This report presents data from the 2010 National Opioid Pharmacotherapy Statistics Annual Data (NOPSAD) collection, which includes information at both the national level and state and territory level. Specifically, it highlights the pharmacotherapy type (or prescribed drug type) that clients in Australia took to help manage opioid dependence. Characteristics of the clients, prescribers and dosing point sites where the pharmacotherapy drugs are dispensed are also presented. The data are based on a ‘snapshot’ period—usually a day—in June 2010.

Increased use of pharmacotherapy by opioid dependent clients

  • On a snapshot day in 2010 there were 46,078 clients who received pharmacotherapy for opioid dependence, of which almost two in three were male. This was an overall increase of just over 2,600 clients since 2009.
  • Between 2006 and 2010 the mean age group of clients receiving pharmacotherapy has increased. The proportion of clients aged 29 years and younger decreased from about one in four clients in 2006 to about one in six in 2010. In the same timeframe, the proportion of clients aged 30 years and over increased from just over seven in 10 clients in 2006 to just over eight in 10 clients in 2010.

Methadone was the most common pharmacotherapy type

  • Consistent with previous years, in 2010 methadone accounted for close to seven in 10 clients’ pharmacotherapy type, with the remaining three in 10 clients receiving either buprenorphine or buprenorphine–naloxone.
  • The proportion of clients receiving methadone was highest among those aged less than 40 years (55% compared with 45% for clients 40 years and over).

Increase in prescribers

  • There was a rise in the number of prescribers from 1,435 in 2009 to 1,449 in 2010, with the majority of prescribers in 2010 being private prescribers (80%).
  • Across Australia, the client-to-prescriber ratio has remained relatively stable since 2005 (in the range of 30 to 33 clients per prescriber). In 2010, this ratio was 32 clients per prescriber.
  • The ratio of clients per prescriber varied depending on the prescriber type. In 2010, public prescribers had the highest ratio (64 clients per prescriber), followed by correctional facility prescribers (57 clients per prescriber) and private prescribers (25 clients per prescriber).

Most opioid pharmacotherapy dosing point sites were located in pharmacies

  • In 2010, there were 2,200 dosing point sites in Australia, a rise from 2,157 in 2009. Of these 2,200, 86% were located in pharmacies.
  • The ratio of clients per dosing point site across Australia has been increasing slowly since this information was first collected in 2006. In 2006, there was a ratio of 19 clients per dosing point, increasing to a ratio of 21 clients per dosing point in 2010.