FDA May Seek Outside Help to Explore Dangers of Energy Drinks

Reports insists energy drinks, whether consumed alone or with alcohol, could cause harmful effects to the body.

Reports insists energy drinks, whether consumed alone or with alcohol, could cause harmful effects to the body.  (Getty)

Could energy drinks be harmful to your health? The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is pondering on the same question.

The New York Times is reporting a letter released Tuesday written by the Department of Health & Human Services states officials may seek help from outside experts to further investigate whether energy drinks pose a major risk, particularly to teenagers. The letter was addressed to Senator Richard J. Durbin.

“In particular, we are looking at whether products that may be safe for most individuals under labeled-use conditions may pose significant risks, arising from direct toxic effects, when the products are consumed in excess or by vulnerable groups, including young people and those with pre-existing cardiac or other conditions,” stated the letter. “This review includes investigating as fully as possible reported deaths and other serious adverse events that these reporting parties have associated with energy drinks.”

The letter is a follow-up to the FDA’s ongoing investigation of several deaths and non-fatal injuries that may have been caused by popular products with high levels of caffeine. The New York Times is reporter the agency received reports of 18 deaths and over 150 injuries mentioning possible involvement of energy drinks.

Earlier in October, parents of a 14-year-old girl filed a wrongful death suit in Riverside, Calif. after their child drank two cans of Monster Energy Drinks in 24 hours. The girl’s family insisted Monster failed to warn consumers about the risks of drinking its products. While an autopsy concluded she died of cardiac arrhythmia due to caffeine toxicity, the medical examiner also found the girl had an inherited disorder that can weaken blood vessels.

Officials said a review of the drinks might be “greatly enhanced by also engaging specialized expertise” from an outside group, like the Institute of Medicine, which is part of the National Academy of Sciences.

In addition, the FDA is hoping medical records will give experts further insight on how energy drinks may potential cause significant reactions to the body.

“In general, FDA does not have the authority to require the production of medical records by families or health care providers, but we are requesting that such records be provided on a voluntary basis, even as we remain sensitive to the wishes of families and the constraints under health care providers operate in light of state and local laws governing disclosure,” said the letter.

Although the FDA caps the amount of caffeine in soda to 0.02 percent, there is no such limit for energy drinks.

New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman issued subpoenas to energy drink makers like Monster in August, as part of the state’s investigation of the energy drink industry. Then in September, Senators Dick Durbin and Richard Blumenthal asked the FDA to further look into the effects of caffeine and other ingredients in energy drinks on children.

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