Implementing buprenorphine treatment in community settings in Australia: experiences from the Buprenorphine Implementation Trial

Am J Addict. 2004;13 Suppl 1:S29-41. doi: 10.1080/10550490490440799.


Buprenorphine was registered in Australia as a maintenance and detoxification agent for the management of opioid dependence in November, 2000, and became widely available in August, 2001. This paper provides an overview of key developments in the introduction of buprenorphine treatment in Australia, with an emphasis upon the delivery of services in community-based (primary care) settings. A central study in this work was the Buprenorphine Implementation Trial (BIT), a randomized, controlled trial comparing buprenorphine and methadone maintenance treatment delivered under naturalistic conditions by specialist and community-based service providers (general practitioners and community pharmacists) in 139 subjects across nineteen treatment sites. In addition to conventional patient outcome measures (treatment retention, drug use, psychosocial functioning, and cost effectiveness), the BIT study also involved the development and evaluation of clinical guidelines, training programs for clinicians, and client literature, which are described here. Integration of treatment systems (methadone with buprenorphine, specialist and primary-care programs) and factors thought to be important in the uptake of buprenorphine treatment in Australia since registration are discussed.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Australia
  • Buprenorphine / economics
  • Buprenorphine / therapeutic use*
  • Community Health Services* / economics
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Female
  • Health Plan Implementation* / economics
  • Heroin Dependence / economics
  • Heroin Dependence / rehabilitation*
  • Humans
  • Inservice Training / economics
  • Long-Term Care / economics
  • Male
  • Methadone / economics
  • Methadone / therapeutic use
  • Narcotic Antagonists / economics
  • Narcotic Antagonists / therapeutic use*
  • Narcotics / economics
  • Narcotics / therapeutic use*
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic


  • Narcotic Antagonists
  • Narcotics
  • Buprenorphine
  • Methadone