Department of Health

Key messages

  • Prescribers should follow the Policy for maintenance pharmacotherapy for opioid dependence when prescribing buprenorphine. 
  • Before prescribing buprenorphine, prescribers should download and read the factsheet Guide to prescribing buprenorphine/naloxone and long-acting injectable buprenorphine.
  • All medical and nurse practitioners may prescribe buprenorphine for up to ten patients without completing Medication Assisted Treatment for Opioid Dependence (MATOD) training.
  • Guide to prescribing buprenorphine/naloxone and long-acting injectable buprenorphine is a step-by-step guide to prescribing buprenorphine for practitioners who fall in this category.
  • All prescribers who are confidently managing up to ten patients with buprenorphine are encouraged to complete the MATOD training course.
  • The training enables prescribers to provide a greater range and capacity of pharmacotherapy services to patients, that is, to prescribe methadone or buprenorphine to more than ten patients.  

Maintenance pharmacotherapy for opioid dependence enables patients to stabilise and control their opioid use, stabilise their social circumstances, and obtain other benefits from treatment.

The Policy for maintenance pharmacotherapy for opioid dependence enables all medical and nurse practitioners to prescribe buprenorphine to up to ten patients without completing MATOD training (see Pharmacotherapy training).

Buprenorphine has similar effectiveness to methadone in reducing heroin or problematic prescription opioid use, decreasing injecting drug use, reducing risk of needle sharing and transmission of blood-borne viruses, reducing risk of overdose death, and reducing criminal activity where this is driven by drug-seeking behaviour.

The Guide to prescribing buprenorphine/naloxone and long-acting injectable buprenorphine is a step-by-step guide to prescribing buprenorphine for practitioners who fall in this category.

A brief video is also available to guide prescribers who fall in this category to assist with safely prescribing buprenorphine. 

If you require advice on the clinical management of a patient, advice should be sought from a colleague familiar with the use of buprenorphine in the treatment of opioid dependence.

Advice from an addiction medicine specialist may be obtained by contacting the Drug and Alcohol Clinical Advisory Service (DACAS) on 1800 812 804.

Policies and guidelines

Practitioners prescribing buprenorphine should be familiar with the current policy framework and clinical guidelines in relation to buprenorphine use in the treatment of opioid dependence.

  • Policy for maintenance pharmacotherapy for opioid dependence
  • Pharmacotherapy policy addendum – Long-acting injectable buprenorphine
  • Long-acting injectable buprenorphine – brief clinical guidelines
  • National clinical guidelines and procedures for the use of buprenorphine in the maintenance treatment of opioid dependence

Reviewed 23 June 2021

Health.vic

Contact details

Department of Health and Human Services

Victorian Opioid Pharmacotherapy Program Drugs Policy and Reform

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