Victorian Opioid Pharmacotherapy Program

The aim of this training is to provide pharmacists and pharmacy support staff with the relevant knowledge, skills and tools required to identify those who would benefit from pharmacotherapy, engage in a discussion of the benefits of the program in a non-stigmatising manner and deliver a safe and consumer focused Opioid Replacement Therapy service in their pharmacy.


This is a Victorian State Government funded program and is FREE to all pharmacists and pharmacy staff in Victoria.

VOPP Part 1 training

This course is comprised of 4 modules delivered as an online self-directed program and as a face-to-face workshop.

Statistics on opioid replacement therapy programs, management options, treatment objectives, domains of harm minimisation, substance use disorder, opioid use disorder, opioid withdrawal and opioid intoxication


Learning objectives:


  • Recall statistics relevant to the pharmacotherapy treatment of opioid use disorders in Australia and more specifically Victoria.
  • Describe the harms associated with illicit drug use on both the individual and the wider community.
  • Explain appropriate management options of opioid use disorder.
  • Describe treatment objectives of opioid replacement therapy programs.
  • Explain the domains of harm minimisation.
  • Describe the nature of dependence identify substance use disorders and more specifically opioid use disorders.
  • Recognise signs and symptoms of opioid withdrawal and opioid intoxication.

Formulations, dose ranges, safety and tolerability profiles, switching therapies, drug interactions, pregnancy and lactation and duration of treatment.


Learning objectives:


  • Identify available formulations used in the treatment of opioid use disorder through the opioid replacement therapy program.
  • Discuss appropriate initiation and maintenance dose ranges for both methadone and buprenorphine formulations.
  • Describe methadone and buprenorphine drug safety and tolerability profiles.
  • Outline appropriate protocols for switching between therapies.
  • Recognise important drug interactions with methadone and buprenorphine.
  • Explain the safety profiles and risk versus benefit considerations associated with the use of methadone and buprenorphine in pregnancy and lactation.
  • Discuss appropriate duration of treatment.

Storage, dispensing, administration, commencing patients, legal prescription requirements, permits, dosing regimens, missed doses, take-away doses and labelling requirements


Learning objectives:


  • Describe legal requirements regarding the storage of methadone and buprenorphine formulations.
  • Identify the appropriate dispensing and administration requirements of methadone and buprenorphine formulations when used as opioid replacement therapy.
  • Explain the protocols for commencing new patients on an opioid replacement therapy program.
  • Identify legal requirements of methadone and buprenorphine prescriptions when used to treat opioid use disorders through an opioid replacement therapy program.
  • Recognise permit requirements associated with practitioners prescribing opioid replacement therapy.
  • Identify appropriate buprenorphine dosing regimen options.
  • Respond appropriately to missed methadone or buprenorphine doses as per the ‘Policy for maintenance pharmacotherapy for opioid dependence.’
  • Recognise purpose of take-away doses and identify patients who may be suitable to receive these.
  • Label take-away doses appropriately as per requirements.

Dosing errors, vomited doses, intoxicated patients, diversion, use of other medication substance controlled medication, service payment, record keeping, contacting prescriber, role of the pharmacist, resources and contacts.


Learning objectives:


  • Respond to dosing errors, vomited doses, intoxication and dose diversion appropriately.
  • Discuss the appropriate use of other medication in conjunction with opioid replacement therapy.
  • Discuss fees options and services to aid with payments.
  • Describe record keeping requirements for the dispensing of methadone and buprenorphine when used as opioid replacement therapy.
  • Identify situations when it is necessary to contact the prescriber and recognise other useful services that can support them.
  • Describe the role and responsibilities of the pharmacist in the delivery of an opioid replacement therapy program.
  • Identify appropriate resources and contacts to refer to when delivering an opioid replacement therapy program.

Part 1 Online Modules

Part 1 Face to face

VOPP Part 2 training


Part 2 is a case scenario based workshop in which the concepts learned from Part 1 are reinforced through real life scenarios and group discussions led by the workshop facilitator. It is delivered as both an interactive live webinar and a face- to-face workshop.


Topics covered:


De-escalation, de-stigmatisation, SafeSript and ORT program referral, administration and practical management of an opioid replacement program, key aspects of methadone and suboxone/subutex therapy, management of missed doses, split-doses, take away doses, vomited doses, diversion and errors, identification and management of overdose and withdrawal, managing difficult patients, codeine related issues and the use of naloxone.

Part 2 online webinars

Part 2 Face to Face


For more information please contact:


Victorian Branch Office

p. 03 9389 4000




For further support please contact: Maureen Chesler, Pharmacotherapy Development Officer DHHS

p. 03 9096 5057 f. 03 9096 9170 m.0418 221 452



For more information on your local Pharmacotherapy Area Based Network contact, please visit: