The introduction of buprenorphine-naloxone film in opioid substitution therapy in Australia: Uptake and issues arising from changing buprenorphine formulations

Briony Larance, Paul Dietze, Robert Ali, Nicholas Lintzeris, Nancy White, Rebecca Jenkinson, Louisa Degenhardt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction and Aims: Buprenorphine-naloxone (BNX) film for opioid dependence treatment was introduced in Australia in 2011. A key difference in State policy approaches saw transfer from BNX tablets to BNX film mandated in South Australia (SA) with New South Wales (NSW) and Victoria (VIC) having less stringent policies. This study examined (i) how initiations and transfers were implemented, (ii) the profile and predictors of adverse effects as self-reported by BNX film clients, and (iii) dosing issues. Design and Methods: Survey of 334 buprenorphine (BPN), BNX tablet and BNX film clients and semi-structured interviews with 39 key experts (KEs) in 2012. Comparisons are made between clients interviewed in SA versus NSW and VIC combined. Results: Among the 180 current BNX film clients, 23% started treatment on BNX film, 18% requested a transfer to BNX film and 59% (n=106) reported their clinic/prescriber recommended transfer to BNX film. Among clients who were offered but refused a transfer to BNX film (n=66), the most common reason was 'I am happy with my current treatment and do not see a reason to change' (53%). Some opioid substitution therapy clients and KE viewed transfers as 'forced' (i.e. no choice of buprenorphine formulation). Multivariable regression showed residing in SA (vs. NSW/VIC) and a shorter length of current treatment episode were associated with more BNX film-attributed adverse effects but clinic/prescriber-recommended transfer was not. Discussion and Conclusions: The introduction of BNX film in Australia varied across States. A perception of restricted choice in medication may have undermined initial acceptance in SA.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)603-610
Number of pages8
JournalDrug and Alcohol Review
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Buprenorphine
  • Opioid substitution therapy
  • Supervised dosing
  • Transfer

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