though, that I get frustrated.

My doctor prescribed sertraline for depression and anxiety. The first version I took made me dizzy and gave me tremors. It also didn’t do much for my depression. I switched to Greenstone sertraline and that worked much better.

I have learned that Greenstone stopped making sertraline. What will I do?

A. Sertraline is the generic name for the antidepressant Zoloft. Until recently, Greenstone offered an “authorized generic,” identical to the brand name drug.

What’s An Authorized Generic?

Most patients and many pharmacists do not know what an authorized generic is. In a nutshell, it is a licensed generic formulation from the brand name manufacturer.

In other words, the brand name company strikes a deal with a generic manufacturer. The originator firm may supply the identical brand name pills directly to the generic company for rebranding as a generic. It may also license the exclusive manufacturing process so the generic drug can be made in an identical fashion to the brand name drug.

Greenstone is a subsidiary of the Pfizer brand name drug company. Not surprisingly, Greenstone often sells authorized generic formulations of Pfizer brand name drugs. For example, Viagra recently lost its patent protection. As a result, sildenafil is now available as an authorized generic from Greenstone.

If you want to learn more about authorized generic drugs, check out this link:

Save Money Safely With Authorized Generic Drugs

Sertraline That Works?

If you wanted to buy brand name Zoloft, it could cost over $300 for a month’s supply. In contrast, the generic sertraline is under $15 a month at most pharmacies. As you’ve pointed out, however, you won’t know how you will do on a particular generic until you try it.

Many people have reported problems with some generic forms of this drug. One visitor to our website wrote:

When the pharmacy changed manufacturers for my sertraline, I started on a downward spiral. I feel depressed, agitated, anxious, crabby, fatigued and unmotivated.”

Cynthia reported a similar situation:

I have been taking Sertraline (generic Zoloft) for 2 years for mood issues related to PMDD. My December refill marked a change in shape and a slight change in color due to a different manufacturer. I thought nothing of it since I have never had a noticeable issue with generics.

After a couple of days I realized I was not feeling very well. I realized I was actually feeling seriously blue and relentlessly depressed. I lived with this for about 3 weeks. It occurred to me that sertraline was no longer effective for me. It was hard to believe that I could feel that bad that fast. I know it’s possible, but that has never been the case for me.

I politely requested a name brand prescription for Zoloft from my physician. I tried the name brand with great improvement! I was so relieved.”

Gail in Houston had to search for sertraline that works:

Several years ago I had my sertraline prescription filled at CVS. It worked well.

“A year ago I started having horrible headaches and “brain zaps,” symptoms of abrupt withdrawal. I switched to Walgreens and started using a different generic, and it worked extremely well. Then last month my doctor sent my script to CVS electronically, and the generic they had was made by a different generic company. It has been a nightmare! Brain zaps, irritability, splitting headaches.

“I am switching back to Walgreens and the prior generic manufacturer immediately. I guess it goes to show that everyone is different and we know what works in our bodies.”

Penny in Dover, Florida, has had a hard time finding sertraline that works:

I took name brand Zoloft for over 7 years, and it saved my life.

“When the generic came out, of course this was the one my insurance wanted me to take. My life has gone to hell! No other pill has worked for me like the Zoloft did.

“The generic versions are nothing like Zoloft. I live through hell each day, because of generics. Zoloft is too expensive. I already pay to see one doctor. I have tried several antidepressants. None have helped me like the name brand Zoloft did. I only have old memories of much better days.”

Buying Affordable Brand Name Zoloft:

It is possible to purchase brand name Zoloft from a reputable Canadian online pharmacy. The cost for a month’s supply is between $40 and $80. That’s way better than the brand name price in the U.S. Be careful, though. Rogue online pharmacies sell counterfeit medications.

To learn more about authorized generics and reputable online pharmacies, you will want to read our online resource, Saving Money on Medicines, available at this link. We emphasize that this is a 22-page online resource with links and other practical information. It is not a printed pamphlet.

Share your own experience with sertraline that works below in the comment section.

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  1. Alice
    Mandeville, LA

    I called Pfizer to see if I could get an answer as to why the Greenstone brand is no longer available. I am experiencing symptoms again since changing generic brands. Interesting enough, they questioned me in detail about the difference I was feeling. They wanted to know specific name brands of the generics I was switched to. Just a few days ago I received a follow up questionaire requesting more information about my current situation with regards to not taking the Greenstone brand. It makes me wonder if there was a reason we are not being told for the discontinuation of this prescribed drug.

  2. Karen
    Tyler, Texas

    I have been reading through these comments because I have been switched to another generic for Zoloft and within three days have started feeling that I have no coping skills, am having nightmares, and feel SO upset. I have taken Zoloft or the Greenstone brand of it since 1994 with excellent results.

    Over the last year, I have been having difficulty ordering the Greenstone brand and was switched to another manufacturer’s (Aurobindo) generic briefly last year. Within two days, I felt as if I was not taking anything. Walgreen’s was able to order the Greenstone which I used for several months, and then they could no longer obtain it. By that time, my Humana insurance switched to another prescription provider.

    In January, I had to switch pharmacies. I had just refilled the medication that works for me for 90 days. I just took the last one last week and had to go to the new generic Sertraline manufactured by Aurobindo. In one day, it was not working. I went to CVS which takes my insurance, and they transferred my prescription and issued a 90-day supply to me. The manufacturer of this generic is Lupin. In three days, the symptoms I described above have started.

