A bill was introduced in Maryland’s General Assembly on Thursday that would ban the sale of energy drinks to children in the State. If the bill passes, Maryland would be the first state to ban the sale of energy drinks to minors.

Fourteen year old Hagerstown, Maryland resident, Anais Fournier died in December 2011 after consuming two 24 ounce Monster Energy Drinks. The Maryland Medical Examiner determined that Anais died from a cardiac arrhythmia due to caffeine toxicity. Since that time, Anais’s family and their team of lawyers have worked tirelessly to warn the public of the dangers of energy drink consumption, by vulnerable populations, and in particular, children and adolescents.

The personal injury lawyers at Goldberg Finnegan is proud to be on the front lines of the effort to ban the sale of energy drinks to minors. Kevin Goldberg, the past President of the Maryland Association for Justice, explained that “Energy Drinks can be dangerous or even deadly to children, adolescents and anyone with an underlying heart and or other medical condition. The problem is that several energy drink companies do not warn of these dangers and they target their marketing to the very populations who are most at risk for using the product.”

The legislation is sponsored by Delegate Kathleen Dumais from Montgomery County, Maryland who sits on the House Judiciary Committee. The Maryland Chapter of the American College of Cardiology and numerous leading cardiologists in the State, including Dr. Stacy Fisher, a University of Maryland Cardiologist, who specializes in treating individuals with congenital heart defects, enthusiastically support the bill.

Dr. Fisher, explained that “vulnerable populations such as those with connective tissue disease or congenital heart disease, often have less energy as a result of their disease, which makes the use of Energy Drinks appealing. This appeal is especially strong in adolescents and young adults, who are pressured to perform as well and to keep up with their peers. This is the exact population to whom marketing is aimed and who have no warning that they may be at high risk. There are now reported deaths and a marked increase in caffeine intoxication presentations to emergency rooms and to physician offices illustrating the safety concerns with the use of Energy Drinks.”

Monster Beverage Corporation (via a company called HookIt) has a “Monster Army” that allows membership for kids as young as 13 years old, despite the fact that the warning label on cans of Monster says “Not Recommended For Children.” Mr. Goldberg expressed concern that many energy drink companies may not have tested their drinks and the ingredients contained therein before marketing them. They are making billions of dollars using our kids as “guinea pigs” and the marketing campaigns used are reminiscent of the “Joe Camel” campaigns used by the tobacco companies in the 80’s and early 90’s,” said Mr. Goldberg.

There is abundant and growing scientific evidence that Energy Drinks are dangerous and can be deadly:

(1) Numerous Adverse Event Reports have been filed with the FDA revealing deaths and severe life threatening illnesses alleged to have been caused by the consumption of energy drinks.

(2) The American Academy of Pediatrics has indicated that children should never consume energy drinks and should not consume more than 100 mg of caffeine per day (most energy drinks have more 2.5x this amount); and suggests that consumption may put some children at risk for serious adverse health effects.

(3) The American Medical Association supports the ban on the marketing of Energy Drinks to children under 18. AMA board member Alexander Ding, MD has said “Energy Drinks contain massive and excessive amounts of caffeine that may lead to a host of health problems in young people, including heart problems, and banning companies from marketing these products to adolescents is a common sense action that we can take to protect the health of American Kids.”

(4) Emergency Room visits involving energy drinks doubled from 10,068 visits in 2007 to 20,783 visits in 2011, according to the SAMHSA DAWN REPORT dated Jan. 10, 2013.

(5) 18 Doctors and Scientists wrote a letter to the FDA on March 19, 2013 stating that:

“We conclude that there is no general consensus among qualified experts that the addition of caffeine in amounts used in energy drinks is safe….particularly for vulnerable populations such as children and adolescents. On the contrary, there is evidence in the published scientific literature that the caffeine levels in energy drinks pose serious potential health risks, including risk for serious injury or even death. We therefore urge the FDA to take prompt action to protect children and adolescents from the dangers of highly caffeinated energy drinks….”

(6) Energy Drinks may increase blood pressure, heart rates and disturb heart rhythms,
according to the American Heart Association Meeting Report dated March 21, 2013

(7) A study shows that young children comprise half the cases reported for Energy Drink
toxicity to U.S. National Poison Control Centers Database.

(8) A study presented at the Radiological Society of North American apparently shows that healthy people who drank energy drinks with caffeine and taurine experienced significantly increased heart contraction rates an hour later. Dr. Kim Williams, the VP of the American College of Cardiology said “the study raises concerns that energy drinks might be bad for the heart, particularly for people who already have heart disease.”

Kevin Goldberg, Goldberg Finnegan, 8401 Colesville Road, Suite 630, Silver Spring, MD 20910 Phone: (888) 213-8140.