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.]

NEXT: New Obama Administration Health Care Guru: Double Counting? What Double Counting?

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  1. What if I pour some cheap malt liquor into a cup of coffee, drink it, and still somehow manage to live?

    It would be a miracle of modern medicine!

    1. I had an Irish Coffee once. I never realized how close I came to death.

      1. Larry Niven regularly refers to Irish coffees in his fiction. Which means that his stories must be banned.

        1. Robinson’s Callahan Crosstime Saloon stories are lierally built on Irish Coffee.

          1. Jeez, more books to ban. Maybe we should hire some guys to go find all those books and dispose of them somehow.

            1. I’ll volunteer.

            2. Our fire department’s can be tasked with the job. They spend 80% of their time sleeping and play grab ass at the station anyway.

              1. Are you suggesting that they hose down the books? Wouldn’t shredders or maybe some sort of plasma be a better means for destroying books?

                1. Perhaps….no, you’re not that dumb pro-lib. That had to be intentional.

      2. If the FDA were really on top of things they would ban the act of passing off coffee and Bailey’s as Irish coffee.

  2. Since there’s already like 10 FourLoko posts today, I thought this story might interest all the yinzers on here.


    Police in Western PA use Steelers van to lure suspects from their homes.

    1. That…is…actually pretty awesome.

    2. I could swear I’ve seen that van. Ah yinzers Ah humanity.

    3. Well there Steelers fans, so it doesn’t really impact humans.

    4. All the money we spend on SWAT, and we could’ve just bought a handful of conversion vans…


    1. My morals are in a panic over this.

  4. How do people at the NYT sleep at night after lying like that? And what the hell has caused this to be such a cause for the media? I mean they turned down the chance to play this guy’s death as another tortured soldier victimized by the war. That astounds me. I really wonder if they don’t take their orders from somewhere. And that somewhere decided that this product was going down.

    1. How do people at the NYT sleep at night after lying like that?

      Like babies. They’ve been doing it for years and are quite used to it, apparently. Just read any editorial about guns.

      1. You all are missing the true beauty of moral panic attacks/witch hunts – this is an industry. Sure all these papers and tv stations are quick to justify the witch burning on wart or two or an unsupported accusation.

        But wait a month or two. The sunday magazine will have 6-page thumb sucker about Four Loko, the tabliodization of journalism, moral panic and how we’re all so-so credulous.

    2. You’re projecting. They couldn’t sleep if they didn’t do it.

    3. It’s because there hasn’t been a hot new designer drug to demonize lately, so they have to demonize something.

      Plus, it all ties back into the evil capitalists killing customers, and calls for the benevolent government to save us. They’re just staying on message.

      1. I guess since Obama is President that whole “war is evil and a moral imperative to stop now” is kind of 2008’s message.

        1. Obama never does anything wrong.
          Obama is prosecuting two wars.
          There, those wars are not long.

          Or, more succinctly, we have always been at war with Eurasia.

          1. haha, not WRONG, damn it

    4. Was 4Loko even that popular before all this banning talk? I’d only heard of it once before.

    5. Because it’s the “Snooki class” that drinks this stuff. Bashing the Snooki class is one of the acceptable forms of bigotry.

      1. I hate that I watch almost no television, and the few minutes I do watch absolutely and certainly would not be whatever horrific “reality” show that Snooki trash is on – and yet, due to our pseudo-celebrity-obsessed society, I actually kinda sorta know who Snooki is.

        This would not be the case in a just universe.

  5. So does this mean that bars will no longer be allowed to sell Rum and Coke?

    1. Inevitably. It’s a small price to pay for free health care.

      1. Thus dies the dream of Cuban liberty.

        1. 9000 interntz to you, with a slice of lime

          1. You’ve got to love a tasty drink that is named for freedom. ?Cuba Libre!

            They should rename the even tastier mojito. Chinga Castro?

            1. Hugo Blitz

              1 part Venezuelan Nationalized Rum
              2 parts Banana Republic liqueur
              1 part Farc Rebel Soda

              Shake with ice and strain. Serve with a whiff of sulfur and generous sprinkling of joe’s Genuine Bullshit Extract.

              1. A better name might be Jugo de Hugo.

                1. Excellent.

                  1. Naturally, the recipe requires that you procure the juice of Hugo. Perhaps he could sell it himself to finance his exile?

                    1. A better name might be Jugo de Hugo.

                      You already got 9000 Interntz, so I’ll be sending you a shot of tequila by FedEx.

                      I hope it doesn’t spill en route.

