Is your FAA medical denied because you use Lexapro? If you are reporting a history of using Lexapro (generic being Escitalopram) on your FAA medical application, your medical application will be deferred by your Aviation Medical Examiner (“AME”). Thereafter, the FAA’s Office of Aerospace Medicine will send you correspondence, likely requesting copies of your medical records relevant to your history of treatment with Lexapro. Don’t let this correspondence give you any false hope, as the FAA is likely to deny your application if you are currently using Lexapro because Lexapro is a disqualifying medication for airman medical certification. Even though you may be denied, you can still get a medical certificate if you are currently using Lexapro. Lexapro is one of four selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (“SSRI”) medications which can be approved for use under a special issuance authorization.
If you opt to continue using Lexapro, you will need to apply for a SSRI special issuance. In doing so, the FAA will require you will to jump through various “hoops” to establish your ongoing stability on the medication. The process of obtaining a special issuance authorization for Lexapro use can be difficult and subject to nuanced consideration for your history. The FAA calls this SSRI Decision Path – II: SSRI Decision Path – II (faa.gov)
If you do not opt to pursue a SSRI special issuance authorization, your only other option is to consider, with your doctor, discontinuing the Lexapro. If you opt to discontinue your Lexapro, with your doctor’s approval and supervision, the question for the FAA then becomes whether your underlying medical condition, for which you were being treated with Lexapro, is stable and/or presents a risk for recurrence. There are some conditions, such as Major Depressive Disorder, Recurrent, which typically carry with them a higher level of concern by the FAA for recurrence, if left untreated. So, if you decide to follow the pathway of discontinuing Lexapro, the burden will be upon you to demonstrate that you do not have an underlying condition that poses a risk for recurrent symptoms. In other words, just because you discontinue using Lexapro does not mean that the FAA will automatically issue to you a medical certificate. The FAA calls this SSRI Decision Path – I: SSRI Decision Path – I (faa.gov)
Why involve a FAA medical attorney when you are using Lexapro? 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. Whether you opt to discontinue your use of Lexapro (with your doctor’s approval) or pursue a special issuance authorization, the FAA attorneys at The Ison Law Firm are here to guide you through the process.
Is your FAA medical denied because you use Lexapro? 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.