Increasing Deaths Resulting From the Use of Energy Drinks

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Recently, the Federal Drug Administration has received reports from doctors, researchers and elected officials concerned with increasing numbers of deaths among energy drink consumers. Thirteen deaths over the last four years cite the possible involvement of a highly popular caffeinated energy “shot” according to FDA records. Other energy drinks consumed in a manner similar to regular soft drinks have come under scrutiny for their labeling as supplements in order to avoid regulation. Energy drink makers have insisted their products are safe and that the amount of caffeine, a stimulant, is on a level with other widely popular drinks like coffee.

The growing popularity of energy drinks has resulted in an increase in the number of injuries and deaths. This rise in consumption of energy drinks has resulted in a 10-fold increase in the number of emergency room visits for complications associated with energy drink use between 2005 and 2009.

Although the reports do not conclusively prove a link between the drinks and injury, such reports do increase the growing concern about the safety of the drinks, especially for people who have heart conditions.

A wrongful death lawsuit that was filed in federal court by the spouse of a 27-year-old man alleges that he the suffered a heart attack as a result of drinking energy “shots”. The man, who worked late-night shifts at a warehouse, took the shot-sized drinks to stay alert. He collapsed from a heart attack while playing basketball about a month after he started drinking them.

In a similar case that involved a different energy drink, a Brooklyn father died during a basketball game after downing the caffeine-laden beverage. His relatives are blaming the world’s largest energy drink maker.

The popular drink contains “extra stimulants that make it different than a cup of coffee,” said the relative’s lawyer. They also contend that the drink is more dangerous than what the maker lets on.

There is evidence that energy drinks can contribute to increased blood pressure, increase heart rate (tachycardia), heart disease, and other cardiovascular problems. These are most serious for people who already have heart problems. Because exercise itself increases blood pressure and heart rate, an energy drink could raise these to dangerous levels.

Another lawsuit charges that the type of labeling, marketing and advertising of some energy drinks is an attempt to circumvent the safety standards applicable to food and beverage additives and creates a false perception that these products are safe.

The maker of one popular brand asked a California federal judge to dismiss a proposed class action accusing the company of labeling its energy drinks as supplements in order to escape federal safety regulations for beverages. The company said. “Moreover, because the Food and Drug Administration is currently investigating the safety of caffeine-containing products, including energy drinks, the primary jurisdiction doctrine independently bars these claims.”

Daniel Gibalevich
DAG Law Firm

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