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Medical supplies/drugs without a prescription

Medical supplies/drugs without a prescription

by TAKUTORI » Sun May 18, 2008 6:54 am

Medical supplies or Pet supplies?

I'm not sure if anyone else has been frustrated while trying to put together a reasonably comprehensive ships medical kit, but here's the problems we found and the solution.

Recently we asked a doctor for prescriptions to stock our medical kit for extended voyaging (U.S. east coast back home to Australia) and to allow us to be somewhat self-sufficient without the need to have prescriptions filled in a foreign country. In addition, I also take daily medication for hypertension, so I wanted a large supply to cover me for 12 months or more.

Problem 1: We were told doctors could not / were reluctant to write prescriptions for periods over a 3 months supply and regular pharmacies will not fill scripts for extended periods - over 6 months.

Problem 2: It was suggested to us to use an offshore (Thailand) drug supplier where no prescriptions are required. To test this and before buying in bulk, I ordered a supply of my normal prescription medication, which arrived in around 2 weeks, labeled as "Pet Supplies". What I found was, although the packet said the ingredients were the same, the medication was not and I had immediate bad side effects and reactions. I realized that I could not trust the quality standards of drugs manufactured in ASIA, or should I say, drugs supplied outside of U.S. quality control.

Solution: I found out that you can order ANY medication/drug in the name of your vessel (must be a documented vessel) without a prescription and buy them at wholesale prices. I found a company in California that provides medical supplies to ships. We bought their Offshore Kit which is very comprehensive and to which we added all our normal medications. We also added a few extras that we thought we might need. Unlike an overseas supplier, shipping was very quick and they arrive with proper documentation, and addressed as "Medical Supplies" in the vessels name.

The company we dealt with has a website at www.Seasidemarineintldrug.com
Incidentally, I have no connection with this company whatsoever. I just wanted to share with you the solution I found. I dare say there would be many other similar companies.

I hope this helps someone.
Your dreams minus your doubts equal your true worth.

Bill Tait
S/V TAKU TORI

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by Samadhi » Sun May 18, 2008 9:35 am

Bill, if I didn't know you I would suspect that you had started an alternate stream of income.... :)

FWIW - We have found that we can get most things (morphine excluded) here in Mexico without a prescription and at a MUCH MUCH cheaper price than in the USA. Example - USA prescription drug costs $55, here it costs under $8.
S/V Samadhi V -- a Tayana 55
http://www.samadhiv.org/
Cruising Central America
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by TAKUTORI » Mon May 19, 2008 8:23 pm

Hi Phillip, long time!

That's good information to know what's available in Mexico.

If you were like me, it was like pulling teeth to find out how to obtain larger medicine quanities while in the US. Then again, maybe I just didn't ask the right questions?

We'll be in Panama mid June, perhaps we'll see you on the coconut milk run.

Thanks for your input and fair winds,
Your dreams minus your doubts equal your true worth.

Bill Tait
S/V TAKU TORI

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by xymotic » Tue May 20, 2008 12:48 am

Thanks for the reference to seaside marine, that's definitely useful information.

One other thing I found out in a round about way, is that in the US, pharmacists are, in fact, "doctors of pharmacy" and can actually prescribe any drug.

This was something of a revelation to me, as I think most people think doctors prescribe drugs and pharmacists dole them out.

Accordingly, there are some pharmacists, who have special travel consultations and will give you malaria inoculations etc directly without a middleman. I explained my desire to go offshore at such a pharmacist (Bartells a small chain in the pacific northwest) and they said it was a fairly common thing, and they were happy to setup a complete kit. I stopped short of actually doing it, but I did specifically ask about morphine injections and things like epinephrine and they assured me that was all doable and in fact they would even do some training.

Just FYI, it might be a cheaper option, but I also like the simplicity of dealing with a specialist.
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by mlc101 » Thu May 22, 2008 9:11 pm

TAKUTORI wrote:We'll be in Panama mid June


Just to let you know,in many central/south-american countries, top quality drugs are available at a pharmacy without a prescription at tons cheaper prices. If you are in Panama in June, stop by a pharmacy in Panama City and get what you want. So far, antibiotics, thyroid medicine, etc, have been readily available. We obviously haven't tried every drug, or even a large sampling, but so far, it works well. Even better and cheaper in Venezuela.

Peace and fair winds.
Mark
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by xymotic » Thu May 22, 2008 9:17 pm

Yes, but...

If you get boarded, don't you need an actual prescription for the drugs?

I realize that in most of the world it's likely a non-issue but I'm wondering if you show up in New Zealand with a box full of pills and needles if they might not look down on that.

And with the horror storys of people getting the death penalty for 'smuggling' narcotics (unknowingly) in places like Malaysia, again, don;t you need a doctor to say it's ok to have them?
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by russell » Thu May 22, 2008 9:43 pm

Great tip Bill! In looking at their site and their first aid kit offerings, I am very impressed! I bought my "offshore" first aid kit from Landfall Navigation, and while it is pretty good, it pales in comparison to whats offered in these kits! The prices look very reasonable too. Wish I was aware of them a couple years ago when I bought mine. Though I see they do custom kits too, I just dropped them an email to see if they would put together a supplemental kit if I give them the inventory of my existing one, to bring it up to par with their offering.
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by Everyman » Thu May 22, 2008 10:42 pm

Under the UN Law of the Sea you are permitted to purchase the drugs you need simply by showing your Documentation papers or Master’s License. You should be able to do this anywhere in the world. In the U.S. you’ll probably have to go to a wholesale pharmacy because the corner drugstore won’t know what you’re talking about. You must attest that they will only be used at sea.

