FAA Lifts Ban on Antidepressants for Pilots

Advocates say change in decades-old policy will improve safety
By M. Morris,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 2, 2010 5:45 PM CDT
American Airlines jets at Miami International Airport in Miami, Feb. 1, 2009. The FAA will relax the prohibition forbidding pilots from taking antidepressants.   (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey, file)

(Newser) – The FAA will change a 70-year-old rule that bars pilots taking medication for depression from operating planes. The new policy, which takes effect Monday, allows pilots who have been successfully treated for a year with the patented or generic versions of Celexa, Lexapro, Prozac, or Zoloft to request a waiver permitting them to fly. The relatively new drugs have fewer potentially hazardous side effects than earlier antidepressants, experts say.

"Depression is a disease, and it's treatable just like any other disease," the FAA administrator tells CNN. "And there is a stigma out there that we want to remove. We want to make the skies safer, and we believe that this change in the policy will benefit that and achieve that.""

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