Billings readers may be surprised to learn that a popular energy drink has come under scrutiny by the Food and Drug Administration in the wake of a lawsuit by the parents of a 14-year-old girl who may have died after consuming two Monster energy drinks in a 24 hour period. The FDA is now following up on complaints beginning as far back as 2004 to determine whether a concoction marketed as fuel for the body may in fact be a dangerous product.

According to the ongoing product liability lawsuit, an autopsy identified a rapid and irregular heartbeat caused by caffeine intoxication as the cause of the teen girl’s death. The girl’s parents assert that the energy drink manufacturer provides insufficient warnings against the risks associated with its products.

Although the FDA regulates the amount of caffeine in soft drinks, there is no limit to how much caffeine may be contained in energy drinks. Even in the absence of regulation, the drink producer does label its packaging with cautions against its use by children or people with caffeine sensitivities. The manufacturer claims to have no reason to believe its product has led to injuries of any kind.

The parents involved in the lawsuit may face a challenge linking the energy drink to their daughter’s death, because her autopsy also revealed that she had an undiagnosed congenital condition that could have weakened her blood vessels. Nonetheless, the teen girl represents only one of five deaths that may be related to the same brand of energy drink.

The investigation of the energy drink industry began in late 2011 with subpoenas issued by the Attorney General for New York State. The FDA got involved shortly thereafter at the insistence of two United States Senators.

If the ongoing investigation establishes a connection between energy drink consumption and potentially fatal health risks, the energy drink industry as a whole may be liable for an unknown number of product related injuries and deaths.

Source: Fox News Latino, “Monster Energy Drink Linked to Five Deaths, FDA Investigates,” Oct. 23, 2012