Could energy drinks be dangerous for teens and others?

On behalf of Romanucci & Blandin, LLC posted in Product Liability on Thursday, December 6, 2012

Illinois Senator Richard J. Durbin recently released a letter from the Food and Drug Administration indicating that the federal agency has received reports of 18 deaths and more than 150 injuries in incidents that might involve the consumption of energy drinks.

Last week, the FDA said it’s going to solicit advice from experts outside the agency to help determine if the popular drinks are dangerous products for teens or people with health problems.

The FDA is looking at possible dangers posed by drinks such as Red Bull, 5-Hour Energy and Monster Energy, drinks that contain large doses of caffeine.

Outside experts who might be tapped by the FDA include the Institute of Medicine, a part of the National Academy of Sciences.

Analysts indicated that the wording of the letter reveals that FDA action isn’t going to be immediately forthcoming. That news sent the stock price of one energy drink maker soaring.

However, others urged caution, noting that after Canada examined the effects of the caffeine-laced drinks, it imposed limits on the amount of caffeine the beverages could contain.

The FDA’s focus will be on the dangers the drinks and their stimulants pose to certain vulnerable groups, especially among teenagers.

Canada’s panel of experts recommended that the drinks be labeled as “stimulant drug-containing drinks.”

New rules there limit caffeine in energy drinks to 180 milligrams per can. Some energy drinks available in the U.S. exceed those limits.

An eight-ounce cup of coffee typically contains up to 150 milligrams of caffeine.

Health advocates warn consumers that caffeine is a stimulant that can cause not only spikes in energy, but dehydration, lethargy and even depression. They say caffeine increases the heart rate as it decreases blood flow, making the heart work harder; a potentially dangerous combination of factors.

Source: New York Times, “F.D.A. May Tap Experts on Energy Drinks,” Nov. 27, 2012