The makers of Redline energy drinks and energy supplements face a class action lawsuit from a Texas man, who alleges that the company’s products are dangerous and caused his hospitalization.
The complaint (PDF) was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida last week, by Adam Mirabella against Vital Pharmaceuticals, Inc., which operates under the name VPX.
According to the Redline energy drink lawsuit, “persons who have consumed the Product have reported a range of adverse side effects, including, but not limited to, chills, excessive sweating, vomiting, convulsions, chest pains and rapid heartbeat.”
Mirabella is seeking class action status for the lawsuit, to cover all individuals who experienced similar health problems from Redline energy products. The lawsuit claims that because VPX bills the drinks as an energy supplement it should follow FDA dietary supplement guidelines, something the lawsuit says Redline packaging fails to do.
Harmful Side Effects of Redline Energy Drinks Alleged
Redline energy drinks contain a high amount of caffeine and a number of other substances, which the lawsuit indicates are known to cause adverse side effects. Potentially harmful ingredients include yohimbine, vinpocetine, and 5-Hydroxytryptophan, according to the complaint, which can cause rapid heart rate, high blood pressure, headaches, dizziness and other problems at high doses.
“This is considered a prescription drug in North America,” the lawsuit states. “Consumption of this drug is not appropriate for unsupervised use due to potentially severe side effects linked to irregular or rapid heartbeat, kidney failure, seizure, heart attach and other serious conditions such as upset stomach, tremor, anxiety or agitation, high blood pressure, a racing heartbeat, dizziness, and nausea.”
Mirabella states that he purchased a Redline energy drink in July. Ten hours after drinking it, he indicates that he suffered from excessive heart rate, extreme chest pain, lost sensation in his hands and had extreme nausea.
As a result of the health problems from the energy drink, Mirabella claims that he was hospitalized and required two days of sedation to get his heart to return to normal. The lawsuit alleges that emergency room doctor compared the effects to those of a cocaine overdose, and warned Mirabella not to ever consume any other energy drink again, due to the risk of a similar occurrence.
The lawsuit accuses VPX of unjust enrichment, breach of implied warranty, and violation of Florida consumer protection laws. In addition to compensatory damages, the lawsuit seeks to force VPX to engage in corrective advertising and to place clearer warning labels on its products.
Monster Energy and Other Drinks Also Facing Scrutiny
The lawsuit comes shortly after the family of a 14 year old girl filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the makers of Monster energy drinks. The girl reportedly suffered cardiac arrest after consuming two 24-ounce cans of Monster within a 24-hour period.
According to allegations raised in that complaint, there has been a spike in the number of emergency room visits each year due to caffeine overdoses in recent years. The increase coincides with the increase in use of energy drinks among teens and young adults.
Energy drink sales increased 240% between 2004 and 2009, and the number of caffeine overdose emergency visits increased from 1,128 in 2005 to 16,055 in 2008 and 13,114 in 2009. Approximately 56% of those visits involved individuals between 12 and 25 years of age.
In humans, caffeine acts as a central nervous system stimulant, temporarily warding off drowsiness and restoring alertness. Caffeine overdose symptoms are usually recognized by signs of jitters, nausea, anxiety, dizziness, and sometimes vomiting which are best warded off by ingestion of water.
Since 2004, the FDA has received at least 37 adverse event reports involving health problems from Monster Energy drinks, including at least five deaths reported over the past year and a sixth reported in 2009.
According to a report published in the September 2008 edition of the medical journal Drugs and Alcohol Dependence, researchers suggested that additional information needs to be provided for consumers about the risk of health problems from energy drinks, with labels clearly indicating the amount of caffeine and warning about potentially harmful side effects.