A university in Britain is being forced to pay a substantial fine after two of its study subjects almost died when scientists accidentally dosed them with the equivalent of 300 cups of coffee.
According to a report from BBC News, the Newcastle Crown Court recently ordered Northumbria University to pay a fine of more than $500,000 for nearly killing two of its student who volunteered to participate in a sports study.
It seems that researchers were only supposed to give Alex Rossetta and Luke Parkin 0.3 grams of caffeine to examine the effects of the drug during exercise. Instead, someone slipped up and gave the men 30 grams, which put them on the edge of death.
Multiple accounts of this horrific affair indicate that both men suffered “violent” side effects, including dizziness, tremors and rapid heartbeat, after consuming such a high dose of the drug. They were then transferred to a local intensive care unit where dialysis was necessary in order to keep them from succumbing to an overdose.
“It was 100 times the dosage they should have been given,” Prosecutor Adam Farrer testified before court earlier this week. The caffeine “could easily have been fatal,” he added.
Farrer went on to tell the court that had the men not received immediate treatment, which included days of dialysis, they likely would have likely died as a result from over-stimulation.
During the hearing, the prosecutor accused researchers of not being “competent enough” to conduct the study, even going as far as to suggest that the university did not properly supervise the experiment.
University officials told the court they were “deeply, genuinely sorry.” In a statement released following the hearing, the school called the foul-up an “isolated incident” for which they “reacted promptly to what took place.”
Although caffeine is considered a “safe” substance, since it is found in coffee, soft drinks and some foods, a number of people die every year from ingesting too much of the drug.
Overdose deaths have been reported in those who have consumed as little as 18 grams, the BBC reports.
“Up to 400 milligrams (mg) of caffeine a day appears to be safe for most healthy adults. That’s roughly the amount of caffeine in four cups of brewed coffee, 10 cans of cola or two “energy shot” drinks,” according to the Mayo Clinic.
Fortunately, the two men who nearly met their untimely demise at the hands of the world’s most socially acceptable stimulant have made a full recovery.
Want to find out how much caffeine could be fatal for you? Check out the Caffeine Informer.
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