Interferon is used for the treatment of active Hepatitis B and C, HIV/AIDs and Multiple Sclerosis.
Interferon is widely documented to have a large number of side-effects. The majority of these side-effects are incompatible with safely undertaking flight duties.
Commonly experienced side-effects include: nausea, vomiting, dyspepsia, diarrhoea, raised serum amylase and lipase, headache, fatigue, dizziness, sleep disturbances; less commonly, thrombocytopenia, rash, alopecia1.
Interferon is also associated with psychiatric health problems including an increased risk of suicide, although some authors are not sure whether this is due to the medication or the underlying disease2. Hoofnagle and Seep noted that side-effects occurred in virtually all patients treated with Peginterferon and Ribavirin3.
A study published in AIDS Care in 2007 reported that a large number of patients treated with Interferon developed neuropsychiatric side effects. All those affected reported that they became symptom free after cessation or completion of treatment4.
Therefore a requirement for, or treatment with, Interferon is disqualifying for aeromedical certification.
1. BNF No. 62 (September 2011)
2. Suicide Risk in Hepatitis C and During Interferon-alpha Therapy; Journal of Viral Hepatology; S. Socklingam, P.S. Links, S.E Abbey; 2011; 18(3); 153-60 3.
3. Peginterferon and Ribavirin for Chronic Hepatitis C; Jay H. Hoofnagle, M.D., and Leonard B. Seeff, M.D.; N Engl J Med 2006; 355:2444-2451December 7, 2006 4.
4. Influence of the type of pegylated interferon on the onset of depressive and neuropsychiatric symptoms in HIV-HCV co-infected patients; C. R. Fumaz, J. A. Muñoz-Moreno, A. L. Ballesteros, R. Paredes, M. J. Ferrer, A. Salas et al., Aids Care; Volume 19, Issue 1, 2007, pages 138-45, DOI: 10.1080/09540120600645539