Clients attend a clinic or pharmacy (dosing point sites) regularly to take the dose of their prescribed medication under the supervision of a pharmacist or other health professional.

Where were pharmacotherapy drugs provided?

Most dosing points were located in pharmacies.

Number and type of dosing point sites

Nationally there were 2,940 dosing points in 2018–19 (Table 2), a 34% increase over the 10 years since 2009–10. 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 2: Dosing point sites, states and territories, 2018–19

Dosing point sites

NSW

Vic

Qld

WA

SA

Tas

ACT

NT

Total

Total (%)

Public clinic

36

11

1

3

2

1

2

56

1.9

Private clinic

12

8

20

0.7

Pharmacy

837

639

532

279

217

65

38

20

2,627

89.4

Correctional facility

2

13

9

2

8

1

1

2

38

1.3

Other

71

37

85

1

4

1

199

6.8

Total

958

689

645

283

232

69

40

24

2,940

100.0

Total (%)

32.6

23.4

21.9

9.6

7.9

2.3

1.4

0.8

100.0

. .

 

Notes
— Nil or rounded to zero.
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) 2019 collection. Supplementary Table S17.

What was the relationship between clients and dosing points?

The proportion of clients taking each drug type varied between dosing points.

Most clients received their pharmacotherapy treatment at a pharmacy (72%) (Table S13).

Drug type

Pharmacies were the most common dosing points for clients receiving methadone (71%), followed by public clinics (9.5%) and correctional facilities (8.5%). For clients who received buprenorphine, 60% dosed at a pharmacy and 17% dosed at a public clinic. For clients whose pharmacotherapy treatment was buprenorphine-naloxone, pharmacies were the most common dosing point (85% 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. (Refer to Table S14 for a further breakdown of clients by pharmacotherapy type, dosing points, and state and territory).

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Client characteristics

As with prescriber types, the characteristics of the clients treated at particular dosing point sites are not uniform. Compared with other dosing point sites, dosing point sites located in pharmacies continued to treat an older client group. Of clients who received their pharmacotherapy at a pharmacy, the 50 and over age group comprised the highest proportion of clients (36%). Conversely, in correctional facilitates the 30–39 age group comprised the highest proportion of clients (39%), and those aged 50 and over comprised the lowest proportion of clients (11%). The client groups dosed at public clinics and private clinics had similar age groupings (Table S29).

All dosing point sites treated more males than females, reflecting the overall proportion of males and females receiving pharmacotherapy treatment. The proportion of male clients ranged from 63% for pharmacy dosing points to 90% for correctional facility dosing points. The proportion of female clients ranged from 10% for correctional facility dosing points to 37% in pharmacy dosing points (Table S30).

On a snapshot day in 2019, the large majority of clients dosed at public clinics were prescribed by public prescribers (8 in 10 clients). Likewise, almost all clients dosed at private clinics were prescribed by private prescribers (9 in 10). For clients treated at pharmacies, about 3 in 10 were prescribed by public prescribers and about 7 in 10 by private prescribers. Across all dosing point types, the majority of clients received pharmacotherapy treatment from a private prescriber (56%) (Table S31).

Clients per dosing point

Dosing points dosed an average of 17 clients.

Private clinics dosed, on average, around 11 times as many clients as each pharmacy (149 clients per dosing point compared to 14) (Figure DOSING2). Correctional facilities dosed an average of 85 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).

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On a snapshot day in 2019, most (70%) dosing points treated between 1 and 20 clients with only 6.8% treating more than 50 clients. Thirty–six per cent of dosing points treated 1–5 clients, and 17% of dosing points treated both the groupings of 6–10 and 11–20 clients. The pattern of client numbers per dosing point varied across the states and territories (Table S20).

In 2019, the average number of clients per dosing point was 17. The average has slowly declined each year since 2011 when it peaked at 21. The Australian Capital Territory had the highest ratio of clients per dosing point (28), while the Northern Territory had the lowest ratio of clients per dosing point (6) (Figure DOSING3).

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Geographic location

Dosing points were located mainly in Major cities.

Figure DOSING4 shows the distribution of dosing point sites across the states and territories in 2019. The majority of dosing points were located in Major cities, followed by Inner regional and Outer regional areas. However, when taking the population into account, there were 13 dosing points per 100,000 population in Very remote areas, compared to 10 dosing points per 100,000 population in Major cities. The rate of dosing points per 100,000 population increased with increasing remoteness in Victoria and Queensland (Table S18).

Since 2014, the dosing point rate has steadily increased in Outer regional and Remote areas, and has remained relatively steady for Major cities, Inner regional and Very remote areas.

Figure DOSING4: Dosing point sites, by Statistical Areas Level 2, 2019

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Alternative text

Figure DOSING1 Clients receiving pharmacotherapy in a snapshot day, by pharmacotherapy type and dosing point site, 2015 to 2019

On a snapshot day in 2019, 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 (60%), methadone (71%) and buprenorphine naloxone (85%).

Figure DOSING2: Clients per dosing point site, on a snapshot day, 2015 to 2019

In 2019, private clinics had the highest number of clients per dosing point on average, with 149 clients. Hospital dosing points had the lowest (4 clients per dosing point).

Figure DOSING3: Clients per dosing point site, states and territories, 2015 to 2019

The line graph shows the Australian Capital Territory had highest ratio of clients per dosing point (28) on a snapshot day in 2019. The Northern Territory had the lowest ratio of clients per dosing point (6).

Figure DOSING4: Dosing point sites, by Statistical Areas Level 2, 2019

The map shows the majority of dosing point sites are located along the coastal regions.