Delaware-based Monster Energy Co. has filed a federal suit against a Floridian competitor, energy supplement manufacturer Vital Pharmaceuticals Inc., or VPX, and founder John “Jack” H. Owoc, alleging its BANG energy drink was unfairly marketed.
VPX’s website says BANG is “not your stereotypical high-sugar, life-sucking soda masquerading as an energy drink.”
But according to Monster, the drink isn’t the “potent brain and body fuel” it’s made out to be either.
VPX claimed that super creatine, an ingredient in the drink, is 20 times more effective at reaching the brain than regular old creatine, and capable of reversing intellectual disabilities and curing such diseases as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Huntington’s.
“At this point in time, according to medical and scientific evidence, there are no such cures for those diseases,” said Monster’s lawyer, Marc P. Miles of Shook, Hardy & Bacon’s California office.
Monster asserts that VPX’s creatine is far from super, as it’s “nothing more than water-soluble creatine — a popular supplement,” which does not result in any of the purported health benefits.
Here’s the full complaint:
Creatine is a compound produced when the body metabolizes protein. It’s often used for improving athletic performance and can be naturally or artificially created.
Super creatine, invented by VPX, is thought to be a more water-soluble version of creatine that’s been bonded to an amino acid molecule called leucine.
But BANG packaging doesn’t disclose how much creatine is in a 16-ounce can.
“That’s because there isn’t enough creatine in the product to do virtually anything,” Miles said. “We had it tested and there is less than 40 miligrams contained in the drink.”
According to published reports, that’s not enough for creatine to be effective. Many industry experts recommend a “loading period” of three to seven days where 20 to 25 grams of creatine should be taken per day. Then comes a “maintenance period” of about 5 grams per day.
According to Miles, even if there were enough creatine in BANG, “there is no credible evidence that creatine gets into the brain. It can’t do the things that BANG claims it does, such as cure disease, help students ace their tests, provide laser focus and other things mentioned in the lawsuit.”
VPX did not respond to a request for comment before deadline.
But according to VPX’s website, founder Owoc entered into the supplement industry because of a ”disgust for unscrupulous supplement manufacturers who were intentionally mislabeling their supplements and ripping the public off.” It also states that the company does not “engage in unethical and deceptive advertising practices.”
Monster labeled this ”an odd thing to say unsolicited unless he has a guilty conscience.”
What’s more, according to Monster, VPX added insult to injury with false claims about its sugary competitors.
“High-sugar drinks spike blood sugar, producing metabolic mayhem, causing you to crash harder than a test dummy into a brick wall,” VPX’s website states, though it doesn’t mention a specific brand.
“These false statements are clearly understood by reasonable consumers to refer to and include Monster’s energy drinks — the established leader in the energy drink market,” the complaint said.
According to Miles, “Monster has specially formulated sugars that do not cause a crash like other sugary sodas, and Monster has a number of energy drinks that don’t contain any sugar.”
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The suit, filed in the Central District of California, also listed a string of run-ins VPX has had with code enforcement agencies over the years.
In 2015, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a warning letter to VPX over two of its drinks — Redline White Heat and MD2 Meltdown. According to the FDA, the presence of an unapproved supplement called DMBA in the drinks was unlawfully marketed as a dietary ingredient.
The National Advertising Division has also taken issue with health claims made about several of its products.
Monster claimed it’s entitled to more than $75,000 in damages caused by false advertising and more than $75,000 in profits earned by VPX.
“As I see it, we all have a responsibility to protect consumers from companies who blatantly deceive through false advertising,” Miles said. “That’s what Monster is looking to do here.”