5-Hour Energy: Deceptive and Misleading, Says Lawsuit

Purported false advertisement has fueled for three states to sue the makers of 5-Hour Energy. Oregon, Washington and Vermont each filed a lawsuit, claiming that 5-Hour Energy advertisements are "deceptive and misleading."

Oregon filed its lawsuit in Multnomah County Circuit because of the company’s accused violation of Oregon’s Unlawful Trade Practices Act by supporting and endorsing the product with claims that seem to be false and unproven by experienced, reliable scientific evidence.

Washington and Vermont also filed a similar suit against the Living Essentials Company that manufactures, markets, distributes, advertises and sells the questionable energy drink and its parent company, Innovation Ventures.

The states believe the company should not say the product is effective if it doesn't have supporting clinical data. Oregon believes the ingredient blend in the product doesn't boost energy as a whole because only  the caffeine in the product provides a jolt. The other ingredients (like B-vitamins and amino acids) cannot claim to offer any benefit for alertness or focus.

Another complaint about the marketing language is that the drink claims to provide “hours of energy now, no crash later.” The company's own research had showed that 24% of consumers did experience a crash, proving otherwise. The National Advertising Division of the Council of Better Business Bureaus asked the firm to stop using the  “no crash” language in 2009.

The company of the energy drink is not backing down and says it will defend itself in the courts.

Since 2012, regulators have been investigating the possible health risks of highly caffeinated health drinks, like 5-Hour Energy, following several adverse events linked to these products, incluing 13 deaths between 2008 and 2012, heart attacks and convulsion injuries.

The three states have pursued injunctions prohibiting 5-Hour Energy drink’s current marketing strategy and similar suits may follow in other state.

Published in WholeFoods Magazine, September 2014 (online 7/28/14)