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Tuesday 02nd of September 2014

US pilots cleared to fly on antidepressants

    US pilots will soon be given permission to fly if they are taking antidepressants under a new US government policy that comes into effect today. The Federal Aviation Administration said on Friday that a ban was to be lifted on antidepressants for pilots with mild to moderate depression. 

    To be cleared to fly, pilots who take the drugs must pass tests which show that they have been successfully treated for at least a year. Authorities say they believe the ban had caused pilots to skip treatment or hide the fact that they were taking medication to treat depression. 

     The FAA is offering a six-month grace period for pilots to come forward without penalty if they are currently suffering from depression or are under treatment. The FAA has said that the culture must be changed, and the stigma associated with depression must be removed. 

    Pilots should be able to get the medical treatment that they need so they can perform their duties officalis said, adding that they did not know the exact number of pilots who would be affected.

    It is estimated that 10 per cent of the population suffers from depression. The FAA said that pilots who took antidepressants would be monitored for the length of their careers.

    The policy will be applied to medications including Prozac, Zoloft, Celexa and Lexapro. The FAA’s federal air surgeon, Dr Fred Tilton, said that other medications may be permitted if they have been proven to provide an effective treatment.

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