Pharmacy and Partner Programme

Contact Us  |  About the Programme  |  How the programme works  |  How to join the programme  |  Harm Reduction Equipment  |  Frequently Asked Questions  |  News and Updates

Contact Us

Your key contacts for the Pharmacy Needle Exchange Programme are:





About the Programme

The New Zealand Needle Exchange programme (NZNEP) established in 1988 was the first state funded nationally needle exchange programme in the world. The programme was established to protect vulnerable New Zealanders against blood borne viruses initially in response to the 1980’s HIV epidemic. By providing new sterile injecting equipment and harm reduction advice, pharmacies and dedicated needle exchange successfully limited the impact of HIV in New Zealand. Because of this early intervention we now have one of the lowest rates of HIV among people who inject drugs (PWID) in the world. 

Today hepatitis C is the main blood borne virus concern for the programme, as PWID are the key at-risk population. In New Zealand, the availability of Maviret, a highly effective direct acting antiviral drug, means hep C can now be easily treated and cured. Maviret is fully funded, meaning treatment is free, so dispensing pharmacies are on the frontline of the fight to eliminate the virus. 

Needle exchanges programmes (NEP) are a vital public health service, which supply people who inject drugs (PWID) with new sterile injecting equipment and crucial harm reduction advice. Having expanded over the years, they now provide a wide range of harm reduction services to people who use drugs (PWUD), including overdose prevention, safer injecting advice, Hep C testing and drug checking. 

Pharmacies have been part of the programme since its inception.  Today in Aotearoa there are 20 dedicated needle exchanges and close to 200 pharmacies and alternate providers such as sexual health services, hospitals, Māori health providers who participate in the programme on a voluntary basis. 

In 2023 pharmacies on the programme took part in a survey. Pharmacists described a range of benefits from being part of the needle exchange programme. These included:

  • protecting the community from needle-stick injuries, 
  • reducing blood borne viruses,
  • providing a local health service,
  • helping to reduce health costs. 


What is Harm Reduction

Harm reduction is a realistic, pragmatic, and non-judgmental approach to drug use and people who use drugs; it is based on openness, understanding and respect.  Harm reduction meets people where they are at, incorporates their unique situations and goals, and seeks to reduce the harms associated with drugs.

Harm Reduction International, the leading international advocacy and research organisation, defines harm reduction as:

Policies, programmes and practices that aim to minimise negative health, social and legal impacts associated with drug use, drug policies and drug laws. Specifically, to reduce the negative impacts on people who use drugs (PWUD) their whānau and the wider community. Harm reduction is grounded in human rights and social justice. It focuses on positive change and on working with people without judgement, coercion, discrimination, or requiring that they stop using drugs as a precondition of support.



How the programme works


Being part of the NZNEP is an opportunity to enhance the health and wellbeing of people who inject drugs (PWID). PWID often experience stigma and discrimination and can be marginalised as a result of their drug use.  Providing non-judgmental support to people using the service, improves their health and wellbeing.

The service is anonymous and confidential, and all clients have a right to confidentiality. Clients trust us with one of the most personal and private aspects of their lives and this relationship and assurance of confidentiality underscores the programme’s success. 

You may not disclose any details about a person using the service at your pharmacy to any third party including the police, alcohol and drug services, the opioid substitution programme or any friend, whanau or member of the public. 

Some clients that access the harm reduction equipment may also be accessing Opioid Substitution Treatment (OST). Providing new equipment to people injecting OST medication removes the harms associated with the reuse and sharing of needles.

Getting set-up

The first step is registering you to join the NZNEP programme.  This allows you to order harm reduction equipment for free. NZNEP registration form  

You will be able to access pre-made harm reduction packs online from Healthcare Logistics. The packs are free and ordered through the portal at Te Whātu Ora. Some additional boxed equipment may also be available depending on client needs.

Download the Pharmacy and Alternate Provider Programme PDF by clicking here.

Distributing harm reduction equipment

The programme provides free equipment without the need for used equipment to be returned. Although returning used equipment should always be encouraged, there is no evidence to suggest that greater distribution of needles leads to an increase in used needles being discarded in the community.

The free equipment provided through the programme is for PWID who are clients of the NZNEP only.  If you wish to provide equipment for other clients, please purchase through other avenues, such as Onelink, Capes Medical, EBOS or any others you have access to.

