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  #1  
Old 06-22-2006
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medications and overseas customs

We will be heading for the Caribbean this fall and need some information from experienced cruisers about carrying prescription medications. We are nurses and have an assortment of prescription only medications given to us by Md's we have worked with over the last year. These are mostly oral and injectable steroids, anti-inflammatories, anti-biotics, anti histamines, etc. The only "narcotic" we have is Tylenol #2 which we purchased over the counter in Bermuda.

We do not have written prescriptions for any of these and are concerned about running into trouble with the customs departments of the various islands. We wouldn't mind having them confiscated, but the thought of running into legal trouble is scary.

Any input would be appreciated.

Vern & Michelle
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Old 06-23-2006
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I do not have direct experience. However, I have read in some of the books about setting up a medicine cabinet on your boat. I think that you can actually ask your doctor or doctor/friends to write a 'srip for the supplies for a voyage.

I googled 'offshore medicine' and it looks like even some of the Captain License schools have classes in offshore medicine. One I looked at says you end up with a stocked medicine case when you finish the class.

Good Luck!

TrT
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Old 06-23-2006
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Vern & Michelle-
If you are caught by any customs agent--including the ones here in the US when you are coming home--with drugs and narcotics but not the RX for them, you may be in serious trouble.
If those meds ordinarily are not sold OTC or on the shelf, have someone write you an RX for each and every one of them. Keep the rx(es) with the meds, copy with the ship's papers.
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Old 06-23-2006
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Medicine kits

I cannot get prescriptions for the meds since we have aquired then from many doctors over the past year. Samples, stock nearing end of shelf life, etc. Other than the Tylenol #2, OTC in Bermuda, we have no narcotics. I tried calling the Coast Guard and US Customs but could not yet get in touch with anyone. Certainly there must be an easy solution to avoid legal trouble. Nothing we carry is addictive, subject to misuse, or has any black market value. Unless you were a trained health care professional you wouldn't even know what they are for. And perhaps that is where the problem would start. Suspiscious officials and sailors with funny looking vials.

My inclination is to make up a lock box and provide a written inventory, along with indications for usage, to each customs agent.
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Old 06-23-2006
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medications on board

We have about 75 prescriptions on board up to vicodin,oxycontin,percoset,and 2 types of morphine. all with prescriptions.

i have never been asked about these medications in any port that i have been to in europe, the caribbean or bermuda.

however you only need one "boy Scout" to confiscate your boat.
In your case being friendly with doctors , i would draft a letter listing the prescriptions on board and ask a doctor friend to write you a letter stating that he has prescribed these medications for your use and recommends that they be on board.

i do not believe that a RX from a pharmacy would be necessary if you have this letter.

where are you going in the Carib?
Fair winds,
eric
sv kimberlite
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Old 06-24-2006
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medicine chests

That's probably what we will do, get a letter, and declare it where ever we go. We leave from Baltimore Nov 1st for the Virgin Islands. After that we will just play it by ear. We have charts down to Venezuela and 6 months to chase the wind.
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Old 06-24-2006
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As Eric says, it only takes one boy scout (I'd say one Dudley Do-Right) to confiscate your boat. Violating contraband laws--especially with drugs of any kind--can lead to immediate confiscation of the boat and imprisonment.

"I cannot get prescriptions for the meds since we have aquired then from many doctors" There are many doctors who understand "wilderness medicine" and offshore medicine, who will gladly write an Rx for a full range of meds to stock your box.

"Certainly there must be an easy solution to avoid legal trouble." Yes, there is. Conform to the letter of the law. Either carry an Rx, or don't carry the drugs. Or, be prepared for the hassle of your life if some official opens your meds case and asks "What's this?" Remember, they don't carry a PDR and they have no interest in using one. Either your meds come in consumer packaging, or you have an RX for them, or there is a high chance they will be presumed to be contraband.
At that point you might as well forge Rx's for them and stuff those in with the meds, there's less chance some agent will confirm the Rx's are real (too much effort overseas) and more chance of being hassled without any Rx's at all. And then, dispose of all the meds and the bogus Rx's before you re-enter the US.
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Old 06-24-2006
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I trust your laws and regulations in the US are consistent. There was an article in a local magazine recently telling of a tail of woe when people returning to Australia found themselves mixed up in "anomalies between Australian Customs legislation, publications, regulations and local practice".

In a response to their complaint to a Government Minister in an attempt to get their siezed goods returned, the Minister acknowledged that it was reasonable on the part of the people concerned that they assumed they had met all the obligations. Apparantly a review is now underway to bring the various agency regulation and legislation into line.

The people did get their goods back.

I think the message is be compliant - with everything no matter how contradictory it may seem.
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Western Port Marina
Hastings, Vic, Australia
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