Why the brand of your medicine may change?

Key points about brand changes

  • There can be several reasons why the brand of your medicine may change.
  • Changes include shortage of supplies or a change in the name by the manufacturer.
  • This page may help you understand why and how changes to funded medicines and devices happen in New Zealand.
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There can be several reasons why the brand of your medicine may change, such as:

  • the manufacturer of the medicine no longer supplies it
  • the manufacturer has changed the name of the medicine
  • the brand of medicine is no longer subsidised by PHARMAC and has been replaced by another brand
  • there is a shortage in the supply of the usual brand and an alternative is sought temporarily.

In New Zealand, all medicines must be approved for sale by Medsafe, a division of the New Zealand Ministry of Health. Once medicines are approved by Medsafe, manufacturers usually also apply for the medicine to be subsidised under the Pharmac tender system.


Medsafe is the New Zealand Medicines and Medical Devices Safety Authority and a part of the Ministry of Health. It is responsible for the regulation of medicines in New Zealand. Read more about Medsafe(external link).


Pharmac is the New Zealand government agency that decides which medicines and medical devices are funded in New Zealand. Manufacturers of prescription medicines usually apply for their medicine to be subsidised under the Pharmac tender system, which the government pays some of the cost of medicines for patients. Every now and again, Pharmac may change the subsidised brand of some medicines.

If you are concerned about changes to your medicines or have any questions about your medicines, talk to your pharmacist.

To find out about recent changes to medicines that are funded in New Zealand, check out the Pharmac website(external link).

The following links have more information about how medicines are approved and funded in New Zealand.

Medicines control(external link) Ministry of Health, NZ
Medsafe's evaluation and approval process(external link) Medsafe, NZ
The journey of a funding application(external link) PHARMAC
The funding process(external link) PHARMAC
My medicine looks different(external link)(external link) PHARMAC, NZ


5 questions to ask about your medications
5 questions to ask about your medications

Health Quality and Safety Commission, NZ, 2019

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Credits: Sandra Ponen, Pharmacist, Healthify He Puna Waiora. Healthify is brought to you by Health Navigator Charitable Trust.

Reviewed by: Angela Lambie, Pharmacist, Auckland

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