Collection of used equipment

Clients access the service to get new sterile needles and syringes and to return their used ones for safe disposal. Pharmacies are responsible for providing a personal sharps container with all equipment given to clients. It is preferrable that all used equipment be returned in sharps containers. 

Large Sharps bins are provided to pharmacies for disposing of returned equipment from NEP clients. This is operated on a regular collection cycle by Interwaste. 

It is important to have your sharps bin in a place that is accessible for clients while keeping it out of reach of children. A wall bracket is available should it be required.

Disposal of used equipment

Interwaste provide the collection and destruction of all used NZNEP equipment.  They deliver and collect the sharps bins on a regular cycle agreed with you. Contact us If this service does not meet your needs.

Promoting the service

The service is identified by a double arrow label placed on the Pharmacy’s door/window. The double arrow is the international symbol for needle exchange services. It offers a discreet way to communicate that you are part of the NEP. They are available by contacting us.


A wide range of helpful harm reduction resources are available for you and your staff to distribute to clients with their equipment.  The resources are an important component of our service, and we encourage you to keep relevant resources at your pharmacy and offer these to clients. 


Pharmacies in the needle exchange programme receive a financial rebate on needles that are distributed free. The current rebate is $2 per pack

All rebates are to be submitted via an invoice for each calendar month and emailed  to 

All invoices received by 10th of the month following, will be paid on the 20th of that month. Invoices should be made out to:

NZNEP Rebate 
DISC Trust 
10 Washington Way
PO Box 22 478

Your invoice should include:

  • An invoice number
  • The name of your Pharmacy
  • The total number of packs you have distributed to NZNEP clients
  • The cost @ $2.00 per pack
  • GST
  • Total to pay
  • Your bank account details

If you are not able to provide an invoice for the free needles, please contact to discuss other options.


DISC Trust provide the National Pharmacy and Alternate outlet programme with:

  • New registrations
  • Pharmacy name and/or location changes
  • Staff training 
  • Questions/Queries
  • Rebates

The NZNEP resource materials are managed by another NEP trust. All orders for resources should be sent to




How to join the programme

As a registered pharmacy, it is simple to become a needle exchange outlet. All that is required is to complete the NEP registration form. 

If you are not a pharmacy but are interested in joining the programme your service may require a different process.  Please contact  to discuss. 

Step one

To get registered please complete an NZNEP registration form online - click here to view the form

This process registers you as an outlet for providing harm reduction equipment. 

Step two

In addition, you will need to set up an account with Healthcare Logistics. Contact and they will set up your account.

Once you are NZNEP Registered, if you already have an account, go to  and apply your username and password. This will give you access to free harm reduction equipment.

Step three

Once step one and two are complete, online training sessions provided by the Pharmacy and Partner Programme Manager at DISC Trust are made available at dates/times that suit you. The training is designed to give you the information required to provide the service in a pharmacy setting and to answer any questions you may have.

This will enable you to deliver the service with confidence.

Step four

Set up your internal systems for recording packs distributed.

This will enable you to claim a rebate for providing the service.



Harm Reduction Equipment

New Zealand’s injecting drug scene is unique and diverse compared to other countries with high rates of pharmaceutical injecting, with morphine (converted to heroin by the user), methadone and methylphenidate (Ritalin) along with methamphetamine being the four most injected drugs in NZ. Performance and imaging enhancing drugs (PIEDs) as a category is the fifth most injected.

To cater to most clients using a pharmacy-based service it is essential to provide suitable equipment options for the most used drugs. To ensure equipment is targeted to NEP clients, six separate packs are available as the main products for pharmacies and alternate outlets to distribute. 

The packs are designed to meet the needs of clients, while making it simple for pharmacies/alternate outlets to deliver the service.



1.Standard IV pack (currently provided as Opioid Kit)

  • 10 x 3ml syringes 
  • 10 x 27g x ½ needles
  • 10 x alcohol prep pads
  • 1 x 300ml personal sharps container (black)
  • 1 x information leaflet

This is a basic multi-purpose pack for people who use a wide range of drugs.

