The ‘list that doesn’t exist’: FAA-allowed medications

May 17, 2013

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Gary Crump

Gary Crump

  • Director, AOPA Medical Certification Services 
  • 25 years assisting AOPA members 
  • Former operating room technician and Emergency Medical Technician 
  • Pilot since 1973

AOPA’s Pilot Information Center technical specialists receive many questions from members about specific medications and if they are allowed for flying. The FAA does not make available an official list of medications that are considered appropriate for aviation activities. But AOPA has one.

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AOPA started building the medication database more than 10 years ago, and through regular contact with the FAA and member feedback has continued to expand the number of listed medications. The list contains the trade and generic names, the drug classification, what the drug is FDA-approved to treat, and the drug status with the FAA.

AOPA’s specialists do their best to maintain the accuracy of the database. That said, the FAA medical certification policy is very dynamic right now, and the FAA Office of Aerospace Medicine in Washington, D.C., has a small staff of physicians that reviews the available FDA literature on different medications, treatment therapies, medical procedures, and devices to determine the risk to aviation safety. Sometimes, the policy regarding a medication changes and AOPA may not always be aware of that change. Often, the update involves the waiting time after use before you can fly while using a particular drug. The FAA several years ago adopted the guideline of observing five times the dosing interval after the last dose before flying. So, for a medication that you take “every eight hours,” you should wait five times eight, or 40 hours, after the last dose before flying.

As FAA policy changes, AOPA will make every effort to keep the medication list updated. If you become aware of a change in a drug that isn’t reflected in AOPA’s database, please give call 800/872-2672 or send an email.

If you have any concerns about medical certification, remember that enrolling in AOPA Pilot Protection Services provides you with personal advocacy to successfully navigate the FAA medical process.

To learn more about the AOPA Pilot Protection Services program or to enroll, visit www.aopa.org/pps.

Gary Crump, AOPA's director of medical certification, is a former operating room technician and emergency medical technician who has been assisting AOPA members for more than 25 years. He's also a medical expert for AOPA's Pilot Protection Services and has been flying since 1973.

Gary Crump