Hundreds of commercial and private U.S. pilots have been diagnosed and treated for a broad array of serious psychiatric and medical conditions, including schizophrenia, attempted suicide, sexual deviance, alcoholism and drug abuse, a Herald review has found.
For the past three years, the Chantix smoking cessation pill has caused a stir after being associated with suicidal behavior and vivid dreams. Consequently, the government banned the Pfizer drug for pilots and licenses wouldn’t be issued to truck drivers taking the med. The FDA subsequently imposed a risk management program and Pfizer added warnings.
A few years ago I was hired by the FAA to defend the agency against a suit brought by a pilot who wanted to fly while taking a prescription antidepressant. I helped the FAA formulate its defense of the agency’s ban on pilots using antidepressants and, as a result, the ban remained in effect. Pilots remained unable to fly while taking antidepressants, including the newer ones such as Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft, Celexa, Lexapro and Effexor. How times have changed.