FAA Pharmaceutical Policies
Airman and Pilot Medication Usage: Federal Stance
- Pilots who use medications must abide by federal guidelines
- Some medications are specifically Banned
- Most medications and the conditions they treat are strictly regulated for airmen
Guidance is compiled and interpreted by professional pilots and physicians at FlightPhysical.com from the 2014 AME Guide pages 241-259, FAA and FDA web data (www.FAA.gov & www.FDA.gov), instructions specified in the Aeronautical Information Manual, Federal Air Surgeon Bulletins from 1999-2015, and 14 CFR Part 61 and Part 67 (the FARs).
It is every pilot's responsibility to understand ramifications of any medicine that they take. AMEs are required to be aware of the regulations and FAA policy and have a responsibility to inform airmen of the potential adverse effects of medications and to counsel airmen regarding their use. There are numerous conditions that require the chronic use of medications that do not compromise aviation safety and, therefore, are permissible. Airmen who develop short-term, self-limited illnesses are best advised to avoid performing aviation duties while medications are used.
Aeromedical decision-making includes an analysis of the underlying disease or condition and treatment. The underlying disease has an equal and often greater influence upon the determination of aeromedical certification. It is unlikely that a source document or list could be developed and understood by all airmen when considering the underlying medical condition(s), drug interactions, medication dosages, and the sheer volume of medications that need to be considered.
There are medications for which examiners should not issue the applicant without clearance from the FAA and medications which can seriously degrade pilot performance, for which the examiner should advise airmen to not fly and provide additional safety information to the applicant. For details, see Do Not Issue - Do Not Fly.
In addition to the banned medication page, Pilots and AMEs can refer to specific categories of medications referenced below where the FAA provides aeromedical guidance about specific classes of pharmaceutical preparations. Recall that the AME decision is always applied by using sound aeromedical clinical judgment, and the FAA could overturn the decision upon review of the complete package. The FAA does not mean for this list is not meant to be totally inclusive or comprehensive.
- Acne Medications
- Allergy - Immunotherapy
- Allergy - Antihistamines
- Contraceptives and Hormone Replacement Therapy
- Diabetes Mellitus - Insulin Treated
- Diabetes Mellitus - Type II, Medication Controlled (Not Insulin)
- Glaucoma Medications
- Malaria Medications
- Sleep Aids
The FAA Lists the following Disclaimer: No independent interpretation of the FAA's position with respect to a medication included or excluded from the above list should be assumed.
Selected FDA Warnings of Relevance to Pilots
Medication and aviation are difficult to combine. Pilots who intend to exercise the privileges of their airman medical certificates and pilot's licenses should discuss medication usage with their flight doctor (AME) in advance of starting any new medication. To be safe, most pilots are taught that any unapproved medication is grounding by default.
If you need a new medicine, you should not fly until you understand it's effects and interactions on the ground and in the air. For maximal efficiency, review FAA and FDA policies prior to checking with your AME.
Summary: This page is a table of contents for medical and legal pharmaceutical topics of importance to pilots who take or may start taking medications. Indexed topics are compiled from relevant recent FAA and FDA reports.
This page discussed FAA Pharmaceutical Policies
Reminder: use FlightPhysical.com to familiarize yourself with aviation medical regulations and guidelines, but always discuss your specific situation with one or more AMEs before dedicating resources toward expensive clinical workups. Find an AME now