Opioid misuse training boost

codeine tabsules spill from orange pill bottle

NSW Health is set to invest in training pharmacists and GPs in providing treatment for opioid addiction

Following the expiration of its current training tender for the NSW Health Opioid Treatment Program, NSW Health says it is taking the opportunity to update the program and improve access for more people seeking drug treatment services, in more settings.

Part of the suite of intended changes is a trial of longer-acting treatments which a NSW Health spokesperson says “will cost less to administer and reduce disruption to people’s lives”.

As well as methadone services, “where clinically appropriate for patients, NSW Health will also encourage the use of non-methadone based treatments (buprenorphine and buprenorphine-naloxone),” the spokesperson says.

“Because opioid treatment is provided by both accredited and non-accredited providers, a key facet of the new tender is new ways of training a range of clinicians, not just doctors, GPs, and nurses but health professionals like pharmacists.”

Currently, 749 community pharmacies across NSW participate in the NSW Opioid Treatment Program.

“The training program will see more GPs, doctors, nurses and pharmacists trained but not necessarily an expansion in Opioid Treatment Clinics. It may lead to a growth in GP settings that are capable of prescribing treatment,” the spokespersons says.

“Every effort is made to locate a pharmacy that is convenient to the patient’s home or place of work.”

Stakeholders including NSW AMA president Professor Brad Brankum and NSW Pharmacy Guild president welcomed the move.

Mr Samimi told the Daily Telegraph that more and more, people who required drug treatment services were prescription opioid patients.

Last month, the Australian Bureau of Statistics released cause of death data which showed a significant increase in drug-induced deaths – the highest since the late 90s.

However, the profile of such drug-induced deaths had changed: in 2016, instead of a man in his early 30s dying with morphine, heroin or benzodiazepines in his system, the typical drug-induced death was seen in a middle-aged man misusing prescription drugs, including oxycodone or benzodiazepines, and taking multiple drugs.

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