Where were pharmacotherapy drugs provided?

Number and type of dosing point sites

Most dosing points were located in pharmacies.

Nationally there were 3,084 dosing points in 2019–20 (Table 2), a 40% increase over the 10 years since 2010–11. Nearly 9 in 10 (89%) were located in pharmacies, which were the most common dosing point sites in all states and territories. These proportions are similar to previous years (Table S17).

Table 4: Dosing point sites, states and territories, 2019–20
Dosing point sites NSW Vic Qld WA SA Tas ACT NT Total Total (%)
Public clinic 36 13 1 3 1 1 2 57 1.8
Private clinic 12 4 16 0.5
Pharmacy 868 663 566 281 229 72 40 20 2,739 88.8
Correctional facility 2 12 10 2 8 1 1 2 38 1.2
Other 101 59 65 2 4 231 7.5
Total 1,022 734 658 286 244 74 42 24 3,084 100.0
Total (%) 33.1 23.8 21.3 9.3 7.9 2.4 1.4 0.8 100.0 . .

— Nil or rounded to zero.

Notes:

  1. Refer to the Technical notes for more information about NSW. NSW and WA correctional dosing points are reported as two sites.
  2. The category 'other' includes hospitals, mobile dosing sites, community health clinics, non‑government organisations, doctors' surgeries and dosing points 'not stated'.

Source: National opioid pharmacotherapy statistics annual data (NOPSAD) 2020 collection. Supplementary Table S17.

What was the relationship between clients and dosing points?

Most clients received their opioid pharmacotherapy treatment at a pharmacy.

Most clients, irrespective of pharmacotherapy type, received their pharmacotherapy treatment at a pharmacy (71%) in 2020 (Table S13).

Drug type

Pharmacies were the most common dosing points for clients receiving methadone (71%), followed by public clinics (9.8%) and correctional facilities (7.4%). For clients who received buprenorphine, 53% dosed at a pharmacy and 20% dosed at a public clinic. For clients whose pharmacotherapy treatment was buprenorphine-naloxone, pharmacies were the most common dosing point (86% of clients) (Figure DOSING1).

The proportion of clients dosed with buprenorphine-naloxone may be higher than reported, as clients receiving this treatment in New South Wales are reported as receiving buprenorphine. Clients receiving buprenorphine LAI was reported for the first time in 2020. (Refer to Table S14 for a further breakdown of clients by pharmacotherapy type, dosing points, and state and territory).

Figure DOSING1: Clients receiving pharmacotherapy on a snapshot day, by pharmacotherapy type and dosing point site, 2016 to 2020

On a snapshot day in 2020, most clients received pharmacotherapy treatment at a pharmacy. This was consistent across all pharmacotherapy types, with pharmacies remaining the most common dosing point site among clients receiving buprenorphine (53%), methadone (72%) and buprenorphine naloxone (86%).

Data table

Client characteristics

On the snapshot day (excluding data from Victoria and Queensland), the characteristics of the clients treated at particular types of dosing point are different across the dosing sites. Dosing point sites located in pharmacies continued to treat an older client group in 2020. Of clients who received their pharmacotherapy at a pharmacy, the 50 and over age group comprised the highest proportion of clients (38%). Conversely, in correctional facilitates the 30–39 age group comprised the highest proportion of clients (40%), and those aged 50 and over comprised the lowest proportion of clients (9.5%). The client groups dosed at public clinics and private clinics had similar age distributions (Table S29).

All dosing point sites from the selected states and territories treated more males than females, reflecting the overall proportion of more males than females receiving pharmacotherapy treatment. The proportion of male clients ranged from 63% for pharmacy dosing points to 91% for correctional facility dosing points. The proportion of female clients ranged from 9.0% for correctional facility dosing points to 37% in pharmacy dosing points (Table S30).

Across all dosing point types from the selected states and territories, the majority of clients received pharmacotherapy treatment at a pharmacy (53%), followed by public clinic (16%) and correctional facility (8.9%). Among clients who received treatment at a pharmacy dosing point, most were prescribed by a private prescriber (35%). Across all dosing point types, the majority of clients received treatment from a public prescriber (53%) (Table S31).

Clients per dosing point

Dosing points dosed an average of 17 clients.

Private clinics (from New South Wales and Queensland) dosed 198 clients per dosing point. Pharmacies dosed 14 clients per dosing point (Figure DOSING2). Correctional facilities dosed an average of 104 clients but this number is inflated as New South Wales and Western Australia report all correctional dosing points as being under 2 sites each, rather than counting individual correctional dosing points. When New South Wales and Western Australian data are excluded, correctional facilities dosed an average of 41 clients across the remaining jurisdictions that supplied data (Table S23).

Figure DOSING2: Clients per dosing point site type, on a snapshot day, 2016 to 2020

In 2020, private clinics had the highest number of clients per dosing point on average, with 198 clients. Hospital dosing points had the lowest (4 clients per dosing point).

Data table

On a snapshot day in 2020, most (70%) dosing points treated between 1 and 20 clients with 6.9% treating more than 50 clients —the majority of which were in NSW and Victoria. Thirty–seven per cent of dosing points treated 1–5 clients (Table S20).

In 2020, the average number of clients per dosing point was 17. The average has declined gradually from a peak of 21 in 2011. The Australian Capital Territory had the highest ratio of clients per dosing point (27), while the Northern Territory had the lowest ratio of clients per dosing point (7) (Figure DOSING3).

Figure DOSING3: Clients per dosing point site, states and territories, 2016 to 2020

The line graph shows the Australian Capital Territory had highest ratio of clients per dosing point (27) on a snapshot day in 2020. The Northern Territory had the lowest ratio of clients per dosing point (7).

Data table

Geographic location

Dosing points were located mainly in Major cities.

On a snapshot day in 2020, the majority of dosing points were located in Major cities (1,889 or 61% of dosing point sites), followed by Inner regional (726 or 24%) and Outer regional areas (380 or 12%).

When taking the size of the population into account, Remote areas had the highest rate of dosing point sites (19 dosing points per 100,000 population), followed by Outer regional areas (18 dosing points per 100,000 population) and Inner regional areas (16 dosing points per 100,000 population). There were 15 dosing points per 100,000 population in Very remote areas, and 10 dosing points per 100,000 population in Major cities (Table S18).

Since 2014, dosing point rates (per 100,000 population) have increased in all remoteness areas, with the largest increases occurring in Remote and Very Remote areas. It is important to note that these rates do not reflect the number of clients receiving opioid pharmacotherapy treatment at each dosing point in these areas. This information is not currently collected by the NOPSAD collection.

Figure DOSING4 shows the number of dosing point sites by Statistical Areas Level 2 (SA2) in 2020. An SA2 is a geographical classification that is defined by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. SA2’s generally comprise 3,000 to 25,000 persons and aim to represent communities that engage both socially and economically (ABS 2016).

Dosing point site types include public clinics, private clinics, pharmacies and correctional facilities, with the vast majority being pharmacies (88%). The number of dosing point sites within an SA2 may be driven by a range of factors, including:

  • the policy and legislation settings of each jurisdiction (see technical notes for further information)
  • whether all dosing point sites in an SA2 reported data on the snapshot day
  • the size of the population in each SA2.

Figure DOSING4: Dosing point sites, by Statistical Areas Level 2, 2020

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