What does sertraline look like? (+1 tip)

In this article, we will explore what sertraline looks like. We will go through the physical appearance of sertraline tablets, drug names and generic versions, colour and shape variations, dosage strengths and imprints, packaging, the difference between brand and generic sertraline and the importance of identifying sertraline tablets. 

What does sertraline look like? 

Sertraline is a genetic medication whose appearance can vary depending on the manufacturer and the specific version of the medication that you are receiving. It is available as an oral formulation in the form of a tablet and liquid. The liquid paediatric formulation is available as a syrup. To accurately identify sertraline, always check the medication’s imprint, colour, shape and packaging. 

What is Sertraline? 

Sertraline is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor medication that is used in the treatment of depression and anxiety (1). This means that after serotonin is released into the synaptic cleft, sertraline prevents it from being reabsorbed by the neuron. This makes it available in the synaptic cleft to enhance signalling between nerves. The overall effect of elevated serotonin is an alleviation of depressive symptoms (1).  

After ingestion, medication is rapidly absorbed across the GIT and a peak is reached within 4-8 hours (2). It has a large volume of distribution since it even crosses the blood-brain barrier. The medication is metabolised by the liver CYP2B6 and CYP2C19 enzymes before elimination by the kidneys. 

What are the Physical characteristics of sertraline?

Sertraline as a generic name comes in different tablet and oral formulations (3). Sertraline tablets are film-coated. They may have different colours, imprint codes, shapes and imprints depending on the manufacturer and strength. Common colours include white, blue, yellow and green, Medication shapes can range from oblong, and oval to circular. 

Packaging and branding will also vary with different manufacturers. To ensure that you have the correct medication, check the packaging and leaflet for the brand name, generic name, dosage and strength. Individual tablets can also be identified using imprint codes. To accurately identify a sertraline tablet using its imprint code, refer to the imprint on the tablet itself and not the imprint on its packaging. You can identify the tablet through its imprint using online pill identification tools from reputable sources. 

What are Sertraline dosage forms and strengths?

Sertraline is available in various dosage forms and targets. Tablets come in different strengths compounded to serve specific patient populations. Common tablet strengths include: 

  • 25mg
  • 50mg
  • 100mg

Dosage strengths are strategically compounded to minimize the healthcare burden imposed on community pharmacists during extemporaneous preparations. Tablets are film-coated and they may have different shapes, imprints and colours depending on the manufacturer. 

Sertraline is also available as a syrup. This formulation eases dosing in populations that find it difficult to swallow tablets. It has a strength of 20mg/ml. 

What are the commonly available brands of sertraline?

Common sertraline brands include: 

Brand / Commercial Name Company Characteristics
Zoloft VIATRIS Film-coated sertraline HCL is available as a tablet (25mg light green oval, 50mg light blue and oval, and 100mg light yellow and oval) and a concentrate (20mg/ml in an amber-coloured bottle). 
Lustral Upjohn UK Limited Film-coated 50 mg (white capsular shaped) sertraline HCL
Contulen HFA healthcare products Film-coated 50 mg (white capsule shaped) and 100 mg (white capsule shaped) sertraline HCL


Other pharmaceutical manufacturers that have compounded sertraline include ACI, AUROBINDO, ACCORD, ASCENT, GRANULES, HERITAGE PHARMA, INVAGEN, LUPIN, OXFORD PHARMS, VIWIT PHARMS, SCIEGEN PHARMS and REYOUNG. 

Can different brands of sertraline have different effects? 

Different brands of sertraline cannot have different pharmacological effects unless the patient is allergic to excipients used to formulate a specific brand. The brands may however have different pharmacokinetic effects. Although different companies use different names for their sertraline product, the active component used to manufacture the product is sertraline as per the global pharmacopoeia standards. This ensures that the pharmacological effect is the same.

Other elements of the drug formulation which make up the excipients may vary. Excipients are used to manipulate medication taste, colour, duration of action, side of action, and many other pharmacokinetic and organoleptic factors. This may vary the pharmacokinetic effect.

For example, research also shows that film-coating medications as seen in tablets from common sertraline brands decrease the extent of drug absorption in the GIT (4). This prolongs the time of absorption, a phenomenon that is not seen in liquid formulations unless a company incorporates disintegrants in coating film (5). 

Nevertheless, finished products to be used as medications from pharmaceutical companies are subjected to tests that prove the intended pharmacological and pharmacokinetic action, as required by statutory regulation bodies. This esnures that the prescribed dosage stetrgth and frequency are in line with medication properties. 

What are the Potential side effects and precautions of using sertraline? 

Common adverse effects of sertraline include: 

  • Nausea
  • Insomnia
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • GIT disturbances
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Weight changes
  • Dry mouth

The medication may also cause rare but severe adverse effects like:

These side effects may be worse at the initiation of therapy. It is important to report any side effects to your healthcare provider especially when they are cumbersome. 


In this article, we have discussed what sertraline looks like. Although different manufacturers may have different physical appearances of the medication, sertraline can be identified by the brand name on the packaging material and the imprint code on the tablet. Different manufacturers may use different excipients which affect drug release, colour, taste and absorption in the GIT. It is therefore important to adhere to the prescribed dosage and duration. 

My advice on identifying sertraline is that you should look at the brand and ethnic names on the primary packaging material. Specifics of the medication can also be retrieved from the insert. Considering that different brands keep advancing their formulations to improve delivery, one should not doubt the idneity of a medication based on phycial properties like the colour of the disintegration profile. You can always confirm the identity of sertraline by looking up the imprint code or from a qualified pharmacist. 

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Rees S. SERTRALINE. Journal of Prescribing Practice. 2021 Nov 11;3(11):436-.


Alhadab AA, Brundage RC. Population pharmacokinetics of sertraline in healthy subjects: a model-based meta-analysis. The AAPS Journal. 2020 May 19;22(4):73.


Chauhan T, Rani V, Sahu B, Sharma A, Kheruka SC, Gambhir S, Dube V, Aggarwal LM, Chawla R. Negatively charged liposomes of sertraline hydrochloride: Formulation, characterization and pharmacokinetic studies. Journal of Drug Delivery Science and Technology. 2020 Aug 1;58:101780.


Seo KS, Bajracharya R, Lee SH, Han HK. Pharmaceutical application of tablet film coating. Pharmaceutics. 2020 Sep 8;12(9):853.


Kathpalia H, Gupte A. An introduction to fast dissolving oral thin film drug delivery systems: a review. Current drug delivery. 2013 Dec 1;10(6):667-84.

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