Morphine oral liquid: Supply issue

Supply issue Active

There is a New Zealand wide shortage of morphine oral liquid.

On this page

17 May 2024 Update

Pharmac has listed Oramorph CDC from 9 May 2024. It is not Medsafe approved so must be prescribed and dispensed as a section 29 medicine.

More detail about the listing

Supply situation

Morphine oral liquid is available. 

Alternative brands

Pharmac has listed two versions of Oramorph, while they are the same product, made in the same manufacturing plant, there are from two different suppliers and were originally packaged for different international markets.

As a result, one Pharmacode has Medsafe approval (2675048) but the other is section 29. From 9 May, we listed Oramorph CDC with a section 29 endorsement. Oramorph CDC will appear in the Online Schedule when it is updated for 1 June 2024.

Schedule listing for Oramorph(external link)

Oramorph is slightly different from the previously funded RA-Morph brand. 

People using morphine oral liquid

Expect different brands

If you have previously used morphine oral liquid, you will get different brands than you are used to. Please talk to pharmacist about what these changes mean for you.

You may also need a new prescription. 

Healthify have developed some guidance for people who take morphine oral liquid.

Wockhardt and Oramorph oral liquid morphine - patient flyer - March 2024 [PDF, 181 KB]

We apologise

We know that supply issues can be disruptive and we apologise for any problems that this issue might cause.

We continue to work to reduce the effect of this supply issue on people who use morphine oral liquid.

Prescriber information

The different morphine salts are interchangeable

Clinical advice states that the different salts of morphine (sulphate compared to hydrochloride) are interchangeable and have no impact on the equivalent dose of morphine. RA-Morph contains the morphine hydrochloride salt and Oramorph contains morphine sulphate salt.

Alcohol in Oramorph

Oramorph contains alcohol (ethanol) 10% v/v as a preservative. The alcohol content in 5 ml of Oramorph is equivalent to 10 ml beer or 4 ml wine. The datasheet for Oramorph outlines that this is not likely to have an effect in adults and adolescents, and its effects in children are not likely to be noticeable. However please counsel affected individuals about this.

Morphine oral liquid supply on Practitioner’s Supply Orders (PSO)

Morphine oral liquid is available on Practitioner’s Supply Order (PSO). Normally unregistered medicines cannot be used on PSO because section 29 of the Medicines Act requires that the patient to be known at the time of supply.

As holding an emergency supply of oral morphine may be essential for patient safety, s29 morphine oral liquid can be supplied to medical practitioners on a PSO. The practitioner must provide the patient details to the pharmacy retrospectively.

Pharmacist information

Strength changes

Please counsel affected people and their whānau and caregivers on the strength of morphine oral liquid that they are receiving and the dose they need to use.

Please take extra care with the different labelling of the strength of the alternate brands. Strengths of the Oramorph brand is labelled as per 5 ml, whereas RA-Morph is labelled as per 1 ml.

Healthify has developed this flyer to support your discussions with patients.

Wockhardt and Oramorph oral liquid morphine - patient flyer - March 2024 [PDF, 181 KB]

Caution stickers

Caution alert stickers are available to order for free from PharmacOnline (under the miscellaneous category). You may need to refresh the web page.

Order stickers from PharmacOnline(external link) (Use the "Public User" button)

Brand switch fee

This is the first brand change for morphine oral liquid and involves a change in strength and salt. We know some people using morphine oral liquid will need additional support from their pharmacist with this change and may have questions.

To support this a brand switch fee will be claimable from 1 December 2023 to 1 June 2024. The brand switch fee has been applied on the morphine sulphate oral liquid 2 mg per ml presentation. This means you can only claim one brand switch fee for both the Wockhardt and Oramorph brands.

More about brand switch fees


We are working closely with a supplier, LumaCina, to re-introduce the RA-Morph brand. LumaCina has taken over the Australian manufacturing plant where RA-Morph was made.

LumaCina, Medsafe, and Pharmac have been working together to get RA-Morph back in Aotearoa New Zealand this year.

Finding alternatives is challenging

Pharmac has been looking for alternative brands of morphine oral liquid for at least 18 months. Unfortunately, finding both short and long-term supply has been challenging.

The logistics of making and supplying controlled drugs, like morphine oral liquid, is complex.

Special licences are required to import and export controlled drugs. Pharmac is working closely with suppliers on permits and labelling to speed up the delivery of stock to Aotearoa New Zealand.

Who to contact

If you have questions about morphine oral liquid, please email

Please include as much information as you can about the product (presentation, brand, pharmacode) and who your wholesaler is.  

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