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Family Physician
Family Physician, Doctor (MD)
Category: Health
Satisfied Customers: 12816
Experience:  Emergency Medicine and Family Practice for over 26 years
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What is the 1/2 life of Donnatol elixer? As I get FAA drug

Resolved Question:

Hi, What is the 1/2 life of Donnatol elixer? As I get FAA drug tested for my job. I need to know how long the 1/2 life is for this prescription as well. My pharamsist said it is a level 6.Is that true? HELP need to have questions anwersed. Thank-You
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Health
Expert:  DrRussMD replied 6 years ago.
to clarify
you are wondering how long this will show up in urine?
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Like I said the pharmacist said it is a level 6??????? I can't have phenobarbital and alcohol or who knows what other stuff is in their. I fly on the 8th........How many days before the 8th do I have to stop taking this medication. I am getting worried, but must admit it took the SEVERE cramping away...........But cannot fly with this in my system. Drug-Testing is at random. But I had to call in sick and I will have had 3 weeks off when I return on the 8th. Sooooooooo this new airline that I fly for is very very sneaky with their drug-testing......I hope you can help Thank-You
Expert:  Family Physician replied 6 years ago.
The half-life for phenobarbital is actually rather long (2-7 days), and generally it takes about 5 times the half-life to be out of the body. Most references including the largest drug testing labs in the country report detection periods of up to 3 weeks.

The DOT regulated drug tests (including the FAA) do not include testing for phenobarbital. The DOT testing looks for opiates (codeine, morphine, heroin), cocaine, amphetamine/methamphetamine/MDMA, PCP, and marijuana.

HOWEVER, phenobarb could potentially be considered a safety issue, which could result in your being removed from duty.
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Are you SURE Phenobarbital will not show up in a drug test????? I am so scared as we merged with this new Airline and they are RUTHLESS!!!!!!! We had a Union at our former airline and lets say you test positive, they have a brand-new program adopted after the pilots. Other Airlines that are affiliated with that Union get that protection as well. But not us!!!!! So I hope you are sure about the drug test. I am not disaggreeing (sp) with you but need to hear that you are sure about that. So I better stop tonite as I fly to Asia on Saturday. OH before I forget the Pharmasist said it is a "Schedule 6" drug the elixer version. So he said that is like Tylenol, Advil, etc. Is that true???? Thank-You
Expert:  Family Physician replied 6 years ago.
The DOT regulated tests do not test for phenobarbital. HOWEVER, a DOT regulated employer may perform additional tests beyond those included in the DOT regulated test.

To do such additional testing, the employer has to do a separate collection from the DOT regulated test. You would have to provide 2 different specimens; the single specimen could not be sent for both DOT and non-DOT testing.

As I am sure you are aware, the FAA does not have a list of "approved" medications for pilots (although there is one for air traffic controllers). Since phenobarb is a medication that is also use to treat seizures (something that would prevent you from having a pilots license, this could be problematic.

Personally, I would never prescribe Donnatol to a pilot because it can cause drowsiness.
Expert:  Family Physician replied 6 years ago.
Donnatol is actually DEA schedule IV - in th same class as many other drugs such as Xanax, Librium etc.

The DEA schedule have more to do with their abuse potential and regulations regarding prescribing. They have nothing to do with flight safety.
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Doctor you would not be worried if by some queck if I was to be tested on Saturday that I would not have a problem. I have a script for it. But I am stopping it this evening. Already have. Do you feel that is enough time ?
Expert:  Family Physician replied 6 years ago.
Unless your employer is doing additional testing (2nd collection), it would not be identified by the DOT drug test. Phenobarbital is not among the drugs tested for by the DOT drug testing program.
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Hi Doctor, Sorry for not getting back to you yet. Do you mean by 2nd sample they would make me pee in 2 cups at the time of testing? It has always been one cup of pee in all of my other tests thruout the years, So could you please clarify that they would make me pee in 2 cups at the time of testing? AND should I not use it after what day as I fly on Saturday....Sorry to be such a pest, but I need to know these things so that I can be more comfortable. This alone is making me anxious.. I wish you were a Dr. here in Scottsdale AZ so I could just talk with you..T hank-You again...BTW, I am a fLIGHT aTTENDANT , not a pilot.......Just thought I would add that so you know. Again Would I have anything left in my system on Saturday? Also maybe I just being paranoid, but after having 3 weeks off THEY could test me. But as you said it would not show up in a normal test. Correct? AND I do have a prescription for it...................It is not like I am abusing it, but it does calm down my lower bowel, and possibly the illocal valve.......Again sorry for being a pest but I want clear consise (sp) anwsers so I feel safe when I walk thru the door of inflight at LAX on Saturday
Expert:  Family Physician replied 6 years ago.
you would have to provide 2 different collections: you would provide the DOT specimen, it would be sealed in the bottles (A & B) and this collection would be completed (paperwork, signatures etc).

You would then have to have a 2nd urine specimen collected for any additional testing. Even if there was more than enough urine to perform the DOT testing, the remainder of that specimen would have to be discarded and a 2nd collection would have to be provided.

Here are the DOT rules on this particular issue:

Please understand, I am not suggesting that you continue to use this drug while flying, since it would appear to violate FAA rules against using a medication that would potentially (or likely) cause sedation. The FAA does not have a specific "safe" or "approved" list for pilots, so you have to be particular cautious.

I am just providing you factual information on the DOT drug testing procedures.
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Thank-You for helping me out!!!! So a 2nd specimen WOULD have to be a brand new urine sample in a third container. THEY cannot take any urine from #1 and #2. It MUST be fresh urine for the 3rd container. Correct? AND no I will NOT be using this while flying and doing my job. I don't want to fall asleep atop the meal cart, or slur "Do you want "Chicken or Beef"? Oh God it would be like the "Lucy" show, when she crushed the grapes in the wine barrel. I am so sorry to keep being a pest but I want my anwsers from you to be correct. It's just that I am paranoid of this NEW southern based Airline,that is non-union and they want nothing better than to get rid of us "Northwest" people. They have already started it. Now they are sticking spies on the plane to observe our service......I wish United Airlines was hiring, after 29 years I'd leave to get out. BUT if Delta buys USAir, we would need another election. We then would win. But that is pie in the sky for now. P.S. if you show u have a script they cannot fire you? Am I correct?
Expert:  Family Physician replied 6 years ago.
I am not an attorney, so I can't say that they could or could not fire you. That is something that you would have to check with an attorney.

HOWEVER, under DOT rules if a safety issue is identified (information is provided regarding a medication that could pose a safety issue) during the MRO review process, the MRO is to required to notify the employer of any safety issue.

You are of course aware (I hope) of these specific regulation:

91.17 Alcohol or drugs.

(a) No person may act or attempt to act as a crewmember of a civil aircraft—

(1) Within 8 hours after the consumption of any alcoholic beverage;

(2) While under the influence of alcohol;

(3) While using any drug that affects the person's faculties in any way contrary to safety;

Since you would be considered in violation of this federal regulation EVEN if you had a prescription - you potentially could be fired. The regulation does NOT give an exception for prescrition drugs. If you are "under the influence" - it doesn't matter if it is a prescription medication.
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
my question to you is when I should STOP using this, as I fly on Saturday. BTW I do not drink alcohol.
Expert:  Family Physician replied 6 years ago.
I would stop this NOW. I would not personally prescribe this to a pilot.
Family Physician, Doctor (MD)
Category: Health
Satisfied Customers: 12816
Experience: Emergency Medicine and Family Practice for over 26 years
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