WASHINGTON — Some pilots taking medication for mild or moderate depression will be able to fly as early as next week under a new government rule aimed partly at getting those taking antidepressants to disclose the treatment.
The new policy, which takes effect Monday, reverses a ban on flying for pilots taking medications such as Prozac.
Federal Aviation Administration officials said the old rule was based on outdated versions of antidepressants that could cause drowsiness and other side effects.
The medications have been updated and do not pose that risk with everyone, Randy Babbitt, FAA administrator, told reporters yesterday.
But there was a side effect to the policy that has now been abrogated, Babbitt said. That rule had resulted in pilots taking those medications keeping their depression and treatment a secret, under the threat of losing their certification to fly.
“Our concern is that they haven’t necessarily been candid,’’ Babbitt said.
“We need to change the culture and remove the stigma associated with depression,’’ Babbitt said. “Pilots should be able to get the medical treatment they need so they can safely perform their duties.’’