Back in April I wrote to the Federal Aviation Administration [FAA] under the terms of the Freedom of Information Act. [FOI]
I was concerned because the FAA had, for some time, some time not allowed pilots on antidepressant medications to fly. However, a new proposal wished to now lift this ban... but only on 4 SSRi type medications - Fluoxetine [Prozac], Sertraline [Zoloft], Citalopram [Celexa], or Escitalopram [Lexapro] [BACK STORY]
The questions I posed to them in the FOI request were:
1. Request for minutes of meetings where the change in the policy was on the agenda. List of members present and a declaration of interests of each of the members.
2. Any information given to FAA from outside parties that relate to the FAA'S recent change in policy regarding pilots on antidepressant medication.
3. A list of SSRi medications that pilots are NOT permitted to use and reasons why you think these SSRi's still pose a threat to safety.
4. A list of anti-smoking cessation drugs that pilots are NOT permitted to use and reasons why you think these still pose a threat to safety.
5. Does the FAA's new policy extend to air traffic controllers, if not, why?
6. An official statement from your CEO that categorically states that the FAA envisage that there will never be any incidents in the future with pilots that can be traced back to any adverse drug reaction from Prozac, Zoloft, Celexa and Lexapro.
Yesterday morning, Fed Ex delivered a package, the contents of which were very eye opening indeed.
For now, I shall offer you the covering letter that accompanied the documents. Later I will offer the complete 58 pages as a download.
One of the things that struck me after browsing through the documents was the following images taken from a presentation by the FAA.
You will notice on both that it is mentioned that paroxetine [Seroxat/Paxil] is cited as having 'significant withdrawal syndrome'
Hardly surprising then, that the FAA have not included Paxil in their 'safe antidepressants' to take whilst operating an aircraft.
Staying on-topic, GlaxoSmithKline are heading for the High Court in London later this year to defend their drug Seroxat, known as Paxil in the US.
GlaxoSmithKline are defending claims that Seroxat has propensity to cause withdrawal reactions.
Anyway, here's the cover letter.
Mr. Bob Fiddaman,
Dear Mr. Fiddaman,
Re: Freedom of Iformation Act (FOIA) request 10-4122
This responds to your Freedom of Information Act email inquiry of April 6,2010 containing six requests concerning the FAA's recent change in policy regarding pilots being treated with certain select antidepressant medications. The FAA's policy regarding pilots with depression taking antidepressant medication may be found in the U.S. Federal Register Notice of April 5,2010 attached.
1. A records search was conducted at FAA Headquarters - Office of Aerospace Medicine. This office located a Memorandum report of a consultants meeting regarding the proposed policy. A copy of this Memorandum is attached. There are no other records respondent to your request.
2. A records search was conducted at FAA Headquarters - Office of Aerospace Medicine. This offrce located information received from the Aerospace Medical Association, the Airline Pilots Association Aeromedical Office, the International Airline Pilots Association, and the United States Army. Copies of these documents are attached. In developing the new policy, the FAA also utilized a variety of medical research literature available in the public domain. We used internet sites such as, but not limited to: The National Library of Medicine PubMed site and the FDA Medwatch.
3. A records search was conducted at FAA Headquarters - Office of Aerospace Medicine. There are no records responsive to this request. The four SSRI medications that will be considered for possible special issuance medical certifrcation are listed in the U.S. Federal Register Notice of April 5, 2010 attached.
4. A records search was conducted at FAA Headquarters - Office of Aerospace Medicine. There are no records responsive to this request. The only anti-smoking drug permitted for use while flying is nicotine in the form of gum or skin patches. All others are not allowed.
5. A records search was conducted at FAA Headquarters - Office of Aerospace Medicine. There are no records responsive to this request. The FAAs new policy does not presently apply to Air Traffic Control Specialist (ATCS) because the administrative details of the monitoring and follow-up of these employees are yet to be determined. The plan is that ATCSs will eventually be included in a program of this type.
6. This request does not apply under the Freedom of Information Act.
If you owe fees for the processing of this request, an invoice containing the amount due and payment instructions will be enclosed.
More coming soon.
ORDER THE PAPERBACK
'THE EVIDENCE, HOWEVER, IS CLEAR...THE SEROXAT SCANDAL' By Bob Fiddaman
SIGNED COPIES HERE OR UNSIGNED FROM CHIPMUNKA PUBLISHING