Las Vegas, Nevada-based Rockstar, Inc. recently released a “scientific white paper” prepared for the energy drink maker by Intertek Cantox. Signed by University of Kansas Medical Center Department of Pharmacology Professor John Doull, a member of an “Expert Panel convened to evaluate the conditions of use of caffeine in Rockstar products,” the paper reviews scientific literature on the purported health effects of caffeine in adults and youths, and concludes that the estimated daily dietary intakes of the caffeine in Rockstar energy drinks is safe and generally recognized as safe (GRAS) “based on scientific procedures.” The paper also reviews literature on other ingredients, including guarana extract, taurine, milk thistle extract, and ginseng extract, and reports that “the Expert Panel unanimously concluded” that these ingredients are also safe and GRAS.

Among other matters, the paper further notes that (i) there is no apparent basis for the claim that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no more than 100 mg of caffeine per day for adolescents; (ii) Rockstar energy drink beverages, with up to 240 mg of caffeine per 16-ounce can, contain less caffeine than certain Starbucks coffee products; and (iii) “[a]dverse event reports do not establish a cause and effect relationship, and the number of such reports for Rockstar is very low in comparison to retail sales of approximately 3 billion cans of Rockstar energy drink products in the USA since Rockstar brand inception in 2001.”

As to the adverse event reports, the paper contends that more than onehalf of the reports compiled by the SAMHSA Drug Abuse Warning Network of hospital visits allegedly associated with energy drinks among patients aged 18 to 25 also involved drug or alcohol use with the energy drinks. Any reported deaths, none of which has apparently been linked to a Rockstar product, purportedly involved confounders, such as suicide, falls and pneumonia. The paper also notes that the filing of such a report “is not sufficient to prove cause and effect.” Details about the SAMHSA research appear in Issue 467 of this Update.

Details about the letters sent by two U.S. senators to energy drink makers taking them to task for marketing to children and adolescents appear in Issue 477 of this Update.