Vol 68, No 1 (2017)
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Published online: 2017-03-30

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Identification of World Health Organisation ship’s medicine chest contents by Anatomical Therapeutic Chemical (ATC) classification codes

Seyed Khorsow Tayebati, Giulio Nittari, Syed Sarosh Mahdi, Nicholas Ioannidis, Fabio Sibilio, Francesco Amenta
Pubmed: 28357835
IMH 2017;68(1):39-45.


Background: Ships should carry mandatory given amounts of medicinal products and basic first aid items, collectively known as the ship’s medicine chest. Type and quantities of these products/items are suggested by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and regulated by individual flag states. In countries that lack national legislation, it is assumed that ships should follow WHO indications. An objective difficulty mainly involving vessels of international long-haul routes could be to recognise medicinal compounds obtained in other countries for replacing products used or expired. Language barrier may complicate, if not make it impossible to interpret the name of the medicinal product and/or of the active principle as indicated in a box printed in a completely different language. Handling of the ship’s pharmacy may be difficult in case of purchasing of drugs abroad due to language barriers. Medicinal products are identified by the international non-proprietary name of the active principle and/or by their chemical or invented (branded) names. This may make the identification of a medicinal product difficult, primarily if it is purchased abroad and the box and instructions are written in the language of the country where it is marketed. Therefore, there is a simpler classification system of the medicinal compounds the ATC (ATC: Anatomy, Therapeutic properties, Chemical, pharmacological properties). This paper has reviewed the list of medicinal products recommended by WHO and assigned to each one the ATC code as a solution to the problem of medicinal compounds organisation.

Materials and methods: Two researchers independently examined the list of medicinal compounds indicated in the third edition of the International Medical Guide for Ships and attributed to each compound the ATC code according to the 2013 Guidelines for ATC classification and Defined Daily Dose (DDD) assignment.

Results: The ATC code was attributed to the medicinal compounds indicated in the third edition of the International Medical Guide for Ships.

Conclusions: The availability of an objective system to identify medicinal products is required for ships, which will contribute in making the identification of items purchased simpler, making it easier to understand which drug seafarers need to be administer, and consequently reduce possible therapeutic mistakes.  


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