By Farron Cousins

December 12th, 2012  4:00pm

Recently, new information from the FDA has shed some light on the dangers of consuming energy drinks like Monster, Red Bull, and 5 Hour Energy.  Below is an interview of Ring of Fire’s Mike Papantonio (sitting in for The Ed Schultz Show) talking with attorney Virginia Buchanan (Levin, Papantonio, Thomas, Mitchell, Rafferty, and Proctor) about these newly uncovered dangers.  You can listen to the audio at this link.

Mike:              Welcome back to the Ed Schultz Show, I’m Mike Papantonio sitting for Big Ed. The energy drink in this industry is one of the fastest growing food markets in the world and North America leads the world. Number one consumer of energy drinks. Every year companies like Monster and Red Bull pull in billions of dollars from consumers who use the products without even understanding what’s at risk. I’ve got Virginia Buchanan, one of the premier trial lawyers in America. She understands the risk. The energy drink industry, the story has not been told about what’s going on out there. What’s happening, Virginia?

Virginia:         As you know Michael, what you were referring to, we are leading the nation. We’re a caffeine driven, hectic, crazy, frantic society anyway and unfortunately our children, adolescents, and teenagers have picked up on that. They see this as a trendy and cool thing to do, to consume these energy drinks. The American Academy of Pediatrics says that most kids consume 100 milligrams or less of caffeine per day but now we’re seeing that they are consuming these drinks that can have as much as 500 milligrams per day if they just have one but if they have two or three or four, then you see these problems with toxicity, risk of seizures, even death.

Of course those numbers keep growing, not daily but nearly daily we’re hearing about more hospitalizations, more disabilities, and death. We know from what happened in California last year two days before Christmas when Anna Fournier died from caffeine toxicity in conjunction with an underlying cardiac problem that this stuff kills. It is getting a lot of press but unfortunately despite what the FDA is trying to do and some of our senators and mainstream medicine, we’re still seeing children have access to these drinks without disclosure, without adequate labels, and without any supervision. They can just walk in and buy them like Anna did by going to the mall and buying the drinks that she bought.

Mike:              Isn’t part of the problem is we don’t even know what the synergistic effect is of the additives in some of these drinks? If you read the label, and this is all about the warning, isn’t it?

Virginia:         It really is.

Mike:              It’s all about this stuff can kill you. You may have a predisposition. You may have a heart problem you don’t even know about.

Virginia:         Exactly.

Mike:              You may have an arrhythmia problem you don’t even know about.

Virginia:         This is an untested market, like I said, because it’s growing fastest among adolescents, teenagers, and college students. The people who want to stay up all night and party and then go to school the next day. They’re mixing alcohol in these energy drinks and they’re consuming as you say, these additional additives. The taurine and other types of things that there’s a synergistic effect but there’s an independent effect of some of those things as well. I know from prior litigation involving the herbal ephedrine drug that many of those things are monoamine oxidase inhibitors. You have a variety of problems that can affect the heart, effect the brain, and any underlying kidney or liver dysfunction that you have. It’s just a bad idea. It’s an unsafe product. It’s dangerous and it’s just out there and on shelves. This isn’t something you have to drive down a dark alley to buy. You can walk in virtually any supermarket, any drugstore, and it’s available without any age limit, without any quantity limit. If you want to get multiple of these drinks and consume them one after the other, it’s perfectly fine and legal to do. It really is a disservice to the youth of our country, I can tell you that.

Mike:              Yeah, Monster Energy, Red Bull, Rockstar, 5 Hour Energy. Thirteen thousand emergency room visits just in 2009. You know what the FDA reporting is usually 20% to 30% lower than what’s really happening out there in the real world. Virginia Buchanan, I want to get you back on this story as it develops. It’s going to continue developing because just what’s very predictable is you’re going to have an industry that knows it’s happening, chooses to do nothing because the profits are so big, and does the calculation. How many people are dying? How many people are ending up in the emergency room? How many injuries are there? How much do we have to pay? They’ll work the numbers and they’ll say we can make a profit even if we kill people, that’s okay. Even if we injure people, that’s okay because we can still make a profit. Virginia Buchanan, thanks for joining me.

Virginia:         Thank you.