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Highly caffeinated product cited in numerous deaths

Reports recently issued by the Food and Drug Administration revealed that in the past four years there have been 13 deaths that cited involvement of 5-Hour-Energy. This is not the first time federal officials have seen a case of this type, as just last month the F.D.A. linked five deaths to Monster Energy products. Both cases have caused the New York State Attorney General to launch an investigation regarding the practices of several energy drink producers.

5-Hour-Energy was introduced to the market in 2004 by distributor Living Essentials, who claim that the product is safe when used as directed. Sold in 2-ounce bottles, the product is marketed as an "energy shot" instead of a beverage, like Red Bull, and is sold under the agency's rules governing dietary supplements.

The company doesn't list the amount of caffeine per shot on the label, but according to reports, each bottle contains about 215 milligrams of caffeine. To put this in perspective, one 8-ounce cup of coffee contains roughly 100-150 milligrams. The energy shot also contains extremely high levels of B vitamins and taurine, a substance also found in Monster.

Since 2009, the energy product has been cited in over 90 reports filed with the F.D.A. More than 30 of those filings involved serious or life-threatening incidents, including heart attacks, convulsions, and even one spontaneous abortion. Last year, The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration issued a report stating that in 2009 alone more than 13,000 emergency room visits involved energy drinks.

Source: NYtimes.com, "Caffeinated Drink Cited in Reports of 13 Deaths," Barry Meier, Nov. 14, 2012

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