National opioid pharmacotherapy statistics annual data collection: 2011 report

Public health Drugs and alcohol Australia

This report presents data from the 2011 National Opioid Pharmacotherapy Statistics Annual Data collection, highlighting the prescribed drugs that clients in Australia took to help manage opioid dependence.

Characteristics of the clients, prescribers and dosing point sites where the pharmacotherapy drugs were dispensed are also presented. The data are based on a ‘snapshot’ period—usually a day—in June 2011. On the snapshot day in 2011, there were 46,446 clients and 1,444 prescribers.

Clients receiving opioid treatment are getting older.

  • The proportion of clients aged 30 years and over increased from 72% in 2006 to 85% in 2011. The median age of clients in 2011 across all drug types was 38 years.
  • Almost one in ten clients (9%) identified as Indigenous.

There are currently three medications in use in Australia. These are methadone, buprenorphine, and buprenorphine in combination with naloxone (referred to as buprenorphine–naloxone).

Methadone was the most common pharmacotherapy drug; however, the proportion of clients taking buprenorphine–naloxone has increased since 2006.

  • In 2011, 69% of clients were prescribed methadone, 14% received buprenorphine and 17% received the combination product buprenorphine–naloxone.
  • The proportion of clients receiving buprenorphine–naloxone increased from 5% in 2006 to 17% in 2011.
  • The combined product buprenorphine–naloxone was used more among younger clients, with methadone more likely to be used among clients older than 40 years.

The number of prescribers remained relatively stable between 2010 and 2011 despite fluctuations among jurisdictions.

  • Private prescribers were the most common prescriber type for all three pharmacotherapy types (79%).

The proportion of prescribers authorised to prescribe more than one pharmacotherapy type has increased every year since 2006.

  • Three in four prescribers (77%) were authorised to prescribe more than one drug type, up from half (51%) in 2006.

In 2010–2011, there were 2,264 pharmacotherapy dosing point sites, an increase of 64 sites from 2009–10.

  • Among the states and territories, the most notable change was an increase of 69 sites in Victoria.
  • As has been observed in previous years, the majority of sites were pharmacies (88%).
Publication Details