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‘Four Loko’ Blamed For Hallucinogenic Frenzy

WARMINSTER, PA (CBS) — Four Loko carries the normal labels associated with any alcoholic drinks, even largely displaying the 12 percent alcohol content, but for one Bucks County family, no amount of warning could have prepared them for what they say happened to their loved one.

“It was like he was stuck inside a horror movie and he couldn’t get out and I couldn’t’ get him out,” said Mary Alice Brancato, recounting a scary incident involving her husband last Summer.

Brancato and her seven children watched in fear as her 43-year-old husband spiraled into a hallucinogenic frenzy.

“One of the older kids said he was going to drink a Four Loko and my husband said ‘ok I’ll try one.’ I came back home at about 8 o’clock and he was beyond intoxicated.”

Brancato says after drinking just one and a half cans of the caffeinated alcohol drink, the suburban dad began having nightmarish delusions.

“In his mind, he had harmed all of our kids and he had to kill me and kill himself so that we could go to heaven to take care of them.”

Nothing could have been further from the truth.

“Next think I know, he was having convulsions making gurgling sounds as if someone were choking him and then he stopped breathing.”

Brancato’s 20-year-old son performed CPR and revived his dad who was whisked away to the hospital. To this day, he says he doesn’t remember what happened.

“One can is a substantial amount of alcohol, its equivalent to a 6-pack of light beer,” said Dr. Robert McNamara of Temple University Hospital.

McNamara says Temple has been seeing more and more cases involving caffeinated alcoholic drinks and underage drinkers, and while he believes Brancato’s case is rare, the affects of mixing a depressant and stimulant are dangerous.

“That is an extreme case, but it just shows you what you’re getting in just one can,” said Dr. McNamara. “It packs a wallop.”

State legislators are looking to ban the drink in Pennsylvania, with testimonials like the Brancato’s leading the fight.

“When you have the executive director of the liquor control board saying to the 17,000 beer distributors to voluntarily cut off the sale of Four Loko, then you know there’s a real problem,” said State Representative Paul Clymer of the 145th District.

Eyewitness News placed a call to the Chicago based company that makes Four Loko. They referred us to a statement just released on their website. They believe they’re taking the brunt of the scrutiny over products like this saying in part:

“If mixing caffeine and alcohol is the most pressing concern, addressing it would be best accomplished by creating laws that apply to the entire caffeinated alcoholic beverage category–not specific individual products.”

Reported By: Natasha Brown, CBS 3

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  • Mrs. Brancato

    Phusion is going to remove Four Loko from the shelves. They plan to reformulate their product. There will be NO CAFFEINE, NO TAURINE AND NO GUARANA!

    I plan to follow them every step of the way so I don’t have to get one more email from a parent, spouse, brother, sister or child about someone they love who has become ill, had something horrible happen to them or died.

    I’ve read all your comments both supportive and the ones filled with nasty remarks. My family is an upstanding, hardworking family. I don’t want anyone to have to go through what we had to that night. If you can’t understand that it’s okay. Sometimes seeing is believing. I hope you never have to learn the hard way that I’m right. This product harmed someone I love dearly. This product could have changed my life, my husband’s life and the lives of my children. That is something I will never forget. I protect the ones I love…don’t you?

    I would ask all of you to please just drink something else if you decide to drink. Hopefully it won’t be long till its all of the shelves.

    By the way the FDA has decided to ban Four Loko nationwide.

    If I was so wrong…why would he company pull the product? Why would the FDA be stepping in?

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  • Bryan

    In my opinion the more people that talk about the effects the more people are going to want to try it, the media is glorifing this stuff, people will drink as much as they can to get the desinated effect if anything its just free publicity to the company that created it.

  • Aaron

    Honestly i drink four locos all the time and i dont see anything wrong with them. This was an unusual situation and next instead of buying crack on the corner you can buy four locos the government needs to keep their nose out of things. This is just ridiculous

  • cizmad

    I mean… it’s not called 4Sane-O

  • dave

    Trey, Absolutely, I am one of them. Let’s take the reverse arugement. If there was not a law against murder, would you go out and murder someone? If there was not a law against rape, would you go out and rape someone? If there was not a law against…, would you go out and…? My point is, laws only keep the honest more honest and there is no need for them, but I guess that went right over your head.

