FDA Investigating Deaths Allegedly Associated With 5-Hour Energy Drinks


5-Hour-Energy-Deaths-Heart-Attacks-Seizures-Lawyer-Lawsuit-AttorneyOn November 15, 2012, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced it would be examining reports regarding deaths and hospitalizations allegedly associated with the popular energy drink known as 5-hour Energy. Since 2009, the FDA has received 90 reports regarding adverse health effects allegedly caused by drinking 5-hour Energy shots. While 13 of these reports involved deaths, 33 were associated with serious health complications, some of which reportedly included heart attacks, heart palpitations and seizure-like symptoms; in one case, a woman reported experiencing a spontaneous abortion.

This FDA announcement regarding its investigation into the potential dangers associated with 5-hour Energy shots come on the heels of a similar announcement the Agency had made about a month ago; namely, the FDA had previously announced that it would be probing reports of 5 deaths that were allegedly linked to Monster Energy drinks.

Research conducted by Consumer Reports found that 5-hour Energy shots contain about 212 milligrams of caffeine, as opposed to an 8-ounce cup of coffee that contains approximately 100 milligrams of caffeine. According to some medical and health professionals, one of the primary problems with such Energy drinks is the copious amounts of caffeine that they contain, which can result in caffeine toxicity (caffeine overdose) and may cause serious problems for people with undiagnosed heart conditions.

Currently, 5-hour Energy shots, Monster Energy drinks and other similar energy drinks are regulated by the FDA as “supplements,” rather than as beverages; this means that, while beverages (such as soft drinks) are required to have less than 71.5 milligrams of caffeine in a 12-ounce serving, supplements have no such caffeine regulation, and manufacturers are not required to print the amounts of caffeine in energy drinks on the products’ labels. According to Consumer Reports, 11 out of the top-selling 27 energy drinks on the market did not list the amount of caffeine these drinks contain. This has led to criticism that lack of information regarding caffeine content in these drinks prevents consumers from being able to make informed choices about their caffeine consumption which could lead to possible caffeine toxicity.

What has complicated matters is the fact that, even when the top-selling energy drinks do list the amount of caffeine in the drink, Consumer Reports has found that this reported amount of caffeine in some energy drinks has been as much as 20 lower than the actual amount of caffeine in the drink (when tested by Consumer Reports lab technicians).

Given the discrepancies between the reported amounts of caffeine, as well as the lack of regulation regarding the caffeine content in these drinks, in general, some experts and agencies – including Consumer Reports – are urging the FDA to create a new “energy drink” regulation category that can more closely monitor and regulate these products.

While the FDA has made no official announcement as to whether it will start regulating energy drinks apart from supplements, it has stated that consumers should check with their doctors to make sure they do not have an undiagnosed heart condition before consuming energy drinks.

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