[author: Michele Bowman]
Energy drinks: They’re an easy upper that work fast and are totally legal. But are they safe? A 14-year-old girl in Maryland who drank two cans of Monster Energy suffered a heart problem and died in December, and now her mother is suing the drink’s maker.
Following reports to the Food and Drug Administration of the deaths of several other people over the last year, the agency told Bloomberg on Oct. 22 that it is specifically investigating the highly-caffeinated Monster energy drinks, made by California company Monster Beverage Corp.
Lawsuit Filed over Death of Maryland Girl
Wendy Crossland’s complaint, filed Oct. 19 in state court in Riverside, Calif., by Kevin Goldberg, a lawyer with Goldberg, Finnegan and Mester, LLC in Silver Spring, MD, says Fournier went into cardiac arrest after drinking two 24-ounce Monster Beverage Corp. drinks within a 24-hour period. Caffeine toxicity is blamed for her death.
The lawsuit alleges that Monster should have warned consumers about the health risks of its energy drinks. A spokesperson for Monster denies any links between the death of Crossland’s daughter, Anais Fournier, and its drinks, according to the New York Times.
In her lawsuit, Crossland refers to “incident reports” filed voluntarily with the FDA by doctors and companies. An FDA spokesperson, Shelly Burgess, said in the interview that the agency knows of reports of five deaths and one heart attack that have been linked to the drink.
“Additional incident reports referred to other adverse events such as abdominal pain, vomiting, tremors and abnormal heart rate. The reports disclosed cover a period of 2004 to June of this year, but all the deaths occurred in 2009 or later,” according to the Times.
No FDA Regulation – Yet
FDA guidelines do not currently apply to energy drinks like Monster and Red Bull as they are considered dietary supplements, which are not subject to regulation by the agency. But two U.S. senators Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) are asking the FDA to address concerns about the drinks.
The senators’ concerns include “the potential interactions and cumulative effects of additives with stimulant properties in energy drinks with high levels of caffeine,” according to a press release. “We ask FDA to provide additional information on the safety of multiple additives with stimulating properties in energy drinks when used in combination and with caffeine.”
Megadose of Caffeine
The Monster Energy drink cans don’t say how much caffeine is in the product. “Soda typically is allowed to have as much as 71 milligrams of caffeine per 12 ounces for the FDA to consider it safe,” according to a report on the LAWeekly Blog about the case.
“Caffeine in energy drinks often ranges from 160 milligrams to 500 milligrams per serving, the FDA said. In comparison, an 8-ounce cup of coffee contains anywhere between 95 and 200 milligrams of caffeine. A 12-ounce can of Coke contains 35 milligrams, and an 8.3-ounce can of Red Bull has 76 milligrams.”
A can of Red Bull is small compared to the 24-ounce cans of Monster Energy that Fournier reportedly drank. “Caffeine can be lethal in doses ranging from 200 to 400 milligrams,” according to Crossland’s complaint.
“I want Anais’s life to send a loud and clear message to today’s youth that energy drinks can kill,” said Crossland in a press release. “I would like nothing more than to have these drinks regulated by the FDA and ban the sale to minors.”
If you’re concerned about your health after drinking energy drinks, contact a products liability lawyer on Lawyers.com.
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