5-Hour Energy Drinks Suspected in Deaths, Heart Attacks, Convulsions

Yahoo Contributor Network

The Atlantic Wire reports 5-Hour Energy Drinks are linked with 13 deaths in the past four years. The drinks are also the subject of 90 Food and Drug Administration complaints, including 30 involving life-threatening medical conditions. The medical conditions cited in the filings as possibly caused by the drinks include heart attacks, convulsions, and in one case, a spontaneous abortion, the Atlantic Wire said.

What's in 5-Hour Energy Drinks?

According to the manufacturer, the energy blend ingredients of 5-Hour Energy Drinks include citicoline, tyrosine, phenylalanine, taurine, malic acid, glucuronolactone, and caffeine. The drinks also contain vitamins B6, B12, B3, and B9.

How Does 5-Hour Energy Differ from Red Bull and Monster?

5-Hour Energy is a highly concentrated 2-ounce shot. The New York Times says the company won't disclose the caffeine concentration, but says Consumer Reports pegged it at 215 milligrams.

Red Bull and Monster are full size beverages. Red Bull contains caffeine, taurine, glucuronolactone, B vitamins, sucrose and glucose, and spring water. Monster says its main ingredient is carbonated water. It also contains 27 grams of sugars per 8-ounce drink; tamino acids taurine and L-carnitine; stimulants caffeine, panax ginseng root extract, and guarana seed; B vitamins; and preservatives.

Have Similar Problems Been Reported with Other Energy Drinks?

Yes. Last month, the FDA said it received five reports of fatalities linked to Monster, according to the Times. Earlier reports have linked deaths to Red Bull.

What Do the FDA and Similar Reports Mean?

The FDA incident reports can be filed by anyone. Reporting the drinking of an energy drink and a subsequent adverse health event does not establish the drink caused the problem.

The FDA is investigating, according to multiple media sources, but at this point there's no cause-effect relationship proven between the adverse incidents and the consumption of the energy drinks. Last month the FDA's Shelly Burgess pointed out to media other factors, including consumption of other products in close proximity to the use of energy drinks, could have been involved.

Isn't There a Lawsuit?

The family of a 14-year-old girl who died of cardiac arrhythmia due to caffeine toxicity sued the makers of Monster. Anais Fournier of Hagerstown, Md., drank two 24-ounce Monster drinks in one day and went into cardiac arrest the following day, according to Today.com. The 480 milligrams of caffeine consumed by Fournier is five times the limit recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics, Today said. Monster denied the two drinks alone could have caused death from caffeine toxicity.

Carol Bengle Gilbert writes about consumer issues for the Yahoo! Contributor Network.

View Comments