Associate Professor Nick Lintzeris presenting the keynote address
The use of the combined drug buprenorphine-naloxone, trademarked as Suboxone®, in opioid substitution therapy (OST) in Australia was the focus of presentations at this year’s Colloquium in Melbourne hosted by CREIDU, the Centre for Research Excellence into Injecting Drug Use.
Keynote speaker, Associate Professor Nick Lintzeris from the Langton Centre, NSW Health, outlined a range of issues, successes and some mistakes made in introducing this combined drug into the OST program in Australia.
Associate Professor Lintzeris noted that buprenorphine had been inappropriately introduced into an Australian treatment program designed for methadone.
By comparison, buprenorphine preparations are much safer and therefore have the potential to improve the confidence of doctors prescribing it, thereby significantly expanding OST availability to those who need it most.
Pier De Carlo and Dr Mike McDonough from the Victorian Department of Health described new policy directions for OST in Victoria, identifying the introduction of area-based approaches as one new policy objective.
Sarah Lord from Harm Reduction Victoria gave consumer perspectives of buprenorphine-naloxone, suggesting that the cost of OST programs and the limited access to take-away doses remain some of the biggest barriers to consumers getting on to programs.
Angelo Pricolo, a community pharmacist from Brunswick, discussed some of the technical issues with the new Suboxone® film and the challenges that pharmacists face in providing an unfunded program to their customers. He noted that he hadn’t raised dispensing fees for customers in about 20 years, despite costs rising significantly during this time. Dr
Siobhan Reddel, a GP-OST prescriber/epidemiologist outlined the factors that prescribers must take into account when determining if Suboxone® would be a good fit with the circumstances of a particular individual, what might contribute to its success and drawbacks that patients might experience.
The Colloquium attracted a packed audience and provided a forum for researchers, policymakers, service providers and service users to discuss important injecting drug use issues.
To find out more about CREIDU or the Colloquium visit their website - www.creidu.edu.au.