The FDA is investigating the cause of five deaths and one heart attack that followed consumption of Monster Energy drinks, the agency confirmed yesterday.

"Under the law, Adverse Event Reports serve as a signal to the FDA and do not prove causation," FDA spokeswoman Shelly L. Burgess said in a statement.

The deaths and heart attack stretch back to as early as 2004, she said.

The complaints came to light after the family of a 14-year-old Maryland girl with an inherited disorder called Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome died in December from "caffeine toxicity" after drinking two 24-oz. cans. The family's lawyer, who is suing the company on their behalf, filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the FDA seeking data on incident reports involving the product.

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In a statement issued on Friday concerning the lawsuit, the company denied responsibility for the girl's death, said it intended to vigorously defend itself and that "Monster is unaware of any fatality anywhere that has been caused by its drinks," according to the Baltimore Sun.

(Sheila Anne Feeney)