Family physician bases rehydration drink on intravenous saline

A South Carolina doctor decides to develop a new beverage after treating dehydrated athletes.

By Victoria Stagg Elliott — Posted June 13, 2011

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Making sidelines pay

Business Pitch

Doctors who branched out beyond running their practice tell why they did it, how they did it, and what you should know before you do it.
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Name: Benjamin Yoo, MD

Specialty: Family medicine

Location: Charleston, S.C.

Company: BANa Bottling Company sells BANa, a rehydrating drink based on the saline intravenous therapy Dr. Yoo has administered to dehydrated patients. The product is available in gyms and grocery stores in the South Carolina region. It also can be ordered directly through the company's website (link).

Annual revenue: The company had approximately $19,000 in sales in 2009 and $33,000 in sales in 2010.

Why he started the business: Dr. Yoo launched BANa in 2008 after treating numerous local football players for dehydration.

"They needed two, three, even four bags of normal saline to get rehydrated," he said.

Most of the drinks marketed to athletes and others who need to take steps to prevent severe dehydration have some salt in them, as well as various minerals and other ingredients. Dr. Yoo decided to create a drink that would have a much higher salt content but still be palatable. He worked with local bottling companies to create BANa, which is berry flavored but has no calories.

"I wanted it to be like an IV bag," said Dr. Yoo. "The key ingredient is the salt."

An average IV bag has 9,000 mg of sodium. Most sports drinks have 50 to 100 mg. BANa has 800 mg of sodium, and the children's version has 600 mg.

"Higher than 900 mg or 1,000 mg, it tastes bad," Dr. Yoo said.

He is working on a version that would use sea salt, allowing it to be sold in organic supermarkets.

Why he still practices: Dr. Yoo works full time as a family physician but is hoping his business will take off so he can switch to part time.

"I still enjoy practicing medicine. I like to see patients," he said.

Words of wisdom: "I wish that I had learned more about business in medical school. It's a huge learning curve, and I have made a lot of mistakes along the way," Dr. Yoo said.

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