FOI release

Importation policy for controlled drugs into the UK, with specific reference to oxycodone.

21748 I would like to have a recent copy of the importation policy for controlled drugs into the UK, specifically what the current interim …



I would like to have a recent copy of the importation policy for controlled drugs into the UK, specifically what the current interim policy permits for each controlled drug. I am particularly interested in having the current policy or interim policy applicable to oxycodone and how much can be imported currently.

I would also appreciate if you could give some idea on when the Home Office will publish their findings on the importation of controlled drugs.

We released the following information on 15 March 2012. 


The UK will allow the import of Oxycodone from within the EEA for re-export only. Small amounts may be imported from worldwide locations for research purposes.


This guidance sets out our current interim policy; it applies to Oxycodone in its raw, processed or compounded form.  Individual import licenses should be considered in the normal manner, and this note is not for disclosure without authorisation from Head of Import/Exports, Change and Projects Manager or Head of Unit who will advise and/or consult legal advisors as necessary.

In February 2008 the Home Office agreed to a request to import Oxycodone from outside the EEA on the condition that the complete quantity was re-exported. This decision was based on the fact that imports that are re-exported do not have any impact on the estimate. This is because any increase in stocks through imports is balanced out by the re-exports.

Subsequently the Home Office identified a risk that the estimate may be exceeded if imports were to replace domestically manufactured supply, and domestic manufacture were to continue at existing levels. This would lead to a significant rise in levels of Oxycodone in the UK as unsold domestically-manufactured Oxycodone was stockpiled. Further, the accumulation of excess narcotic drugs would run counter to Article 29 of the 1961 Convention 5.

Current position:

We currently permit the following:

1. Imports for re-export purposes only within the EEA.
2. ”Parallel Imports” whereby EEA sourced Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (API’s), are packaged or tabletted in another EEA country and subsequent import to the UK. This provision only applies to a handful of companies for whom this practice has been long operational; we do not propose to increase the numbers of companies whilst the consultation remains unconcluded.
3. Small quantities (a small number of grams) of Oxycodone that are intended for research purposes only, may be imported from anywhere in the world and applications are considered on a case by case basis.
4. ’Personal’ imports/ exports of oxycodone - containing CDs in line with the pre-existing personal import policy (less than 3 months supply and/or travel of 3 months duration.

Our response to the oxycodone consultation will be available shortly. Until such time, however, this interim policy remains in force and we will not consider granting any imports/ exports outside of this policy.

There is no policy for the commercial importation of controlled drugs beyond oxycodone, with the exception of the policy on codeine. The policy on codeine is already in the public domain and can be found in the Office of Fair Trading Opium Derivatives Report March 2006, their most recent report into opium derivatives.

Any consideration, if any, of controlled drug import policies beyond oxycodone will not be undertaken until after the formal oxycodone policy is determined.

The annual estimate for oxycodone is set by the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), and is in the public domain. The Home Office does not set a requirement, or quota, for importation amounts of oxycodone or other controlled substance unless stated, for individual licence holders.

Published 15 March 2012