FAA Medical Denied Because You Use Gabapentin?

  • ON Jun 15, 2021
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  • BY Anthony Ison
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  • IN Pilot Law

Is your FAA medical denied because you use Gabapentin? Our firm has handled many cases where an airman was treated with Gabapentin (common brands include Horizant, Gralise, and Neuraptine). Typically, Gabapentin is prescribed by your treating physician to relieve various conditions in the nervous system. We typically see airmen being treated with Gabapentin for conditions like neuropathy and restless leg syndrome. Gabapentin is also identified as an anticonvulsant medication and is used to treat some forms of epilepsy. While you may not be taking Gabapentin for seizures or epilepsy, it really does not matter. The FAA does not accept the use of anti-epileptic or anti-seizure medications as treatment for any medical conditions. Outside of the concern that your use of Gabapentin could be seizure related, the FAA has found that the side effects of this medication may be incompatible with aviation safety.

What should you do if your FAA medical was denied because you use Gabapentin? If you are taking Gabapentin for a non-seizure related issue, the easiest way to achieve certification is to talk with your doctor about discontinuing the medication. If your doctor believes it is safe for you to come off of the medication, have him or her properly document your discontinuation. Following discontinuation for 60-days, your doctor should prepare a letter or progress note, indicating that you have successfully weaned off of the medication and that your underlying condition is stable with no functional impairment. This documentation can then be presented to the FAA for reconsideration.

If you are taking Gabapentin for seizure prevention or for epilepsy, the FAA’s inquiry will extend beyond your use of the medication. To that end, the FAA will likely deny your application for medical certification, as epilepsy is a specifically disqualifying condition, as found in Part 67 of the Code of Federal Regulations.

The FAA does have the regulatory discretion to deny your application for medical certification based on your use of a “disqualifying” medication. That regulation can be found at 14 C.F.R. 67.113 (c), 67.213 (c), and 67.313 (c). Nevertheless, if you are denied because you use a disqualifying medication, such as Gabapentin, there are usually solutions to discussing medication modification with your doctor or giving the FAA assurances regarding your proper use of the medication.

Why involve a FAA attorney in your FAA medical application? Despite what you may hear from your AME, the medical certification process is more so a legal process than a medical process. As with denials for the use of a disqualifying medication, ensuring that your doctor is developing the proper documentation regarding your discontinuation of the medication, as well as the status of your underlying condition, can be a delicate process. To that end, everything that is submitted to the FAA (i.e. records, statements, evaluations, etc.) goes into your airman medical file. This file is what the FAA then utilizes to evaluate whether you are eligible to hold a medical certificate. If you are later denied and wish to appeal that denial, your airman medical file becomes “Exhibit A” before the NTSB or upon reconsideration by the Federal Air Surgeon. So, a FAA attorney can evaluate your records, prepare a plan for best presentation of your case to the FAA, and best argue your medical eligibility to the Federal Air Surgeon, with an eye for potential, future appeal.

Is your FAA medical denied because you use Gabapentin? Call the FAA attorneys at The Ison Law Firm. We are happy to evaluate your case and discuss with you a plan for presenting your case for consideration by the Federal Air Surgeon. Aviation law is all we do. Nothing else.