Revised: 22 July 2010


Medsafe announces date to introduce sales restrictions on some cough and cold medicines for children

From 1 May next year cough and cold medicines for children under 12 years of age containing dextromethorphan and phenylephrine will only be sold in pharmacies.

Products containing these ingredients will only be available in supermarkets from 1 May 2011 if they are re-labelled for use in adults and children over 12 years of age. All non-compliant products will be removed from supermarket shelves from this date.

Group Manager of Medsafe, Dr Stewart Jessamine, said re-classifying products containing dextromethorphan and phenylephrine to pharmacy-only means parents will be able to get professional advice on how to use these medicines safely before buying them for their children.

"These changes are in line with the recommendations made to the Health Minister by the Medicines Classification Committee and Medsafe following concerns about safety of these medicines in children and are similar to changes being made or considered in other countries such as Australia and the United Kingdom.

“If a parent is unsure of the best way to treat their child, they should seek advice from their general practitioner or a healthcare professional,” Dr Jessamine said. "I would advise parents not to use over-the-counter cough and cold medicines for children under six years of age," he said.


Additional Information

  • An appeal against the reclassification of products containing ipecacuana has been submitted to Medsafe; further information will be provided after this appeal has been considered.
  • Products containing guaifenesin are unaffected by the classification changes described above.
  • The Medicines Classification Committee is a statutory committee that makes recommendations to the Minister of Health in respect of the classification of medicines as prescription medicines, restricted medicines or pharmacy-only medicines.
  • Information on the recommendations made by the Cough and Cold Review Group, including questions and answers on over-the-counter cough and cold medicines, is available on Medsafe's website:
  • The minutes of the Medicines Classification Committee's 13 April 2010 meeting, during which the proposed reclassification of some cough and cold medicines for children under 12 was considered, are available on Medsafe's website:
  • The Medicines and Medical Devices Safety Authority (Medsafe), a business unit of the Ministry of Health, is responsible for the regulation of therapeutic products in New Zealand.
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