One of the major group of patients whom we serve at Barwadih are those who present with diarrhoea. Since last few months, quite a many of the patients tell us not to prescribe Oral Rehydration Solution powder as there is a ready to drink ORS preparation available in the market.
I did not care much as this drink called ORSL was quite commonly available in the market and patients especially children preferred it over the ORS powder which we prescribed. On and off, we used to get patients who said that they did not feel better and requested for the ORS powder.
However, I was in for a shock today, when a patient with diarrhoea walked in with this packaged drink. The snaps of the tetrapack are self-explanatory.
The manufacturer has very clearly stated that IT IS NOT TO BE USED FOR DIARRHOEA and there is no mention of the WHO accepted formulation for ORS.
For those who don't know the formula for the current WHO oral rehydration solution (also known as low-osmolar ORS or reduced-osmolarity ORS) is 2.6 grams (0.092 oz) salt (NaCl), 2.9 grams (0.10 oz) trisodium citrate dihydrate , 1.5 grams (0.053 oz) potassium chloride (KCl), 13.5 grams (0.48 oz) anhydrous glucose per litre of fluid. This fruit drink has a whopping 12 gms of sugar per 200 ml.
So, why the name - ORSL - which appears to stand for ORS Liquid.
I've seen patients buy this drink in cartons from local pharmacy shops.
Now, for the shocker . . . The below snap shows the price for this 200 ml drink which misleads people to think that it is a medicine.
32 INR . . . when the ORS sachets are available free in public healthcare facilities and the maximum cost of a ORS sachet which makes 1 litre of the fluid is about 16 INR. So, a misled patient could end up spending 160 INR per one litre of ORSL instead of 16 INR.
Quite misleading marketing strategy to make a quick buck . . . Can't someone take this company to task for misleading people into buying this sugary drink, which is in fact harmful to health. At least they should print 'Do not use during diarrhoea' in larger print and the local vernacular language. Instead they have printed ORSL in Hindi to mislead the unsuspecting poor and the half literate Indian.
A typical example of how crony capitalism makes it's profits . . .