5-Hour Energy is probably the hottest and most popular street drug on the market right now. The kids are slammin' those berry-flavored energy shots like crazy, and why wouldn't they? Each bottle contains just a few ounces of chemicals strong enough to make you awake and alert for hours, and there's only about a three to four-minute period in which you will want to claw off your own skin as you convert into a Hulk-like figure who CAN DO ANYTHING FOREVER (until you crash, of course). What could possibly be wrong with such a substance?
Well, it could seriously screw up your body, just like ingesting any small dose of random chemicals and vitamins at once could.
Since 2009, 5-Hour Energy has been mentioned in some 90 filings with the F.D.A., including more than 30 that involved serious or life-threatening injuries like heart attacks, convulsions and, in one case, a spontaneous abortion, a summary of F.D.A. records reviewed by The New York Times showed.
The filing of an incident report with the F.D.A. does not mean that a product was responsible for a death or an injury or contributed in any way to it. Such reports can be fragmentary in nature and difficult to investigate.
The distributor of 5-Hour Energy, Living Essentials of Farmington Hills, Mich., did not respond to written questions about the filings, and its top executive declined to be interviewed. Living Essentials is a unit of the product’s producer, Innovation Ventures.
However, in a statement, Living Essentials said the product was safe when used as directed and that it was “unaware of any deaths proven to be caused by the consumption of 5-Hour Energy.”
Spontaneous abortion! That sounds fun, whatever that is. Clearly the makers of 5-Hour Energy are big fans of women's health initiatives (they're pro-choice, no doubt). Since I'm on Team No Convulsions Ever, I generally stay clear of amphetamines and other drugs that might, you know, make me bat-shit crazy. (I can do bat-shit crazy sober, to be honest.)
Of course, there's not much the F.D.A. is doing just yet to regulate energy drinks such as 5-Hour Energy, but since we all saw what happened with caffeinated alcoholic beverages (those poor, poor college freshman are now without their Sparks and Four Loko), and considering New York City has banned gigantic sodas, would we all be surprised if 5-Hour Energy and similar products are taken from bodegas and convenience store counters? I have to say, I wouldn't really mind it. Like cocaine, I find that energy shots make people insufferable at parties. Of course, I could probably avoid a lot of annoyances by not hanging out with so many people who perform improv.
Follow Tyler Coates on Twitter.