    It is such a travesty that the pharmacies are filling scripts with the lowest bid generics, leaving us in a terrible bind. These generics are apparently not chemically like Zoloft or the Greenstone Sertraline.

    I am 70 years old and do not have the energy to keep searching for medications that will continue to help me lead a life in which I feel normal. In years past, I never had to be concerned if the medication I was taking would work consistently.

    What can be done to correct this major issue related to generics NOT doing what they are supposed to do?

  3. Frieda B

    Like the other commenters, I’ve had excellent results with Zoloft and hell with generics. Now that I am on a limited income, I’m not sure how I’m going to keep paying for Zoloft. I’ll definitely check for the Zoloft discount card from Pfizer.

    In order to get the insurance to pay for Zoloft, I have to take generics and go back through hell and then maybe they’ll consider paying for Zoloft.

  4. Jen

    I used to be a staunch believer in generics, but that was before I had to take so many medications. I have rheumatoid arthritis and Addison’s disease, and I could open my own pharmacy. I too, have experienced severe problems and side effects with generic antidepressants, including lack of efficacy. I have actually gone without an antidepressant for years because my insurance does not want to cover brand name drugs in this class without an act of God. I have also run into problems switching between generic manufacturers of prednisone and hypertension medications. When will the FDA force generic manufactures to engage in some sort of trial or research that demonstrates how these drugs compare both to the original, as well as to each other?

  5. Rebecca
    Bladenboro, NC

    As the owner of a small independent pharmacy, I help my patients find a cost-effective version of their medicine that works. There are often many different generic manufacturers of each medication and unlike the big box stores, your local independently-owned pharmacy is not bound to one manufacturer through contracts. We buy top-rated generics, but some people have different reactions to the excipients or different absorption rates based on the formulation. We try different manufacturers until a patient is satisfied. We have a whole shelf dedicated to “patient-specific medications.” We have only had togo back to the brand medications maybe four times in the 9 years we have owned the store. Try your local independent and let them work with you to get the best formulation for you.

    • Joe Graedon


      Thank you for commenting and for the service you provide your patients. How do you find “top-rated generics”? How do you find a complete list of authorized generics and their specific manufacturers? What is your assessment of APIs made in China?

    • John
      Cranston, RI


      Where can I find authorized generics? I’d like to find a retailer that can sell Lexapro- I may switch to Zoloft.

      Thank you!

  6. Tim

    I was prescribed Sertraline several years ago for anxiety. However, it caused me to thrash about while I slept and never fully took care of the anxiety issue. So I decided to stop taking the drug under the guidance of my doctor. The anxiety issues continued and after a couple of years of dealing with them, I decided I needed to find a way to deal with them that did not require the use of a prescription drug.

    After researching different herbal/naturopathic remedies, I decided to try SAMe. It was like a miracle. I started feeling better within a few days. I don’t have anxiety attacks anymore and I feel mentally good most of the time. I can’t say this would work for everyone but it definitely works for me. I have never had any side effects from using SAMe. It is readily available without a prescription. I buy it at Costco and they frequently sell it at a discounted price. God bless!

  7. Liz

    I don’t know if the manufacturer of my sertraline has changed but I have gotten it at Wal Mart for a number of years. About a month ago I started a downward cycle and I’m still there. It could be the weather, it could be I have had allergies, or it could be the meds are not effective any more. I only take .25 a day.

  8. Karen
    North Carolina

    My husband is facing the same issue with generic sertraline. When we changed pharmacies a few years ago, the generic they used (Lupin) did not work well for him. Not only did his depression and anxiety return, he developed ringing in his ears. His doctor dismissed the idea that sertraline was the cause even though this is listed as a side effect. I returned to our pharmacy and requested that they order Greenstone for us, and he returned to normal. Fast forward to today, and Greenstone is no longer being made. Our pharmacist ordered all she could find and has stockpiled it for us. We’re going to work with our pharmacist to find a suitable alternative when our supply runs out.

    I wish someone could address why Greenstone is no longer making the generic. Could it be to increase demand for the brand Zoloft? It makes sense since Pfizer makes both! It’s difficult to prove that these drug companies are playing games with supply.

    Pfizer offers a discount card on their website that allows you to purchase Zoloft at a discounted rate for a specific period of time. Just search Zoloft Discount Card, and you’ll find it. Another alternative to Canadian pharmacies.

    It’s important to remember that generics that work for some may not work for all. Unfortunately it’s trial and error for each patient. Greenstone was a special case since it was an authorized generic.

  9. Carrie

    I have used the Pfizer discount card for brand name Zoloft for a year. I only pay $30 a month. It has been a lifesaver. Getting a card is very simple and almost all pharmacies accept it.

    • Debbie

      I’m in the same situation as your husband. The only generic sertraline that works for me is Greenstone. How can they just stop making a medication that we’ve successfully taken for so many years? I can relate to his frustration!

      Thankfully, Pfizer does have the discount card, so I’ve been paying $45 per month for brand name Zoloft since Greenstone became unavailable.

      My pharmacist suggested that while I have access to discounted Zoloft, I should try a generic sertraline to see how it works. That way I’ll have an effective generic to fall back on if the Pfizer discount is no longer available. I may do that, but her idea doesn’t sound like much fun to me! 😳

  10. Lisa

    I am able to get brand name Zoloft from a discount card from Pfizer. I pay $45 monthly for a 30 day supply. Google Zoloft discount card. I take 1.5 pills which is why it is $45. 30 day supply of one pill a day is usually $30. I had very little success with generic.

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