The Federal Aviation Administration has dropped a decades-old ban on four antidepressants and so, as of April 5, as many as 10,000 pilots - some of whom were grounded - will be allowed to take to the air while on Prozac, Pfizer's Zoloft or Forest Lab's Celexa and Lexapro,Bloomberg News reports.
In reaching its decision, the FAA says that drowsiness, which is associated the pills, doesn't pose a safety threat. "We have a better understanding of the drugs,” FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt tells the news service. “We know more about the illness, we know more about how to treat it. We really need to remove the stigma, if you will, of being treated for an illness." UPDATE: Here is the FAA statement.
FAA policy bans pilots from flying if depressed because the condition can be distracting in the cockpit and pose a safety risk, Bloomberg writes, adding that, under the new policy, pilots with depression can seek treatment with one of the four medications and still fly. Those who control depression for one year while taking a med can seek permission to fly, and will be monitored by FAA health specialists.
Pilots who violate the rule by flying without disclosing antidepressant use will have amnesty for six months to step forward, federal air surgeon Fred Tilton tells Bloomberg. Those pilots will be grounded, and could be eligible to fly within a few months if treatment is successful.
photo thx to kossy@finedays flickr