Codeine-containing medicines are now prescription-only 

From the 5 November 2020 all codeine-containing medicines require a prescription and pharmacists will need to keep all these medicines in the dispensary. Manufacturers and health professionals have until the 5 May 2021 to transition to newly-labelled products. Newly-labelled products should be available at the wholesalers by 5 February 2021. 

Why is this happening? 

The Medicines Classification Committee (MCC) of Medsafe discussed the risks and benefits of harmonising the classification of codeine in New Zealand with Australia (where codeine-containing medicines were reclassified as prescription medicines in 2018).  The MCC determined there was sufficient concern regarding the safety of codeine-containing medicines being available without prescription to warrant reclassificationOf particular concern was the risk of exceeding the maximum dosage of paracetamol or ibuprofen in combination products, and the abuse of codeine in New Zealand and internationally. The MCC also noted there was an opportunity to improve the management of acute pain around referral pathways in pharmacies. For further details of these discussions see here. 

Where to go for more information 

BPAC have provided information for prescribers and other health professionals in primary care hereand more specific information for community pharmacies here. 

Health professionals are welcome to contact our servicefor more specific advice on individual patients.