Acting Quickly to Safegaurd
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Popular energy drink 5-Hour Energy has been cited in as many as 13 reported deaths, and at least two civil lawsuits have been filed by the families of individuals whose deaths are believed to be linked to energy drinks.
News that 5-Hour Energy had been cited in FDA filings regarding the safety of trendy “energy drinks” was the second time in recent weeks the genre has been the focus of media attention due to possible health risks. Along with 5-Hour Energy, Monster Energy has also been the subject of FDA scrutiny, and both brands have been cited in civil lawsuits following cardiac deaths.
5-Hour Energy was cited in dozens of FDA reports over the past few years, The New York Times reported earlier this week, but the numbers reflect initial reporting and not conclusive evidence that the popular supplements definitively led to serious injury or deaths:
“Since 2009, 5-Hour Energy has been mentioned in some 90 filings with the F.D.A., including more than 30 that involved serious or life-threatening injuries like heart attacks, convulsions and, in one case, a spontaneous abortion, a summary of F.D.A. records reviewed by The New York Times showed … The filing of an incident report with the F.D.A. does not mean that a product was responsible for a death or an injury or contributed in any way to it. Such reports can be fragmentary in nature and difficult to investigate.”
However, in one civil suit filed citing Monster Energy back in 2010, a litigant claimed that ingredient list ambiguity on the packaging of the product was in part responsible for her husband’s death. The woman also says the man’s doctors ”noted in the medical records his use of energy drinks and identified energy drinks as the sole causative risk factor for his cardiac event.”
5-Hour Energy and its competitors contain popular supplements caffeine, taurine, glucuronolactone, malic acid, as well as assorted inactive ingredients. Civil lawsuits filed note that the listed active ingredients have been linked with strokes, blood clots, heart attacks and that uncertain levels of the ingredients increase risk to consumers.
In the Monster Energy civil suit, the litigant states that her spouse would have declined to consume the product had the company ”disclosed the true health consequences, risks, and adverse events, including the increased incidence and risk of strokes, blood clots, heart attacks, and other illnesses, caused by energy drinks containing caffeine, taurine and other ingredients in 5-Hour Energy.”
5-Hour Energy’s spokeswoman told the Associated Press that the company “is not aware of any deaths proven to have been caused by their product.” In the wake of the civil suits filed and FDA reports, Sens. Richard Durbin (D-IL) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) have called upon the Senate to step up oversight of energy drinks.