Langevin Applauds FAA Decision to Include Opioid Overdose Reversal Drugs On Board Airplanes

Oct 22, 2019

WASHINGTON – In a response to Congressman Jim Langevin (D-RI), the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) indicated it is reviewing ways to ensure passenger aircraft carry opioid overdose reversal drugs – like naloxone – in required emergency medical kits. Langevin led a letter in August urging the FAA to implement regulations requiring passenger aircraft to carry naloxone following media reports of a fatal opioid overdose on a commercial flight.

“As opioid overdoses continue to claim thousands of lives each year, we must ensure access to life-saving treatments both on the ground and in the air,” said Congressman Langevin. “Despite incidents of airline passengers suffering opioid-induced overdoses, drugs like naloxone are not currently required on board passenger aircraft. I am pleased the FAA shares my concerns on this issue and is working to include overdose reversal drugs in emergency medical kits on board airlines going forward.”  

The FAA’s decision was endorsed by the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, which represents 50,000 flight attendants at 20 airlines in the United States.

“We're thrilled the FAA has agreed that responding to opioid overdoses with life-saving medication, like naloxone, is essential and should be included in emergency medical kits,” said Sara Nelson, President of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA. “This issue is a priority for AFA, as passenger medical emergencies have and will continue to include opioid overdoses. We look forward to working with the FAA to get this implemented as soon as possible."

The FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 required the FAA to evaluate modifications to the equipment required as part of emergency medical kits. As part of the review, the FAA asked the Aerospace Medical Association (AsMA) to study current requirements. AsMA recommended that medical kits be updated to include opioid overdose reversal drugs, and the FAA Office of Aerospace Medicine has concurred with that finding.

The FAA is currently “reviewing the best way” for airlines to include opioid antagonists in their emergency medical kits. The agency is considering revising current regulatory requirements, and it will encourage airlines to voluntarily include opioid antagonists in their kits prior to the implementation of any final rule.