Pharmacotherapy for opioid dependence 

Pharmacotherapy, also known as Opioid Replacement Therapy (ORT), is an effective evidence-based treatment for opioid dependence.

The role of GPs in opioid dependence 

At the forefront of primary care, GPs play a key role in the management and treatment of patients with opioid dependence.

2018 training course for Management and Treatment of Opioid Dependence: This training will provide GPs and Nurse Practitioners with the skills to better manage patients with opioid dependence and the accreditation to prescribe approved pharmacotherapies. There is also ongoing support available for general practices. 

Free, onsite support and training at your clinic: All GPs can prescribe Buprenorphine/ Naloxone (Suboxone) for up to five patients. This program discusses the who, what, why and how.

Who can prescribe pharmacotherapy? 

Any GP can prescribe buprenorphine/naloxone (Suboxone®) for up to 5 patients. GPs wishing to prescribe buprenorphine/naloxone (Suboxone®) for more than 5 patients or methadone for any number of patients are required to undertake a one-day accreditation training.

Pharmacotherapy policy in Victoria

GPs may refer to the Policy for maintenance pharmacotherapy for opioid dependence for advice on the key regulatory and policy requirements for prescribing buprenorphine and methadone.

Support available

The Area 4 Pharmacotherapy Network (A4PN) offers a variety of support for health professionals managing opioid dependence, including:

  • Peer-based mentoring, Addiction Medicine Specialist advice and workforce development (for GPs)
  • Education, training and advice regarding the community pharmacy pharmacotherapy program (for pharmacists)
  • Practice manager training for managing alcohol and other drug presentations in general practice
  • Community of Practice events for cross-sector networking and professional development

The Area 4 Pharmacotherapy Network (A4PN)

We work to improve access to pharmacotherapy services in Southern and Eastern Metropolitan Melbourne. South Eastern Melbourne PHN and Eastern Melbourne PHN are partners leading this state-funded initiative.

Opioid dependence is a growing public health concern affecting a wide variety of patients including users of illicit, prescription and over-the-counter opioids.

Recovery and reduction in harms to the individual and wider community are some of the many benefits of pharmacotherapy.

We focus on capacity building of pharmacotherapy services by:

  • Supporting GPs in the management of patients with opioid dependence through workforce development, peer-based mentoring and Addiction Medicine Specialist advice
  • Supporting pharmacists in the provision of pharmacotherapy through education, training and advice regarding best practice and emerging issues
  • Building and maintaining a cross-sector Community of Practice (CoP) for networking and professional development
  • Working with Alcohol and other Drug (AOD) services for improved service integration
  • Increasing awareness of opioid dependence, treatment options and referral pathways among healthcare providers
  • Identifying and responding to areas of need to enhance patient access

The A4PN website offers useful resources, and specific information for GPs, pharmacists, and other practice staff.

For further information email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., call 03 8514 6600 or visit

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