High School Students Warned About Energy Drink

Smoky Hill Student Hospitalized After Drinking SPIKE

One high school in Denver and at least three others in Colorado Springs have warned students about the dangers of a new locally-produced energy drink.

The drink is called SPIKE Shooter and it is made by Biotest Laboratories, a Colorado Springs company, and is marketed in Colorado and California.

Several teenagers in Colorado Springs sought medical care after drinking SPIKE Shooter. The 8-ounce can contains more than three times the caffeine of a cup of coffee in addition to several herbal stimulants. The Web site for the drink has a section called "Ingredients" but the link says "This Section Coming Soon."

One student at Smoky Hill High School in Aurora also sought medical care after drinking SPIKE.

Each can carries a warning that it is not for use by those under the age of 16 or the elderly.

Doherty High School banned the drink on campus and the school persuaded a nearby 7-Eleven convenience store to remove it from the shelves. Principal Jill Martin said several students experienced shortness of breath, heart palpitations and nausea after drinking just one can. At least two students went to the hospital to be checked out.

Martin planned to send out an e-mail to parents about the drink on Wednesday. Aspen Valley High and Liberty High, in Academy School District 20, sent notes to parents earlier warning them about SPIKE.

At Smoky Hill High School, a teacher discussed the issue in class after some students witnessed one of their friends fall ill after drinking SPIKE.

"It was actually really hurting a lot of people, like speeding up their heart-rate and making them sick. I had a friend who actually ended up puking and had to go to the hospital for it," said Smoky Hill Senior Felicia Fawcett.

The news has caused concern among many parents. "I think the kids have enough energy as it is. They should not be marketing this product to teenagers," said Debbie Jurich, who has two children who attend Smoky Hill.

Tim Patterson, the head of Biotest, characterized the warnings about the drink as "hysteria."

The company released a statement that : "We are being proactive in responding to the community’s concern over this product getting into the hands of young kids and will not be doing any kind of sampling in close proximity to high schools."

The statement was issued after parents of students at Smoky Hill High School in Aurora said the drink was distributed just outside the high school. The company hired full-time "street teams" in each market to promote the drink to its target audience of 18- to 34-year-olds.

At Mahany's Gym in Aurora, owner and certified trainer Matt Rauzi says the drink is a hot seller among adults looking for a pick-me-up before working out. But, Rauzi also points to the can's many warning labels.

"You need to drink them with water to dilute them a little bit. As Americans we think, if one is great, two will be unbelievable. That's just not the case with this. It can affect you in negative ways. Heed the warning," said Rauzi.

While the label recommends the drink not be consumed by anyone under 18, a company news release dated Feb. 7 mentioned the audience for energy drinks starts even younger.

"We are thrilled that SPIKE is resonating in the hardcore category because the hardcore consumer is comprised of the largest and most-committed demographic makeup in the entire energy-drink category -- 16- to 29-year-old males and females," Patterson said in a news release when the drink was announced.

The can contains three warnings about its potency. A label for recommended use says people should start with half a can to “determine tolerance,” not to exceed one can daily.