October 21, 2014

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U.S. senator seeks national caffeine powder ban after Keystone student’s death

U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal

U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal

The story of 18-year-old Logan Stiner, who died from a caffeine powder overdose just days before his high school graduation, first rocked the small town of LaGrange — and then the country.

After Stiner’s death in May, Brian Balser, an attorney for the Stiner family, started working to have caffeine powder banned nationwide. He’s received support from U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and has pushed the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to launch an investigation into caffeine powder’s harmful effects.

“We’re trying to get this off the market,” Balser said.

Caffeine powder is pure caffeine that’s labeled as a dietary supplement by the FDA and isn’t regulated by the government. It can be purchased online from multiple companies, one of which suggests using only 1/16 of a teaspoon of the powder per day.

It isn’t clear how much Stiner, a wrestler for Keystone High School, took when he was found dead in his home in LaGrange in May. An autopsy completed in June showed that Stiner had more than 70 micrograms of caffeine per milliliter of blood in his system, well above the 5 to 15 micrograms an average coffee drinker would have, according to Lorain County Coroner Dr. Stephen Evans.

The lethal amount prompted national attention.

This week, Blumenthal held a news conference calling for the ban of caffeine powder on a national level.

“I plan to talk to my colleagues and mobilize more support from my position that (caffeine powder) should be removed from the market,” Blumenthal said, adding that Stiner’s death introduced him to the harmful effects of caffeine powder.

The FDA released a warning regarding the negative effects of pure caffeine powder in July, following Stiner’s death, and launched an investigation into caffeine powder.

Officials will “consider taking regulatory action” after the investigation, according to a statement from the FDA.

Balser, who was hired by the family this summer to investigate the facts surrounding caffeine powder, is behind the effort to get the powder off the market.

“We want to keep the FDA investigating (caffeine powder) so this doesn’t happen to anybody else,” Balser said.

Balser also plans to hold the companies selling caffeine powder responsible for its effects.

“Anybody can buy it. If you look at the labeling, there are no instructions or proper warning,” he said.

The support from Blumenthal is fitting. The U.S. senator was part of a national effort to get alcoholic caffeinated drinks banned from the market in 2010.

“I became convinced that this product (caffeine powder) is a public threat,” Blumenthal said. “There is no way to avoid unsafe use with most forms of measurement available to most people.”

Meanwhile, state Sen. Gayle Manning, R-North Ridgeville, is working to ban caffeine powder sales in Ohio. Manning plans to meet with officials from the state agriculture department and pharmaceutical board in early September to draft a bill that would make it illegal for people buy caffeine powder in Ohio.

“It’s not going to stop, it but what we’re hoping is to educate people on this,” Manning said. “You have to get the word out there that this is a dangerous drug.”

Contact Anna Merriman at 329-7245 or amerriman@chroniclet.com. Follow her on Twitter at @AnnaLMerriman.


  • tickmeoff

    This is a terrible tragedy, but this article doesn’t say how much Logan actually took of the caffeine It mentions the 1/16th of a teaspoon as the recommended amount, and then mentions the 70 micro grams per liter of blood that was found in Logan Stiner’s blood. ” An autopsy completed in June showed that Stiner had more than 70 micrograms of caffeine per milliliter of blood in his system, well above the 5 to 15 micrograms an average coffee drinker would have, according to Lorain County Coroner Dr. Stephen Evans.” If Logan took more than the recommended dose, how does that make the maker of the product responsible? The recommended amount wasn’t taken.
    In fact there isn’t even an estimate based on his blood, of how much he might have taken.
    The question is “Using the recommended amount of 1/16th teaspoon,What is the Caffeine per Micrograms in Blood in his system”? If it’s found to be within the normal range, or not harmful. Let the manufacturer off the hook, it was misuse of the product, taking more than recommended.

  • taxpayer89

    That’s the problem. These kids need to be educated on how dangerous supplements are and need to be taught healthy ways to work out. Most brochures have too much information on the package slips or the print is too small. May he R.I.P. and his family can help save others from an innocent mistake.

  • Lee Brown

    Someone passed away by his own mistake,now everyone has to suffer.they are going to make it a crime so you can spend 20 years in jail so you will be healthy when you come.to many senators dictating what good for my or someone else,s life.anything made can be abused by someone.

  • Simon Jester

    A tragedy happens, and that ambulance chaser Balser wants to use it as an excuse to make a name for himself.

