Painkillers containing codeine may soon be moved behind the counter due to the increasing number of reports about misuse and addiction to the drug.
A government advisory committee has submitted recommendations to the Health Ministry asking that condeine-containing medicines be restricted to direct sale by a qualified pharmacist, and the maximum pack size of painkillers be reduced to a five-day supply from eight.
Codeine-containing medicines would also have to be labelled with warning statements, highlighting codeine is an addictive substance and not to use for more than three days, similar to those found in the United Kingdom.
Medicine regulator Medsafe said a Health Ministry decision is expected over the next few weeks.
The recommendations reflects government restrictions on the sale of cold tablets that use pseudoephedrine, used to make methamphetamine which is known as the drug P, announced last year.
Brand names that may be affected by the recommendations include Panadeine and Nurofen Plus, and several own brand name products containing paracetamol and codeine.
Committee chairman Dr Stewart Jessamine said the problem was not limited to New Zealand, but worldwide, and tighter restrictions have been adopted in Australia and the UK.
January 20, 2010
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Restrictions recommended for drugs containing codeine