Omudhome Ogbru, PharmD
Omudhome Ogbru, PharmD
Dr. Ogbru received his Doctorate in Pharmacy from the University of the Pacific School of Pharmacy in 1995. He completed a Pharmacy Practice Residency at the University of Arizona/University Medical Center in 1996. He was a Professor of Pharmacy Practice and a Regional Clerkship Coordinator for the University of the Pacific School of Pharmacy from 1996-99.
Medical and Pharmacy Editor:
GENERIC NAME: sertraline
BRAND NAME: Zoloft
DRUG CLASS AND MECHANISM: Sertraline belongs to a class of drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Other drugs in this class are Prozac (fluoxetine), Paxil (paroxetine), Celexa (citalopram) and Luvox (fluvoxamine). Serotonin is a neurotransmitter (a chemical messenger) produced by nerve cells in the brain that is used by the nerves to communicate with one another. A nerve releases the serotonin it produces into the space surrounding it. The serotonin either travels across the space and attaches to receptors on the surface of nearby nerves or it attaches to receptors on the surface of the nerve that produced it, to be taken up by the nerve and released again (a process referred to as re-uptake). A balance is reached for serotonin between attachment to the nearby nerves and reuptake. Selective serotonin inhibitors block the reuptake of serotonin and therefore change the level of serotonin in the brain.
It is believed that some illnesses such as depression are caused by disturbances in the balance between serotonin and other neurotransmitters. The leading theory is that drugs such as sertraline restore the chemical balance among neurotransmitters in the brain. The FDA approved sertraline in December 1991.
GENERIC AVAILABLE: Yes
PREPARATIONS: Tablets: 25, 50, and 100 mg; oral concentrate: 20 mg/ml
STORAGE: Sertraline should be stored at room temperature between 15-30°C (59-86°F).
PRESCRIBED FOR: Sertraline is used for treating depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Sertraline also is used for treating social anxiety disorder and premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD).
DOSING: The recommended dose of sertraline is 25-200 mg once daily. Treatment of depression, OCD, panic disorder, PTSD, and social anxiety disorder is initiated at 25-50 mg once daily. Doses are increased at weekly intervals until the desired response is seen.
The recommended dose for PMDD is 50-150 mg every day of the menstrual cycle or for 14 days before menstruation.
Sertraline may be taken with or without food.
DRUG INTERACTIONS: Serious reactions such as hyperthermia, fluctuations in blood pressure and rigidity of muscles may occur when SSRIs are used in combination with monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOI) such as phenelzine, tranylcypromine (Parnate) and isocarboxazid. Therefore, SSRIs should not be used in combination with MAOIs. In addition, SSRIs and MAOIs should not be used within 14 days of each other.
Cimetidine (Tagamet) may increase the levels in blood of sertraline by reducing the elimination of sertraline by the liver. Increased levels of sertraline may lead to more side effects.
Sertraline increases the blood level of pimozide (Orap) by 40%. High levels of pimozide can affect electrical conduction in the heart and lead to sudden death. Therefore, patients should not receive treatment with both pimozide and sertraline.
Through unknown mechanisms, sertraline may increase the blood thinning action of warfarin (Coumadin). The effect of warfarin should be monitored when sertraline is started or stopped.
PREGNANCY: Use of sertraline during the 3rd trimester of pregnancy may lead to adverse effects in the newborn.
NURSING MOTHERS: Use of sertraline by nursing mothers has not been adequately evaluated.
SIDE EFFECTS: The most common side effects of sertraline are sleepiness, nervousness, insomnia, dizziness, nausea, tremor, skin rash, upset stomach, loss of appetite, headache, diarrhea, abnormal ejaculation, dry mouth and weight loss. Important side effects are irregular heartbeats, allergic reactions and activation of mania in patients with bipolar disorder.
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