    Show me the data on the study to which you refer. “a 35 percent decrease in visits related to meth and a 29 percent decrease in patients admitted as a result of meth use.” probably isn’t significant- especially in a noncontrolled study. What was the p-value?

    • Trey

      I refuse to have a battle of wits with an unarmed person.

    • DUH

      Brilliant argument Dave. “If people violate the law, get rid of the law!” I think you solved the murder epidemic in this country. If we stop classifying something as a “murder” we can immediately stamp out all murders.

      Laws do nothing? Really? In case you didn’t know, laws are to punish behavior that society deems detrimental. In case you’re not familiar with the American legal system, you can’t punish people for something that isn’t against the law. There have to be laws that establish the standards of society so we can punish people for their conduct. It’s called due process and it’s written in the Constitution. If you don’t have laws then you can’t enforce anything. Police officers would just be walking around without any authority to do anything.

      You can’t actually believe the rule of law does nothing. Grow up and live in civilization with the rest of us.

  • Trey

    Are there really people who think that no law has ever accomplished its goal?

    It goes without saying that there is a serious logical flaw to the argument that a law against murder is a failure because there are still murders. Is that not obvious?

    There are probably hundreds if not thousands of success stories like the one below.

    Oregon passed a law that prohibited the sale of over-the-counter decongestants with pseudoephedrine as an ingredient. In the first year of this legislation, emergency room visits decreased significantly.

    Rob Hendrickson, M.D., the principal investigator in a study conducted by Oregon Health & Science Emergency Department physician-researchers noted that this was one of the first studies conducted that suggests that the limitation of supply of an illicit substance could be effective at decreasing its use and the resulting medical problems.

    Research conducted suggests that the legislation put in place by the state that limits the supply of methamphetamine easily correlates with the decrease in methamphetamine use. In particular, the effect has been a decrease in the medical problems associated with the drug.

    Oregon became the first state in July 2006 to determine specific over-the-counter medications should be available be prescription only. These drugs included medicines that contain ephedrine, pseudoephedrine and phenylpropanolamine, each of which is a key ingredient in methamphetamine.

    After this legislation was passed, Hendrickson’s team evaluated emergency room visit data and found there was a 35 percent decrease in visits related to meth and a 29 percent decrease in patients admitted as a result of meth use.

  • Phillyfan

    Did everyone here miss this quote

    “In his mind, he had harmed all of our kids and he had to kill me and kill himself so that we could go to heaven to take care of them.”

    I think there is serioulsy something wrong with this family. These thoughts aren’t fostered by a drink. Get Physiatric help. Four Loko isn’t the problem here.

    • kristenn

      i agree… four loko is not the problem in that case, because after drinking a can and a half, no thoughts like that ever entered my mind..

      • Lucy

        Then consider yourself very lucky! I resent you hurling insults at a family that only came forward to protect and warn kids like you! She feels if only one person is saved the horror of what they endured she has done the right thing.

    • Andraya

      Yes the four loco jus brought up problems he had inside already.I’ve drunk them n they do nothin for me. That a bottle of vodka couldn’t. But my friends be tore up n actin crazy. Point is if u already crazy n it hasn’t shown. Drinking a loco may or may not bring it to the surface. N like there website say. If it’s a problem wit mixing the two then make a law against it. But they still gonna chase drinks wit red bull. The same thing. This company jus mix it for u.

      • Lucy

        REALLY??????? So are you an expert now on the evils of Four Loko? This man is a one of the hardest working SANE men around. He has no problems. Well maybe one….Four Loko almost took his damn life! It is not the same as vodka. Do your homework before you comment. In case you haven’t seen its all over the news and lawmakers are banning it for a reason. It is very dangerous!!!!

    • Lucy

      Phillyfan there are ingredients in Four Loko that you must not be understanding. Some of these ingredients can cause convulsions and hallucinations. This family is a well respected family. That quote is what the wife said about what he said WHILE HE WAS HALLUCINATING!!!! Oh Four Loko is the problem here. There are ingredients in this product that are harmful. Many, many folks are having horrible reactions to this product. Haven’t you seen the numerous reports?
      The only reason this woman came forward was to protect others. That’s the type of family they are. They were well aware that some like you would not hear them but hopefully no one you love ever drinks one and has a bad reaction. She is trying to prevent even one more family from suffering from the effects of Four Loko!

