Medications and Piloting

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MEDICATIONS AND FLYING

Which medications are allowed when I’m flying?

A common question which crops up regularly -“Is there a list of approved medications for flying?”

The answer is no and  aeromedical doctors are loathed to answer the question directly.

The reason being is that its not necessarily whether a medication is ok to fly with but what the condition/ reason / ailment necessitating the medication being taken for.

So my usual response is “It depends.” An example is

Is Paracetamol ok to take whilst flying?

“IT DEPENDS”

If Paracetamol is being taken for resolving muscular back ache which has no restriction on safe flying capabilities, Paracetamol has been used before without any significant side effects,  then its generally going to be ok to use.

If Paracetamol is being used to curtail a fever associated with a viral illness then the illness would probably in itself need a period of grounding and the use of Paracetamol whilst flying becomes a moot point.

If Paracetamol has never being used before then a period of grounding is necessary to see there’s no side effects to the medication and that the condition for which it is being taken has improved.

Similarly the condition may be acceptable but some options for medications may not be.

For example- Hayfever commonly affects people during summer.

Hayfever is not a condition which typically needs a pilot to ground themselves. However taking over the counter sedating antihistamines e.g. Promethazine whilst wishing to fly not a good idea as they work centrally and can make pilots sleepy and reduce cognitive functions.

However  non-sedating antihistamines e.g. Loratidine are acceptable as long as a ground trial to check for possible side effects has been undertaken to exclude only side effects.

Remember even ‘allowed’ medications are not allowed if there are side effects which have the potential to affect the aircrews capabilities/ capacities.

Ok in the UK may not be ok abroad

Other things to consider is where you are likely to fly to. Over the counter painkillers like Codeine are on a banned substances list in Dubai ( UAE) and Japan curtails the import and use of common decongestants like Pseudoephedrine.

Common conditions

1) A list medications for musculoskeletal conditions allowed by the UK CAA can be accessed here

2) Medications which potentially affect brain functioning e.g. sleep medications  can be found here this includes Melatonin

3) CAA Blood pressure medications:

Acceptable medication:

Thiazide diuretics if already established and no side effects ( e.g Bendroflumethazide)

Non-Loop diuretics (e.g Spironolactone)
ACE inhibitors (e.g. Ramipril)
Angiotensin II/AT1 blocking agents (sartans) (e.g Irebesartan)

Slow-release calcium channel blocking agents (e.g. Amlodipine)

Beta-blocking agents (e.g. Atenolol)

Unacceptable 

Centrally acting agents (e.g. Methyldopa)
Adrenergic blocking drugs (e.g. Guanethidiine)
Alpha-blocking drugs ( Doxazosin may be acceptable in exceptional cases, providing not used as first line treatment- consult AMS)
Loop diuretics (e.g. Furosemide) 

4) The CAAs requirements  related to  Gastro-Intestinal (stomach) medications can be found here

5) CAA’s approved list for Benign Prostate enlargement medication can be found here

Although focused on USA regulations this resource offers excellent and sensible advice on a range of medications.

If you’ve had your last medical done with fit2fly and want further advice please contact us.