Purdue Pharma founded RADARS in 2001. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

A small yet influential group called Researched Abuse, Diversion and Addiction-Related Surveillance, or RADARS, monitors how opioids are misused across the nation. It also accepts money from the companies that make those opioids.

Why it matters: Health care experts view RADARS as a credible, independent resource, but its ties to the pharmaceutical industry raise questions about how the group operates.

How it works: RADARS tracks opioid misuse and abuse by collecting phone call information from poison control centers and patient survey data from addiction treatment programs.

  • This allows RADARS to know about pills children are accidentally swallowing, or which legal and illicit opioids are driving people to seek rehab.

Details: Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, founded RADARS in 2001 after concerns of prescription painkiller addictions started to rise.

  • But having an opioid company track misuse of its own products gave the perception that the fox was guarding the henhouse, so Purdue sold RADARS to Denver Health, a publicly owned hospital system in Colorado that also houses a poison and drug center.

RADARS still has close connections to the pharmaceutical industry.

  • RADARS and its affiliated poison center brought in more than $25 million of revenue last year for Denver Health — most of which is subscription fees, from opioid manufacturers and others, to get access to its data.
  • Researchers paid by RADARS have written articles that line up with industry views. For example, a 2015 article in the New England Journal of Medicine said the U.S. was "making progress in combating the abuse of prescription opioid analgesics" even though the overall number of overdose deaths from prescription opioids has remained pretty much the same.
  • Richard Dart, the head of RADARS, received more than $112,0000 from Purdue Pharma in 2014 for his consulting work on the company's opioids, and he has received tens of thousands from other opioid manufacturers. (Denver Health disputed those payments.) Purdue Pharma also has paid for Dart's travel to FDA opioid meetings in the past.
  • Johnson & Johnson cited RADARS, in opening testimony in its case versus Oklahoma, to show its opioids were not frequently abused.

What they're saying: Dart referred all questions to lawyers at Denver Health. A Denver Health spokesperson submitted written responses, which acknowledged the system had contracts with Purdue and other manufacturers, but did not respond to follow-up questions.

Go deeper: Drug companies have a history of shaping public opinion and research.

Go deeper

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
52 mins ago - Economy & Business

Wall Street fears meltdown over election and Supreme Court

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and President Trump's vow to name her replacement to the Supreme Court before November's election are amplifying Wall Street's worries about major volatility and market losses ahead of and even after the election.

The big picture: The 2020 election is the most expensive event risk on record, per Bloomberg — with insurance bets on implied volatility six times their normal level, according to JPMorgan analysts. And it could take days or even weeks to count the record number of mail-in ballots and declare a winner.

Election clues county by county

Ipsos and the University of Virginia's Center for Politics are out with an interactive U.S. map that goes down to the county level to track changes in public sentiment that could decide the presidential election.

How it works: The 2020 Political Atlas tracks President Trump's approval ratings, interest around the coronavirus, what's dominating social media and other measures, with polling updated daily — enhancing UVA's "Crystal Ball."

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 31,605,656 — Total deaths: 970,934 Total recoveries: 21,747,491Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 6,897,432 — Total deaths: 200,814 — Total recoveries: 2,646,959 — Total tests: 96,612,436Map.
  3. Health: The U.S. reaches 200,000 coronavirus deaths — The CDC's crumbling reputation — America turns against coronavirus vaccine.
  4. Politics: Elected officials are failing us on much-needed stimulus.
  5. Business: Two-thirds of business leaders think pandemic will lead to permanent changes — Fed chair warns economy will feel the weight of expired stimulus.
  6. Sports: NFL fines maskless coaches.

Get Axios AM in your inbox

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!