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FDA probes 5 deaths linked to MONSTER energy drink

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U.S. probes deaths for links to Monster energy drink

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(Reuters) - The Food and Drug Administration said on Monday that it was investigating reports of five deaths that may be associated with Monster Beverage Corp's namesake energy drink, and the company's shares fell more than 14 percent.

Monster is also being sued by the family of a 14-year-old Maryland girl with a heart condition who died after drinking two cans of its Monster energy drink in a 24-hour period.

Monster said it does not believe its drinks are "in any way responsible" for the girl's death.

The energy drink market is dominated by Monster and Austrian company Red Bull, but it also includes beverages made by Coca-Cola Co and PepsiCo.

The lawsuit and reports of other deaths that may be associated with energy drinks illustrate safety concerns surrounding the highly caffeinated beverages that are especially popular with young people. They could also embolden the industry's critics, including two senators and the New York attorney general.

"I don't think they are going to ban energy drinks," said Morningstar analyst Thomas Mullarkey. "The question arises whether or not it gives them more firepower for increased regulation."

That could mean more extensive labeling requirements or age restrictions, Mullarkey said. He added that the negative headlines also made Monster a less attractive takeover target.

"This really reduces the likelihood that Coke would want to acquire Monster," Mullarkey said. Sources told Reuters in April that the two companies had discussed a possible deal as recently as last year.

CONCERNS NOT NEW

The family of Anais Fournier sued Monster on Friday for failing to warn about the product's dangers.

The lawsuit, filed in California Superior Court in Riverside, said that after drinking two 24-ounce cans of Monster Energy on consecutive days Fournier went into cardiac arrest. She was placed in an induced coma and died six days later on December 23, 2011.

The lawsuit said Fournier died from "cardiac arrhythmia due to caffeine toxicity" that complicated an existing heart valve condition related to a disorder called Ehlers-Danlos syndrome.

The two drinks together contained 480 milligrams of caffeine, the equivalent of 14 12-ounce cans of Coca-Cola, according to the lawsuit.

"Monster is unaware of any fatality anywhere that has been caused by its drinks," the company said in a statement, adding that it intended to vigorously defend itself against the lawsuit.

On Monday, FDA spokeswoman Shelly Burgess said the agency had received reports of five deaths and one heart attack that may be associated with the Monster energy drink from 2009 through June this year.

The FDA said it investigates any report of injury or death that it receives. The notices to the FDA's adverse events database do not in themselves confirm a risk from a product.

Burgess said manufacturers are required to submit all reports on serious adverse events to the FDA within 15 days of receiving them, and that they are responsible for providing follow-up information that could shed light on their cause.

Last month, Senators Dick Durbin of Illinois and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut sent a letter to the FDA asking it to investigate the interaction of ingredients in energy drinks and the effect of the caffeine on children and adolescents. The letter followed a similar request from Durbin in April.

In July, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman issued subpoenas to three energy drink makers -- Monster, PepsiCo and Living Essentials LLC -- seeking information on the companies' marketing and advertising practices. PepsiCo makes the AMP energy drink, and Living Essentials makes 5-Hour Energy.

The combination of caffeine and alcohol came into the spotlight two years ago when a handful of college students were hospitalized for alcohol poisoning after drinking alcoholic energy drinks like Four Loko. Four Loko's maker later removed the caffeine from the drinks.

Monster is the leading U.S. energy drink by volume with nearly 39 percent of the U.S. market, but Austria's Red Bull has the highest share by revenue due to its premium price.

Monster Energy drinks are sold in the United States and Europe, and the company is rolling them out to Ecuador, Hong Kong, Japan, Macau and Slovenia. It said in August that it was planning more international launches next year.

The company had net sales of $592.6 million in the second quarter, ended on June 30.

Monster shares closed down 14.23 percent at $45.73 on the Nasdaq.

The case is Crossland et al v. Monster Beverage Corp, California Superior Court, Riverside County, No. RIC1215551.

http://www.reuters.c...E89L16G20121022

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She had a heart condition and drank 2 drinks in which speed up your heart and provide you with energy.... Really stupid move by the parents, feel awful for the girl who died but honestly how stupid can you be.

Something like this won't stop me from drinking energy drinks, you just have to drink them properly and not overdue it.

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If you have a known heart condition, wouldn't it be known to not drink such things?

I don't even prefer these sorts of drinks..

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They may be targeting teenagers but kids need to also learn to stop putting crap in their bodies. You wouldn't fill a Ferrari with a piss poor quality fuel, so why do it to yourself? Plus, you can replace a Ferrari, you only get one body.

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It says on the can to not drink more than one in 24 hours doesn't it?

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This is the equivalent of the family of a recently deceased obese man, sueing fast food chains for making him fat. You're responsible for what you put in your bodies. The company isn't at fault if the person consumes excessive amounts. Red bull, i know, has a note on the can saying not to exceed a certain amount per day. This girl should have realized that with a heart condition, too much caffiene is a bad thing.

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This is the equivalent of the family of a recently deceased obese man, sueing fast food chains for making him fat. You're responsible for what you put in your bodies. The company isn't at fault if the person consumes excessive amounts. Red bull, i know, has a note on the can saying not to exceed a certain amount per day. This girl should have realized that with a heart condition, too much caffiene is a bad thing.

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It says on the can to not drink more than one in 24 hours doesn't it?

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About time, the FDA should have been in on this a long time ago. I'm hoping that they'll make it off limits to those under 18 or 19. I can't stand the thought of teenagers who are still developing having this stuff accelerating their hearts.

I used to love drinking them, I can't go anywhere near them anymore without having heart troubles.

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I don't find energy drinks tasty or beneficial. I think it's just a cool trend for teens.

It's unfortunate that that happened to her though.

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I don't find energy drinks tasty or beneficial. I think it's just a cool trend for teens.

It's unfortunate that that happened to her though.

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doesn't it say right on it NOT to drink it if you have a heart condition? or to consult a physician before you do?

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doesn't it say right on it NOT to drink it if you have a heart condition? or to consult a physician before you do?

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I don't think teens should be able to buy these drinks over the counter. A few instances (when I was in high school) happened where people needed to go to the hospital b/c they had heart problems and drank too many of those energy drinks. Thankfully no one died, but teens are dumb, and will drink a few of those a day. I did a few times in high school.

Go after the law, not the company. Why not prevent this from happening to other kids, instead of trying to get a cash settlement out of it?

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I don't find energy drinks tasty or beneficial. I think it's just a cool trend for teens.

It's unfortunate that that happened to her though.

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Even at 28, When I drank even one can, my nerves shimmied like I'd had 4 coffees simultaneously. The stuff is toxic and heavily endorsed by everything from x-games, crashed ice, mma, etc. Another thing we'll look back on and say... wtf.

That being said.. the only drop shots I like are amaretto/beer and yag/redbull.

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I bet they'll pass a law that you have to be a certain age to drink energy drinks now after this

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I was literally addicted to RockStar energy drinks for about two months about 5 years ago. I felt like I needed one everyday so I had one everyday. I would wake up feeling dehydrated and tired but I didn't care.

It makes me feel stupid now that I think back.

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I'm more surprized that there hasn't been more mishaps with alcohol and energy drinks. If I remember correctly it says don't mix with alcohol, yet jagerbombs are so common and readily available in bars...

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I don't recall finding them beneficial either. I just enjoyed the taste.

And it's definitely a teenager trend. Some kids pound them back at parties. The Rockstar Vodka's or whatever. I'm surprised more people don't get messed up off of energy drinks.

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