Call to cut opioid treatment copays

The government has rejected calls to rectify a dispensing fee system that makes methadone up to 25 times more expensive than oxycodone.

Patients receiving opioid maintenance treatment face pharmacist dispensing fees of around $150 a month that are the major obstacle to retention in treatment programs, according to Penington Institute think tank.

In a paper published this week the Institute said patients using S100 drugs such as methadone and buprenorphine were slugged with copayments of up to $10 per dose by retail pharmacies to cover costs of paperwork and consumables.

The dispensing fees added up to as much 13% of the income of patients who are often struggling to survive on benefits, the Institute said in its call for reform of the opioid maintenance treatment funding system.

"These daily fees ... are severely compromising the public health and community benefits of an exceptional form of drug addiction treatment,