Also Under the UN Law of the Sea you are permitted to carry the drugs listed in the International Code of Signals (HO 102) and any other necessary drugs (or equivalent substitutes) and equipment without restriction. I believe they must be physically assembled into a “Ships Medical Chest.” This term is a convenient label to use on entry forms as it avoids listing items individually; when used it also signals authorities that those items are allowed under international treaty.

A competent pharmacy will assemble the drugs in the correct dosages from the list in HO102 and will number the containers to match the list. This can be very important when following medical advice you receive via SSB, especially if there is a language barrier and you must use the medical codes in HO102 to get help.

Having the standardized inventory that is numbered is very important. Many drugs have different names in different parts of the world. It’s also important that any adviser know what you have on board; this numbered list is the same in every country’s version of HO102 even if the names are different. The last thing you want while communicating in a critical situation is to sort through a hodgepodge of medicines with unfamiliar names and variant strengths that confuses your adviser.

If you have a satellite phone you may be able to contact your own doctor. Give his office a copy of HO102 to place in your file, then he’ll know what you have aboard.

All ships have medical advisers on satellite speed dial. In a tight spot they’ll help you out. Remember that most French ships carry doctors, very good doctors (who unlike American doctors practice medicine and not big business) who speak English and will be glad to assist you.

Finally, read HO 102 so you understand the protocol, it’s simple but the time to learn it is before you need it.
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by Burger Zapf » Thu May 22, 2008 11:41 pm

Here is a blurb from the April 2006 bulletin. The company supplies mega yachts and is also willing to supply smaller amounts.

Prescription Medicine Available to Boat Owners
Proof of vessel ownership and a photo ID are all that are needed to purchase prescription drugs for offshore passages. Marine Medical International, (MMI) <www.marmed.com>, with offices in Fort Lauderdale, France and New Zealand, sells a complete Pharmaceutical Kit for $625, which can be customized (content list online). Individual items can be purchased separately. MMI also offers a 24-hour worldwide telemedicine service, and USCG-approved medical courses. SSCA members receive a 10% discount. State your SSCA membership number when placing an order.


Burger

Halekai
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HO102

by dmtparker » Sun Sep 07, 2008 1:22 pm

Does anyone have a link to the HO102 list? I would be very interested in reviewing it. I am an ER doc who is about to retire and become a sea gypsy, so obviously obtaining drugs is not an issue for me, but I would love to see the list and I DO think it is a good idea to have some documentation that you are authorized to have the drugs on board.
Mark T
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french doctors

by nero » Tue Sep 23, 2008 1:21 pm

It is true about french doctors. I live in France. Have lived there for over 15 years now. The doctors are very interested in your health ... sometimes it is too much so.

To visit the doctor now costs a flat fee of 20 euros. No appointment is needed for the general practioners. Prescription meds are cheap in France. Over the counter drugs seem expensive compared to Walmart.

However, the french drugs are sometimes not as powerful as available other places. For example. I have a permantly upset stomach. For a few years now, I just live with it. The french prescription drugs didn't help. One treatment of prilosec seems to have kicked the problem. Will know for sure after I start living with my wife again. smile

Of course the best french drug is over the counter. Age limit is 13 years old to consume it in public. Bordeaux Red wine!
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Re: Medical supplies/drugs without a prescription

by francisjohonson » Tue Feb 01, 2011 8:10 pm

In our place this is very rare because it is very strict here.

:? :? :?
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Re: Medical supplies/drugs without a prescription

by lshick » Wed Feb 02, 2011 5:32 am

When we went through Isla Mujeres, Mexico last May, the pharmacies had new signs posted indicating that one now needed a prescription to purchase antibiotics. I have no idea whether the policy was actually being enforced, nor whether it extended beyond Isla.
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Re: Medical supplies/drugs without a prescription

by dmtparker » Thu Feb 03, 2011 12:27 pm

You can buy just about any drug in Panama without an Rx. Some are cheaper then US, some more expensive. The big issue is that they sell everything by the single unit, so quantities get expensive.
Yesterday I saw someone buy one Paxil (like that will do any good!), but maybe he buys one everyday because that is the way he can afford it.
Mark T
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s/v Always & All Ways
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Re: Medical supplies/drugs without a prescription

by Don Radcliffe » Sun Feb 13, 2011 11:05 am

We are on our way down to Panama, and my wife has been restocking the medical kit. She shopped in Isla Mujeres/Cancun, and her comment was that prescription drugs were on the expensive side there (the cheapest she saw was in Egypt). We are now in Honduras, where things are a bit cheaper. No prescriptions required.

Because she was an emergency/critical care nurse, we do carry a number of restricted drugs. I don't usually declare them, but when we got to Australia I started to mention them to the customs guy. His response was "let's not go there", because he understood our needs and the 'official' paperwork requirements.
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