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Old 10-06-1999
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William Mahaffy is on a distinguished road
Buying Prescription Drugs Overseas

I understand that if you are in foreign ports with a documented vessel you can purchase prescription medicine, i.e. antibiotics. Is this true?

The answer from Bill:

First of all, I have been able to purchase medications in foreign countries on a few occasions; however, these requirements were out of the ordinary. In one instance, I was in Cozumel and needed an antiparasitic (a crewmember on another yacht had a tapeworm!). Since this was not a condition I had planned for, I contacted our medical advisory service and was told what medication to ask for. I then went to the local medical clinic, explained the situation and was given a prescription.

As for routine antibiotics, I recommend carrying a variety to cover the majority of situations (these are usually included in the "oceangoing" medical kits). All medications are not manufactured the same and there may be significant differences in the generic medications you would pick up in different parts of the world.

I also contacted a few pharmacies and I was told that they shy away from sending medical supplies overseas since they occasionally do not reach the intended destination. The best advice is to have a well-planned and well-stocked medical kits and use a medical advisory service to help in the situations that are outside the realm of the equipment on board.

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