In January 2023, Manatū Hauora set up a working group to assist with a review of the current controls to see if they were fit for the purposes of both managing the risk of opioid misuse and ensuring appropriate patient access. The working group consisted of representatives from Manatū Hauora, Te Aka Whai Ora, Te Whatu Ora, Pharmac and Te Tāhū Hauora.
Manatū Hauora’s review identified that the following controls needed improvement to manage safe access to opioids:
- amending opioid prescribing regulation to be more in line with best practice and enable practitioners to prescribe appropriately
- more comprehensive monitoring capability, including further investment to take advantage of technology advances
- in the longer term, a better mechanism for establishing prescribing and dispensing rules and guidelines for high-risk medicines.
In March 2023, Manatū Hauora undertook public engagement on possible approaches to regulation, as well as options that could support regulation. The engagement included the opportunity to provide a written submission and/or attend an online hui. The feedback we received from this engagement is summarised in the attached document.
Feedback from the public engagement will inform recommendations to the Minister of Health.
Amendments to the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 1977
On 21 July 2023, Cabinet made the decision to amend the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 1977 to address concerns with controlled drug prescribing regulations. These amendments were informed by the Safe Access to Opioids Review conducted by Manatū Hauora.
The Misuse of Drugs Amendment Regulations (No 2) 2023 were confirmed by Cabinet on 4 September 2023 and will take effect on 5 October 2023.
The amendments will reduce prescribing limits for opioids and simplify prescribing limits for other controlled drugs. More detail on the new limits for controlled drug prescribing can be found in the Controlled drugs section.