Tracking Prescription Drug Abuse: Researched Abuse, Diversion and Addiction-Related Surveillance (RADARS®) Initiative

Starting in 2012, the Poison Control Center began participating in the Researched Abuse, Diversion and Addiction-Related Surveillance (RADARS®) initiative. RADARS is a nationwide study that uses data from six different U.S. poison control centers to monitor the opportunity, use, abuse and dependence phases of the drug dependence pathway.

The study captures trends of intentional abuse, unintentional misuse, and attempts of suicide involving highly addictive prescription drugs.

Unfortunately, our region, especially the Greater Philadelphia area, has not escaped the opioid epidemic that is sweeping our nation. Opioids such as oxycodone and hydrocodone continue to top the list. The Poison Control Center averages more than 10 calls per day about these products.

RADARS – Researched Abuse, Diversion and Addiction-Related Surveillance

Total cases: 3,436

Oxycodone: 1,353
Amphetamines: 495
Hydrocodone: 386
Tramadol: 372
Methylphenidate: 273
Buprenorphine: 205
Methadone: 141
Morphine: 99
Fentanyl: 45
Hydromorphone: 41
Oxymorphone: 16
Tapentadol: 10




In addition to our RADARS activity, we have also been monitoring heroin exposures which unfortunately, continues to rise.

Heroin Exposures by Month: 2012-2014



By participating in this nationwide surveillance activity, we are helping identify the trends surrounding drugs of abuse in large metropolitan areas such as Philadelphia. This information helps health and law enforcement agencies determine which drugs are most involved in abuse and potentially in overdose situations.

Next Steps
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What to Expect When You Call

When you call the Poison Control Center, we will ask you a series of questions. Here's what we'll need to know so we can help.

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Poisoning Resources for Professionals

Find treatment tips for poisoning events, clinical pathways, information about toxicology assessments, and more.