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23 October 2012

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UPDATE 4-U.S. probes deaths for links to Monster energy drink

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Mon Oct 22, 2012 8:35pm EDT

* Monster being sued by family of 14-year old girl who died
* US says probing 5 deaths for links to Monster energy drink
* Monster says unaware of any fatality caused by its drinks
* Shares end down more than 14 percent (Adds market details, background)


by Martinne Geller and David Morgan

NEW YORK/WASHINGTON, Oct 22 (Reuters) - The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said on Monday that it was investigating reports of five deaths that may be associated with Monster Beverage Corp's namesake energy drink, and the company's shares fell more than 14 percent.

Monster is also being sued by the family of a 14-year-old Maryland girl with a heart condition who died after drinking two cans of its Monster energy drink in a 24-hour period.

Monster, the top-selling energy drink in the United States, said it does not believe its energy drink was "in any way responsible" for the girl's death.

Still, the lawsuit and reports of other deaths could escalate calls from critics including two U.S. senators and the New York attorney general about the safety of the beverages and the way they are marketed.

The highly caffeinated drinks with aggressive-sounding names like Monster, Red Bull, Rockstar, AMP and Full Throttle are often associated with active or extreme sports, which makes them especially popular among young men.

They are the fastest-growing type of soft drink in the United States, with sales increasing 17 percent last year to about $9 billion, according to Beverage Digest.

With double-digit growth through the third quarter of 2012, Beverage Digest Editor John Sicher said he expects energy drink sales to exceed $10 billion this year. He declined to speculate about future growth.

"I don't think they are going to ban energy drinks," said Morningstar analyst Thomas Mullarkey. "The question arises whether or not it gives them more firepower for increased regulation."

That could mean more extensive labeling requirements or age restrictions, Mullarkey said. He added that the headlines also made Monster a less attractive takeover target.

"This really reduces the likelihood that Coke would want to acquire Monster," Mullarkey said. Sources told Reuters in April that the two companies had discussed a possible deal as recently as last year.

Coca-Cola Co already distributes a large portion of Monster's drinks in the United States and in some international markets. Monster has a similar distribution deal with Anheuser-Busch InBev.

CONCERNS NOT NEW

The family of Anais Fournier sued Monster on Friday for failing to warn about the product's dangers.

The lawsuit, filed in California Superior Court in Riverside, said that after drinking two 24-ounce cans of Monster Energy on consecutive days Fournier went into cardiac arrest. She was placed in an induced coma and died six days later on Dec. 23, 2011.

The lawsuit, filed by her parents, said Fournier died from "cardiac arrhythmia due to caffeine toxicity" that complicated an existing heart valve condition related to a disorder called Ehlers-Danlos syndrome.

The two drinks together contained 480 milligrams of caffeine, the equivalent of 14 12-ounce cans of Coca-Cola, according to the lawsuit.

A spokeswoman for the law firm representing the family did not return calls seeking comment.

"Monster is unaware of any fatality anywhere that has been caused by its drinks," the company said in a statement, adding that it intended to vigorously defend itself against the lawsuit.

On Monday, FDA spokeswoman Shelly Burgess said the agency had received reports of five deaths and one heart attack that may be associated with the Monster energy drink from 2009 through June this year.

The FDA said it investigates any report of injury or death that it receives. The notices to the FDA's adverse events database do not in themselves confirm a risk from a product.

Burgess said manufacturers are required to submit all reports on serious adverse events to the FDA within 15 days of receiving them, and that they are responsible for providing follow-up information that could shed light on their cause.

Last month, U.S. Senators Dick Durbin of Illinois and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut sent a letter to the FDA asking it to investigate the interaction of ingredients in energy drinks and the effect of the caffeine on children and adolescents. The letter followed a similar request from Durbin in April.

In July, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman issued subpoenas to three energy drink makers -- Monster, PepsiCo Inc and Living Essentials LLC -- seeking information on the companies' marketing and advertising practices. PepsiCo makes the AMP energy drink, and Living Essentials makes 5-Hour Energy.

The combination of caffeine and alcohol came into the spotlight two years ago when a handful of college students were hospitalized for alcohol poisoning after drinking alcoholic energy drinks like Four Loko. Four Loko's maker later removed the caffeine from the drinks.

