Problems with Monster energy drinks may have caused dozens of serious health problems in recent years, including at least six deaths, according to information submitted to federal health regulators.
The FDA has received at least 37 adverse event reports involving Monster drinks since 2004, including at least five deaths reported over the past year and a sixth reported in 2009.
According to a report by Bloomberg News, the FDA confirmed that the reports indicate that the individuals consumed Monster drinks before their death, and that the agency is continuing to review the side effects of energy drinks and research involving the safety of various ingredients, including high amounts of caffeine. However, no conclusions have been reached to establish whether Monster energy drinks caused the deaths and the reports are currently considered allegations by the agency.
Monster Energy is the brand-name for a popular energy drink that combines high amounts of caffeine with other stimulants, such as guarana and taurine, to increase energy and stamina. However, concerns have emerged in recent years about the side effects of Monter Energy drinks, which contain 240 milligrams of caffeine in a 24 ounce can.
Prior research has suggested that caffeine overdose can result in heart attacks, cardiac arrhythmias and death after doses ranging from 200 to 400 milligrams, and Monster Energy drinks are aggressively promoted to teens and young adults, who often consume multiple cans in short periods of time to provide a “caffeine buzz” or induced burst of energy.
Information about the Monster Energy deaths and other health problems comes in response to media coverage after the filing of a Monster Energy drink wrongful death lawsuit brought earlier this month by the family of a 14 year old girl who suffered a cardiac arrest and died after consuming two 24 ounce cans within a 24 hour period.
According to allegations raised in the complaint, there has been a spike in the number of emergency room visits each year due to caffeine overdoses, which coincides with the increase in use of energy drinks like Monster 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.
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.
In August 2012, Monster Beverage Corp. disclosed in an SEC filing that they are the subject of an unidentified state attorney general investigation, which is reviewing the “advertising, marketing, promotion, ingredients, usage and sale” of Monster Energy drinks.
The company also faces a Monster Energy drink class action lawsuit in Canada, which alleges that the drinks are sold with misleading packaging and without adequate statements about the contra-indications of potential risks associated with consuming energy drinks.