Cocaine: Does a Body Good!

What’s next, Coca-Cola?

It seems Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott’s legal eagles have got themselves all hopped up on Cocaine. That’s right, Cocaine. In a lawsuit filed May 2 in Dallas County District Court, the AG’s Consumer Protection and Public Health Division says Las Vegas-based Redux Beverages LLC must be stopped from peddling in Texas a drink called Cocaine, which the AG argues is an illegal alternative to the illicit street variety coke.

In part, the problem is the way the product is described – and although they don’t come right out and say it, part of the problem seems to be the name itself, Cocaine (cocaine, cocaine, cocaine!!), which apparently makes the AG uncomfortable, seemingly in a way that approximates having a sex talk with a parent – eek! First of all, the letters of the word “cocaine” are spelled out in a font that looks like a “white granular substance” – and we all know what that is, right? Cocaine! The drink is also billed as a “legal alternative” to coke, as “speed in a can,” as “liquid cocaine,” and promises drinkers – albeit jokingly, though the AG seems especially humorless here – a “high” and “euphoric rush” that, might, depending on the user, feel something like a coke high.

Taken together, the AG insists, it is clear that Redux is marketing the drink as a “legal alternative” to coke, which is actually illegal since the U.S. Food and Drug Administration hasn’t approved Redux’s Cocaine as a drug alternative.

Additionally, the AG notes that Redux markets Cocaine as a “dietary supplement,” which it can’t be if it is also a legal coke alternative. One ingredient is Inositol, which the AG says the company markets as a cholesterol reducer that can prevent the hardening of arteries, protect nerve fibers from glucose damage, all while having a “calming effect” useful in the treatment of anxiety, depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder, but without the “side effects” of prescription meds. Those two claims – that the beverage is a legal alternative to coke and that it is also a dietary supplement – are inconsistent and legally incompatible. “Texans will not tolerate the peddling of unapproved drugs,” Abbott said in a (clearly) prepared statement May 2. “This advertising campaign entices young people with illegal drug references and false claims of health benefits.”

Apparently the FDA on April 4 sent Cocaine inventor James Kirby a “warning letter” to that effect – explaining to the company that you can’t be a drug alternative and a health supplement. (Of course, it should be obvious that Cocaine isn’t both. I mean, come on, cocaine that reduces anxiety and OCD? Sign me up!) The Texas Department of State Health Services reiterated the FDA, meaning that the marketing and sale of Cocaine in Texas is illegal, according to the AG lawsuit. Indeed, TDSHS hit three Dallas-area distributors, rounding up 7,180 cases of the drink – worth, the AG says, about $200,000 (another indicator that it isn’t a coke alternative – entirely too paltry a seizure).

In defense of Cocaine, Redux partner Clegg Ivey told the Austin Business Journal that the company contacted the AG’s office earlier this week, asking what about the drink is “breaking the law,” the ABJ reported, but still hasn’t heard back. “I guess he responded by filing the lawsuit,” Ivey said. In fact, according to the AG, the lawsuit was filed without giving Redux notice – that was necessary, the AG claims, because this is an “emergency” situation, requiring immediate legal action to prevent “irreparable harm.” What harm he’s talking about isn’t entirely clear, nor is it detailed in the court filings.

Ivey told ABJ that the company has already removed from its Web site some of the apparently problematic product claims Abbott cites in the lawsuit. Indeed, the Cocaine site now prominently features a black box of copy detailing what Cocaine “is not” – it is not an “illegal substance” nor is it meant to be a “substitute, alternative, or analog to any illegal substance.”

Nonetheless, the court on Wednesday granted the AG’s request for a temporary order blocking Redux from advertising or selling the product in Texas. (Phew. That was close.) The case is set for another hearing in Dallas on May 16.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS POST

Courts, Cocaine, Attorney General Greg Abbott

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