HRVic's PAMS service has access to the latest pharmacotherapy information.



Support and Debriefing
You are the expert on what is best for you – but often issues can be resolved just by talking them through with someone who understands.


Prescriptions can seem to expire in the blink of an eye. Pharmacists can be very strict on this, and clients who have forgotten to renew their prescription often find themselves in unexpected trouble – particularly if this happens on a weekend, or their prescribing GP is not immediately available.

Financial Assistance
Money is always tight. PAMS can help negotiate a payment plan with your pharmacist or, in some cases, if a small amount is needed to maintain dosing, we may be able to arrange one-off financial assistance.

Permanent or Temporary Transfers
Transfers are possible within Victoria, interstate or even internationally. Whether you are travelling or making a permanent move, PAMS can help arrange access to service providers.

Program Termination
Can't we all just get along?! If your doctor or pharmacist will no longer provide pharmacotherapy services, PAMS can discuss it with you and usually locate alternatives.

Complaints and Grievances
Life isn't always fair. If you feel you have been treated wrongly or unfairly by a pharmacotherapy provider, PAMS can help you decide how best to manage your complaint. Options include making a formal complaint to an appropriate body, or dealing with the issue informally.

By reporting such instances, you are helping PAMS provide a better service, and helping other consumers in our community.





PAMS can provide information on anything & everything to do with the Victorian Pharmacotherapy Program, including:

  • How does it work?

  • What to expect?

  • What type of pharmacotherapy would suit you best?

  • Access to service providers (doctors and chemists)


It is best if you contact one of the PAMS staff between 11 AM to 5 PM, Monday to Friday on ph.1800 443 844.


*Please note, this is a FREE call ONLY from land lines.

This is NOT a free call from mobile phones, so if you are calling from a mobile,

please let us know so we can call you straight back.





Some things to consider before

going on

'the program'

Making the decision to go on a pharmacotherapy program...

The decision to access pharmacotherapy is often made in a state of crisis, in a rush, with little thought given to the long term consequences. If you are considering it and reading these words right now, hopefully you have enough time to ask yourself a few things before taking the leap – particularly if you have not been on a pharmacotherapy program in the past.

Is this the best treatment option at this point in your life and if so, why?

– Are you aware of the alternatives, such as a detox program either at home or as part of a residential program? If you have tried the alternatives and they did not work, ask yourself why.

– Are you prepared to make a long term commitment? Pharmacotherapy usually works best as a

long-term commitment. How long do you expect your pharmacotherapy program to last?

– Travel – It is still possible to travel (almost anywhere) when on a program, but it does mean you need to organise things in advance.

Have you found out how the individual pharmacotherapy drugs work?

Do you know which is likely to suit you best?

Do you know how the program works in Victoria? Are you aware of the commitments involved like visiting a GP at least monthly and a pharmacy every day (in the first few months)?

Can you afford the dispensing fee (approx. $5 per day)?-  without resorting to illegal means of raising money?

Can you get to a pharmacy every day? Will picking up your daily dose interfere with your employment, family commitments, study etc?

Is this your decision or do you feel pressured by others? Is there threat of incarceration or the removal of children? Is the program part of your parole or CBO conditions? If it’s not your decision, this may influence your chances of success.

Are there service providers (doctor & pharmacist) near where you live and do they have vacancies? This can be a particular problem if you live in a regional/rural area.

Are you involved in any other type of drug treatment at present? (for example individual counselling). If so have you asked your counsellor what he/she thinks?

Have you spoken to others on a program? Although everybody’s experience is different, it can be extremely helpful to talk to your peers and ask them how the program works for them.

Are you informed? If the answer is yes, and you have decided to embark on a pharmacotherapy program, it is time to act.

If you have never been on a program before and want to know what will happen, we have included a step by step guide below:

*Please note, people who live outside of Victoria might want to contact their local drug user organisation to find out more about the process in other states.

When it comes to pharmacotherapy there is no shortage of questions! And fair enough!

It is a big decision and a life-changing one for a lot of people.


Here are some of the questions we

are most often asked at PAMS.

Please note,

the answers provided here are very general.

We strongly encourage you to call us 

PH: 1800 443 844 

 so that we can make sure we thoroughly understand your situation.

This way we can ensure the information we provide is specific to you and thus meets your individual needs.

Scroll over the questions

to reveal their answers

Suboxone is much newer to the treatment scene.

Buprenorphine is a synthetic opioid that produces weaker euphoric effects than say, heroin or methadone. Like methadone, it helps you during withdrawal because it reduces or eliminates your symptoms.

There is also a relatively low risk of overdose when using buprenorphine.

Buprenorphine is available in 2 forms: the uncombined, generic form of the drug and Suboxone. Suboxone is a combination of buprenorphine with naloxone.

Why the combination?

One reason is that if you inject Suboxone, the naloxone will quickly give rise to very unpleasant and severe withdrawal symptoms, which is supposed to make you want to stop injecting the drug.

Suboxone comes in the form of a tablet and a dissolvable film that is placed under the tongue.

What is...

Methadone has a long history of treating opioid dependence since it was first introduced in 1937 in Germany. Methadone is also most commonly available as a liquid that is ready to drink, or that can be mixed with water or juice and is dispensed by a pharmacist in a chemist or specialist clinic. It also comes in tablet form or in diskettes that are dissolved in liquid and then swallowed.

What is...

Usually 4, but this is not always as straight forward as it may seem, so please call us!


What is the maximum number of take away doses (TADS) I can get on methadone?

Usually, even if a GP has banned a client from the practice they will make sure the person has a script to cover them for at least a week or more. GPs do not have to provide a service to any patient they do not wish to see and finding a new pharmacotherapy GP can be hard, so contact PAMS as soon as you know you need a new GP and we can help.

My GP has told me I have to find another doctor and I can’t find one, what is their duty of care?

Yes, a pharmacy is a small private business and they do not have to provide a service to anybody, regardless if the person is on a pharmacotherapy program.


 My pharmacist has told me I am not permitted to stay on the program at ‘So and So Pharmacy’, are they allowed to do this?

No, not unless you have ‘available’ (unused) take away doses left over that you can use. If this is NOT the case, then only your GP can authorise an additional take away dose.

 I have to go to court tomorrow and I will need another take away dose (TAD), can my pharmacist just give me one? 

 It is best to discuss this situation with your GP, otherwise contact PAMS and we can advocate on your behalf.

I have missed two doses of methadone this week, my script says I can have 4 take away dose’s (TADs) per week and my pharmacist is refusing to give me any, what can I do?

No, unfortunately a pharmacist does not HAVE to dose somebody who can’t pay for the dose. Many pharmacies put a “no money, no dose” clause in their pharmacotherapy client agreement. If this happens to you and you can’t get a dose, please call us at PAMS immediately.

My pharmacist won’t dose me if I don’t have $5 to pay for the dose, is this illegal?