Opioid substitution treatment

Community Program for Opioid Pharmacotherapy

The prescribing of Opioid Substitution Therapy (OST) is restricted to authorised medical practitioners participating in the Community Program for Opioid Pharmacotherapy (CPOP).

Written authorisation is required prior to prescribing OST (methadone, buprenorphine) to any patient.

Information for pharmacists, including application forms, is available at: Dispensing opioid substitution therapy

Schedule 8 Prescribing Code

The Schedule 8 Medicines Prescribing Code (the Code) (Word 370KB) governs the prescribing of OST in Western Australia. The Code outlines responsibilities of prescribers and requirements of the Department of Health. It is a legal requirement to adhere to the Code when prescribing CPOP, at all times.

CPOP Clinical Policies and Procedures

Authorised prescribers must adhere to the Clinical Policies and Procedures for the Use of Methadone and Buprenorphine in the Treatment of Dependence (the Policies) (external site).

Prescriber approval

Obtaining approval

Prescribers must apply to the Department to become an authorised CPOP prescriber using the Application to be an authorised CPOP prescriber form (Word 821KB).

Prescribers wishing to prescribe methadone and buprenorphine must have first successfully completed training provided by the Community Pharmacotherapy Program (external site). Prescribers must undergo reaccreditation at regular intervals to maintain authorisation.

Patient numbers

Practitioners are authorised to prescribe for a maximum number of patients at any time. The prescribing to greater numbers requires additional approval and will be is considered on a case by case basis. Prescribers should contact the Department for more information.

Patient approval

Each patient entering CPOP must be individually authorised in writing to receive OST. Prescribers should apply using the Application to prescribe opioid substitution treatment form (Word 876KB). Patients must sign the acknowledgment section.

Only one practitioner will be authorised to prescribe CPOP for a patient at any one time. Where a new application from a different practitioner is received and approved, all prior authorisations will be cancelled. The Department will advise prescribers whenever authorisation is cancelled.

Prescribers should notify the Department if treatment is to be ceased or they will no longer be treating the patient. A Termination of opioid subsitution treatment form (Word 819KB) should be completed.

Prescription requirements

Patients must be directed to an authorised CPOP pharmacy for observed daily dosing.

Prescribers must ensure that all OST prescriptions are complete, legal and valid Schedule 8 prescriptions.

Prescriptions must also adhere to the standard CPOP format and include:

  • specific dates to start and finish dosing
  • next appointment date
  • nominated pharmacy
  • exact daily dose (in milligrams: mg)
  • number of unsupervised doses allowed each week (if applicable).

Records of OST dispensed at all Western Australian Pharmacies are collected and maintained by the Department of Health. These records are routinely reviewed for compliance with the Regulations and the Schedule 8 Prescribing Code.

More information

Medicines and Poisons Regulation Branch
Mailing address: PO Box 8172, Perth Business Centre, WA 6849
Phone: 9222 6812
Email: cpop@health.wa.gov.au

Last reviewed: 08-06-2023