The RAMPS service is available across rural and regional Victoria and aims to build the capacity of the pharmacotherapy treatment sector by supporting GPs to effectively manage patients with opioid dependence in their practice.
The service provides GPs with access to experienced Addiction Medicine Specialists with expertise in rural and regional settings.
What is pharmacotherapy?
Pharmacotherapy for opioid addiction, also known as opioid replacement therapy (ORT), is an evidence-based and effective treatment for opioid dependence.
Opioid dependence is a complex health condition that affects people from all walks of life – not only injecting drug users but also people who become addicted to pain relievers through a range of different circumstances.
Long-term treatment and care involving pharmacotherapy medications such as methadone and buprenorphine/naloxone (Suboxone) have been proven to:
- Reduce the use of heroin or other opiates
- Reduce the rate of criminal activity in the community
- Prevent the spread of blood-borne viruses
- Assist people to stabilise their circumstances and lead more productive lives
- Reduce illness and death related to drug taking.
In rural and regional Victoria the most common way to access pharmacotherapy treatment is through general practitioners (GPs), who prescribe the medication, and local pharmacists, who dispense it.
Barriers to participation for general practice and pharmacies include a lack of support and access to referral pathways for patients with complex needs including psychosocial and behavioural problems.
Consequently, only a small number of GPs and some registered nurse practitioners are current prescribers.
The Victorian Department of Health has committed funding to improve the pharmacotherapy treatment service system through the development of five area-based pharmacotherapy networks across Victoria. Each network is putting in place a range of initiatives and resources to better support GPs and pharmacists to provide this important treatment.
The three rural/regional networks have pooled together resources to collaboratively develop a new Rural Addiction Medicine Pharmacotherapy Specialist (RAMPS) service.