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When Will We Learn?

Wed, 07/23/2014 - 3:11pm
Mike Auerbach, Editor In Chief

Humans are a strange lot. We are more than willing to believe just about any product claim in the hopes that an easy solution to our problem can be found inside a pill, tablet or liquid.

Most of these products fall into the nutritional or dietary supplement category. Products that can help you lose weight, increase mental acuity, help you stay awake or provide more energy are all the rage nowadays, despite the fact that none have been approved by the FDA.

Most do claim to have been tested in a clinical setting, which to the casual listener sounds good, but to those who know how a clinical trial should be done – this phrase opens a up a whole host of questions. But I digress.

I will admit, that I have succumbed on a few occasions to the siren’s call of supplement claims. Years ago, when I first noticed I had a few of this annoying “floaters” in my eyes, I tried bilberry extract pills, as I read it had supposedly helped WWII British fighter pilots see better in the dark. I tried than for a while, didn’t notice any improvement, and left the rest of the pills in the bottle. Only to throw them out several months later after they expired.

Which brings me to the latest controversy surrounding the marketing and claims of the very popular 5-Hour Energy drink. The company that manufactures the drink, which by some estimates is sold in over 100,000 locations around the United States, is being sued by a group of 33 states questioning the accuracy of the product’s claims.

Leading the case has been Oregon’s Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum. According to reports, Rosenblum has been trying for more than a year to obtain information from the company, without success.

5-Hour Energy claims it’s being intimidated by the government, and as company spokesperson Melissa Skabich said, "When companies are being bullied by someone in a position of power, these companies roll over, pay the ransom, and move on, we're not doing that."

That’s fine. But if the government is only asking for evidence to back up the company’s purported health claims, and is acting in the health interests of consumers, why won’t the company release the information?

I imagine this case will become very long and drawn-out – and we may never find the answer.

But in the meantime – maybe we can learn a thing or two from this. Not everything does what it claims; and my personal advice: if you need something like a 5-Hour energy drink to get you through the day – maybe going to bed a little earlier would solve the problem.

 

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