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Drug treatment funding welcomed

  • 10 May 2023

Burnet Institute welcomes the announcement of increased funding in the Federal Budget to the Opioid Dependence Treatment Program (ODTP).

The Federal Government’s allocation of $377.3m over four years effectively will help remove a longstanding inequity in Australia’s drug treatment system.

We expect that people on the ODTP will no longer be required to pay daily dispensing fees, which typically range between $5 and $15, to access medications listed under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) that are essential for their health and wellbeing.

“For years people have been campaigning to improve the way the pharmacotherapy program is provided,” Professor Paul Dietze, Burnet Institute Co-Program Director of Disease Elimination, said.

“It is our primary way of treating opioid dependence, but it’s a program that has a number of limitations, including putting a lot of costs back on to the consumer.”

Professor Dietze said ensuring that people on the ODTP are treated the same as other Australians when they access PBS listed medications such as methadone and buprenorphine through community pharmacies is an issue of equity and fairness.

“Dispensing fees could be anything up to $80 per week and the burden is falling on people who can least afford it,” he said.

“Bringing this in line with normal medications will not only provide savings but it removes a big disincentive to obtaining treatment.

“We expect that a lot more people will go into treatment, a lot more people will be retained in treatment, and the government should be congratulated for this initiative.”