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Five Hour Energy Linked to 13 Deaths


The government is releasing information about a growing number of injuries associated with those so-called energy drinks. Among them, 5-Hour Energy, a highly caffeinated energy shot that also contains vitamins and a substance called taurine. It’s marketed to “hardworking adults” who just need a little boost of energy.

Since 2009, 5-Hour Energy has been named in some 90 adverse event filings with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) including heart attacks, spontaneous abortion, convulsions and death.

The reports are coming from the public and medical professionals into the FDA’s adverse events database, which the New York Times reports is difficult to verify.

Last Friday, the FDA released reports of injuries related to Red Bull, a top-selling energy drink including 21 adverse events or complications including heart problems and vomiting. The drink maker said it was unaware of such events and that Red Bull is safe.

Monster Energy has been named in five fatality reports, according to the FDA.

Consumer Reports says Monster Energy contains about 215 milligrams of caffeine.

An 8 oz cup of coffee has from 100 to 150 mg of caffeine. While the link between adverse events including death to energy drinks is inconclusive, the FDA warns to check with your doctor before drinking them.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, a federal agency, reports there were 13,000 emergency room visits in 2009 linked to energy drinks.

Regulation is inconsistent at the very least.

Rockstar, 5-Hour Energy, and Monster Energy are regulated as a dietary supplement. Manufacturers are required to contact the FDA with adverse events it hears about. Meanwhile Red Bull, NOS, and AMP are marketed as a beverage, with no requirements on the manufacturer to report to the FDA.

Reports of adverse events were made public concerning Monster Energy and 5-hour Energy only because they were released by the FDA under the Freedom of Information Act.

Sens. Richard Durbin of Illinois and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut have contacted FDA commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg to further discuss the regulation of energy drinks.

In 2010, there were 17 fatality reports that mentioned weight loss or dietary supplements, however there are 50,000 products that fall within that category, says the head of the dietary supplement division within the FDA.

Sales of energy drinks grew to $8.9 billion last year, the Times attributes to Beverage Digest, a trade publication.

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