Controlled substance medications at sea for long periods

Hi fellers… How does a mariner manage to get enough of a legitimately-prescribed controlled substance to be dispensed by a pharmacy, when controlled substances are usually only dispensed in 1-month amounts?

Lets say a guy is on TRT. This is a lifelong regimen that cannot just be stopped when going to sea.
However, meds like test are usually dispersed on a monthly basis. Same could go for some guy who has chronic pain, or even ADHD.
What happens when he joins a ship for 4 to 5 months?

If anyone has experience with this situation, I’m all ears. Thanks!

Usually just have to talk to the doctor or insurance company and explain the issue and they take care of it.

Do you have a licenced medical provider on board (Medical Service Officer)? If so then the providing MD could Rx the meds and turn them over for care and custody to the MSO.

Most likely not.

1 Like

Doctors and insurance companies have a mindset that almost everyone works 9-5 - five days a week, and they can get off work at the doctor’s convenience. Their policies are based upon that mindset. They don’t understand or refuse to believe that mariners have different needs, or they simply don’t care.

Getting more than 90 days of meds usually requires some creative work arounds, or paying cash for more.

I do not have any experience with tightly controlled meds, but I can certainly see where getting a 120 day supply might be challenging.


At MSC they give you a letter to your medical provider stating you will be working at sea for a period of 6 (or so) month.

All the above is good advice. By all means get what you can before leaving. You might run into a problem with some meds or some carriers that the insurance will only pay for one month at s time. You will have to buy more out of pocket, even of you have a prescription. This was told me once, but a phone call straightened things out.

If you get stuck unexpectedly, I have stayed for a long time in foreign countries. You will probably find that you can walk into a foreign pharmacy and just buy what you need over the counter and for less than your co-pay. I come prepared with my prescription but only once have I been asked if I had a prescription and they didn’t want to see it. My meds are not for anything addictive. The meds usually have a different brand name so you have to Google the scientific name.

If you can’t get ashore I guess that’s what agents are for although I never gone someplace where they wouldn’t let me take a taxi to a pharmacy.


All those elderly passengers on world cruises somehow manage.

1 Like

They have a doctor on board to renew the prescriptions.