    Disgusting

    Tell me again how well banning specific things has worked in the past?

  • oldruss

    If the recommended daily intake of powdered caffeine is just one-sixteenth of a teaspoon, how does the average person measure that? Most kitchen measuring spoons only go as small as one-eighth of a teaspoon. And, if the product is harmful, even deadly, in doses higher than one-sixteenth of a teaspoon, then it is an inherently harmful product under normal usage, because it is too difficult for the average user to calibrate such small amounts safely. It should be banned.

    • jz

      “too difficult for the average user to calibrate such small amounts safely. It should be banned”. How does one even take that seriously?

  • Sis Delish

    Realizing anything said about this situation will evoke an emotional backlash, the question remains: Who’s Credit Card did the boy use to purchase online?

    And, for the attorney going for broke on this one, let’s look into your high school and college background to see how many similar substance might have made it into your parent’s home without their knowledge.

  • Pablo Jones

    Why bother ordering power caffeine over the internet when you can just go to any gas station or store and buy caffeine pills that are pre-measured.

  • HankKwah

    The nanny state strikes again.

    “The big bad caffeine company put this nasty product on the market and this boy bought it and died from it. We must stop this company from killing other boys.”

    Seriously? Proper labeling on the product, some simple research on the part of the user (as well as a smidgen of responsibility) and all is well and good. But we all must be protected from ourselves, because WHO KNOWS what we could do?

  • Phil Blank

    Good luck trying to pull all the OTC meds made with it to stay awake, like Vivrin and the copies, yes they are in pill form, but could be ground in a number of ways.

    Try fighting a national drug company. 

    • Simon Jester

      And the kid could have abused any other substance, should we regulate and ban those too?

  • Phil Blank

    They’ll be lucky if it gets regulated.

  • Deirdre Kewer Herbert

    I am proud of Mr. and Mrs. Stiner for standing up in their time of sorrow and grief and speaking out on the dangers of a product that is easily accessible to anyone and not regulated or has clear standards of dosage and potential dangerous side effects listed on it’s labeling. There are always going to be negative criticism of anyone who takes a stand to bring a subject matter and it’s inherent dangers to light. The problem is we live in a society that feels that we are entitled to anything without thinking through the consequences or the impact it has on our children or young adults who often do not have the ability to make complete informed decisions regarding products or things that have serious potential dangers but are presented as anything but. Common sense goes a long way in many instances…..but when everyone you know is doing it or someone you look up to presents it as no danger then often there will be a consequence that cannot be ignored or glossed over as “acceptable.” Mr. and Mrs. Stiner, I am 100% behind you in your fight to bring a situation that resulted in an unfortunate death of your son out into the open to be explored and evaluated as whether it should be regulated. I wish for you strength and courage as you continue to mourn the loss of your son and fight a battle that will have many supporters as those who will oppose.

    • Simon Jester

      Our freedom is worth more than the occasional dead teenager, there is an inherent amount of responsibility involved in living in a free society.

      Wailing about a perfectly legal substance won’t bring the man back, even if it makes you fools feel like you “did something”.

      • Deirdre Kewer Herbert

        Wailing and feeling……..your words Mr. Simon Jester…..not mine in the context you are referring to……please read again…..

  • John Davidson

    If he hadn’t taken caffeine powder it would have been something else. We are pushing our children to excel and unfortunately this is the outcome sometime.

  • Tomas Pane

    God save the republic. Our elected masters are so quick to take advantage of tragedy. Choose any number of tragedies and you’ll spot a demagogue eager to inject themselves into the dialogue. The lawyer’s role in this is predictable. We’ve all seen the personal injury lawyer commercials. So, put yourself in his shoes: huge settlement and a third of huge is…pretty huge.
    What better way to grease the skids for the ongoing litigation and force a charitable settlement than to enlist the aid of ‘concerned’ legislators in need of a crusade to polish their resumes for election. Sound the alarm! We must act! Quick! Write a law. Regulate. Restrict. After all, we citizens couldn’t possibly have enough common sense to read stuff like ingredients and servings instructions that are printed on labels of the goods we buy.
    How else to deal with isolated pockets of calamity and accidents than to enact a sweeping ban, literally and figuratively stripping every citizen of their freedom to choose? Our senators must appear useful and what’s more useful than telling their citizens here’s another thing they’re not allowed to do. Paternalism at best and demagoguery at worst. Either way you cut it, the only thing getting sliced are the very thin individual freedoms we still enjoy. It’s nothing more than simple facts , plain arguments and common sense.

