The SSRI antidepressant makers are desperate to find new customers, so they recently have been focusing on capturing groups for which the drugs were usually considered off limits. The latest marketing coup managed to open up sales to roughly 614,000 American pilots.
Under a new policy announced on April 5, 2010, pilots diagnosed with depression can seek permission from the Federal Aviation Administration to take one of four SSRIs, including Eli Lilly's Prozac, Pfizer's Zoloft, and Forest Laboratories' Celexa and Lexapro.
"The FAA should reverse its ruling before it's too late and hundreds of lives are lost when a pilot becomes impulsive, suicidal or violent--or just loses his sharpness--under the influence of antidepressant medication," said SSRI expert, Dr Peter Breggin, in an April 19, 2010 Huffington Post commentary.
The Citizens Commission on Human Rights is also calling on the FAA to rethink allowing pilots to take SSRI in light of a new report issued last month by the National Transportation Safety Board, on a February 1, 2008 plane crash in North Carolina, by a crazy acting pilot on Zoloft, that killed all six persons on board
The report said the pilot failed to maintain control of the plane during instrument flying conditions and "deliberately descended below the minimum descent altitude." The plane stalled and crashed while circling after an aborted landing.
"Review of the cockpit voice recorder (CVR) audio revealed that the pilot had displayed some non-professional behavior before initiating the approach," the NTSB reported.
The CVR recorded the pilot singing: "Save my life I'm going down for the last time," before beginning a commentary in which he told passengers: "If anybody back there believes in the good Lord, I believe now would be a good time to hit your knees."
A review of medical records documented that "from December 4, 2006 through December 31, 2007, the pilot had filled 6 prescriptions for 30 tablets of 50 mg sertraline (Zoloft)," the report said.