Published: 2 April 2018


Reclassification of codeine


At the 59th meeting of the Medicines Classification Committee (MCC) held on 7 November 2017, a recommendation was made to reclassify medicines containing codeine as the only active ingredient to:

  • prescription medicine; except when specified elsewhere in this Schedule
  • restricted medicine; for oral use in adults and children over 12 years of age in medicines containing not more than 15mg per solid dosage unit with a maximum daily dose not exceeding 90mg of codeine for use as an analgesic and when sold in a pack of not more than three days’ supply.

The proposed date for the recommendation to take effect is 31 January 2020.

The finalised minutes for the 59th meeting and the rationale behind the recommendation can be found on the Medsafe website.

To date

No objections were received in the 10 business days following the publication of the recommendations from the 59th meeting.

Due to the significant changes proposed to the classification of codeine (and codeine containing preparations), Medsafe requires time to seek advice on:

  • any barriers to implementation
  • the safety of the proposed changes
  • any legal barriers.

The current classification of codeine will remain unchanged until a notice is published in the New Zealand Gazette. All products containing codeine as the sole active ingredient will remain a Prescription medicine (and controlled drug) until the gazette notice is published.

Any updates on the reclassification of codeine will be published on the Medsafe website.

For further information about the reclassification of codeine, please contact the Secretary of the Medicines Classification Committee (email:

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