      • For the CAUSE!

        Lucy, you are absolutely delusional! And to prove this I would like you to please list the harmful ingredients in Four Loko.

        As someone who drinks Red Bull and Vodka ALL THE TIME, I can tell you FROM EXPERIENCE, that it’s not the effects of this drink that bring the crazy out. It’s you crazies that bring the crazy out! There has NEVER been a product that hasn’t effected someone negatively, however there has also never been a product that has hit the news in a negative light that people haven’t come out of the wood works saying they had “HORRIFYING” effects from this.

        Long story short, everyone is after their 5 mins of fame…JUST. LIKE. YOU!

        You want the drink banned so bad, go call your congress man or hold a signs somewhere and stop polluting this board with your attempt to change everyone’s minds! IT’S NOT GOING TO HAPPEN UNLESS YOU SHOW ME SOME FACTS! And as a chem student, I will be tearing apart your ingredient list…SO…can’t wait for you to post it! :-D

  • Lady Gaga

    That’s crazy!! LOL Chug Chug Chug…

  • Me So LOCO

    On the brighter side, we can still do illegal drugs!

  • dave

    cm ocasio (I presume you refer to me with your “attack the person, not the issue” comment) and smash44, Perhaps since you both seem to think that I am some “idiotic fool” for my opinion, let me give you a challenge. Name me one law that has accomplished its goal? We have laws against murder, we still have murders. We have laws against rape, we still have rapes. We have laws against drunk driving, we still have drunk driving. We have laws against drugs, we still have drugs. We have laws against just about everything, we still have just about everything. Laws do nothing to solve a problem- they only keep the honest more honest. And for a repuke (whose party’s motto is “less government”) to want to pass more laws, I laugh. Go ahead, name me one law that has accomplished its goal.

  • smash44

    Dave:Although I believe you are an idiotic fool bringing political parties into the fray. I’m all for continuing to let the Four Loko drink be sold. I think it’s entertaining to watch all the drunk-out-of-their-minds fools go crazy on some caffeinated, 12% alcohol drink. Maybe they’ll start flinging themselves off rooftops and bridges. One way to cull the imbecilic gene pool.

    • cm ocasio

      what are you some kind idiot a__hole. who thinks like this?

    • Christian Mendez

      I totally agree with u smash.. I think people are crazy and they just want some one to blame for there issuess…Im drinking 4 lokos know u dont see me trying to kill my kids lol..

      • Lucy

        Please read correctly. No one said this good man TRIED to kill anyone. He hallucinated that he did. He never harmed or tried to harm anyone.
        If you aren’t having ill effects than good for you. This man has no issues. He hallucinated from the ingredients in Four Loko. It apparently effects different people in different ways. Many are having ill effects.

  • john

    Sorry Lucy when I say age 20 in the article I assumed 20 not 22.

    • Lucy

      Apology accepted. The 20 year old is the one who did the CPR. The “older kid” was 22 and this family does have even older children. Thank you for being mature and apologizing. I appreciate that.

      • Nick

        I don’t care what you say, this drink does not do this. Many people have drank this and have not had this happen. Maybe he has an unknown medical condition but this is a significantly isolated incident. One drink??? Something else is goign on here… I have literally seen hundreds of these drink drank WITHOUT any issue. Watrn who you want but no more disk than redbull vodka, I have looked at teh indegrediants by the way.

  • dave

    Republican State Representative Paul Clymer wants to pass another law- banning the drinks. I thought repukes were all about less government interference (less laws) in our lives! Hmmm!

    Do you really think passing a law will accomplish anything? It’s not like I can go out and buy some Mountain Dew and a bottle of grain and mix them or anything, right?

    Lucy, Be careful of pointing fingers (who you call ignorant).

    • Lucy

      It isn’t right to hurl insults at a situation that is clearly very tragic. Only immaturity would lead someone to laugh at someone’s very sad situation.

  • Lucy

    John that is ignorant. The older kid is 22 years old. Please think before you type. You sound like a child yourself. This family suffered through a horrendous situation and you making jokes is just plain immature.

  • john

    One of the older kids ????? What a joke. If the father and the “older KID” were boozing, what was mom and the other 6 kids doing ? Maybe homework…. Hahahaha

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