Dietary supplements that contain pure or highly concentrated caffeine in powder or liquid forms "present a significant public health threat,” FDA said in a Public Health Alert.
Free Confidential Lawsuit Evaluation: If you or a loved one suffered a caffeine overdose, you should contact our law firm immediately. You may be entitled to compensation by filing a suit and our lawyers can help.
What’s the problem?
A half cup of a highly concentrated liquid caffeine can have about 2,000 mg of caffeine, but a single teaspoon of bulk powdered product can have more than 3,000 mg, equal to 20 to 28 cups of coffee, which is a fatal dose.
The caffeine supplements can no longer legally be sold in bulk quantities directly to consumers, FDA said.
"Regardless of whether the product contains a warning label, such products present a significant and unreasonable risk of illness or injury to the consumer," FDA said.
In 2015 and 2016, FDA issued warning letters to at least 5 sellers of powdered caffeine in an attempt to stop the supplements from being marketed in the U.S. However, these actions had little effect.
"Despite multiple actions against these products in the past, we've seen a continued trend of products containing highly concentrated or pure caffeine being marketed directly to consumers as dietary supplements and sold in bulk quantities, with up to thousands of recommended servings per container," said FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D.
BMJ Case Study Reveals Terrifying Effects of Caffeine Overdose
A new case report published in BMJ Journals  illustrates what can happen when people swallow large quantities of powdered caffeine. The report, led by critical care doctor Rebecca Harsten from Queen Elizabeth Hospital in London, England, documents the case of a 26-year-old woman who was admitted to an emergency room approximately 3 hours after she ingested 2 heaped teaspoons of powdered caffeine (approximately 20 grams, or 50 to 60 cups of coffee).
The patient complained of symptoms including palpitations, sweating, anxiety and difficulty breathing. Upon examination, doctors found she had an abnormally rapid heart rate and low blood pressure, and was experiencing both hyperventilation and vomiting. Doctors recorded a higher-than-lethal concentration in their first measurement of caffeine in the patient's blood, which showed caffeine levels reaching 147.1 mg/L at least 7 hours after being admitted to the ER, "more than enough to kill a person," according to Harsten.
"Caffeine ingestions of greater than 1–2 g cause significant toxic effects," the researchers said. "Fatal caffeine overdoses have occurred following ingestions of >5 g or with blood caffeine concentrations >80 mg/L."
An ECG test indicated that the patient had an abnormal heart rhythm called polymorphic ventricular tachycardia, and subsequent examinations showed a build-up of acid in her body (metabolic acidosis), along with respiratory alkalosis (an imbalance of carbon dioxide and oxygen in the blood) and a high white blood cell count.
Luckily for the woman, a combination of electrolyte administration, haemodialysis, and bicarbonate treatment worked. After 2 days she was extubated, taken off dialysis, but remained under observation in intensive care for another week.
Do I Have a Caffeine Overdose Lawsuit?
The Pharmaceutical Litigation Group at our law firm is an experienced team of trial lawyers that focus on the representation of plaintiffs in caffeine overdose lawsuits. We are handling individual litigation nationwide and currently accepting new injury and death cases in all 50 states.
Again, if you or a loved one was injured by a caffeine overdose, you should contact our law firm immediately. You may be entitled to a settlement by filing a suit and we can help.