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Just because a drug isn’t controlled doesn’t make it safe

A couple of weeks ago we took the opportunity to offer a bit of an education about what it takes to bring a wrongful death suit in Florida. As that item noted, there are some very specific stipulations that the law requires, including that the victim’s death has to have been the result of someone else’s recklessness or negligence.

Around about that same time, the issue of powdered caffeine and the risk that this dangerous product poses to users grabbed a lot of headlines. The fact is, though, that the stories reflected a revival of concern that has been around for some time.

The Food and Drug Administration issued an advisory back in July, alerting consumers to the fact that pure powdered caffeine is available for sale through the Internet and that it is so hazardous that it should be avoided. The agency noted that the alert came in the wake of the apparent caffeine powder overdose deaths of two young men last year.

Sadly, while caffeine is a drug it isn’t subject to federal regulation, so a warning is all the FDA could provide. It’s generally agreed that the typical daily dose of caffeine most of us get drinking coffee, tea or most sodas is safe, but the FDA says just a teaspoon of the pure powdered stuff delivers stimulation equivalent of 25 cups of coffee. And that can be lethal.

But last month, one FDA official declared that the dangers of powdered caffeine make it “inherently irresponsible” to market. He said people should choose to stop selling it, and that his agency is going to pursue all possible legal options to make sure the product becomes unavailable. But it’s unclear when action might come.

When a dangerous product has caused harm, the makers and suppliers should expect to be held accountable. But if the FDA is limited in what it can do, loved ones of victims can be left wondering what options may be available for seeking compensation. The way to find the answer is to consult with an experienced attorney.