                    2. Ah, many thanks. There’s a chance it’ll get here intact. If you went UPS, union rules require them to drink it in transit. The USPS treats tequila as a WMD and impounds it.

      2. Yes, free health care, except for the taxes, the fees and the restrictions. I think I need a drink.

  6. Fuck that’s sad. Screw all the retarded drink is evil bullshit. People coming home fucked up from a useless war and killing themselves, you think we would have learned that lesson.

    Fuck the NYT. Run articles railing against the war when it is politically expedient and totally ignore the tragedies when it isn’t and blame it on a fucking drink. Someone needs to that place out of business, right down to the janitor.
    Fuck the NYT

  7. I say this is a time for civil disobedience. Drink more Four Loko.

    Do the Lokomotion!

    1. I would if I could find a place that carries it.

      1. Go to your nearest speakeasy.

  8. How far is the FDA taking this? Are Coffee Stouts dead?

    For me the issue is like pot, not something I drink/smoke but its still stupid.

    1. …not something I drink/smoke but its still stupid.

      I certainly hope you’re referring to Four Loko and not coffee stouts.

      1. I like neither coffee nor stouts.

        So both.

        Actually, the reason I dont care for stouts is that I dont like strong roast flavors.

  9. Eagerly awaiting the FDA’s announcement that caffeine + alcohol bought in a liquor store is poison, but caffeine + alcohol bought in a bar is harmless.

    1. Bars who will now have to submit to another round of regulations and inspections, and buy their products from government approved distributors.

  10. has been blamed for several deaths over the last several months

    It shouldn’t be necessary to point this out to a beacon of truth as august as the New York Times, but “has been blamed” not same as “caused”.

  11. Someone just reminded me of Sparks. Wiki, yo:

    In September 2008, the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a Washington, D.C.-based non-profit watchdog and consumer advocacy group, sued MillerCoors, claiming that its Sparks alcoholic beverages that include caffeine are a health hazard. Three months later, at the behest of San Francisco and 13 states, distributor MillerCoors LLC announced it would remove the caffeine from its Sparks line of energy drinks, and would change its marketing campaign. “We’re doing it to protect the public health of our young people and to reform business practices,” said S.F. City Attorney Dennis Herrera.

    It’s always San Francisco.
    And the cui?the Big ______?beind this seemingly out-of-nowhere nationwide Loko-ban fever is no longer a mystery.

    Heckuva job, Miller.

  12. How Many People Have to Die Before the FDA Acts?

    Since the FDA has killed hundreds of thousands of people by delaying patient access to life-saving drugs, I’d say the answer is “hundreds of thousands”.

    1. Like Thalydamide?

      1. Indeed, the hundreds of thousands of deaths need to be weighed against the twelve thousand birth defects that induced the FDA policy changes that caused the hundreds of thousands of deaths.

        Was there some other point you were trying to make?

      2. The world needs circus freaks, Tulpa. Why don’t you ever think of the freaks!?

      3. to be fair about thalidomide. did folks die or just get saddled with the nickname “flipper” for life?

        1. Thalidomide is fairly safe and effective, it just causes massive birth defects when taken during pregnancy.

          So does Propecia, but it didn’t have a moral panic associated with it.

          1. Thalidomide is also being used against “…multiple myeloma in people who have been recently found to have this disease. It is also used alone or with other medications to treat and prevent skin symptoms of erythema nodosum leprosum (ENL; episodes of skin sores, fever, and nerve damage that occur in people with Hansen’s disease [leprosy]).”

            But this only started just recently, because it’s been banned for decades.

            1. So now Tulpa is hating on the lepers. Is there no end to his depravity?

          2. That is due in large part to the fact that thalidomide was specifically marketed as a cure for morning sickness.

  13. The gun story sounds a little fishy. An AK-47? Did he have an FFL? Or was it illegal? Or was it modified not to fire full auto, in which case it wouldn’t be an assault rifle?

    I suppose you could point a rifle at your own neck and pull the trigger, but it would be pretty awkward.

    1. It can be done. My AK clone has a 16 inch barrel. It’s not like a long hunting rifle.

    2. The story could have been about a guy pointing a tank gun at his throat and the reporter would have dutifully repeated it as told.

    3. Wait, AK-47 isn’t just a general synonym for “gun”? Shit.

      1. Yeah, it was an antique 1980 Winchester lever-action AK-47

        1. Err. 1890. Snark foiled by topys.

          1. And .. Snark correction foiled by typo.

  14. this is a time for civil disobedience. Drink more Four Loko.

