'Can I take that pill and fly?'


AOPA medication database upgrades keep pilots informed

April 6, 2003

"Is it legal for me to fly while taking this prescription medicine?" It's a question often heard by AOPA's medical certification specialists. Now AOPA has made several improvements to its FAA medication database so pilots can find the answers online. AOPA members may search for a prescription medicine by trade name, generic name, drug category, or by what symptoms the drug is prescribed to treat. The database will report whether the FAA allows the use of medication while flying.

FAA regulations say a pilot may not fly with a known medical deficiency or while taking a disallowed drug. But there is no FAA-published list of drugs that an airman can review to determine if a particular drug is disqualifying. That's why AOPA created the drug database. The FAA relies on organizations like AOPA to provide drug information to pilots, according to AOPA Medical Certification Director Gary Crump.

"Many of our members have questions concerning prescription medications. The database allows pilots to find which medications might cost them their medical certificate," said Crump.

"There are about 13,000 controlled prescription medications available in the United States, and only a handful of those are not allowed for use by pilots. New medications become available all the time, so we work closely with the FAA to keep the database current," said Crump.

Since the database upgrades were unveiled a month ago, Crump has noticed a difference in the calls from pilots with medication questions.

"Pilots are asking more detailed questions. They're doing their homework when it comes to medical concerns. The improvements to the database are helping pilots to be more proactive concerning medical issues they may have," he said.

The FAA medication database is located online in the AOPA members section. There is also a subject report on medication usage online. Although AOPA maintains the medications list as accurately as possible, there may be drugs that do not appear in the database. For questions about a particular medication that doesn't appear, contact the medical certification specialists on the AOPA Pilot Information Center at 800/872-2672.

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