Pharmacotherapy

Pharmacotherapy for opioid dependence

Opioid dependence, also known as Opioid Use Disorder, affects people from all walks of life. It is a complex, chronic condition that can arise from the use of prescribed or illicit opioids.

Pharmacotherapy, also known as Medication Assisted Treatment for Opioid Dependence (MATOD) and Opioid Replacement Therapy (ORT), is an effective evidence-based treatment for opioid dependence. It involves the use of methadone, buprenorphine or buprenorphine/naloxone.

With SafeScript now live, more patients may be identified as having a dependence on opioids. It is an important time for health professionals to be confident in this treatment space in order to make safe and appropriate clinical decisions.

Opioid dependence in general practice

Pharmacotherapy for opioid dependence is usually prescribed in the community by general practitioners (GPs) or nurse practitioners. GPs play a key role in preventing, identifying and managing patients with opioid dependence.

The Victorian DHHS Policy for Maintenance Pharmacotherapy for Opioid Dependence outlines that any GP is able to prescribe buprenorphine/naloxone (Suboxone®) for up to five patients for the treatment of opioid dependence, without completing the one-day pharmacotherapy training.

Free face-to-face support and education are available for prescribers managing opioid dependence (see below), and a 16-minute video and four-page guide can assist GPs with prescribing buprenorphine/naloxone.

GP support and education

The Area 4 Pharmacotherapy Network (A4PN), a state-funded initiative led by SEMPHN, offers a variety of support for GPs managing patients with opioid dependence:

  • GP Mentoring (via phone, email or face-to-face)
  • Addiction Medicine Specialist advice and secondary consultation (via phone or face-to-face)
  • Paid clinical placements with an experienced prescriber
  • Onsite RACGP-accredited education for GPs and practice staff – the who, what, why and how of diagnosing opioid dependence and prescribing buprenorphine/naloxone
  • Onsite training for practice staff and practice managers – guidance about practice systems and policies, including Medicare billing
  • Bi-monthly RACGP-accredited Small Group Learning meetings – held in Box Hill, Bayside and Frankston-Mornington
  • Multidisciplinary Community of Practice events

Contact the This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to access any of these free supports.

RACGP Victoria delivers the approved training for Medication Assisted Treatment for Opioid Dependence (MATOD) prescribing. This training is delivered in two parts:

Module 1 – Two-hour interactive online training which provides GPs with information and strategies for safer prescribing of opioids in chronic pain settings. Accredited for 4 Category 2 RACGP QI&CPD points for the 2017-2019 triennium.

Module 2 – a one-day interactive workshop which provides GPs with the skills to better manage patients with opioid dependence and the accreditation to prescribe approved pharmacotherapies. Accredited for 40 Category 1 RACGP QI&CPD points for the 2017-2019 triennium.

Click here to view the 2018 e-flyer which provides access to the online Module 1 training and the Module 2 workshop dates and registration.

Opioid dependence and pharmacy

In Victoria, pharmacotherapy is a supervised dosing program with medication provided in the community pharmacy setting.

Pharmacies wishing to provide pharmacotherapy services are required to obtain approval from the Department of Health and Human Services by completing an application form which can be found here.

The Area 4 Pharmacotherapy Network (A4PN) offers a variety of support for pharmacies managing patients with opioid dependence:

  • Advice about accredited training and obtaining approval to provide pharmacotherapy services
  • Advice about how to set up a new pharmacotherapy program
  • Education for pharmacists, including Small Group Learning meetings and Community of Practice events
  • Local ancillary services, such as Alcohol and other Drug and Mental Health services

The Area 4 Pharmacotherapy Network (A4PN)

The Area 4 Pharmacotherapy Network (A4PN) is working to improve access to pharmacotherapy services in southern and eastern metropolitan Melbourne and offers a variety of supports for health professionals managing patients with opioid dependence.

The initiative is funded by the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services and is led by South Eastern Melbourne PHN working in partnership with Eastern Melbourne PHN.

Visit www.A4PN.org.au for more information about the supports available for GPs, pharmacists, Nurse Practitioners, Practice Managers and practice staff. Information about local education, events and useful resources is also listed.

To contact the Area 4 Pharmacotherapy Network email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 03 8514 6600.

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