Since 2009, 13 wrongful death lawsuits have cited the possible association to 5-Hour Energy, a highly caffeinated energy shot, according to Food and Drug Administration (FDA) records. In addition, there have been over 90 filings with the FDA, with one third involving serious or life-threatening injuries such as heart attacks. The results from the reports will affect how cardiologists in Florida to California think about energy products.
5-Hour Energy, owned by company Living Essentials, takes in around 80 percent of the energy drink market, although it is considered a dietary supplement rather than energy drink, and for that reason is not regulated by the FDA. In addition to caffeine, 5-Hour Energy also contains high levels of B vitamins, glucuronolactone, malic acid, taurine, and other ingredients.
In 2010 a wrongful death lawsuit was filed when a man, age 27, died after experiencing a heart attack. His lawyer claims that Living Essentials failed to properly warn consumers of the associated health risks of 5-Hour Energy, and that the labels falsely lead consumers to believe that there has been clinical testing on the safety of the products.
According to the 2010 5-Hour Energy lawsuit, the victim’s doctors claimed that the drink was the sole cause for his heart attack. Living Essentials has kept the specific recipe for the drink a secret, but the lawsuit claims that the ingredients contained in the drink are known to increase the risk of strokes, blood clots, heart attacks, and other illnesses.
Unlike most energy drinks, 5-Hour Energy is sold in a two-ounce bottle. Living Essentials does not release the amount of caffeine in each bottle, but a recent Consumer Reports study estimated that the level is most likely around 215 milligrams – for reference, an average eight-ounce cup of coffee contains 100 to 150 milligrams. Living Essentials does, on the other hand, state that only two 5-Hour Energy bottles should be consumed in one day, several hours apart.
The reports filed with the FDA do not indicate that 5-Hour Energy is responsible for any death or injury. The reports are only investigative. Regarding caffeine regulations, the FDA has stated that it does not have sufficient scientific evidence to justify altering the current regulations for energy products. However, specialists from the Cardiovascular Institute of Northwest Florida would agree that any individuals with prior heart conditions should avoid the consumption of energy drinks.