Medicines containing codeine will be prescription-only in NZ, starting today

Source: 1News

Medicines containing the opioid painkiller codeine will be available only with a prescription from today onwards.

Medsafe is re-examining the classification of the opiate following an Australian move last year to make the drug prescription-only.

MedSafe, which regulates medicines in New Zealand, is making the change in order to lower misuse of the drug, prevent people becoming dependent and to reduce the number of overdose deaths linked to the addictive drug.

The move follows a similar change made in Australia in February of 2018.

Codeine-only medications are already prescription-only.

Codeine-containing medicine would have already been reclassified, but the process was delayed by Covid-19 this year.

MedSafe group manager Chris James said the organisation will continue to work with industry representatives and stakeholders on the change.

"I know during the planning for this change, the Medicines Classification Committee has listened to concerns about the availability of alternatives and potential for increased workloads on health professionals," James said.

"Reports from Australia suggest those concerns haven't been realised.

"It's important for people to know there are alternatives available for your pain management - both over the counter and as prescription medicines."