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3.17.17 – (LAA/LUS) – Prescription Medications and Drug Tests

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Friday, March 17, 2017

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Prescription Medications and Drug Tests – LAA/LUS

We have received numerous inquiries about which prescription medications are prohibited for Flight Attendants while on duty. 

Currently, the DOT/FAA does not publish a list of prohibited medications since it would change frequently. Also, some medications are permitted if taken alone, but prohibited when a physician adds another prescription to a treatment plan which, when combined with other medications, may interfere with your ability to perform safety related duties.

Coordinate with your licensed physician or pharmacist and inform them that you are subject to Department of Transportation drug testing to ensure prescribed medications would not impair alertness and/or cognition to successfully complete tasks required in an emergency situation. 

When flying with prescription medication, it should be kept in its original container with your name indicated clearly on the label. A prescription is generally valid for six months from the date of the prescription. Medications need to be prescribed in connection with the illness or injury. For example, dental surgery pain narcotics should not be saved for 6 months but must be taken in the immediate aftermath of the procedure.

Drug testing consists of a 5-panel regimen, which includes the following drugs and/or metabolites:  

  • Marijuana
  • Cocaine
  • Opioids
  • Phencyclidine (PCP)
  • Amphetamines 

This should not be used as a guide to determine which medications are allowed to be taken while at work. Should any prescription medication trigger a positive test in any one of these categories, such as amphetamines, the Medical Review Officer (MRO) will contact you. You may either fax or email a copy of your prescription to the MRO to verify that you are under a physician’s direction to be on this medication. An employee may be taking her/his own prescription medication, test positive for it, and still be able to work while on the medication and not get a verified positive drug test.

Substances obtained legally by prescription or over-the-counter in foreign locations but which are controlled substances, illegal and/or unauthorized under U.S. regulations, will not be a legitimate explanation for a positive drug test. It is our opinion, that you not purchase drugs/medication in foreign locations.

You will need to provide sufficient documentation that the substance is being used consistently with its proper and intended medical purpose and is being used under the supervision of a treating physician who has knowledge of our job functions. Otherwise, the test will be deemed as a verified positive drug test.

The Medical Review Officer reserves the right to restrict an employee from taking a prescription medication, even a valid prescription, that may impair the employee’s ability to perform her/his job.  

In general, the MRO considers the following factors in determining whether a Flight Attendant can perform her/his job while taking certain medication:

  • Diagnosis
  • Type and dosage of medication
  • Length of time on the medication
  • Other medication being taken
  • Is the medication doing what it is intended to do?
  • Are there any side effects that may interfere with the Flight Attendant’s job?

When in doubt, make a confidential call to your APFA EAP desk at (817) 540-0108 ext. 8701 or email us at or

Abby Alconcher
APFA Interim National EAP Coordinator


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