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 2009. 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 third bulletin featuring national data from the NOPSAD collection. The first bulletin was released in July 2007 (AIHW 2007).

Main findings

  • At 30 June 2009, there were 43,445 pharmacotherapy clients. Of those clients, around two-thirds were male.
  • The number of clients in 2009 increased by 2,098 compared with 2008.
  • There was a proportional decrease amongst clients aged 29 years or younger and an increase amongst clients aged 40 years and over.
  • Seven out of ten clients (70%) were receiving methadone and the remainder received buprenorphine or buprenorphine/naloxone. This finding has remained stable since 2006.
  • The total number of prescribers nationally (1,350) has decreased slightly since 2008 (1,393).
  • The majority of pharmacotherapy clients (64%) received treatment from a private prescriber.
  • The average number of clients per prescriber rose slightly between 2008 (30) and 2009 (32), however is now consistent with the average seen in 2005 (32).
  • The total number of dosing point sites (2,157) has seen a small increase since 2008 (2,143).
  • Most dosing point sites were located in pharmacies (85%).
  • In 2009, 36% of pharmacies across Australia dosed pharmacotherapy clients.
  • The average number of clients per dosing point site has risen slightly between 2007 (18) and 2009 (20).