2. Intramuscular PIEDs pack (currently provided as IM Kit)

  • 10 x 3ml syringes
  • 10 x 23g x 1 ½ needles 
  • 10 x 18g x 1 ½ needles 
  • 10 x alcohol prep pads 
  • 1 x 300ml personal sharps container (black)
  • 1 x information leaflet 

This is primarily aimed at people who use Performance and Image Enhancing Drugs (PIEDs) but is suitable for anyone who is injecting intramuscularly as there is a drawing up needle along with a longer larger gauge needle for injecting directly into the muscle.

3. 1ml fixed needle pack (new)

  • 10 x 1ml Insulin syringes with attached 29g needle 
  • 10 x alcohol prep pads 
  • 1 x 300ml personal sharps container (black)
  • 1 x information leaflet

This pack is tailored to methamphetamine and subcutaneous PIEDs use.

4. 10ml Syringe Pack (new)

  • 5 x 10ml syringes 
  • 5 x 26g x ½ needles 
  • 5 x alcohol prep pads 
  • 1 x 700ml personal sharps container (yellow)
  • 1 x information leaflet

This pack is suitable for use by people who inject Methadone or Methylphenidate and do not require use of a butterfly to inject.

5. All in One pack (new)

  • 2 x 3ml syringes
  • 2 x 27g x ½ needles 
  • 2 x alcohol prep pads 
  • 1 x 300ml personal sharps container (black)
  • 1 x sterile water 
  • 1 x maxicup 
  • 1 x information leaflet

This pack covers a range of drug use and is suitable for morphine, methamphetamine, and smaller amounts of methylphenidate or methadone.

6. Butterfly pack (new)

  • 2 x 10ml syringes 
  • 2 x 18g x ½ blunt needles 
  • 2 x 25g butterflies 
  • 2 x alcohol prep pads 
  • 1 x 300ml personal sharps container (black)
  • 1 x information leaflet

This pack is for opioid/methadone clients or people injecting larger amounts of Methylphenidate with long injecting careers and difficult/fragile veins.

In addition, a small number of pharmacies that due to location, client demand and equipment volumes, will have equipment in boxed form.



Frequently Asked Questions

Question: How do clients know that we provide the NEP at our outlet?


  • All NEP outlets must display the double arrow label on their door/window.
  • All  NEP outlets are listed on the NZNEP website

Question: How can I claim for the needles distributed?


  • You can keep a running total of the packs that have been sent to you and deduct them from what you have remaining. 
  • Contact us to check if you are unsure of your numbers

Question: Do clients have to bring their used needles back in order to get new ones?


  • Although you should encourage clients to return their used equipment, it is no longer a requirement for clients to bring them back to get access to new equipment.

Question: My sharps bin is not in a secure location?


  • We can arrange a wall bracket for you. Contact us if you require this.

Question: Can I give a NEP sharps containers to other clients of the pharmacy?


  • All equipment, including the sharps containers are for NEP clients only.

Question: Do I need to have all of the new packs?


  • You only need to stock the packs that meet the needs of your clients.

Question: What if our clients have different needs to what is in the packs


  • Discuss this with your client as it is likely one of the packs will be suitable.
  • Contact us if you need more support.

Question: Can we get wheel filters:


  • There is a shortage of wheel filters so at this stage they are only available in small quantities at needle exchanges or the online shop. 

Question: Is there a maximum number of packs that can be given at each visit


  • Clients should get what they need to get through until their next visit.



News and Updates

World Hepatitis Day is the 28th July

The aim is to raise awareness of hepatitis and encourage prevention, testing and treatment

Vaccination & Hepatitis C Funded Events

Thanks to Te Whatu Ora vaccination funding, DISC Trust are able to partner with several pharmacies and organisations across Te Waipounamu to hold dual vaccination/hep C testing events. This funding will be used to encourage uptake of funded vaccinations and testing efforts through community promotion, with kai and grocery vouchers available. We are very excited to be able to partner with several of our trusted pharmacies for these events and expect great turnouts from both our needle exchange clients, and pharmacy regulars. Our first event will be in Blenheim on June 5th. 

The first mobile drug checking Service was hosted in Blenheim and Nelson recently.


Registration Form

Please note, ALL fields are required for us to successfully process your registration.

By submitting this registration form you agree to adhere by the following statement:
The programme is entirely confidential. You may not disclose any details about a person using the service at your outlet to any third party including the police, alcohol and drug services, the opioid substitution treatment programme or any friend, whanau or member of the public.
Enter your name to confirm you accept the requirements above.

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