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March 18, 1974

Amphetamine Death?

Author Affiliations

Washington, DC

JAMA. 1974;227(11):1259. doi:10.1001/jama.1974.03230240017006

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To the Editor.—  The article entitled "Amphetamines in the District of Columbia: I. The Identification and Resolution of an Amphetamine Abuse Epidemic" (226:1437,1973) coauthored by Dr. DuPont and myself has prompted several inquiries to us regarding details of the death due to methamphetamine intoxication mentioned therein. Since submission of our manuscript, additional information regarding this case has become available. The initial diagnosis was based on results of preliminary urine screening for drugs by the toxicologist in the Medical Examiner's Office. More detailed drug-distribution studies have subsequently revealed a blood alcohol level of 160 mg/100 ml and traces of methadone in various tissues (suggestive of methadone administration several days before death). In addition, the dead patient had been a carrier of the sickle-cell trait.These findings make the association between methamphetamine administration and death less straight-forward than we originally thought. It is possible that alcohol played a significant role in leading