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States sue 5-Hour Energy over ad claims

By Steven Dubois

Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 05:34 p.m. HST, Jul 17, 2014

PORTLAND, Ore. » Two attorneys general from the Northwest have sued the companies responsible for the popular 5-Hour Energy drink, alleging they engaged in deceptive advertising.

The Oregon lawsuit filed Thursday in Portland contends 5-Hour Energy falsely claims customers get extra energy and focus from a unique blend of ingredients, when the boost actually comes from a concentrated dose of caffeine.

The suit also targets claims that users don't experience a crash when the effects subside and that the product is OK for adolescents.

Oregon has been part of a group leading a 33-state investigation into the accuracy of the product's claims. Washington state's attorney general filed a similar lawsuit Thursday in King County Superior Court in Seattle.

Other states are expected to file suit as well, said Kristina Edmunson, a spokeswoman for the Oregon Department of Justice.

The lawsuits name Living Essentials LLC and Innovation Ventures LLC as defendants.

5-Hour Energy spokeswoman Melissa Skabich said the company will defend itself against what Skabich called civil intimidation.

"When companies are being bullied by someone in a position of power, these companies roll over, pay the ransom, and move on," Skabich said in a statement. "We're not doing that."

Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum said 5-Hour Energy violated the state's Unlawful Trade Practices Act. The lawsuit seeks monetary penalties as well as refunds to all Oregon buyers of the decaffeinated version of the product, which, according to the lawsuit, provides no extra energy or alertness.

"Plainly and simply, in Oregon you cannot promote a product as being effective if you don't have sufficient evidence to back up your advertising claims," Rosenblum said.

She and 5-Hour Energy have been in a tug-of-war over that evidence for more than a year, with her department seeking unredacted information showing how the formula for 5-Hour Energy provides its asserted benefits.

The heavily advertised energy drink was introduced a decade ago, and the lawsuit estimates it is sold at more than 100,000 retail locations in the United States.

The state officials investigating 5-Hour Energy say they are concerned about safety. The Food and Drug Administration said in November 2012 that it had received more than 90 reports over four years about illnesses, hospitalizations and deaths after the consumption of 5-Hour Energy.

The FDA said, however, that the reports did not prove that the energy drink caused the problems.

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AniMatsuri wrote:
If it didn't work why does it sell so well?
on July 18,2014 | 03:09AM
mrrdgreen wrote:
People beleive the FALSE advertising. Quote..."A sucker is boirn every minute"
on July 18,2014 | 07:22AM
AhiPoke wrote:
I'm one of the "suckers" as it clearly didn't work for me. After trying about 3 or 4 times I didn't notice any increased energy.
on July 18,2014 | 10:00AM
lowtone123 wrote:
The suit doesn't claim that the company misled consumers by claiming it works when it didn't. It does work but because of a high dose of caffeine, not a unique blend of ingredients, as they claim. Also they claim no crash when, in actuality, a high dose of caffeine does produce a crash after the high.
on July 18,2014 | 09:04AM
localguy wrote:
This is the same money grab states did when they went after the tobacco companies. Lies to everyone saying the money recovered would only go to health costs. In no time the funds were raided to cover pet projects, special interest groups, you name it. Expect the same to happen here, money goes to bureaucratic needs. What a bunch of losers.
on July 18,2014 | 08:01AM
KaneoheSJ wrote:
Speaking of false advertising, Yelp is one of the biggest false advertisers out there but yet no AG has ever investigated them properly. You can easily test it yourself, I did. On Yelp's advertising they claim that they do not remove reviews of businesses as they cannot be bought. But that is not exactly the case. They actually filter out reviews for their favored businesses. They don't have to remove reviews for their favored businesses because they don't even get past the filters. I wrote a negative but truthful review for Kalihi Pet Center's policy of not replacing fishes that die after purchase through no fault of the buyer. That review never got past the filter. Then I wrote an honest review of another pet store, Pets Plus, and that one was not filtered out. Pets Plus, although it deserves the review, has to deal with this unfair business practice of Yelp which is deceptive and is slanted towards their favored businesses. Now, I do not know what these favored businesses did to get that status but these businesses should not have their reviews filtered out when others clearly are not given this advantage. Shame on Yelp.
on July 18,2014 | 11:15AM
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