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Volume 43 No. 1


Last year we drilled a well that gives clean water to 70,000 Kenyans.



Drug Store News


Reach every customer with 1 Brand

Source: 2020 Urban Hydration Customer Demographic Profile

January 2021

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Who’s Who in Immunity P. 78


Retailers can capitalize on the shopping trends consumers adopted in 2020

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Vol. 43 No. 1 DrugStoreNews.com



10 Industry News

60 Tools of the Trade How increasingly busy pharmacies leverage tech and automation to get ahead and keep patients healthy

36 Selfcare Roadmap Insights Chronic condition maintenance shopper insights powered by GMDC|Retail Tomorrow’s and HRG’s Selfcare Roadmap Insights tool

66 Eyes on the Horizon Pharmacy industry executives weigh in on victories in 2020 and what they hope 2021 has in store

37 Products to Watch 38 Industry Issues Summit: Fast-Tracking


The first of three monthly features highlighting panels from DSN’s 22nd Industry Issues Summit

78 Who’s Who in Immunity Rounding up the leading manufacturers in the booming immunity space

44 ClearCut Analytics Insights Data from ClearCut Analytics’ Amazon market intelligence on the immunity and VMS categories

88 Cough-Cold and Flu


46 CBD News 50 Focus On: Flora Health 52 Cover Story: Turning the Page on a Pandemic Year


DSN takes a look at the shopper preference learnings that retailers can take from 2020 and use successfully in 2021

COLUMNS 8 Editor’s Note 20 Counter Talk

with B Medical Systems’ Raja Rao

24 Counter Talk

92 News

INSIDE BEAUTY 94 Prioritizing Personal Care With cosmetics dropping as consumers stay at home, skin and bath care are growing

78 26 One-on-One with Doctor Easy’s Marsha Garcia

with Fancy’s Katie Keating

22 Counter Talk

Early 2020 stock-ups and widespread mask wearing have led to a soft flu season, but prevention and natural products can still boost the category

28 One-on-One with Elsevier’s Trygve Anderson

30 One-on-One

with When I Work’s Chad Halvorson

with Trividia Health’s Michael Schlanger

32 One-on-One with Designer Greetings’ Steven Gimbelman

34 One-on-One with MacGill’s Jay Smith

98 Last Word with David Orgel Consulting’s David Orgel

SOCIAL Facebook.com/ DrugStoreNews Twitter.com/ DrugStoreNews

DSN (ISSN 0191-7587) is published monthly 12 times a year by EnsembleIQ, 8550 W. Bryn Mawr Ave, Suite 200, Chicago, IL 60631. Subscription rate in the United States: $125 one year; $230 two year; $14 single issue copy; Canada and Mexico: $150 one year; $270 two year; $16 single issue copy; Foreign: $170 one year; $325 two year; $16 single issue copy. Periodicals postage paid at Chicago, IL, and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Please send address changes to DSN, 8550 W. Bryn Mawr Ave, Suite 200, Chicago, IL 60631. Vol. 43 No. 1, January 2021. Copyright © 2020 by EnsembleIQ. All rights reserved.



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New Year, New Industry Mass retail is entering 2021 transformed by the pandemic By Seth Mendelson


view this time, from the first of the year to around the end of February, as a bridge from the past to the future. Hopefully, by then, the much-discussed and hopedfor vaccine will start doing its job, protecting people around the globe from the harmful effects of COVID19. Hopefully, by then, the world will start to return to some form of normal that will allow us to return to our cherished and much-missed routines, as simple as they once were. Seth Mendelson In the meantime, we have to remember the stark events Editor in Chief/ of the recent past — especially the last 10 months — and Associate Publisher really start to plan for the future. The bottom line is that mass retail aged about 10 years in these last 10 months and, when the dust truly settles, we are going to discover that some of the measures we were forced to implement were just things that were coming down the line anyway. They just got here faster because, as they say, necessity is the mother of invention. The hysteria of shopping in March and April gave way to sensible retailing in the late spring and early summer. Not everything worked. Some steps were a waste of time and money but, at the moment, seemed like a good thing to try. Other innovations were big successes. They efficiently and effectively accomplished such things as protecting consumers and store workers. They got more products on store shelves, just in the nick of time. They helped to restore confidence in shopping at mass retail outlets, just at a point when consumers were a bit unsure of what to do and when to do it when it came to feeding their families and taking the necessary steps to make sure they did all they could to protect their health. And we cannot forget what the front-line workers at retail did during the worst of the pandemic, in the early spring and again in November and December. They went to work. While many of us had the ability to stay home and stay protected, these people put their clothes on and, usually with a smile on their faces, dealt with the public. They did that simple act while facing grave danger — an invisible, deadly virus that has taken nearly 400,000 American lives as of this writing. So good riddance to 2020. Hello to a new year, with new hopes and expectations. Let’s hope it’s a good one. dsn

