Quebecer died from combination of high-alcohol drink and cold medication: coroner

Four Loko has an alcohol content of 11.9 per cent. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

A Quebec coroner says a man’s death last December was caused by a combination of cold medication and four cans of a sugary high-alcohol drink.

Pierre Parent, 30, drank two cans of Four Loko before going to his parents for dinner last Christmas Day and knocking back a 473-millilitre bottle of Smirnoff.

Four Loko has an alcohol content of 11.9 per cent, while Smirnoff has an alcohol content of 4.8 per cent.

READ MORE: Quebec to ban high sugar, alcohol drinks from grocery, convenience stores

Coroner Yvon Garneau’s report, which was released Tuesday, states Parent began complaining of a sore stomach in the evening and then drank two more cans of Four Loko before swallowing two acetaminophen pills during the night.

Parent’s loved ones say he was hooked on sugary high-alcohol drinks and would have “at least two cans a day,” according to the report.

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Parent was shaking severely the following morning and was unconscious, even though his eyes were open.

His girlfriend called for an ambulance and tried to revive him but he was later declared dead in hospital.

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Garneau concluded that Parent died from cardiac arrhythmia caused by a combination of alcohol, caffeine and chlorpheniramine, an antihistamine. The source of the caffeine was unclear.

In an interview, Garneau said Parent had a weakened heart and a “very, very sick liver,” adding the organ was “compatible with a problem of alcoholism.”

The coroner said Parent looked to be healthy and did not know the condition of his heart and liver.

“That’s the message we’re trying to get across,” he said. “There are maybe people who don’t know their liver is that sick and who continue to consume this sugary drink that masks the flavour of the alcohol.

“And if ever they take, without knowing it, caffeine or two pills, they will find themselves in a similar situation.”

Garneau urged health authorities to make people aware of the dangers of consuming such drinks in conjunction with caffeine or certain medication.

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The company that makes Four Loko announced last March it would not reintroduce the product in Quebec after it had previously been removed from store shelves.

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