January 16, 2018

Three States File Lawsuits Against 5-Hour Energy Maker

Three states: Oregon, Vermont, and Washington, have filed lawsuits against the makers of 5-Hour Energy, a drink that is loaded with caffeine, for deceptive marketing. That product has been linked to 22 deaths reported to the government since 2004. The defendants are Living Essentials and Innovation Ventures.

5-Hour EnergyThe Oregon complaint alleges that the companies “repeatedly violated the Oregon Unlawful Trade Practices Act (UTPA) by making deceptive and misleading claims about the 5-hour Energy products.” The company used print, television, internet, and radio advertising to claim that the product has a “unique combination of ingredients” that provided consumers with “energy, alertness and focus”, when the only active ingredient was a concentrated dose of caffeine. Vitamins, enzymes, and amino acids in the product do not provide any benefits the defendants claim.

The suit also alleges that the company misleads consumers that the product won’t cause a “crash”, and that the product has been recommended by doctors. And the product is promoted as being safe for adolescents 12 years of age and older, as it is advertised on the Cartoon Network. Sales of 5-Hour Energy drinks reach more than $1 billion every year.

Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum said in a statement, “this lawsuit is about requiring truth in advertising. 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.”

5-Hour Energy is sold at more than 100,000 retail locations in the United States, including convenience stores. It is placed near the “impulse buying area” at the checkout aisle. Health effects of this product are not known, but the FDA has been investigating the product since reports of injury and death have been received.

The lawsuits allege that the company’s claims about the product are unfair because the defendants “have no competent and reliable scientific evidence to show that they do [exist].” The company claims that the megadoses of vitamins and sodium in each bottle “create the alert productive feeling you want,” but there is no evidence to back this claim. Some of the tag lines used by the company include “why do energy drinks make you crash?” and “with 5-hour Energy you can leave grogginess behind.”

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