Cockpit of a Boeing 747
When we check-in at airports it's usually with a sense of excitement. Our destination utmost in our minds. Finally, after queuing, the clerk behind the desk asks us all a series of questions before issuing our boarding pass.
We take it on trust that the pilot will have all of his faculties about him. Airline regulations must be stringent and any pilot with alcoholism or a history of drug misuse would surely be told to stay at home - nay have their licence revoked.
But what of prescription medications?
Knowing what we know about the side-effects of SSRi type drugs, would we feel safe knowing that the pilot responsible for getting us from A to B was free from any such side-effects? I know I would [having experienced Seroxat side-effects myself]
I wouldn't want a pilot to experience a head zap whilst coming in to land at Heathrow or blurred vision whilst taking off at JFK. Heaven forbid a pilot feels so agitated and anxious whilst flying over the Atlantic.
The Federal Aviation Administration [FAA] don't feel that concerned.
For some time the FAA have not allowed pilots on antidepressant medications to fly. However, a new proposal wishes to now lift this ban... but only on 4 SSRi type medications - Fluoxetine [Prozac], Sertraline [Zoloft], Citalopram [Celexa], or Escitalopram [Lexapro]
You will note that Seroxat [Paxil in the US], Cipramil and the SNRi, Effexor, did not make the 'safe list' - neither, it seems, did the anti smoking cessation medications, Champix and Zyban.
Begs the question, why?
I've tried getting to the bottom of it but red tape has me going around in circles, red tape that would put the MHRA to shame - evasive answers, wrong department etc.
The Freedom of Information [FOI] request form on the FAA webpage will not allow anyone from outside the US to make a request, even if I did live within the boundaries I'd be asked to pay some sort of fee for information requested.
So, I'll have to go public with my queries, I usually find that making a mockery of someone or something is a good way of forcing an answer from these types of regulatory bodies.
As far as I can ascertain, this is just a proposal by the FAA - It is not written in stone.
It would appear that their 'research' has led them to believe that only 4 SSRi's can be deemed safe when it comes to pilots taking control of an airplane - all four have had bad raps in the past but all been superseded by the bad press of Paxil [Seroxat in UK]
The FAA make the same mistake as the pro-pill pushers - they take into account the illness and weigh it alongside the medication being used to treat that illness.
Surprisingly, their press statement makes the claim:
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) today announced that it will consider the special issuance of a medical certificate to pilots who are taking medication for mild to moderate depression, conditions that now bar them from all flying duties.
And there's me thinking that such drugs should not be prescribed for mild to moderate depression.
I only hope the in-flight movie isn't TORA! TORA! TORA!
"Did you pack your own suitcase?"
"Yeh, I have an SSRi tapering protocol inside that you may wish to read."
Thank you for flying with SSRi Airlines. Come back again, you hear.
ORDER THE PAPERBACK
'THE EVIDENCE, HOWEVER, IS CLEAR...THE SEROXAT SCANDAL' By Bob Fiddaman
SIGNED COPIES HERE OR UNSIGNED FROM CHIPMUNKA PUBLISHING