Oxazepam (Ox-Pam): Discontinuation

Discontinuation Active

Douglas Pharmaceuticals, the supplier of oxazepam (Ox-Pam), has notified PHARMAC that it is discontinuing supply of this medicine in New Zealand.

On this page

Oxazepam is a short acting benzodiazepine for the treatment of anxiety and alcohol withdrawal. About 4,600 people are using funded oxazepam in New Zealand. 

When is this happening?

Douglas has indicated that it expects to be able to supply Ox-Pam:

  • 10 mg tablets until mid-October 2020
  • 15 mg tablets until mid-November 2020.

We will delist oxazepam tablets from the Pharmaceutical Schedule once any remaining stock in New Zealand has been dispensed. There is no date currently set for this delisting. 

PHARMAC has not been able to identify alternative suppliers of oxazepam. Ox-Pam is the only Medsafe-approved brand of oxazepam tablets in New Zealand. 

Information for people taking oxazepam (Ox-Pam)

You should not stop taking oxazepam abruptly – doing so can cause serious side effects. 

There are other funded alternatives. You will need to talk to your GP or specialist about the best option for your clinical circumstances. 

We know that changing your medicine can be disruptive. Thank you for your understanding. 

Information for prescribers

Prescribers will need to:

  • ensure no new patients are started on oxazepam tablets
  • support their patients who are currently using oxazepam to change to an alternative treatment as soon as possible
  • consider whether benzodiazepines are still clinically indicated. 

The New Zealand Formulary contains dose equivalence data for benzodiazepines and guidance for benzodiazepine withdrawal.

We know that it is not always easy to change patients onto different medicines. We apologise for any inconvenience caused by this discontinuation. 

Alternative treatments

We have received advice from the Mental Health Subcommittee (one of our expert clinical advisory groups). They advise that there are alternative funded benzodiazepines listed on the Pharmaceutical Schedule. They further advised that these alternative agents have different properties, so the choice of treatment will depend on individual patient circumstances. 

Note: There are stock issues for some other antidepressants

Further advice

BPACnz has compiled some New Zealand-based clinical guidance about benzodiazepines.

Information for pharmacists

Patients should not stop taking oxazepam abruptly. People using oxazepam should be advised to visit their prescriber to change to an alternative treatment. 

Key dates:

Douglas has indicated that it expects to be able to supply Ox-Pam:

  • 10 mg tablets until mid-October 2020
  • 15 mg tablets until mid-November 2020.

We will delist oxazepam tablets from the Pharmaceutical Schedule once any remaining stock in New Zealand has been dispensed. There is no date currently set for this delisting.

We will keep our website updated with this information. 

We know that discontinuations and other stock issues can be disruptive for you and your patients. Thank you for your patience. 

Who to contact 

If you are a prescriber or pharmacist with questions about this supply issue, email enquiry@pharmac.govt.nz.

If you take oxazepam (Ox-Pam), talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist. They are the best people to answer your questions. PHARMAC cannot give advice on your individual clinical circumstances. 

If you need to talk: 

  • call or text 1737 any time (it’s free)
  • talk to a trained counsellor on the Depression helpline, 0800 111 757