The current COVID-19 pandemic is creating new challenges for healthcare. The Area 4 Pharmacotherapy Network will endeavour to keep prescribers and pharmacies up-to-date with the latest information released by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and peak bodies, to support prescribers and pharmacies working with opioid pharmacotherapy during the COVID-19 pandemic. We will also work to assist prescribers and pharmacies in our catchment with our usual services, such as GP Mentor and Addiction Medicine Specialist advice; please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or concerns.
Important updates from the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS)
27 April 2020
Interim national guidance for the delivery of medication assisted treatment of opioid dependence (also known as MATOD, or opioid pharmacotherapy) during COVID-19 is now available. Click here to view this guidance.
The guidance will assist clinicians in ensuring continuity of MATOD during the COVID-19 pandemic. It demonstrates how clinicians can adapt treatment during this time and is intended to be read alongside state and territory guidance issued in response to COVID-19 (Victorian guidance is available below).
It recognises that many jurisdictions are at different stages of response, and also that many of the communications from government authorities relate to regulatory or guideline changes, rather than focusing on aspects of clinical care.
7 April 2020
The Victorian Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has released important advice and clinical guidance relating to providing Medication Assisted Treatment for Opioid Dependence (MATOD) treatment during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Included in this advice:
- Key DHHS information for prescribers and pharmacies delivering MATOD/pharmacotherapy in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic
- Checklist for assessing appropriateness of take-away doses to support continuity of MATOD/pharmacotherapy during the COVID-19 pandemic
- Guidance for supplying methadone & buprenorphine (+/- naloxone) dose(s) to a third party in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic
This information is intended to provide guidance and support for increased flexibility in providing clinical treatment during this time. This advice was developed by alcohol and other drug experts and the Department of Health and Human Services, and will be supported by ongoing work by DHHS to identify optimal pathways for vulnerable clients, including pharmacotherapy patients.
Please see the Victorian COVID-19 website for current case definition, guidance and testing recommendations.
If you have any questions, please contact the Area 4 Pharmacotherapy Network or submit questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
MATOD service continuity advice from the Pharmacotherapy Area-Based Networks
The Pharmacotherapy Area-Based Networks have developed tools to support pharmacies and prescribers prepare and plan ahead for a potential sudden interruption to their MATOD services.
Pharmacy preparedness for service continuity
The COVID-19 outbreak requires pharmacies to prepare and plan ahead for a potential sudden pharmacy and/or pharmacotherapy program closure. Pharmacies can use this service continuity checklist to ensure they are prepared for this situation. The document includes recommended steps to follow if pharmacy/program closure is necessary.
Recommendations for prescribers practicing physical distancing, self-isolation or illness
- We recommend that MATOD prescribers engage with local colleagues who are also MATOD-accredited, to create a support network involving prescribers willing to deputise or transfer patients to one another in the event of interruption to care. The Area 4 Pharmacotherapy Network is available to assist you to establish these support networks.
- Prepare and plan ahead for a potential sudden interruption to your MATOD prescribing using this MATOD prescriber contingency planning document. This document also includes advice about telehealth and sourcing alternative prescribers.
Long Acting Injectible Buprenorphine (LAIB) resources
- Advice to prescribers and pharmacists from the Community, Primary, Alcohol & Drugs – Commissioning Unit at DHHS: Click here. Click here to view the LAIB discussion paper referenced in this letter.
- Clinical guidelines: Click here to view the brief LAIB clinical guidelines released in late 2019
- Sublocade: Click here for Sublocade instructions for use video
- Buvidal: Click here for Buvidal instructions for use video
Please contact Maureen Chelser at DHHS for more information about prescribing the LAIB.
RACGP Victoria COVID-19 Updates
See RACGP Victoria’s Suggested Actions for MATOD prescribers in the COVID-19 pandemic here under the tab MATOD/ORT Update.
Pharmacotherapy News – Issue 1 (14 April 2020) – A4PN southern metropolitan region e-newsletter
Pharmacotherapy News – Issue 1 (14 April 2020) – A4PN eastern metropolitan region e-newsletter
A4PN letter to pharmacotherapy prescribers – released 26 March 2020
A4PN letter to pharmacotherapy pharmacies – released 26 March 2020