Summary

The National Opioid Pharmacotherapy Statistics Annual Data (NOPSAD) collection is an administrative by-product collection (that is, secondary use). Data are collated in each jurisdiction from information already collected for the purposes of administering or providing a service (that is, primary use).

In Australia, people with opioid dependence have been treated using opioid pharmacotherapy for a number of decades (methadone since 1969 and buprenorphine since 2000). The Australian Government funds the provision of pharmacotherapy drugs via pharmaceutical benefits arrangements, through clinics and pharmacies approved by state and territory governments. Treatment of opioid dependence is administered according to the laws of the relevant state or territory, and within a framework that includes not only medical treatment but also social and psychological treatment. In 1985, methadone treatment guidelines were endorsed by the Australian Health Ministers’ Conference and in 1993 these guidelines were developed into Australian policy (DHFS 1998). In January 2007, the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing (DoHA) released the National pharmacotherapy policy for people dependent on opioids (DoHA 2007). This policy provides a framework for state and territory policies and guidelines on the treatment of opioid dependence with methadone and buprenorphine.

In December 1999, the Commonwealth Government and state and territory governments, through the National Health Information Management Group, endorsed the Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment Services National Minimum Data Set (AODTS–NMDS), and data collection began on 1 July 2000. However, due to particular complexities in collecting information about pharmacotherapies, agencies whose sole activity was to prescribe and/or provide dosing for opioid pharmacotherapy treatment were excluded from the scope of the AODTS–NMDS collection. Instead, data on clients participating in opioid pharmacotherapy treatment have been routinely collected by state and territory health departments and provided each year to DoHA. In 2005, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) took on the responsibility for managing, analysing and reporting on the NOPSAD collection. Jurisdictions now provide data directly to the AIHW.