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5-Hour Energy Drink Under Fire for Potentially False Claims

Published on Jan 29, 2014 at 8:26 am in Product Liability.

In early January, the Oregon Attorney General announced she was pressing the makers of the 5-Hour Energy Drink to produce data to back up the company’s claims about the product.

Oregon is one of five states leading an inquiry into the drink’s safety, whose action has been joined by more than 30 states. The suits were spurred by data from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA reported it has received more than 90 “adverse incident reports” about 5-Hour Energy. Those adverse incidents include unplanned and spontaneous abortions, heart attacks, and 11 deaths.

Oregon is ordering the companies involved to back up their claims about the product. Those claims include that the product is “doctor-recommended,” a claim that users don’t “crash” after the energy boost wears off, and a claim that the product is suitable for children. The order was filed against various parent companies including Innovation Ventures LLC, Living Essentials LLC, and Microdose Sales LLC.

The state had originally requested documents from the companies back in April. What they submitted fell far short of the request, and the companies had blacked out some of the information, including specific amounts of ingredients. That data is necessary to investigate and test whether a crash would come after the energy boost.

The parent companies have claimed that providing the previously redacted data would force them to reveal proprietary trade secrets. The company says it’s concerned because it spent large amounts of money for more than 10 years to protect the ingredients of this popular product.

Forbes.com reported in 2012 that the drink, which it calls “the two-ounce caffeine and vitamin elixir that purports to keep you alert without crashing,” has grown over eight years to $1 billion in retail sales. Forbes reports that the company has actively protected its ingredients and taken legal action against imposters that show up on the grocery shelves.

The 5-Hour Energy Drink is considered among the class of products called supplements, which means it’s not considered a drug and does not need to receive FDA approval like a drug. However, supplements do need to comply with all FDA regulations.

The company’s website states that one shot of the 5-Hour Energy Drink contains the “caffeine equivalent to a cup of the leading premium coffee.”

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Tad Thomas has dedicated his practice to representing plaintiffs in various types of civil litigation, including personal injury, business litigation, class actions, and multi-district litigation.

After graduating with his law degree in 2000 from Salmon P. Chase College of Law at Northern Kentucky University, Mr. Thomas immediately opened his own private practice and began representing injury victims.

In 2011, Thomas Law Offices was established in Louisville, Kentucky. Over the past decade, Mr. Thomas has expanded his firm and now has offices in three additional locations: Cincinnati, Ohio, Columbia, Missouri, and Chicago, Illinois. He is also a frequent lecturer on topics like trial skills and ethics and technology.

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