FAA Update: Expansion of Antidepressant Protocol

FAA Update: Expansion of Antidepressant Protocol

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Jackson Barnett

Principal Attorney

In a recent development, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has announced a significant revision to its Antidepressant Protocol, effective April 24, 2024. This update represents a notable expansion of the protocol, allowing for consideration of additional medications beyond Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs). Pilots and aviation professionals who rely on antidepressant medications will now have access to a broader range of treatment options while ensuring compliance with FAA regulations.

Expansion of Medications

Under the revised Antidepressant Protocol, the FAA now includes a new class of antidepressant medications beyond SSRIs. This expansion reflects a progressive approach by the FAA to accommodate individuals with varying medical needs while maintaining safety standards. Notably, this update follows the inclusion of Wellbutrin (bupropion), a Dopamine/Norepinephrine-Reuptake Inhibitor, in the protocol in May 2023.

Updated Acceptable Medications

The revised protocol outlines conditionally acceptable antidepressant medications, including:

  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI): Citalopram, escitalopram, fluoxetine, sertraline.
  • Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRI): Desvenlafaxine, duloxetine, venlafaxine.
  • Dopamine/norepinephrine-reuptake inhibitor (NDRI): Bupropion (SR/ER formulations only).

Unacceptable Medications

While certain antidepressants are conditionally acceptable under the updated protocol, others remain unacceptable for use by pilots. These include specific SSRIs, SNRIs, NDRI formulations, and other classes of antidepressants such as tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) and monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAO-Is).

For the full list of acceptable and unacceptable medications click here.

Impact on Aviation Medical Certification

For pilots and aviation professionals managing mental health conditions requiring antidepressant treatment, this update offers increased flexibility in medication choices. However, it is essential to note that adherence to FAA reporting requirements and compliance with the Antidepressant Protocol remain critical for maintaining aviation medical certification.

AME Alert

Pilots undergoing medical certification examinations should be aware of the recent revision to the Antidepressant Protocol. Effective communication with Aviation Medical Examiners (AMEs) and thorough understanding of FAA reporting obligations are essential steps in ensuring compliance with updated regulations.

The FAA’s expansion of the Antidepressant Protocol marks a significant step forward in addressing the mental health needs of aviation professionals while prioritizing safety. By offering a broader range of acceptable medications, the FAA aims to support individuals in managing mental health conditions while maintaining aviation safety standards. Pilots and aviation professionals should stay informed about these updates and work closely with qualified legal and medical professionals to navigate the evolving regulatory landscape effectively.

For personalized guidance on aviation-related legal matters, including FAA compliance and medical certification issues, contact Barnett Law Offices for expert assistance.

Disclaimer: This blog post is intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal or medical advice. For specific guidance regarding aviation-related legal matters or medical certification issues, consult qualified legal and medical professionals.