27 January 2021: OIA response | Methadone dispensing figures and information

27 January 2021

Dear [name and contact details withheld]

REQUEST FOR INFORMATION 

Thank you for your request dated 8 January 2021 under the Official Information Act 1982 (OIA) for information relating to methadone. You asked for:

  • The total number of methadone dispensings in 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017 and 2016;
  • The total number of methadone dispensings for the purposes of methadone maintenance therapy/opioid substitution therapy, broken down by the calendar year;
  • How many individual New Zealanders were dispensed methadone for the calendar years of 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016;
  • The longest consecutive period of time a person has been dispensed methadone (if known by patient NHI) as of 2020

Following email communications with yourself on 11 January 2021, you agreed for information to be provided per financial year[1] (2015/16, 2016/17, 2017/18, 2018/19 and 2019/20) instead of per calendar year.

Please find the requested information provided below.

Please note that PHARMAC approaches its assessment of requests for information under the OIA on the basis that, once released, the information becomes publicly available - in other words once we release the information to you it becomes available to any other party in that exact form (whether by you distributing it to others or by virtue of us receiving the same request from a different third party). 

Total methadone dispensings by financial year

FYR

Dispensings

2015/16

1,003,941

2016/17

983,283

2017/18

965,816

2018/19

952,284

2019/20

921,982

Total methadone dispensings for methadone maintenance therapy/opioid substitution therapy

Please note, we do not hold information regarding the purpose of methadone dispensing as prescribed on a controlled drug form. Therefore, we have transferred your request to the Ministry of Health under section 14 of the Official Information Act 1982 as we believe they may be able to assist you with this request.

Your request was transferred to the Ministry of Health on 22 January 2021. The Ministry will be in contact with you in due course to discuss your request.

Please note you have the right, by way of complaint under section 28(3) of the OIA to an Ombudsman, to seek an investigation and review of our decision.

Individuals dispensed methadone by financial year

FYR

Patients

2015/16

7,352

2016/17

7,437

2017/18

7,342

2018/19

7,202

2019/20

7,188

Longest consecutive period of time an individual has been dispensed methadone between 1999/2000-2019/20

Dispensing period

Longest consecutive dispensing time

1999/2000-2019/20

223 months

We trust that this information answers your queries. We are making our information more freely available, so we will now publish selected OIA responses (excluding personal details) on our website. Please get in touch with us if you have any questions about this.

Yours sincerely

Rachel Read
Manager, Policy and Government Services

[1] PHARMAC’s financial year runs from 1 July to 30 June.