Yep, the CFR is fairly clear on this issue, but just to be sure, I called my pharmacist friend at Rite Aid and he said "Anyone that comes in with a prescription for a legal drug will be supplied that drug. If you don't have a prescription, well, it just ain't gonna happen." I asked about a ships captain or medical officer, he said that he has never encountered that situation in his 50 years of being a pharmacist and doesn't anticipate ever doing so.
I took a careful look at the kit, and there was only a single drug that would fit into the narcotic category, and it was nothing more than aspirin and codine. There were a few lightweight antibiotics in the kit as well, but nothing earth shaking.
In the essence of finding the actual facts, I have placed a call to Paul McElroy, who holds an unlimited master's license and recently retired from training individuals to obtain their captain's licenses. He is also listed as an expert witness nationally in these issues. I am awaiting his call to determine what legal ramifications there are.
I looked carefully at the kit, which is fairly comprehensive, but IMO, overpriced to a huge extent. The quantities are small to modest, and treatment beyond two weeks would be pushing it for the most part.
The danger of any of this is that for the average lay person, it would be nearly impossible to provide a definitive diagnosis for the vast majority of onboard illnesses. This is where significant and ongoing medical training is a must, which is rarely the case with a private vessel captain. Yes, I know, there is a few MD's out there sailing, but most are not sailing on any vessel other than their own, and those that I know personally, which is only 3, have an emergency first aid kit onboard - not a $1,760 kit containing a lot of over the counter drugs and a few prescription drugs. Their kits usually contain suture kits, gauze bandages, bandaids, iodine, alcohol, aspirin, etc..., items that would be readily used for minor cuts and injuries.
When Paul calls back, I will update you on his findings and post it immediately.
Take a close look at:
PART 1301 — REGISTRATION OF MANUFACTURERS, DISTRIBUTORS, AND
DISPENSERS OF CONTROLLED SUBSTANCES
EXCEPTIONS TO REGISTRATION AND FEES
§1301.25 Registration regarding ocean vessels, aircraft, and other entities.
(a) If acquired by and dispensed under the general supervision of a medical officer described in paragraph (b) of this section, or the master or first officer of the vessel under the circumstances described in paragraph (d) of this section, controlled substances may be held for stocking, be maintained in, and dispensed from medicine chests, first aid packets, or dispensaries:
(1) On board any vessel engaged in international trade or in trade between ports of the United States and any merchant vessel belonging to the U.S. Government;
(2) On board any aircraft operated by an air carrier under a certificate of permit issued pursuant to the Federal Aviation Act of 1958 (49 U.S.C. 1301); and
(3) In any other entity of fixed or transient location approved by the Administrator as appropriate for application of this section (e.g., emergency kits at field sites of an industrial firm).
(b) A medical officer shall be:
(1) Licensed in a state as a physician;
(2) Employed by the owner or operator of the vessel, aircraft or other entity; and
(3) Registered under the Act at either of the following locations:
(i) The principal office of the owner or operator of the vessel, aircraft or other entity or
(ii) At any other location provided that the name, address, registration number and expiration date as they appear on his/her Certificate of Registration (DEA Form 223) for this location are maintained for inspection at said principal office in a readily retrievable manner.