  • Simon Jester

    Soo… Caffeine powder will just go away when regulated, like weed or heroin?

    Oh, that’s right, waving the magic wand of government doesn’t actually work. Don’t let past examples get in the way of your good intentions though..

  • Americaschild

    Give people credit to think! It’s unbelievable one needs a law not to be stupid. Add this to the the do not operate hair dryer in bathtub. Educate do not legislate!

    • oldruss

      This is a health and safety issue. As I pointed out in my earlier post, the recommended daily intake of powdered caffeine is only one-sixteenth of a teaspoon. It is dangerous, and may be fatal, to take more than that amount. It is difficult to measure that small amount, and so powdered caffeine, as used, is inherently dangerous.

      • jz

        If I wanted to take this and don’t have a 1/16 measuring device then I would just put the equivalent of what, 3-4 match heads in my drink. Or, take a 1/8th tsp. “measuring device”, love that one, and put 1/2 the powder in it. How hard is that? Problem solved. One less bureaucratic nanny state law not needed. And a different Senator with an X next to his name when I vote.

      • Tomas Pane

        Life as lived is inherently dangerous, old russ. Take a look about you. Read the crime logs, the news, witness the famines, the plagues, the droughts, not to mention our southern border crisis, the terror crisis, the ISIS(L), IS caliphate, Hamas and Israel banging away at one another all while Putin is threatening us with nuclear warheads as he lines up to invade the Ukraine. The world’s a dangerous place.
        I’d argue that life is dangerous and not only may be fatal, but is indeed, inevitably so. However, one of the traditional blessings of living in a democratic republic has been a respect for the workings of an individual’s soul, their inner being, their sense of right and wrong and consciousness that manifests itself through that person’s choice. That’s life.
        Life always ends in death. Life being inherently dangerous, why not pass a law that controls the timing of a person’s demise, old russ? Think of the reassurance that individual would have, knowing the exact hour of their passing is in the hands of others.
        You could start with stripping the very air we breathe, though the EPA is currently tasked with that responsibility. Too many deep breaths could over oxygenate us and cause spontaneous bouts of critical thinking. Imagine the horror. Choices have consequences, old russ.

  • onesears

    If the kid was intelligent enough to know where to get it, have it shipped to him, obviously behind his parents back, he was smart enough to know how to read dosing instructions and warnings. So overdosing is his own fault. You can’t ban that. If banning problems was the answer, why don’t we ban homelessness, hunger, and poverty.

  • SandyLey

    The loss of a child is always a tragedy for those that he leaves behind, and all our prayers go out to those that knew and loved him. That being said, Don’t blame the substance, blame the young man that thought ” if a little is good, more must be better.” Sadly the senator had the typical liberal reaction, blame everyone and everything except lack of personal responsibility. Don’t you just love the way you had to read half way through the 2nd paragraph before they mentioned that this Senator happens to be a Democrat? If he were a conservative that big ole’ R would have been front and center in the headline. Remember when Mama Cass choked to death? Maybe we should ban Ham sandwiches.

  • Joe Smith

    So a small amount of deaths over caffeine makes him spring into action, but the 100,000 chemical deaths and other threats that trot over our unsecured border constantly makes him want to do nothing.

  • Joe Smith

    How about mandating manufacturers enclose a 1/16 measuring spoon with their products instead of banning it? It would cost pennies.

    • Tomas Pane

      Now that’s common sense, Joe. The “mandating” of your recommendation aside, that’s a simple yet brilliant solution. If the manufacturers had a lick of sense, they’d be all over that. Of course, such a simple fix wouldn’t satisfy the reelection lusts of our heavy handed legislators. Their little badges of accomplishments can’t shine as bright when common sense enters the equation.

      • Joe Smith

        I wasn’t hip on the mandate part either, but if they are going to step on someone, it should be in a way that at least makes sense and yes, manufactures should be all over this if they want to stay in business..

  • concerned

    Logan did not purchase this. He received from s friend at school
    No one really knew nothing about this. No matter how he got it it is a tragedy that no-one knew it was lethal. It is caffiene and is advertised as great for making your own pre work out. So stop spouting off your opinions before you know some facts

  • Christopher Everspark

    Is this the only death from caffeine powder and has there been a trend with abuse of it recently?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wBWdllPCM2k