- Domestic Vessels

1/28/2015: Request for comment on waiver revisions for certain medications and suggestions for risk evaluation

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The Coast Guard is seeking public comment on the policy clarification regarding the criteria for granting medical waivers to mariners who require the use of potentially impairing prescription medications and also seeking input on effective methods of risk evaluation of such mariners.

Current Coast Guard guidance states that the “use of certain medications is considered disqualifying for the issuance of credentials,” and that “the underlying cause or need for use of these medications and potential side effects may result in denial of a credential application or require a waiver.”

Current guidance specifically identifies that use of the following require a waiver:

• Benzodiazepine medications
• Opioid and opiate medications
• Non-benzodiazepine sedative hypnotic medications
• Barbiturate medications

Current guidance does not specify the factors that the Coast Guard will consider in making its determination on whether the risks associated with use of these medications are low enough to warrant consideration for a waiver.

The Coast Guard is proposing additions to the current medication policy that will clarify circumstances that the Coast Guard will consider when determining whether to grant a medical waiver for use of these medications. Additionally, the Coast Guard is proposing to include a safety warning to mariners advising them to refrain from use of impairing medications while operating under the authority of their credential.

The Coast Guard is seeking comments from the public on whether the proposed policy adequately addresses safety concerns regarding merchant mariners whose medical conditions require the use of medications that have the potential to impair cognitive ability, judgment or reaction time.

Comments must be submitted on or before March 30, 2015. View the Federal Register notice to make a comment or for further information.

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