Changes to opioid prescription regulation in Aotearoa

The Cabinet of Aotearoa/New Zealand recently amended the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 1977 to reduce the maximum period of supply for all opioid prescriptions to one month. 

This will reverse the changes made in December 2022, and streamline the prescribing limits for all prescribers of controlled drugs, except for providers of Opioid Substitution Therapy services, who will still be able to prescribe for up to three months when authorised. 

The maximum prescribing limit for Class B and Class C controlled drugs that are not opioids, including benzodiazepines and ADHD medicines such as methylphenidate, remain at 3 months. 

Professional standards and dispensing limits set by the Medical Council and Pharmac will not be changed by these amendments. Further information regarding the supply restriction of controlled drugs is available on the Manatū Hauora website. 

The amendments are the result of an engagement survey, conducted by Manatū Hauora in March 2023, reviewing the controls and safeguards for prescribing opioid. Tu Te Akaaka Roa provided feedback in support of a one-month prescription period to promote regular interactions between patients and their healthcare team and balance the risk of inappropriate prescribing and adequate access to opioids for people who need them.

Read the full summary of the engagement survey  

The sector will be informed in advance of the new regulations taking effect, likely in September or October 2023. 


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