30 June 2021: OIA response | Methadone oral liquid dispensing data

30 June 2021 

Dear [name and contact details withheld] 

REQUEST FOR INFORMATION 

Thank you for your request dated 1 June 2021 under the Official Information Act 1982 (OIA) for information relating to methadone oral liquid. You requested:

The volume of methadone oral liquid dispensed by each pharmacy… by pharmacy name or by postcode if that’s easier.

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). 

We have considered your request under the OIA and in this circumstance have decided to withhold details of pharmacies that have dispensed methadone oral liquid. We consider this is necessary as:

  • some pharmacies dispense a large amount of methadone oral liquid each year; identifying dispensing pharmacies would name locations that stock and hold large volumes of methadone and we believe the making available of that information would be likely to endanger the safety of any person (section 6(d)); and
  • some pharmacies have low dispensing volumes meaning it can be inferred that very few people (in some cases, only one person) are dispensed the medicine at the named pharmacy. We believe this poses a risk to patient privacy and consider withholding the pharmacy details is necessary to protect the privacy of natural persons (section 9(2)(a)).

We have provided with this response, data for the volume of methadone oral liquid dispensed in calendar years 2019 and 2020 with pharmacy details anonymised.

As required under the OIA, we also considered whether, in the circumstances, the withholding of this information under section 9(2)(a) was outweighed by other considerations which render it desirable, in the public interest, to make this information available. In this case we did not consider that the public interest outweighed the reasons for withholding the information. 

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.

We trust that this information answers your queries. We are making our information more freely available, so we 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