Federal health authorities are investigating
reports of 13 deaths possibly linked to so-called energy shots and
cautioning consumers to talk to their doctors before they take them or
other energy drinks.
The Food and Drug
Administration has received 92 reports over four years that cite
illnesses, hospitalizations and deaths after consumption of a product
marketed as 5-Hour Energy. The FDA has also received reports that cited
the highly caffeinated Monster Energy Drink in five deaths and one
nonfatal heart attack.
Agency officials said the
reports to the FDA from consumers, doctors and others don't necessarily
prove that the drinks caused the deaths or injuries but said they are
investigating each one. In a statement, FDA officials said they will
take action if they can link the deaths to consumption of the energy
drink. Such action could include forcing the company to take the drinks
off the market. They're often found at convenience store checkout
FDA spokeswoman Shelly
Burgess said the agency is cautioning consumers that these "energy
shots" or "energy drinks" are not alternatives to rest or sleep.
"If someone is thinking
about taking 1 of these products, they should consult with their health
care provider to ensure that there are no underlying or undiagnosed
medical conditions that could worsen as a result of using them," Burgess
The agency doesn't
individually regulate caffeinated drinks or supplements such as the
energy shots but can take action if they are proven to do harm. Makers
of caffeinated alcoholic drinks took those products off the market in
2010 after the FDA sent the companies warning letters saying that
combinations of caffeine and alcohol in the drinks was a public health
concern and could lead to alcohol poisoning, car accidents and assaults.
5-Hour Energy's small size
can also be dangerous to consumers with underlying conditions because
it's easier to take several of them or mix them with alcohol. Though it
is liquid, the 5-Hour Energy "shot" is marketed not as a drink but as a
dietary supplement. FDA regulations require supplement manufacturers
themselves to be responsible for products' safety.
A spokeswoman for the
manufacturer, Michigan-based Living Essentials, LLC, says 5-Hour Energy
is a "compact-sized energy shot intended for busy adults - it is not an
energy drink, nor marketed as a beverage."
Elaine Lutz said the
company is not aware of any deaths proven to have been caused by their
product. She said the company's website advises consumers to drink no
more than two bottles of the shots per day, spaced several hours apart,
and for new consumers to drink half a bottle to start.
Democratic Sens. Richard
Durbin of Illinois and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut went to the
Senate floor Thursday to complain about the lack of FDA oversight of
"For God's sake, these are on sale to kids throughout America," Durbin said.
The New York Times first reported that 13 deaths were linked to 5-Hour Energy.
2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not
be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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