hmmmm...
Posts: 1959
Joined: Tue May 18, 1999 8:32 am

Pilots And Their Prescription Drugs

Sun Aug 17, 2003 11:59 am

Every 6 months airline pilots must pass a physical exam to determine their fitness for flight. Are some drugs, such as any of the anti-depressant type, a disqualifier for a commercial or airline pilot?

According to some sources, 17% of the population is, at one time or another, on some type of anti-depressant.

Examples:
Tricyclic antidepressants – amitriptyline (Elavil® and others), imipramine (Tofranil® and others), nortriptyline (Pamelor® and others)

SSRIs – fluoxetine (Prozac®, Sarafem®), sertraline (Zoloft®), paroxetine (Paxil®)

Atypical – trazodone (Desyrel® and others), nefazodone (Serzone®), buproprion (Wellbutrin® and Zyban®)

MAOIs – phenelzine (Nardil®), tranylcypromine (Parnate®)



It is noted that anti-depressants are prescribed for a myriad of ailments including Irritable Bowel Syndrome or other psychosomatic ailments, not just clinical depression.

Questions for the forum:

1) Are these types of medication banned?

2) Who determines what a pilot can and can not take?

3) How would the governing party know whether or not a pilot is taking a certain prescription drug? Do they test for all known drugs at every medical?

4) Do these rules apply to lesser-licenced pilots as well?

5) Are these imposed by nations or by an international convention?
An optimist robs himself of the joy of being pleasantly surprised
 
flymia
Posts: 6806
Joined: Thu Jun 14, 2001 6:33 am

RE: Pilots And Their Prescription Drugs

Sun Aug 17, 2003 1:48 pm

well i really dont know. But i would expect anyone taking and anti Depression drug would not be flying because they are depressed. They go thourgh major Mental checks too.
"It was just four of us on the flight deck, trying to do our job" (Captain Al Haynes)
 
cancidas
Posts: 3985
Joined: Thu Jul 03, 2003 7:34 am

RE: Pilots And Their Prescription Drugs

Sun Aug 17, 2003 2:54 pm

it's up to the pilot's AMA as to what medications they are allowed to take.
"...cannot the kingdom of salvation take me home."
 
m717
Posts: 540
Joined: Tue Dec 31, 2002 1:01 pm

RE: Pilots And Their Prescription Drugs

Sun Aug 17, 2003 9:19 pm

"it's up to the pilot's AMA as to what medications they are allowed to take."

Not exactly. The AME has no power to "allow" or to "disallow" any particular medication. Also, it's not the medications, per se, that are disqualifying (except for certain illegal substances), it's the condition for which the medication is taken (or sometimes the side effects of the medication) that is disqualifying.

There is no list of "banned" medications. You are required to report any illness or medications being taken on your application for a medical certificate. This should also be discussed with your AME. This application, along with any reports from the AME, are sent to the FAA Aeromedical Branch for evaluation and determination on whether or not you qualify to hold a medical certificate. The medical certificate that the AME issues is only valid if the FAA Aeromedical Branch, once it has reviewed your application, does not deny it or request additional information. They have 60 days in which to do this.

Also, the standards for a First, Second or Third Class Medical certificate are different (and less restrictive for a Third Class than for a First Class), so "lesser-licensed" pilots can obtain a Second or Third Class Medical with less stringent requirements for certification.

Requirements and standards for the issuance of medical certificates are found in Title 14 CFR 67, if anyone wants to look it up and review it.

[Edited 2003-08-17 14:21:26]
 
hmmmm...
Posts: 1959
Joined: Tue May 18, 1999 8:32 am

RE: Pilots And Their Prescription Drugs

Sun Aug 17, 2003 11:36 pm

That's a good answer M717. So it seems that it's up to the pilot to be honest about what he's taking. Is this the policy of US authorities or is it universal?
An optimist robs himself of the joy of being pleasantly surprised
 
m717
Posts: 540
Joined: Tue Dec 31, 2002 1:01 pm

RE: Pilots And Their Prescription Drugs

Mon Aug 18, 2003 1:03 am

Hmmmm....

Yes, that pretty much sums it up. It is up to the pilot to be honest, although again, it is more the condition rather than the medication that is disqualifying, and these disqualifying conditions can be hard to cover up due to the regular examinations, and the day to day interaction with other crewmembers. Most pilots know when they are unfit to fly.

I really can only comment on US policy, so maybe someone who has more experience with other authorities can comment on that.

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