Lawmakers Demand Health Data From Energy Drink Companies

Three Democratic U.S. lawmakers sent letters to 14 energy drink makers, including Monster Beverage Corp., Living Essentials LLC and Red Bull GmbH demanding information about the drinks and potential health problems.

The lawmakers want to know whether the companies consider the drinks food products or energy supplements. They also asked in the letters dated today how much caffeine and other stimulants are in the products, and whether the companies have conducted studies about the health effects of their products.

“Energy drink companies need to be clear with consumers about what they think their product is, what it contains, and what it can do,” Representative Ed Markey of Massachusetts, who sent the letters with Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois, said in a statement.

U.S. regulators including the Food and Drug Administration have been investigating the drinks after they were linked to deaths and hospitalizations. The agency is looking into whether the drinks can cause harm when consumed in excess or by young people or those with pre-existing heart conditions.

Shares of Corona, California-based Monster fell 1.4 percent to $49.84 at the close in New York.

Based on the review, the agency may move to regulate the product’s use or labeling. The FDA said it will also look into whether the drinks’ ingredients in addition to caffeine are safe. The agency said it hadn’t seen concerns with two main additives, taurine and guarana.

Monster drinks have been linked to five deaths, while 5-Hour Energy products, made by Living Essentials LLC, have each been associated with 13 in adverse event reports submitted to the FDA in a period from Jan. 1, 2004, to Oct. 23, 2012. Rockstar Inc. and Red Bull energy drinks haven’t been connected to any deaths. All four brands were cited in relation to side effects such as increased heart rate and abdominal pain.

(Updates with Monster share price in fifth paragraph.)
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