Changes underway to enable the purchase of pseudoephedrine-based cold and flu medicines

The Ministry of Health | Manatū Hauora is progressing the changes needed to allow New Zealanders to buy cold and flu medicines containing pseudoephedrine from pharmacies.

The Misuse of Drugs (Pseudoephedrine) Amendment Bill has been introduced, and changes to the Medicines Regulations made, to reclassify pseudoephedrine.

Once the changes are in effect, New Zealanders will be able to buy these medicines from a pharmacist. However, the timeframe for when people will be able to do this depends on when pharmaceutical suppliers can bring them back to the New Zealand market.

Medsafe is now seeking information from pharmaceutical companies regarding what applications they may submit. Medsafe will use an expedited process to evaluate the medicines as quickly as practicable:

Cold and flu medicines containing pseudoephedrine were made prescription-only in 2011 to help prevent these medicines from being used in the manufacture of the Class A drug methamphetamine.

In the years since this change was made, cold and flu medicines containing pseudoephedrine have effectively become unavailable in New Zealand. Meanwhile, the tighter controls have had a limited, temporary effect on the overall supply of methamphetamine as traders moved on to other supply pathways.

When cold and flu medicines containing pseudoephedrine are available again, New Zealanders will only be able to buy these medicines following consultation with a New Zealand registered pharmacist. The pharmacist must record information and can give advice as appropriate, including to people who should not take pseudoephedrine for clinical reasons.

Medicines containing pseudoephedrine will still be controlled drugs. This means a licence will still be needed to import and/or export products containing pseudoephedrine. The border restrictions will remain unchanged, and the New Zealand Customs Service will retain its powers to seize illicit importations, and may prosecute. Importation without a licence is and will remain an offence under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975.

Cabinet papers and the regulatory impact statement can be found at:

/Public Release. View in full here.