Mass retail aged about 10 years in these last 10 months and, when the dust truly settles, we are going to discover that some of the measures we were forced to implement were coming down the line anyway.


An EnsembleIQ Publication 8550 W. Bryn Mawr Ave, Suite 200, Chicago, IL 60631 Senior Vice President, Publisher John Kenlon (516) 650-2064, jkenlon@ensembleiq.com Editor in Chief /Associate Publisher Seth Mendelson (212) 756-5160, smendelson@ensembleiq.com EDITORIAL Managing Editor David Salazar (212) 756-5114, dsalazar@ensembleiq.com Senior Editor Sandra Levy (845) 893-9573, slevy@ensembleiq.com Desk Editor Maria Manliclic (212) 756-5093, mmanliclic@ensembleiq.com Online Editor Gisselle Gaitan (212) 756-5138, ggaitan@ensembleiq.com SALES & BUSINESS Northeast Manager Alex Tomas (212) 756-5155, atomas@ensembleiq.com Regional Manager Steven Werner (312) 961-7162 swerner@ensembleiq.com Beauty Sales and Marketing Manager Delaney Renker (616)-644-4495 drenker@ensembleiq.com Production Manager Jackie Batson (224) 632-8183, jbatson@ensembleiq.com PROJECT MANAGEMENT/PRODUCTION/ART Vice President, Production Derek Estey (877) 687-7321 x 1004, destey@ensembleiq.com Creative Director Colette Magliaro cmagliaro@ensembleiq.com AUDIENCE LIST RENTAL MeritDirect Marie Briganti 914-309-3378 SUBSCRIBER SERVICES/CUSTOMER CARE TOLL-FREE: 1-877-687-7321 FAX: 1-888-520-3608 contact@drugstorenews.com REPRINTS & PERMISSIONS Reprints, permissions and licensing, please contact Wright’s Media at ensembleiq@wrightsmedia.com or (877) 652-5295.

CORPORATE OFFICERS Chief Executive Officer Jennifer Litterick Chief Financial Officer Jane Volland Chief Innovation Officer Tanner Van Dusen Chief Human Resources Officer Ann Jadown Executive Vice President, Events & Conferences Ed Several Senior Vice President, Content Joe Territo


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Softlips Adds Natural Lip Balms

Hershey Rolls Out Valentine’s Day, Easter Treats Hershey is starting 2021 with a host of new holiday-focused products that offer a twist on its classic offerings. Innovations include new products from such brands as Reese’s, Ice Breakers and the flagship Hershey’s chocolate brand. For Valentine’s Day, the company is adding some romance to its lineup with Hershey’s Kisses Meltaway Roses, as well as Hershey’s milk chocolate bear, Hershey’s Hugs & Kisses Heart Box, Reese’s Peanut Butter Rose and Reese’s Big Box O’Love. The meltaway roses feature a velvety cream that bursts out of each rose as it melts. “Whether you are a hopeless romantic or a last-minute Cupid, these new offerings are the perfect treat to make Valentine’s Day extra special,” said Erin Crawford, brand manager for holiday at Hershey. “Our team took our classics — Kisses, candies, Reese’s cups — and added new seasonal masterpieces that you’ll want to stock up on for the entire year.” With Easter on the horizon, Hershey also is bringing spring-inspired products to shelves. New products include Reese’s Mallow-Top Peanut Butter Cups, a milk chocolate Pip Bunny, Hershey’s milk chocolate Build-A-Bunny and Ice Breakers Strawberry Lemonade Duckling. “This Easter, our star is the Reese’s Mallow-Top Peanut Butter Cup,” said Michael Reese, senior brand manager at Hershey’s holiday department. “We’ve reimagined the classic Reese’s Cup by combining the top Easter flavors, milk chocolate, marshmallow and delicious Reese’s peanut butter, all into one amazing cup.” Additionally, Hershey is bringing back hits from past years, including Hershey’s Kisses Lava Cake, Kit Kat Raspberry Creme and Reese’s Peanut Butter hearts for Valentine’s Day. Returning Easter favorites include Cadbury Creme Eggs, Reese’s Pieces Shake N’ Break and Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs. Kit Kat Lemon Crisp also is making a comeback.


