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Plea In Delhi High Court Seeks Prohibition On Johnson & Johnson's 'ORSL Drinks' Alleged To Be Deceptively Being Sold As 'ORS' Health Formula

LIVELAW NEWS NETWORK
24 Aug 2021 6:53 AM GMT
Plea In Delhi High Court Seeks Prohibition On Johnson & Johnsons ORSL Drinks Alleged To Be Deceptively Being Sold As ORS Health Formula
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A PIL has been filed before the Delhi High Court seeking to restrain the sale and distribution of Johnson & Johnson's 'ORSL' product, claiming that whereas on the face of it the product is indicative of Oral Rehydration Salts (ORS), its composition does not use the requisite ORS formula. "A question of utmost public importance is that if a Drink is purely a fruit juice based...

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A PIL has been filed before the Delhi High Court seeking to restrain the sale and distribution of Johnson & Johnson's 'ORSL' product, claiming that whereas on the face of it the product is indicative of Oral Rehydration Salts (ORS), its composition does not use the requisite ORS formula.  

"A question of utmost public importance is that if a Drink is purely a fruit juice based drink or a Non-carbonated water-based beverage, why is it being manufactured, distributed, marketed or sold deliberately and intentionally under a name ORSL when it is bound to confuse an average customer as a prescribed ORS", the plea states at the outset

The petition has been filed an Assistant Professor of JNU. She states that 'ORS' is a Drug under Class 27 of Schedule K of Drugs and Cosmetics Rules 1945, for treatment during diarrhoea. Its solution contains sodium 75 mmol/L and glucose 75 mmol/L, osmolarity 245 mosmol/L.

It is alleged that ORSL as a name is clearly indicative of ORS. This is the first general impression which is created in the mind of any average consumer. However, "None of the beverages being sold under the name ORSL use the composition of the new ORS formulation as prescribed by WHO".

The Petitioner submits that Johnson and Johnson is marketing three different drinks under the said brand i.e. ORSL, ORSL Plus and ORSL Rehydrate, none of which use the composition of ORS formulation as prescribed by WHO. Similar is the case with Fruitnik Electro+ ORS, a brand owned by Amrutanjan Health Care Ltd.

The plea adds that none of the beverages being sold under the name 'ORSL' have requisite licenses under the Drug and Cosmetics Act.

The petitioner further avers that ORSL branded drinks are being widely distributed in pharmacies (both in-store and online) while they are not at all available on major online retailers.

"If ORSL was never meant to be manufactured, distributed or marketed as an ORS drink or in case it was/is purely a fruit based drink or a beverage, why is it that it has no availability on any of the online retailers or even in-store grocery stores but is available in abundance in a pharmacy?", the plea states.

Furthermore, it is stated that ORS is administered to children during diarrhoeal disease and the drinks in question which are high in sugar content can be most harmful during Diarrhoea and are still being mistakenly consumed by consumers and more particularly children under the mistaken belief of consuming an ORS Solution.

In this backdrop, the petition seeks a direction upon Johnson & Johnson to inform the general public of the nature of the risk to health which the products in question ['ORSL', 'ORSL Plus', 'ORSL Rehydrate' and 'Fruitnik Electro+ ORS'] present and publicize that the impugned products are not to be administered to children as an 'ORS' option. It is also prayed that appropriate changes be made to the packaging labels of the impugned products so as to remove any doubt or misgiving about the products being an option for 'ORS'.

A direction is also sought upon FSSAI and Delhi government to ensure that in terms of Regulation 5 (1) of the Food Safety and Standards (Safe food and balanced diets for children in school) Regulations, 2020, the products in question are not given for free sale in school campus or sold to school children in an area within 50 meters from the school gate from any direction.

Case Title: Rupa Singh v. Ministry of Health & Ors.

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