Medication assisted treatment for opioid dependence (MATOD) – Prescribing resources

Prescribing medications for opioid dependence

South Australia has approximately 3000 people prescribed methadone liquid or buprenorphine with naloxone in film form (Suboxone®) to assist with the management of their opioid dependence.

Approximately two thirds of these patients are managed by community prescribers - the majority of these are general practitioners (GPs).

Prescribing medications for opioid dependence is not complicated, however, there are some specific issues around the medications themselves, and about caring for people with opioid dependence that need to be considered when prescribing this treatment.

Prescribing buprenorphine with naloxone in film form (Suboxone®) for opioid dependence (non-accredited prescribing)

In South Australia a medical practitioner does NOT need to be accredited to prescribe buprenorphine with naloxone in film form for up to ten patients for opioid dependence.

Medical practitioners need to obtain a Section 18A Controlled Substances Act 1984 (SA) authority (PDF 185KB) from the SA Health Drugs of Dependence Unit prior to prescribing a drug of dependence for the treatment of opioid dependence. This authority must be obtained before treatment commences.

The Drugs of Dependence Unit can be contacted on 1300 652 584 Monday to Friday 9.00 am to 5.00 pm. The Unit's e-mail is:  DrugsofDependenceUnit@health.sa.gov.au 

The following resources provide further information about prescribing this drug.

This latter document can be used as a checklist of steps to be taken when patients are being initiated into medication assisted treatment with buprenorphine/naloxone (Suboxone®)

Additional clinical resources are provided below.

A medical practitioner must become ACCREDITED if they wish to:

  • prescribe buprenorphine/naloxone film for more than ten patients at one time 

OR

  • prescribe:
    • methadone liquid
    • buprenorphine as a single agent (Subutex®) or
    • DEPOT buprenorphine.

For more information go to SA - MATOD Prescriber training and education page or contact the GP Program Project Coordinator: (08) 7425 5045.

Email: HealthDASSAGPProgram@sa.gov.au

Assessment and induction onto MATOD

Please contact the GP Program Project Officer for copies of the following resources on (08) 7425 5045 or email: HealthDASSAGPProgram@sa.gov.au

Accredited prescribers only:

  • The Methadone Handbook (Fifth Edition)
  • Subutex: A Guide to Treatment.

Drug of Dependence - MATOD forms and policy

To be used by both accredited and non-accredited prescribers.
To obtain the legally required Section 18A Controlled Substance Act 1984 (SA) authority to prescribe a drug of dependence for the treatment of opioid dependence, an initial application form must be filled in on both sides, signed by the prescriber and patient and faxed to the Drugs of Dependence Unit (DDU) at 1300 658 447. Then telephone DDU on 1300 652 584 (office hours) who will provide the authority number which can be written on the prescription.

    Unsupervised doses

Management tools

ScriptCheck SA

It is important to be aware of other drugs the patient may be using when prescribing methadone or buprenorphine due to possible drug interactions. Patients may provide information about their other drug use along with Urine Drug Screens (UDS).

Launched on 1 November 2020, ScriptCheck SA is software that provides prescribers and pharmacists with a real-time history of the high-risk medicines (monitored drugs) their patients have been prescribed and supplied. The information available in ScriptCheckSA will help doctors and pharmacists make safer clinical decisions about which medicines to prescribe or supply to their patients. ScriptCheckSA aims to minimise the potential harms associated with prescribing and supplying monitored drugs by giving prescribers and pharmacists real-time information to support their professional decision making.

Prescribers need to register with ScriptCheckSA.

For more information, or to register for ScriptCheckSA access go to: ScriptCheckSA

Drugs of Dependence Unit

If you are unable to access ScriptCheckSA you may be able to source information from the Drugs of Dependence Unit, although this will require you to contact the DDU via phone message, and wait for them to respond.

Their email address is: DrugsofDependenceUnit@health.sa.gov.au

The Drugs of Dependence Unit can be contacted on 1300 652 584 Monday to Friday 9.00 am to 5.00 pm.

Further information and advice

DACAS provides a telephone and email service for South Australian health professionals seeking clinical information and clarification around clinical procedures, guidelines and evidence-based practice.

Telephone: (08) 7087 1742 from 8.30 am to 10.00 pm 7 days/week including public holidays or email your enquiry to:  HealthDACASEnquiries@sa.gov.au.
Out of these hours, medically urgent calls from a hospital based Medical Consultant or country hospital medical officer/GP will always receive a response.

This service does not provide proxy medical cover and cannot assume responsibility for direct patient care.

Office hours

  • Drugs of Dependence Unit telephone 1300 652 584 (office hours)
    Provides advice on prescribing from a regulatory view point.

Other services

Clinical guidelines