Why the brand of your medicine may change?

There can be several reasons why the brand of your medicine may change. The following page may help you understand why and how changes to funded medicines and devices happen in New Zealand.

Common reasons for brand changes

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  • the brand of medicine is no longer subsidised by PHARMAC and has been replaced by another brand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.

Medicine registration and funding in New Zealand

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.


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.

Learn more

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

Medicines control Ministry of Health, NZ  
Medsafe's evaluation and approval process
Medsafe, NZ
The journey of a funding application PHARMAC
The funding process PHARMAC

Credits: Sandra Ponen, Pharmacist. Reviewed By: Angela Lambie, Pharmacist, Auckland Last reviewed: 25 Jul 2019