Key messages

  • Prescribers should follow the Policy for maintenance pharmacotherapy for opioid dependence when prescribing buprenorphine and naloxone. 
  • Before prescribing buprenorphine and naloxone, prescribers should download and read the factsheet A brief guide to prescribing buprenorphine/naloxone
  • All medical practitioners (and nurse practitioners with a notation for a category in which the prescribing of buprenorphine and naloxone is authorised) may prescribe buprenorphine and naloxone to up to five patients without completing Module 2 training.
  • A brief guide to prescribing buprenorphine/naloxone is a step-by-step guide to prescribing buprenorphine or naloxone for practitioners who fall in this category.
  • All prescribers who are confidentiality managing up to five patients with buprenorphine and naloxone are encouraged to complete a pharmacotherapy training course.  
  • The training enables prescribers to provide a greater range and capacity of pharmacotherapy services to patients, that is, to prescribe methadone or buprenorphine and naloxone to more than five patients.  

Maintenance pharmacotherapy for opioid dependence enables patients to stabilise and control their opioid use, stabilise their social circumstances, and obtain other benefits from treatment.

The Policy for maintenance pharmacotherapy for opioid dependence enables all medical practitioners (and nurse practitioners with a notation for a category in which the prescribing of buprenorphine and naloxone is authorised) to prescribe buprenorphine and naloxone to up to five patients without completing Module 2 training (see Pharmacotherapy training).

Buprenorphine has similar effectiveness to methadone in reducing heroin or problematic prescription opioid use, decreasing injecting drug use, reducing risk of needle sharing and transmission of blood-borne viruses, reducing risk of overdose death, and reducing criminal activity where this is driven by drug-seeking behaviour.

A brief guide to prescribing buprenorphine/naloxone is a step-by-step guide to prescribing buprenorphine and naloxone for practitioners who fall in this category.

A brief video is also available to guide prescribers who fall in this category to assist with safely prescribing buprenorphine and naloxone. 

If you require advice on the clinical management of a patient, advice should be sought from a colleague familiar with the use of buprenorphine in the treatment of opioid dependence.

Advice from an addiction medicine specialist may be obtained by contacting the Drug and Alcohol Clinical Advisory Service (DACAS) on 1800 812 804.

Policies and guidelines

Prescribers prescribing buprenorphine and naloxone should be familiar with the current policy framework and clinical guidelines in relation to buprenorphine use in the treatment of opioid dependence.

  • Policy for maintenance pharmacotherapy for opioid dependence
  • National clinical guidelines and procedures for the use of buprenorphine in the maintenance treatment of opioid dependence

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