Amid Doubt, Drink Stays on Shelves
Published: Friday, November 30, 2012
Updated: Friday, November 30, 2012 02:11
The caffeinated energy shot 5-hour Energy has been cited as a possible factor in 13 deaths over the past four years, according to records released by the Food and Drug Administration Nov. 15, but the university has no plans to regulate the sale of the beverage on campus.
The information from the FDA includes more than 90 reports received by the agency detailing medical emergencies in which 5-hour Energy may have played a role. In addition to the 13 deaths, another 14 incidents were deemed life threatening. Meanwhile, 25 of the 90 incidents involved trips to the emergency room and 32 resulted in hospitalizations.
Since the Food and Drug Administration considers 5-hour Energy a dietary supplement, the drink’s manufacturer, Living Essentials, must report any adverse events potentially related to the drink to the FDA. The agency is investigating the 13 incidents to determine if any connection can be made between the drink and the reported deaths, according to a Nov. 14 article in The New York Times.
Many on-campus stores sell 5-hour Energy, including the Georgetown University Bookstore, Epicurean and Co. and the storefronts of Students of Georgetown, Inc.
According to Director of Media Relations Rachel Pugh, the sale of energy drinks will likely remain unregulated by the university despite the potential adverse health effects.
"Georgetown University contracts with vendors who are allowed to make a wide range of products available for purchase in their stores on campus," Pugh wrote in an email. "The university is not in the business of selling consumer products and generally does not recommend or prohibit the sale of specific products."
The energy drink is available at multiple Corp locations, including Vital Vittles and Hoya Snaxa. Michael West (COL ’13), president and CEO of The Corp, said that those stores will continue to sell the drink.
"We’re not in the business of telling customers what they can and cannot buy — it’s still approved by the FDA," he said. "If that were to ever change, we would obviously have to pull it off our shelves."
West also pointed out that both Living Essentials and the FDA have said that the product is safe to consume when used as directed.
Energy drinks such as 5-hour Energy continue to be popular among students looking to remain alert for long hours. Aakash Bhatia (MSB ’16) has a 5-hour Energy every couple of weeks when his workload requires him to stay awake past 3 a.m. He does, however, remain cautious about his consumption.
"I am aware of the health risk, and that is why I try to stay away from it as much as possible," Bhatia said. "But there’s certain circumstances in which … I need to have it in order to accomplish the things I need to do."