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January 6, 1975

Deaths Due to Adverse Drug Reactions

Author Affiliations

Armed Forces Institute of Pathology Washington, DC

JAMA. 1975;231(1):22-23. doi:10.1001/jama.1975.03240130016005

To the Editor.—  There is wide diversity in estimates on morbidity and mortality relating to adverse drug reactions (ADRs). Opinions on the frequency of ADRs in hospitalized patients range from 15% to 40%.1 Estimates on mortality due to ADRs vary between 6,000 per year2 and 30,000 to 140,000 per year.3These estimates have been derived from studies based on analysis of symptoms, signs, and clinical laboratory data, and for the most part have not included histopathologic findings.Morphologic studies on biopsy and autopsy material on more than 2,500 cases of alleged drug-reaction cases have been proceeding for the past nine years at the Registry of Tissue Reactions to Drugs (RTRD) at the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology (AFIP). The pathologic findings on these cases were integrated with their associated clinical and laboratory data.Three RTRD studies were used to estimate annual mortality from ADRs: (1) an analysis