5-Hour Energy drink makers sued for false claims

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By Jane Weaver

If you guzzle 5-Hour Energy shots, you should know three states are suing for "deceptive and misleading" advertising.

Oregon, Washington and Vermont have sued the makers of 5-Hour Energy, Living Essentials of Farmington Hills, Michigan, over claims, such as "hours of energy, no crash later" promoted in commercials. Other states are expected to file suits in the coming weeks. 

"Plainly and simply, in Oregon you cannot promote a product as being effective if you don’t have sufficient evidence to back up your advertising claims,” Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum said in a statement.

However, the company is not backing down and is denying the claims, calling the suits a form of “civil intimidation” that is “grasping at straws.”

The Food and Drug Administration has been investigating possible health risks from 5-Hour Energy drinks since 2012, when the company voluntarily reported adverse events linked to the product, including 13 deaths between 2008 and 2012. The injuries included heart attacks and convulsions.

Labels don't reveal how much caffeine is in the bottles, although the company has said the shots contain about the same as a cup of premium coffee. An 8-ounce cup of coffee has up to 150 milligrams of caffeine. In rare cases, too much caffeine can cause cardiovascular effects and, possibly, death. Caffeine affects the nervous system, heart rate and blood pressure.

Nearly six in 10 Americans who consume energy drinks and shots —which are especially popular among men ages 18 to 24 —worry about their health risks, according to a 2013 report from market research firm Mintel.