Caffeinated energy drinks have been all the buzz for the past few years with increases in both sales and sponsorship endorsements. Major manufacturers like Miller and Anheuser-Busch began to take advantage of the popularity of the drinks and market a new line of caffeinated alcoholic beverages, aimed squarely at twentysomethings who were weaned on energy drinks. On November 13th, federal health officials, prompted by requests from several states’ attorneys general, said they will look into the safety and legality of producing and marketing alcoholic drinks containing caffeine. prompted by a request from several state’s attorneys general. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has given 30 manufacturers of the drinks 30 days to show officials why their products are safe and under what authority they think they can continue to sell their products. “The agency has asked manufacturers of caffeinated alcoholic beverages to provide FDA with the data necessary to demonstrate that caffeine can be safely and lawfully added to alcoholic beverages,” Principal Deputy Commissioner Joshua Sharfstein, M.D., said during a teleconference. “The agency is not aware of the basis upon which manufacturers have concluded that the use of caffeine added to alcoholic beverages is ‘generally recognized as safe,'” he added. The combination of alcohol and caffeine has health officials concerned because of the possbile harmful effects it can have – including heart palpitations, insomnia, and dehydration. The target market for these popular drinks, which are widely available at bars and liquor stores, are young adults aged 21 to 27. Recent data from the FDA shows that up to 26% of college students consume the potentially high-risk beverages. Currently, the FDA has approved caffeine only as an addition to soft drinks, not alcoholic beverages. The letter from the attorneys general to the FDA was clear in expressing the concern over these beverages. “The consumption of caffeinated alcoholic beverages has been associated with increased risk of serious injury to oneself and others as a result of driving while intoxicated, sexual assault, and other dangerous behavior,” the letter stated. The letter also points to concerns that caffiene stimulates individuals to drink more alcohol, and that “being wide awade and drunk at the same time” can increase chances of violence and other high-risk physical behaviors that can cause injury. Companies that received the FDA’s letter include United Brands of Los Angeles, the maker of “Joose,” which combines malt liquor with caffeine, and Mix Master Beverage of Stateline, Nevada, which makes a beverage called “24/7.” SOURCE: November 13, 2009 teleconference with Joshua Sharfstein, M.D., principal deputy commissioner, U.S. Food and Drug Administration.