Approach to Aeromedical Drug Evaluations
SCHOOL OF AEROSPACE MEDICINE BROOKS AFB TX
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Therapeutic drugs acceptable for military aviation are those agents which, without significantly affecting occupational proficiency and safety, may be administered to aviators to alleviate disease which is not itself disqualifying for aviation, or which may allow return to flying status as a result of therapy. This is in contrast to operational medications, pharmacologic agents administered to healthy members to enhance force effectiveness in areas as diverse as vigilance, performance enhancement, Circadian adaptation, and prophylaxis. As a rule, while operational medications may be an issue in any military member, therapeutic agents are of particular concern only in aviation or other high-performance, high-risk occupations, where subtle alterations in psychologic or physiologic performance might have profound effects on performance or safety. For other military members, the standard assessment of clinical efficacy and tolerability which occurs prior to the marketing of a therapeutic agent is usually sufficient for treatment decisions. In the case of operational medications, subtle drug induced alterations in the aviator are certainly of interest as well, but the relative lack of clinical experience and medical literature means that, as a rule, even the most basic questions of efficacy and safety need to be answered first.