FAA Bans Anti-smoking Drug for Pilots, Controllers

 - May 27, 2008, 11:14 AM

Last week the FAA banned pilots and air traffic controllers from taking the anti-smoking medicine Chantix soon after the agency learned the prescription drug might jeopardize safety. The Institute for Safe Medication Practices (ISMP) earlier last week released the results of a study that found evidence for the occurrence of seizures, loss of consciousness, heart attacks, vision problems and various psychiatric instabilities in those using Chantix. The FAA estimates that about 150 pilots and 30 controllers were using the medication before the ban. To make sure all pilots and controllers were notified, the FAA sent a notice to all registered pilots and controllers, in addition to alerting aviation medical examiners, major pilot associations and air traffic controllers union Natca. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Chantix for sale in 2006, and the FAA first approved it for pilot and controller use in July last year. In November, the FDA began to receive reports of psychiatric problems associated with the medication and the data published by the ISMP confirmed this link, prompting the agency to ban Chantix.