The Pharmacy and Poisons Board has banned the sale of all medicines containing codeine without a valid prescription.
The ingredient in question is used in medicines that treat mild to moderate degrees of pain. The move is aimed at
minimising overuse and addiction.
Dr FM Siyoi, registrar of the board, said the drugs will no longer be sold in pharmacies and chemists without proper prescriptions.
"All dispensers should not offer for sale any medicine that contains codeine without a valid prescription from a duly registered medical practitioner."
Siyoi noted all valid prescriptions should have the patient's name, address and age.
He added that they must have the medical practitioner's name, address and the registration number from the Medical Practitioners and Dentists Board.
Siyoi further stated that drugs containing the opioid pain medication will not be refilled by any health facilities.
In Australia, there are reports that people are panic-buying and stockpiling Panadeine, Nurofen Plus and Mersyndol ahead of the ban, which starts on February 1.
"Low-dose over-the-counter codeine, which is a weak opioid, has been found to be highly addictive according to the New Zealand College of Anaesthetists," says.
More than 25 countries including the US, Japan, France and Hong Kong have made codeine a prescription only medicine.