5-Hour Energy Cited In 13 Deaths and ‘Spontaneous Abortion’

New reports implicate an additional brand of energy drinks in deaths.

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The federal government and the New York Attorney General's office have announced that they are investigating the popular energy drink after the Food and Drug Administration received claims that 5-Hour Energy has over the past four years led to 13 deaths and 33 hospitalizations.

New reports implicate an additional brand of energy drinks in deaths.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) confirmed on Wednesday to the New York Times that the agency has received 13 reports of deaths potentially linked to the high-energy drink 5-Hour Energy in the last four years. Health officials have been raising the alarm over energy drinks for their caffeine content, not all of which is accurately listed on the product, and the lack of regulation over the beverages. Because they are considered a dietary supplement, the drinks aren’t subject to the same strict regulations established by the FDA that govern foods.

(MORE: Are Energy Drinks Fatally Caffeinated?)

According to the New York Times:

Since 2009, 5-Hour Energy has been mentioned in some 90 filings with the FDA, including more than 30 that involved serious or life-threatening injuries like heart attacks, convulsions and, in one case, spontaneous abortion, a summary of F.D.A. records reviewed by The New York Times showed.

5-Hour Energy’s parent company Living Essentials did not comment on the filings, but told the newspaper in a statement that it was unaware of any deaths caused by the drink.

Combined with the five deaths mentioning another energy brand, Monster Energy, that the FDA received last month, the report raises serious questions about whether these beverages are being properly regulated and labelled, especially as the energy drink category continues to grow rapidly; retail sales climbed to $8.9 billion last year, up 16 percent, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Daniel Fabricant, the FDA’s director of dietary supplement programs, told the Times that it may be difficult for the agency to pinpoint the drink as the direct cause of these deaths because some reports may not contain enough information, or medical data could debunk the possibility. But the Times notes that the fatality reports citing 5-Hour Energy are relatively high considering that in 2010, the agency received 17 reports in the dietary supplement and weight-loss categories, which include nearly 50,000 products such as energy drinks.

5-Hour Energy can pack a big punch for a drink that comes in a two-ounce bottle known as a shot and contains high levels of caffeine, taurine (an amino acid that is linked to improved athletic and cognitive performance), and some B vitamins. As the Times explains:

The company does not disclose the amount of caffeine in each bottle, but a recent article published by Consumer Reports placed that level at about 215 milligrams.

An eight-ounce cup of coffee, depending on how it is made, can contain from 100 to 150 milligrams of caffeine.

In July, New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman subpoenaed major energy drink makers Monster Beverage, Living Essentials, and PepsiCo (which makes a similar product called AMP) to determine if they are accurately reporting all of their products’ ingredients on their container labels.

33 comments
ScandinavianGold
ScandinavianGold

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dchies
dchies

Well gee, who would have thought large doses of caffeine could cause problems....People need to NOT drink 10 per day.

It does not need more regulation. 

Ronnie_Matrix
Ronnie_Matrix

@TIME Inaccurate information about & lack ofBlues regulations. I'm not surprised the FDA has come up with this development....#energydrinks

DrJenGunter
DrJenGunter

@TIME not that I'm a fan but that 5 hr Energy has less caffeine than a grande latte, so unless it's the taurine...

gunshotdigital
gunshotdigital

@TIME @TIMEHealthland omg. I hope someone is going to be held accountable..

beckiyng
beckiyng

I was in a gas station the other day and was amazed at how many people in line had either a monster or  a 5 hour. I saw some who had both and I watched one man pay for his, drink the 5 hour before he even went out the door and as he stood pumping his gas he guzzled the Monster Drink. Another woman in the line commented that it was like a liquid drug for her, she could not work or exist with out it. She said she has about 5 a day. I thought I would give one a try and got the 5 hour and I have to say I could not stand the taste and did not really notice  achange in how I felt. My husband drinks the monsters on occasion... I just do not like them but I think common sense should say dont over do it!

beanbagboy
beanbagboy

@Merentia I didn't know this was happening :/

graemercaldwell
graemercaldwell

I'd be curious to know what the base rate for these causes of death are. If a million people drink them every year, some number will die at or around that time just by coincidence. We can't really say the drinks are responsible unless we have some idea how the rate of the deaths compares to the rate in the non drinking population.

DonQuixotic
DonQuixotic

Kind of funny how these things are marketed as an alternative to coffee and caffeine when that's seemingly all there is to it; in gross quantities to boot.

MonicaPalabras
MonicaPalabras

@TIME @TIMEHealthland Excess consumption of ANYTHING can hurt or kill you, especially if consumed rapidly.

SeanBampton
SeanBampton

@chrystallll yup. Resting heart rate is about 105.

SeanBampton
SeanBampton

@chrystallll LOL I have tachycardia. #SpeedRacer

SeanBampton
SeanBampton

@chrystallll Prime examples of Darwinian selection. #OnlyTheStrong

Jacob_Rachiele
Jacob_Rachiele

@TIME @TIMEHealthland That's outrageous. Energy drinks have way more nutrient info on them than coffee, which usually has more caffeine.

antoniojg1986
antoniojg1986

@TIME @TIMEHealthland this is why don't drink none of that stuffs lol

Darius Augustus
Darius Augustus

Great! Those morning after pills are getting too expensive.

Donald January Jr.
Donald January Jr.

I drank one of those just one time last year. I broke out in hives and had an allergic reaction. I have never had an allergic reaction in my life other than that one, so it scared the heck out of me. I couldn't be sure that it was the 5 hour energy that did it, but I haven't tried it since then. After seeing this, maybe something is up with that stuff.

Eileen Miller
Eileen Miller

So does coke cola or Pepsi. Roy's your teeth n inside lining of your stomach.

Tim Mandese
Tim Mandese

Never have never will. Energy drinks all taste like pee!

DukeFawcett
DukeFawcett

@DrJenGunter Time s u c k s , period. This is the same "mag" that put in it's cover,"how do we warm the planet",to stop the upcoming ice age. Now, we have the same faux "science saying the opposite". No one knows, no one can change it. It's about the money. Spontaneous abortion? So they'll sue, but can do it themselves if they feel like it?

DukeFawcett
DukeFawcett

@beckiyng people drink it because it's stylish They'll be off the market in a few years. Red Bull is next.

DukeFawcett
DukeFawcett

@graemercaldwell

dietary supplement. that skirts the rules, so you know it's BS. Look at the other dietary stuff that's been banned in the past few years.

DukeFawcett
DukeFawcett

@Jacob_Rachiele What's outrageous is your post. Uninformed. That's like saying a Big Mac is way more nutritious than a Whopper. Stop posting