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FDA Investigates Deaths Related to Energy Drinks

How safe are energy drinks? The popular 5-Hour Energy drink could be hazardous, even deadly, reports WGGB News.

It's very popular with college students and as the dangers of the energy supplement are starting to be exposed, many students in and around the Boston area should start thinking twice before consuming the drink.

The Food and Drug Administration is reportedly investigating 92 complaints that have emerged since 2009.

There have been 13 reported deaths from the drink. That's almost twice the number of the reported deaths from a similar energy drink, Monster Energy Drink. A 14-year-old girl in Maryland died from heart arrythmia after consuming two cans of Monster, two days in a row, reports The New York Times.

The 5-Hour Energy drinks come in two-ounce vials and it's easy for someone to consume three or four vials a day. They can take the place of coffee for many, as they tend to be convenient, available at many corner stores and stored easily in purses and backpacks.

But those two once vials contain as much caffeine as a regular cup of coffee. You won't find those amounts on the nutritional label, though. The drink is listed as a nutritional supplement and not food, so it doesn't have the same labeling requirements as food items, reports WGGB.

It also contains several vitamins, so it may lead people to think it's actually good for them. A lawsuit has already been filed in the Monster death. The lawsuit focuses on claims of inadequate warnings.

The type of lawsuit in the Monster case and any that might follow for 5-Hour Energy generally fall under the theory of product liability where a failure to adequately warn on the danger of a product places liability on the manufacturer. The manufacturer ultimately has two duties -- to warn users of any hidden dangers and to instruct users on how to use the product.

While labels state for energy drinks state that the products are not intended for use by children or by pregnant women, are these warning labels enough?

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