In the wake of a recent death of a 14-year-old Maryland teen, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has released the reports of the deaths of five people, as well as one non-fatal heart attack that have been linked with the popular energy drink Monster.
According to her parents’ lawsuit, the late Anais Fournier went to the mall with her friends, where she bought a 24-ounce Monster energy drink. The next day, she returned to the mall, where she bought another Monster energy drink.
Shortly before 9 PM, just hours after consuming the second drink, the teenager went into cardiac arrest. By the time the ambulance arrived to transport her to the hospital, she was unconscious. Doctors placed her in a medically induced coma in order to combat brain swelling, but after six days, the family decided to terminate her life support. Two days before Christmas last year, Fournier died.
Her parents state that her autopsy said that she had died of “cardiac arrhythmia due to caffeine toxicity complicating mitral valve regurgitation in the setting of Ehlers-Danlos syndrome”. The lawsuit states that the beverages, in total, contained 480 milligrams of caffeine, in addition to other stimulants. Her parents say that caffeine can be lethal at 200 to 400 milligrams of caffeine, and that the two cans amounted to the equivalent of 14 cans of Coca Cola.
In the United States, soft drink manufacturers are limited to 71.5 milligrams of caffeine per 12 ounces. But, because energy drink manufacturers like those behind Monster, Red Bull, and Rock star classify their beverages as dietary supplements, they are not subject to FDA regulation.
A statement from Monster’s manufacturer, Monster Energy, said that the drink supplier said that they did not believe that they had any responsibility for Fournier’s death and that they intend to vigorously defend themselves in court. They also cited the 8 million sales of their beverage worldwide.
FDA’s spokeswoman, Shelly Burgess, said that they had received 5 cases connected to the energy drink. Though the cases date back to 2004, all the deaths occurred in 2009 or later. Burgess said that the responsibility lay with energy drink manufacturers to investigate any claims made against them. FDA rules also state that drink manufacturers do not need to disclose the amount of caffeine in their beverage.
Fournier had a genetic disorder, Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, characterized by the loosening of joints and the easy damaging of blood vessels. But her lawyer says that her doctor had not suggested any special behavior regarding exercise or caffeine.
According to the New York Times, the labels on the Monster’s containers say that they are “not recommended” for some consumers, like children, which the drink supplier classifies as those under the age of 12, or people “sensitive” to caffeine.