Five Hour Energy Drinks: A Potential Killer

According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), it has received reports of 13 deaths associated with the use of the popular “Five Hour Energy” drink. Because the FDA’s investigation is ongoing, currently it is not known what has caused these reported deaths. Is it because the product has too much caffeine that results in heart attacks? Or is it because of other ingredients in the drink which are not subject to FDA regulations (because it is considered a dietary supplement)? The Five Hour Energy drink does not specify to the consumer how much caffeine is contained within it. The mixture of the ingredients in the drink also are under suspicion as collectively possibly causing the reported deaths and other hospitalizations and illnesses. At present, the FDA has received approximately 92 complaints of adverse side effects, including the reported 13 deaths and numerous other illnesses and hospitalizations.
It is not known how long these types of adverse events have been known to the manufacturer. It is not known whether the manufacturer is aware of the etiology of the dangers, whether it be the unique combination of ingredients used in the drink, the excessive caffeine or otherwise. However, currently it is known that the drink is potentially dangerous. Is it worth a five hour “energy boost” to potentially kill or harm consumers of the product? Massive recalls of automobiles and other products have occurred with less reported deaths so we have a curious situation here. The FDA does not regulate “energy drinks” because they are so called “dietary supplements” when in reality such products may be a potential killer. As is often the case involving potentially dangerous products, one suspects that it may take litigation in the form of wrongful death actions to ferret out the truth and to determine just how dangerous these so called “dietary supplements” are. If the risks exceed the utility of the product, as may be the case, the product may need to be removed from the market as otherwise unsuspecting consumers could continue to be harmed by it. As the investigation is ongoing, currently there are many unanswered questions but also many possible dangers. Given FDA’s apparent lack of jurisdiction, private litigation may be necessary to fully explore these issues.

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