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Q&A: Drug Infusion System Pain Plant Pump

By Penny Giovanetti, D.O., Manager, Aerospace Medical Specialties Division
Source: FAA Safety Briefing, May/June 2017


Q. I am a licensed FAA Private Pilot who has undergone a medical procedure known as a drug infusion system pain plant pump within my abdomen. The pump contains 30.0 mg/ml of morphine with a drip dose of 10.123 mg/day. The refill interval is 112 days. Does this medical situation preclude passing any further Class 3 medical exams? This is a very miniscule amount of drug application.

A. Yes, use of morphine is medically disqualifying. The reason your dose is miniscule compared to oral dosing is that you are absorbing the drug directly into your system rather than having it first passthrough the stomach and then liver where a significant portion of the oral dose is wasted.

Send your questions to SafetyBriefing@faa.gov. They will be forwarded to the Aerospace Medical Certification Division, without your name, and the answer will be published in an upcoming issue of FAA Safety Briefing.

Penny Giovanetti, D.O., received a bachelor’s degree from Stanford, a master’s in Environmental Health and Preventive Medicine from the University of Iowa and a doctorate from Des Moines University. She completed a 27-year career as an Air Force flight surgeon. She is board certified in aerospace medicine, occupational medicine, and physical medicine/rehabilitation. She is also a Fellow of the Aerospace Medical Association and a private pilot.