Supply of medicines to ships and vessels

The Medicine and Poisons Regulations 2016 provide for the supply of medicines to the following vessels:

  • Australian and internationally registered ships
  • domestic commercial vessels
  • racing yachts participating in offshore races departing from Western Australia.

Pharmacists supplying to these vessels must comply with the usual recording and reporting requirements for supply. The medicines that may be supplied are those required to be carried by the applicable maritime Regulations for each type of craft.

Registered ships

Registered ships and domestic commercial vessels are required to carry specified supplies of scheduled medicines to ensure that medical treatment is available in the event of medical problems or emergencies.

National and international marine regulations and guidelines specify the medicines and minimum quantities of each that are required, based on a vessel’s class and scale.

A list of Australian registered ships (external site) is available on the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) website. Information regarding details of internationally registered vessels may be found on marine traffic websites.

Australian regulated vessels are required to carry medicines as listed in either the AMSA publication Medical Carriage Requirements on Regulated Australian Vessels (external site) or the World Health Organisation International Medical Guide for Ships (external site) and its Quantification Addendum. Medicines listed in Annex 3 of the Quantification Addendum meet the requirements of the Navigation Act. Vessels carrying dangerous goods may also require extra substances such as antidotes.

Pharmacists and licensed wholesalers may also supply Schedule 4 medicines to ships carrying livestock. The required veterinary medicines are detailed in the Australian Standard for the Export of Livestock (external site).

Commercial vessels

The National Standard for Commercial Vessels (NSCV) (external site) includes details of which medicines are required for Scale D and Scale E Medical Cabinets and Scale F and Scale G First Aid Kits. The Class of the vessel will determine which first aid kit and medical cabinet is required.

For example, only Class 1B vessels require a Scale D Medical Cabinet. These vessels also require a Scale F First Aid Kit. Class 1B vessels are seagoing passenger vessels that can be used in offshore operations.

Medicines can only be administered to a crew member or passenger on board a domestic commercial vessel after authorisation by a medical practitioner.

Racing yachts

Racing yachts participating in offshore races departing from Western Australia may also require Scheduled medicines to complete their medical kit as required by the ‘Racing Rules of Sailing’ Special Regulations Part 1 for Racing Boats (external PDF), as made by Yachting Australia.

The medicines required will vary depending on the race category. Schedule 4 and Schedule 8 medicines are only required for Category 1 and 2 races (extended duration offshore races). There are three such races on the Yachting WA calendar: the Fremantle to Albany and return (April), the Fremantle to Bali Race (May), and the Geraldton Classic and return (October).

Records of supply

The bona fides of a vessel first aider should be verified before supply. Pharmacists must be satisfied that the supply is for the purpose of administration or supply of the medicine by the first aid provider (vessel) in the lawful practice of their profession, and has been authorised by the captain of the vessel to obtain medicines for use on the vessel.

Written orders for supply of medicines to vessels must include names of all scheduled medicines required, including strength, dosage form and quantity.

Prior to supplying the scheduled medicines to a first aid provider (vessel), a pharmacist must obtain and retain (where specified) the information required in the form Pharmacist Supply of Medicines to Ships and Vessels (Word 832KB).

Pharmacists must attach the completed form to the original order and maintain the record for 2 years for Schedule 2, 3 or 4 medicines or 5 years for Schedule 8 medicines.

Pharmacists must include details of sales of Schedule 8 medicines to ships and vessels in the normal monthly report to the Department of Health.

Pharmacists should also discuss secure storage of medicines with yacht personnel and encourage the return of any unused medicines to a pharmacy for appropriate disposal.

More information

Medicines and Poisons Regulation Branch
Mailing address: PO Box 8172, Perth Business Centre, WA 6849
Phone: 9222 6883
Email: poisons@health.wa.gov.au