Monster is the U.S. energy drink leader by volume with nearly 39 percent of the market, but Austria's Red Bull has the highest share by revenue due to its premium price. Drinks owned by Coke and Pepsi have smaller shares.

Monster drinks are sold in the United States and Europe, and the company is rolling them out to Ecuador, Hong Kong, Japan, Macau and Slovenia. It said in August that it was planning more international launches next year.

The company had net sales of $592.6 million in the second quarter, ended on June 30.

Monster shares closed down 14.23 percent at $45.73 on the Nasdaq, making for a 42 percent decline since mid-June when one analyst downgraded the stock to "underperform". The case is Crossland et al v. Monster Beverage Corp, California Superior Court, Riverside County, No. RIC1215551.

(Additional reporting by Dhanya Skariachan; Editing by Gerald E. McCormick)

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2 comments:

ThePeSla said...

I believe Monster did have warnings about how many should be drank in a 24 hr period.

I have my doubts as to the science and motives of the CDC lately who apparently want to direct the lives of at least grown people in their decisions.

The sin taxes are there but where does the money truly go?

Now, how is it we give children under 8 days old certain shots like hep B when it is thought that so many shots under age two may stress their immune system.

It is not clear we should be imposing such things when the overall science is not clear and the doctors disagree with their own children. It is clear who gets the money in this generation of drug culture.

ThePeSla

Vleeptron Dude said...

Hiya ThePeSla

If you're new to Vleeptron, you may not know that I have been trying to fix a long-standing problem with Vleeptron -- not enough porn. This post was not intended to remedy the porn problem, but then I clicked on the Monster Energy company website and oboy oboy hubba hubba is this website rich with steamy wet soft-core porn ("The Kind Adolescent Boys Like," to borrow a slogan from circa 1900 French postcards.) I imagine the lower right derriere with the supersized can of Monster tucked in the thong is a very popular boys' bedroom poster.

I can see you've been struggling with Nanny State issues. And I sympathize, sincerely and truly.

My Wife No. 1 (a.k.a. The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms) believed that all attempts to clean up ads on kiddie TV shows were a Fool's Errand, and in fact did great potential harm to the children. She believed that the sooner little kids learn, through bitter experience, that the World is trying to steal their money and destroy their teeth and health by predatory lying, for corporate profit, the quicker the kiddies would Get Smart and stop demanding that Mom buy them Sugar Toasted Choco Captain Crunch Fudge Funnies. Government regulation, and Truth In Kiddie Krap Advertising laws would just guarantee us a generation of 30-year-old tooth-rotted obese idiots.

btw as Senator from New York, one of Hillary Clinton's most vigorous legislative initiatives was her demand to ban or restrict ultraviolent porno video games like Grand Theft Auto, to keep them from destoying the Moral Fiber of our precious Youth. Hillary doesn't just advocate The Nanny State. she wants to be The Nanny.

Now to Vleeptron's philosophy and conclusions about Monster Energy and its other supercaffeinated supersugared kid-oriented energy drinks.

Ah, what's a few dead teen girls? Shit happens. If it wasn't the Monster, they'd probably have texted while driving 88 mph up the interstate in the SUV. It was unlikely these distaff MTV dummies would have ever reached reproductive age.

There is the question of how much lethal predation of dopey kids the unrestricted, unregulated Free Market shou'd be permitted to get away with. If Ayn Rand says we should let the little darlings drink all the fun-packaged Poison they want ... that begs the question of why the Free Market should be constrained from selling their adolescent hot little bodies on the Sex Trade & Kiddie Porn market. By what right does the government feel it can tell Americans what they can and can't do with their adolescent orafices and other pleasure resources? Libertarian opposition to the Nanny State suggests that America should be allowed to morph into the Eastern European model of the Free Market -- you got rubles and znorki, we got 12-year-old girls and boys in dog collars. We accept major credit cards.

By coincidence, the Vleeptron post preceeding this one was chapters 1-4 of "A Cool Million" by Nathanael West, which touches on many of these issues, from a very un-Ayn-Rand lefty Great Depression standpoint. I strongly recommend it to you, and if you find value or amusement (or porn) in it, Leave A Comment and I'll blog the next few chapters.

Thanks for dropping by! (What the hell were you Googling for that got you to this screwy blog???) I checked out your blogs, nice stuph, great photos!