Four Loko May Have Caused Illness in College Students

An investigation into the illness that led to the hospitalization of nine students of Central Washington University this month identified the culprit as an energy drink called “Four Loko.” A feature on the Chicago Tribune shared the following quote about the product, as described on the website of Phusion Projects, manufacturer of the drink: “A wild blend of flavors, 12% alcohol and modern day ingredients such as caffeine… all packed into a huge 23.5 ounce can.”

Four LokoKen Briggs, head of Physical Education and Public Health at Central Washington University, shared the following comparison: “Essentially what you have is you have about a six pack of beer… and five cups of coffee in one of these cans.”

The nine students who were hospitalized were reportedly drugged at a party in Roslyn last October 8, at least based on what police were initially told. The blood alcohol levels of these nine students were determined to have ranged from .123 to .335. Cle Elum-Roslyn-South Cle Elum Police Chief Scott Ferguson gave the reminder that .3 is considered as lethal.

Looking into the home where the party was held, investigators were unable to find drugs. They did, however, find empty cans of “Four Loko,” which are commonly sold in convenience stores in the area, along with other brands. When asked whether the hospitalized students took the drink, they all answered yes, which ruled out drug overdose altogether as a cause for the illness.

Briggs shared further: “You have a wide awake drunk who may not feel the warning signs of dangerous drinking such as the important subjective effects of tiredness and loss of coordination which are good signals that it’s time to shut it down and stop drinking.”

Attorneys General across the country are said to be petitioning the FDA to have the products banned. A feature on The New York Times revealed that 23 students at Ramapo College in New Jersey were also hospitalized last month after drinking Four Loko.

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