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.
The SSRI antidepressant makers are desperate to find new customers, so they recently have been focusing on capturing groups for which the drugs were usually considered off limits. The latest marketing coup managed to open up sales to roughly 614,000 American pilots. Under a new policy announced on April 5, 2010, pilots diagnosed with depression can seek permission from the Federal Aviation Administration to take one of four SSRIs, including Eli Lilly’s Prozac, Pfizer’s Zoloft, and Forest Laboratories’ Celexa and Lexapro.
The National Transportation Safety Board issued a report on the probably cause of a 2008 plane crash in Mount Airy that killed everyone on board. The plane stalled and crashed while circling after an aborted landing…. Toxicology tests revealed that the pilot had the drug Zoloft in his system….
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.
The FDA has been approving psychotropic drugs, heart medications, birth control pills et al, with horrendous track records and mortal consequences since its inception. Some of those drugs have been taken off the market, but most like antidepressants are still available even though it is widely known they depress patients. Now we have the latest US government agency the FAA, which will now allow pilots to medicate and fly.