    On your way to the airport.

    “Unnnnh! Oooooooh, yeaaaaaah! Keep going, don’t stop. Come back, Baby, I’m really close; you can’t leave me like this. My balls will explode on the airplane. Help me out.”

    1. Maybe they can adapt that old Nutrigrain commercial

  15. 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.

    If only he were drinking Jim Beam instead, everything would have been just fine.

  16. I hadn’t been paying attention to that Four Loko stuff, but apparently it might be involved in an underage drinking (and driving) fatality in the DFW area, so now it’s naturally all over the news now.…..-continues


    1. Ahhhhhh, beautiful.

  18. in a jealous funk over his ex-girlfriend

    Some people claim that there’s a woman to blame.
    But I know… it’s just Four Loko’s fault.

  19. Diet pills… Shot self…

    Good riddance.

    1. nothing of value was lost?

  20. What is this really about? FDA preemptively telling the Republicans hands off their department in this budget cutting mania they threaten just in case in spite of all the historical evidence to the contrary this time they really mean it? Crackhead mainlining hack media at the whim of their supplier of dubiously cut info doing the FDA’s bidding? Who do we gotta go to for the real poop on this bullshit?

  21. I kow this is a shitty time to bring it up but I have to ask a question. Is there an “official” liberatarian stance on suicide?

    1. Libertopia is just around the corner, you gonna miss out.

      I didn’t consult with the front office if that was the official response, but its what the fliers tell us.

    2. Don’t fuck it up, we’re not paying for your vegetable ass.

      1. I LOL’d. Is that so wrong?

    3. But slightly more seriously, I don’t think there is an official position on suicide as much as an official observaton on the matter, that sometimes people do it. Law and regulation wise, I don’t think it falls into the same category as crossing the street on a red light. The person taking their lives is really not concerned that they might be disobeying a law and getting themselves into trouble, after all.

    4. I support the death penalty for those found guilty of committing suicide.

      1. So, fascist of you, but not nearly fascist enough to prevent it from occurring. Since you can’t punish the dead, you have to go after the survivors. Cut up the corpse into chunks big enough to throw down an outhouse well with his loved ones forced to extract their next movement from the commode above. Callous, it expresses contempt and it would anger bleeding hearts, what is there not to like?

    5. We prefer hanging or poison. Less of a chance your blood will splatter on someone else’s property.

    6. If you own yourself, you have the right to dispose of yourself as you wish.

    7. I’m not going to stop you from trying to talk someone out of it.

    8. There are some who I wish would give it a go and would say good riddance.

      But for most people, it is an extremely sad and tragic event that usually leaves behind much pain and suffering.

      It is very sad to think that someone can reach that point where they are so sad, alone, afraid, or whatever, that they reach the conclusion that taking their life is the solution.

      I speak from first-hand experience.

      Of course, if it’s the case that the person is suffering from a terminal, debilitating illness or something, and has made a deliberate decision to end it, I don’t see why that shouldn’t be legal. It’s your life; you should be able to choose what you do with it.

      By the same token, if someone is just clinically depressed and can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, there’s nothing wrong with trying to help them find their way. This of course does not mean, however, that they should be locked up or anything.

  22. FDA: Here to prevent shit from ever getting too real in these here United States.

  23. Missing from this coverage (among many other things) is some context. How many deaths can be associated with (by the same stupid standards being used here), say, Coors Light over the past several months? I’d bet anything that that number is much higher than those associated with fourloco.

  24. The once gregarious 20-year-old who shunned alcohol

    Two thoughts:

    (1) As someone not yet 21 years old, it would be illegal for him to not shun alcohol.

    (2) Back in the day, the set of “gregarious 20 year-olds” who also “shunned alcohol” was pretty much a null set.

  25. So, how are all these underage people getting this alcoholic beverage? Seems to me that should be the real story.

  26. So can the FDA ban the Iraq war now?

  27. How the hell did a US soldier get a Russian-made automatic rifle? They just get to take AK-47s home now? Something is really weird here. That strikes me as the kind of thing that you can’t easily get passed customs…

    1. How the hell did a US soldier get a Russian-made automatic rifle?

      Uh… from the store?

      It’s Russian designed, manufactured in at least two dozen countries.

  28. But its not really an AK-47 unless its full-auto. Which I will bet you One Thousand and no/100 Dollars ($1000.00) this was not.

    Because, to buy a bona-fide full-auto anything, you need to have a Very Special and hard to obtain license.

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