Monster Energy drinks may be linked to five deaths and one heart attack, according to the Food and Drug Administration. Recently the government agency released documents that the deaths, which occurred over the past three years, may be linked to Monster Energy Drinks.
In December 2011, a 14-year-old girl died after drinking two 24-ounce energy drinks in a 24 hour period. Anais Fournier suffered a heart attack caused by caffeine toxicity, according to her doctors. Her parents have now brought a wrongful death lawsuit against Monster Energy.
Earlier this year, in response to Ms. Fournier’s death, Sen. Dick Durbin, a democrat from Illinois, asked the FDA to investigate Monster Energy drinks. He also asked the FDA to regulate the caffeine levels in energy drinks that are considered supplements. The senator also requested an investigation into other energy drink companies such as Red Bull, Rock Star, Full Throttle and AMP.
In a letter to FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg, Sen. Durbin cited a report released last year by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The report said that the number of emergency room visits due to energy drink consumption rose ten-fold between 2005 and 2009, growing from 1,128 visits in 2005 to 13,114 in 2009. According to the report, energy drinks can contain caffeine levels ranging from 160 to 500 milligrams per serving.
The danger in these drinks is the high amount of caffeine in the beverage, as well as the other ingredients such as guarana, taurine, and ginseng, and the unknown effects of the interactions of these substances with high levels of caffeine.
It is clear that if energy drink companies such as Monster Energy are producing a dangerous product that causes heart attacks in otherwise healthy people, FDA intervention is necessary. We need more studies about the high levels of caffeine in these drinks, and the effects of the interaction of caffeine and the other substances included in the beverages.
I’m curious to see the results of this wrongful death suit. It will be interesting to see if any more deaths become attributed to energy drinks, and whether or not this lawsuit and others like it will inspire changes in public policy regarding the regulation of energy drinks and supplements.