The National Opioid Pharmacotherapy Statistics Annual Data (NOPSAD) collection provides national data on clients being treated with medication (pharmacotherapy) for their dependence on opioid drugs such as heroin. It also provides statistics on those prescribing the medication and where it was dispensed.

The data are based on a 'snapshot' period—usually a day—in June 2008. Snapshot data provide a glimpse of pharmacotherapy treatment activity on a specified day, but do not capture the total estimated activity for any given year. However, snapshot data are considered to be a good representation of the total client base.

This is the second bulletin featuring national data exclusively from the NOPSAD collection. The first bulletin was released in July 2007.

Main findings

  • At 30 June 2008, there were 41,347 pharmacotherapy clients. Of those clients, around two-thirds were male.
  • The number of clients in 2008 was about 2,500 more than in each of the previous three years.
  • Seven in ten (70%) clients were receiving methadone and the remainder received buprenorphine or buprenorphine/naloxone.
  • The proportion of clients receiving buprenorphine/naloxone increased between 2006 (5.5%) and 2008 (15.5%). This combination product is now more commonly used as a treatment for opioid dependence than buprenorphine alone.
  • The number of registered prescribers increased gradually since 2006.
  • More than six in ten (65%) clients received treatment from a private prescriber.
  • The number of dosing point sites increased slightly since 2006.
  • Most (86%) dosing point sites were located in pharmacies.