Mental Health  |  OST Prescribing Pathway - Prescribing for holidays/travel

Mental Health

OST Prescribing Pathway - Prescribing for holidays/travel

Public holidays (Please contact BOPAS for support as required):

The GP is responsible for identifying when a patient's dispensing day/s fall on a public holiday and should annotate the prescription accordingly, i.e. write instructions for any change in dispensing required due to closure of the pharmacy. If space is limited use an additional sheet and attach it to the prescription.

No more than three takeaway doses and total not exceeding 360mg per dispensing can be approved at any one time, except in the case of public holidays where pharmacies are not providing a service or in exceptional circumstances. In such cases 1 (one) additional takeaway dose (i.e. a total of four takeaway doses not exceeding 480mg in a single dispensing) may be prescribed for a patient providing the Patient, the GP Liaison Nurse and the GP are confident that it is a safe arrangement.

Patient holidays (within New Zealand):

The GP, with GP Liaison Nurse support, is responsible for organising alternative dispensing arrangements for patients on holiday. See transfers between pharmacies.

Patients should provide the GP with adequate notice of holidays.

Travel overseas:

GPs are advised to contact the GP Liaison Nurse for information and assistance with arranging overseas travel as soon as they receive a request from a patient. It is preferred that arrangements be made for the patient to be dispensed methadone or suboxone via a programme in the country of destination.


If the patient needs to travel with methadone or suboxone doses they will require an exportation letter (explains dose and form (usually tablets) prescribed and the dates the medication is prescribed for).

Adequate notice (usually several weeks) is required to make these arrangements. More time may be required when a patient is travelling to more than one destination or where other complexities exist. There are a number of countries where OST is not available and/or where importation of methadone or suboxone is illegal. In an emergency situation overseas travel may be arranged more quickly but this does not apply to all countries of destination.

*See Section 5.7 Travelling Overseas with Opioid Substitution Medication page 40 of New Zealand Practice Guidelines for Opioid Substitution Treatment 2014"

Last updated : Friday, August 21, 2015
Next review date : Saturday, August 20,2016

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