We’ve all seen the tiny red and yellow bottles in the supermarket. Most of us have seen the TV commercials too: 5-Hour Energy bills itself as an afternoon pick-me-up for flagging office workers, and as time-efficient replacement for a late commuter’s morning coffee.
According to an investigation by the New York Times, however, information compiled by the federal government raises important questions about the safety of 5-Hour Energy and similar products. “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, a spontaneous abortion” the newspaper reports.
The paper notes that the mention of a product in an FDA filing does not necessarily mean that the product is connected with a particular incident – only that a connection is possible or suspected. Still, the Times reports that 13 fatality reports mention 5-Hour Energy and that the government, as a result, is concerned. The Times adds that the regulatory world concerning energy drinks is often confusing because some are treated as beverages while others (including 5-Hour Energy) are classified as dietary supplements. Each category has different rules regarding both labeling and whether and how adverse events need to be reported to the government. The article quotes an FDA official saying that the reports are prompting a closer examination by the Agency.
The company that produces 5-Hour Energy, Michigan-based Living Essentials, insisted to the paper that its product is safe and said, in a statement to the newspaper, that it takes “reports of any potential adverse event tied to our products very seriously.”
Product safety for customers here in Oregon and nationwide is something we all depend on the government to enforce. Few of us are able to assess everything we buy and to ensure that manufacturers are offering us safe products. If companies choose to put profits ahead of public safety our regulatory agencies and our courts must step in to enforce the law and keep the public safe. It is interesting, for example, to note that while 5-Hour Energy’s main active ingredient appears to be caffeine, “the company does not disclose the amount of caffeine in each bottle,” according to the Times. Portland product safety lawyers are here to help Oregonians make their voices heard if they feel they have been harmed by a product that needs to be more thoroughly vetted by the state or federal government.
New York Times: Caffeinated Drink Cited in reports of 13 Deaths