FAA bars pilots from taking anti-malaria drugs within 48 hours of flying


APRIL 14, 2020

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has barred pilots from flying within two days of ingesting anti-malaria drugs that President Trump has touted as possible treatments to COVID-19. 

An FAA spokesman said in a statement to The Hill on Tuesday that the decision was made “due to the wide variety of dosages and lack of standardized protocols for treating COVID-19.”

“As with all drugs, the FAA takes a conservative approach when evaluating how a particular substance interacts with aviation professionals and the ability to do their jobs safely,” the spokesman said.

The FAA noted that chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine were reviewed by the FAA federal air surgeon once they entered the market and have been considered to be “incompatible for those performing safety related aviation duties.” Pilots will be prohibited from flying until 48 hours have passed since they stopped using them, the agency said.

The new FAA guidance was first reported by CNN, which noted that it was signed by Dr. Penny Giovanetti, the director of the Medical Specialties Division within the Office of Aerospace Medicine.

The directive reportedly asserted that there wasn’t “satisfactory” scientific evidence that the drugs help treat COVID-19 and that there remains no “standardized protocol.”

The FAA currently allows pilots with arthritis to take small doses of hydroxychloroquine. CNN noted that pilots who take the anti-malaria drugs can receive a special certification allowing them to fly if they meet certain criteria and pass an eye examination.

Trump and his allies continually promote as hydroxychloroquine as a potential “game-changer” in efforts to treat COVID-19. Health officials, including Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert and a member of the White House coronavirus task force, insist that there isn’t enough evidence to determine whether it’s an effective treatment.

A small Brazilian study on the effects of chloroquine, a drug similar to hydroxychloroquine, was halted prematurely after some patients taking high doses developed irregular heart beats.

The CIA has also reportedly advised employees that hydroxychloroquine could give rise to dangerous side effects and warned against its use.

Courtesy/Source: The Hill