5-Hour Energy linked to 13 deaths

WASHINGTON – Those looking for an afternoon boost may want to think twice before reaching for an energy drink.

The New York Times reports officials at the Food and Drug Administration have received notice of 13 deaths in the past four years linked to 5-Hour Energy, a caffeinated beverage packaged in 2-ounce “shots” and sold in convenient stores.

The question over the safety of energy drinks is not a new topic. Over the past four years, 5-Hour Energy has been mentioned in roughly 90 filings with the FDA, potentially linking the drink to serious or life-threatening injuries, such as heart attacks, the New York Times reports.

This latest report comes on the heels of the FDA’s findings last month that linked five deaths to Monster Energy, another popular energy drink on the market. Another federal agency, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, attributed more than 13,000 emergency room visits in 2009 to energy drinks.

Currently, the FDA does not require companies to disclose the amount of caffeine in their beverages, and Living Essentials, the distributor of 5-Hour Energy, does not list the amount on the drink’s bottle.

In The Times article, the FDA stated that it does not have sufficient scientific evidence to change the way the federal agency regulates caffeine and other ingredients in energy drinks.

Highly caffeinated beverages, such as 5-Hour Energy and Monster Energy, are marketed as dietary supplements and fall under FDA regulations that require the producer of products to notify the agency of deaths or serious injuries that may be related to the product. Energy drinks that are marketed as beverages are not required to report deaths and injuries to the FDA.

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