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April 19, 1976

Liver Function and Illicit Opioid Use

Author Affiliations

Mt Sinai School of Medicine of The City University of New York

JAMA. 1976;235(16):1688. doi:10.1001/jama.1976.03260420014008

To the Editor.—  In a recent letter to The Journal (234:1320, 1975), Dr Thornton has retrospectively reviewed the prevalence of laboratory evidence of hepatic dysfunction in 603 persons admitted to the Illinois Drug Abuse Program. From this review he concluded that when a larger population of narcotic addicts is studied, the prevalence of laboratory abnormalities in liver function is considerably lower (42%) than figures previously reported in the literature (60%-80%).1-3 Although one would not dispute Dr Thornton's findings, the possibility does exist that such data might be explained on several bases other than sample size.The reported percentage of abnormal values found by Dr Thornton in individual tests of hepatic dysfunction (5% to 42%, depending on the specific examination) was not adjusted to give a value for the overall prevalence of hepatic dysfunction seen if an abnormality was noted in any one value. If this had been done, it