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  #1  
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Medicines During Cruising

I'm not sure what thread this should go under but I guess I'll start here.
I am planning on doing extensive cruising, principally in the Pacific I am diabetic. Does anyone have any comments, suggestions, ideas about availability of insulin and/or obtaining it during my cruising? I plan to be gone for a couple of years and I figure I'm not the only diabetic on the water.
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Re: Medicines During Cruising

When you sat "Pacific" can you be more specific ?

If you are coming this way then fairly obviously you'll not have any problem with supply in Australia or New Zealand nor any of the major Pacific Islands. I doubt French Polynesia will be a problem.

What btw is the shelf life of Insulin ? I've read that it's approx 30 days max even when refrigerated. Is that correct ? Longest passage when crossing the Pacific from America is roughly 3000nms I think, which is 25 days at five knots average.
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Re: Medicines During Cruising

Andrew, that 3000 miles gets you to the Marquesas where there will be a clinic but I am not sure about a pharmacy. You can make a shorter passage via Easter Island but you would have to see about insulin availability at Easter (it is a pretty advanced place), Pitcairn (obviously self-contained but whether they would have insulin or whether you could arrange delivery on the supply ship I don't know). Next stop would be Mangareva in the Gambier Islands where if visited the quite good, small clinic. i am sure they would have insulin but don't know if they well sell to visitors. You could arrange to have some flown in from Tahiti. Planes come in every four or five days. Once you got to Tahiti I think it would not be a problem. I can't comment on the specifics going to New Zealand, but with the normal stops going to Brisbane you would be fine.
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Re: Medicines During Cruising

Bruce, pretty much as I thought but obviously there was a bit of conjecture on my side. I suppose a diabetic would want to confirm the fact but you'd think a clinic would be able to supply Insulin. Thanks for the clarification. I wonder how one could find out for certain ?
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Re: Medicines During Cruising

Thanks for the input. My venture is still quite a bit away so I am in the planning and research stages right now and this is something I will definitely have to account for. Though my plans may change I plan to head for Galapagos first, then Pitcairn then make my way to Fiji, Micronesia, and eventually to Hawaii.
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Re: Medicines During Cruising

Some of the new injectables will keep up to 90 days without refrigeration, and refrigerated, the shelf life is nearly twice that, 180 days. So there's not a problem with injectables. Oral medications, of which there are many, have varied shelf life, often shortened if stored in a warm, humid location. I would suggest storing the meds in a sealed, plastic box with some sort of moisture absorbing crystals to prevent shortening the shelf life.

Also, depending on the degree of your diabetes, you may find that your increased level of exercise, and dietary changes may lessen your dependence upon medications by a significant margin. I have witnessed this first hand with several friends during the past few years, friends that were injecting themselves daily with insulin, and now they no longer take any medications at all. In each case I've personally seen, the big change in dietary intake and increased exercise made a huge difference in just a few weeks. Therefore, it is extremely important to keep a tight reign on your blood sugar measurements and do them at least once a day. It's not uncommon for some patients to undergo those changes in lifestyle, only to find they're overdosing themselves with insulin.

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Re: Medicines During Cruising

I think you'd want to make very sure you have good refrigeration on the boat. And then plan your route so that perhaps every 30 days, you know that you will be in a port where resupply will be available. Give yourself a considerable safety margin for resupply, and check in each of those locations to find out if you can get meds locally, what that will entail (sometimes you'll need a local doctor and local rx) and what your options are to simply have meds shipped to you by air express. That can get complicated but if the meds can't be shipped at ambient temperature, maybe your pharmacy can pack them in coolers, or use iced (CO2) shipping that carriers provide.

In some places like Pitcairn, insulin might simply not be stocked since there is a small population and if no one needs it...no one carries it. Plan some routes, check in the ports you'll be in.

And go over the choice of meds with your doc, find out which have the best "shelf" stability, and perhaps consider changing meds if necessary, to use the one that gives you the best shelf/shipping options.

Its "just" a matter of logistics.
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Re: Medicines During Cruising

Great info! Thanx!
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Re: Medicines During Cruising

Although I can not help you on specifics I would share a story.
I am a heart patient. When I left the US for Europe I ran out of heart meds. Any attempt to get them shipped from the US was, for legal reasons, a non-starter. Then a wise person told me "take your meds to the local pharmacy." It turned out that all of my prescription medications were over the counter in Spain. I was able to resupply with no issues.
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Re: Medicines During Cruising

Pacific islanders are the fattest people on earth. They have the HIGHEST incidence of diabetes on earth.
Infact the top 6 diabetic countries in the world are all in the Pacific.

You will have no trouble whatsoever getting poor medical advice and lots and lots of insulin.
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