* Doctors hired by company say drink did not kill teen
* U.S. regulators probing five other deaths
* Chicago panel to discuss proposed energy drink regulations
By Martinne Geller
March 4 Monster Beverage Corp,
defending its Monster Energy drinks from mounting criticism
about potential health risks, said on Monday its medical
investigators found no evidence that the drinks caused the death
of a 14-year-old girl.
The family of Maryland teenager Anais Fournier sued the
company last year after she died of cardiac arrest that her
parents blamed on "caffeine toxicity" after she drank two
Monster Energy drinks in a 24-hour period.
Monster, the top-selling U.S. energy drink, has come under
fire from U.S. regulators and politicians. On Tuesday, a Chicago
committee on health and environmental protection will discuss an
official's proposal to limit the sale of energy drinks.
On Monday, Monster's lawyer and two doctors it hired said in
a press conference that their examination of Fournier's medical
records found no evidence that the drinks, or the caffeine in
them, contributed to her death, noting that she had been
receiving treatment for a heart condition since childhood.
"'Why did she suddenly die' is the question," one of the
doctors, California emergency room physician Michael Forman,
said. "That question can never be answered with any certainty."
Monster said that its team found "no medical, scientific or
factual evidence to support the Maryland Medical Examiner's
report of 'caffeine toxicity'."
Forman said that given Fournier's health history, she might
have suffered cardiac arrest that day, regardless of what she
drank. In addition, he noted that no blood test was ever taken
to prove caffeine toxicity.
Kevin Goldberg, a lawyer for Fournier's family, told Reuters
there were other symptoms of caffeine toxicity, though he
declined to elaborate.
"We have our experts and they have their experts," Goldberg
said, adding that it was "not appropriate ... to litigate the
case in the media."
Energy drinks are caffeinated beverages with
aggressive-sounding names like Monster, Red Bull, Rockstar, Amp
and Full Throttle. They are often associated with active or
extreme sports, which makes them popular with young men.
In addition to the Fournier lawsuit, the U.S. Food and Drug
Administration said in October that it received incident reports
of five deaths that mentioned Monster's namesake drink.
FDA spokeswoman Shelly Burgess said on Monday that the FDA
"continues to look into cases in which energy drinks were
suspected as a possible cause of death," though she notes that
the reports do not establish causality between the drinks and
"If we find additional information that establishes
causality, FDA will take appropriate steps to protect the public
and remove the harm," Burgess said.
Monster shares closed down 85 cents, or 1.7 percent at
$49.81 on the Nasdaq.