How Many People Have to Die Before the FDA Acts?


The FDA's announcement that caffeinated = adulterated when it comes to alcoholic beverages is more than an hour away, so there is still time to rack up a few more Four Loko–related casualties. All you need to do is drink the stuff and then die (don't try it the other way around). Even if it is at your own hand, your death will be blamed on this demonic drink. So says no less a journalistic authority than The New York Times:

Four Loko, the top-selling caffeinated alcoholic drink, has been blamed for several deaths over the last several months, a period during which the brand's availability spread to all but three states. In August, an 18-year-old in Palm Coast, Fla., died after drinking Four Loko in combination with diet pills. The following month, a 20-year-old in Tallahassee, Fla., started playing with a gun and fatally shot himself after drinking several cans of Four Loko over a number of hours.

The linkage is a little more subtle in a front-page Tampa Tribune story about a troubled 20-year-old soldier, distraught over breaking up with his girlfriend and plagued by memories of innocent people he had killed in the war, who shot himself in the neck six months after returning from Iraq. Here is the lead:

Stop, Gio.

Giovanni Orozco, home six months from a tour of duty in Iraq, sat in a chair in his Lutz apartment, his AK-47 in his hands, his friends horrified.

The once gregarious 20-year-old who shunned alcohol until he got back from the war was drinking Four Loko and in a jealous funk over his ex-girlfriend. He had held his friends hostage for two hours, alternately pointing the assault rifle at them and threatening to kill himself if they called for help.

Stop, Gio , they urged.

He pointed the muzzle at his neck.

"You want to see something?" said Giovanni Andres Orozco.

He pulled the trigger and was dead.

The piece never mentions the drink again. But now this anecdote can be recycled by The New York Times as an example of another young life cut short by Four Loko. If only the FDA had acted sooner.

[Thanks to swillfredo pareto for the Tampa Tribune link.]