The Misuse of Drugs Amendment regulations 2023 came into effect in October 2023. 

  • From 5 October 2023 all opioids classified under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975 can be prescribed for a maximum amount that is required for one month of treatment (regulation 21(5D) (a)). This limit of one month applies to Class A, B and C opioids.  
  • This includes the following medications: tramadol, codeine, morphine, fentanyl and oxycodone. 

 Why have these changes been made?  

  • These changes to regulations are the result of a recent review conducted by Manatū Hauora- Ministry of Health 
  • The Safe Access to Opioids review focused on the various controls and safeguards that currently exist to manage opioid access. These changes have been made to try and help limit the misuse of the medications and ensure safe prescribing.  

 What does this mean for our patients? 

  • All classes of opioids, including tramadol and codeine can only be prescribed for a maximum of 1 month. 
  • The amount prescribed must be that required for 1 month of treatment. 
  • Exceptions to this are methylphenidate, dexamfetamine (ie medications for ADHD), benzodiazepines and zopiclone. These can be prescribed for up to 3 months, but no more than 1 month at a time can be dispensed. 
  • We are unable to prescribe repeats for these medications and the pharmacy will not be able to dispense repeats. 
  • A new prescription will have to be arranged every month. 
  • Due to the extra work involved in managing controlled drug prescriptions a standard prescription fee will apply for these prescriptions. 
  • Patients may be eligible for a WINZ subsidy to help cover costs.