With its colorful packaging and its front-counter placement, 5-Hour Energy is a prominent product at many gas stations and drugstore chains.
On the front of the bottle, it promises ‘Hours of energy now.’ But in smaller print on the back, it warns, 'Do not take if you are pregnant or nursing, or under 12 years of age.'
It’s a warning, Jeremy Bander, 10, said he never saw.
"I was just walking to purchase my candy and stuff and it caught my eye… [the cashier] just scanned it and put it into my bag. No questions asked," the boy explained.
Bander bought the energy boost Sunday after biking with a friend to the Walgreens in north suburban Deerfield. He said that after swallowing the product he got "sweaty" and felt "really energetic."
But the rush soon faded, and he said he developed "a terrible headache" and "threw up like five individual times."
Now the boy's father wants stricter sales enforcement of the product. He filed complaints with Walgreens and with 5-Hour Energy.
"A kid doesn’t know better. He’s curious. Curiosity killed the cat. Let’s hope it doesn’t kill our kids," said Jordan Lisitza, Jeremy’s dad. "Anybody can walk up and buy these. My 10-year-old did," he said.
Elaine Lutz, spokeswoman for 5-Hour Energy, defends the product.
"5-Hour Energy is a safe, dietary supplement specifically formulated for adults… Parental supervision is always a part of ensuring the health and best welfare of children," she said in a written statement.
For its part, Walgreens said the chain is not aware of similar complaints, and said it sells thousands of products that recommend specific, age guidelines.
Lisitza said he believes 5-Hour Energy and Walgreens are taking his complaint seriously. But he said these companies can only make this situation right by putting the product behind the counter, instead of right in front of it.
He said he’s now on a mission to make that happen.
"Why are these drinks so readily available to kids under 12, if the label says 'should not be sold to kids under 12?'" he questioned.