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FAA lists OTC go/no-go medications

Just in time for cold and flu season, the FAA has released a list of over-the-counter medications broken into two categories: go and no go.

Check the FAA's medications list to determine whether you can fly while taking certain over-the-counter drugs. Photo by Chris Rose.

In addition to covering antihistamines, decongestants, and cough and pain medicines, the list includes medications for rashes, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and indigestion, to name a few. The list highlights diphenhydramine, a sedating antihistamine found in several over-the-counter medications (Benadryl, ZzzQuil, and most “PM” medications), which continues to be the most common drug detected in fatal accident toxicology reports.

A joint FAA and industry working group, co-chaired by AOPA under the General Aviation Joint Steering Committee, called on the FAA to create “a comprehensive and robust list of medications” and publish it online for pilots to use as a tool to help assess their fitness for flight. AOPA believes the list represents a good starting point and will advocate for the FAA to expand the list in the near future.

The guide includes a series of questions for pilots to ask themselves to determine whether they are fit for flight, provides guidance for carefully reading the labels on all over-the-counter medications, and lists two charts of medications that pilots can print (and easily tape inside a medicine cabinet!) for ready consultation.

The FAA provides guidance for medications that fall into the no-go category by recommending pilots wait at least five dosage intervals after the last dose is taken before flying again. For example, wait at least 30 hours before flying if you are directed to take the medication every four to six hours and at least 60 hours if directed to take it every 12 hours. It also provides links to additional resources about other medications for hypertension, antidepressants, and more.

Although this is the first time the FAA has published a list of medications directed at pilots, AOPA has long offered a medications database to our members. AOPA compiled the database based on knowing the history of FAA decisions on certain medications. In addition, AOPA offers a free Medical Self-Assessment online course to help all pilots better understand how to assess their fitness for flight. Members can also contact the AOPA Pilot Information Center or enroll in Pilot Protection Services to speak to medical representatives regarding medical conditions and medical certification.

Alyssa J. Miller
Alyssa J. Cobb
The former senior director of digital media, Alyssa J. Cobb was on the AOPA staff from 2004 until 2023. She is a flight instructor, and loves flying her Cessna 170B with her husband and two children. Alyssa also hosts the weekly Fly with AOPA show on the AOPA Pilot Video YouTube channel.
Topics: Advocacy, Pilot Health and Medical Certification

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