5-Hour Energy Drinks Cited in 13 Deaths; FDA Investigating

Federal health authorities are investigating reports of thirteen deaths possibly linked to 5-Hour Energy shots and are cautioning consumers to talk to their doctors before they consume them or other energy drinks.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has received 92 reports over four years that cite illnesses, hospitalizations and deaths after consumption of 5-Hour Energy. The FDA has also received reports that cited the highly caffeinated Monster Energy Drink in five deaths and one nonfatal heart attack.

FDA officials say that the reports the agency has received from consumers, doctors and others don't necessarily prove that the drinks caused the deaths or injuries, but that each one will be investigated.

Many critics worry about 5-Hour Energy's small size, because it's easier to drink several of them or mix them with alcohol. Though it is liquid, the 5-Hour Energy "shot" is marketed not as a drink but as a dietary supplement. FDA regulations require supplement manufacturers themselves to be responsible for products' safety.

A spokeswoman for the manufacturer, Michigan-based Living Essentials, LLC, says 5-Hour Energy is a "compact-sized energy shot intended for busy adults — it is not an energy drink, nor marketed as a beverage."

She went on to say that the company's website advises consumers to drink no more than two bottles of the shots per day, spaced several hours apart, and for new consumers to drink half a bottle to start.

FDA officials say they will take action if they can link the deaths to consumption of the energy drink. Such action could include forcing the company to take the drinks off the market.