The Federal Aviation Administration said on Friday that pilots taking antidepressants will be permitted to fly after a ban on four drugs was lifted this week. The drugs in question are Eli Lilly & Co.'s Prozac, Pfizer Inc.'s Zoloft or Forest Laboratories Inc.'s Celexa or Lexapro.
"We have a better understanding of the drugs," FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt said. "We know more about the illness, we know more about how to treat it."
Fred Tilton, the federal air surgeon, revealed that the new policy would be in effect from Monday and would cover as many as 10,000 pilots. The drugs in question have lost patent protection and are now available widely in generic form. They belong to a class of drugs called SSRIs and are known to elevate mood.
Until recently FAA had banned pilots with depression from flying. However new policy guidelines state that pilots can continue to fly after seeking treatment with one of the four aforementioned drugs.