• buprenorphine diversion;
  • community pharmacy;
  • supervised dosing


Buprenorphine is dispensed primarily in community pharmacies in Victoria, with buprenorphine prescribing expanding nationally. The aim of this paper was to examine issues that affect the delivery of buprenorphine in the community setting. A cross-sectional survey was conducted of 282 pharmacies participating in the methadone and buprenorphine programme across Victoria. Dispensing pharmacists completed the survey, designed to canvass issues around buprenorphine diversion and other issues related to the programme. Themes from the results indicated that there was concern from the majority of pharmacies with the issue of the supervision of buprenorphine and diversion of dispensed doses. The rate of suspected diversion was 1.5 times per 100 doses per month or 33 times per 100 clients per month. Seventy-four per cent of pharmacists indicated that this was a negative aspect of buprenorphine treatment. Frequency of suspected and confirmed diversion was associated with the number of pharmacy clients. Pharmacists' perceptions of issues related to buprenorphine appeared to affect opinions of buprenorphine clients and the buprenorphine programme more generally. Pharmacists believe that a significant level of diversion is occurring. This finding warrants serious attention, particularly in light of the increasing use of buprenorphine nationally and internationally.