With clean and natural-focused products taking center stage in the beauty category, Softlips is aiming to put its own spin on the trend. The lip balm brand announced the launch of its new natural products, which aim to offer need-specific benefits alongside moisturization. Softlips Naturals Lip Balms are formulated with a blend of such plantbased oils as sacha inchi oil, argan oil and green tea oil. They also contain a plant-based film derived from tung and rapeseed oils, the company said. Available in three varieties, consumers can choose from: • Softlips Naturals made with Avocado Oil contains oleic acid to aid in increasing the absorption of oils in the skin for added moisturization; • Softlips Naturals made with Manuka Honey has flavonoids and phenols for an antioxidant activity that looks to soothe and restore damaged skin, as well as moisturize; and • Softlips Naturals made with Hemp Seed Oil contains linoleic acid to promote the skin barrier function of dry lips, as well as vitamin E to soothe the lips. The lip balms have rolled out at Walgreens, Rite Aid, Wegmans, H-E-B and Hy-Vee stores.


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FDA Approves First Generic Glucagon for Injection Kit The Food and Drug Administration has approved the first generic of a drug used to treat severe hypoglycemia. The agency approved a generic glucagon for injection, 1 mg, from Amphastar Pharmaceuticals. The generic is a synthetic peptide product that the FDA has deemed to be bioequivalent and thus therapeutically equivalent to Eli Lilly’s Glucagon Emergency Kit for Low Blood Sugar. The FDA said that glucagon for injection is included on its list of off-patent, off-exclusivity drug products that don’t have an approved generic, which the agency keeps to encourage development and submission of applications for drugs with limited competition. The agency also prioritizes the review of the drugs on the list that have fewer than three approved generics with no blocking patents or exclusivities. “This approval is yet another milestone for the company and marks the first-ever FDA approval of a generic version of rDNA Glucagon,” said Amphastar CEO and president Dr. Jack Zhang. “This further highlights Amphastar’s considerable abilities to bring complex generic drugs to the market and, more specifically,

our strong peptide capabilities.” According to IQVIA, the U.S. sales for Eli Lilly’s Glucagon Emergency Kit for Low Blood Sugar, 1 mg, were approximately $144 million, and the overall U.S. sales of brand products containing glucagon for injection, 1 mg, were approximately $306 million for the 12 months ended Sept. 30, 2020. Amphastar said it plans to launch the product within two months.

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Face Halo’s Makeup Remover Pads Make Their Ulta Beauty Debut Australian beauty brand Face Halo is expanding the distribution of its reusable makeup pads to Ulta Beauty’s website, and will be hitting its physical stores later this month. Products that will be available from Ulta Beauty include Face Halo Original, Face Halo Pro, Face Halo X, Face Halo Body, an accessories pack and an exclusive two pack of the original remover. Made from HaloTech fibers, the brand’s reusable pads aid in replacing 500 makeup remover wipes that end up tossed in landfills by the day, the company said. “Whilst Face Halo has achieved international success in the U.K. and Australia, launching into 1,200-plus Ulta stores is an extremely exciting prospect,” said Lizzy Pike, co-founder of Face Halo. “Unlike their British and Australian counterparts, U.S. consumers are only at the start of their sustainability journey, so we are looking forward to changing the American beauty landscape and positioning Face Halo as the front-runner and champion of the conscious beauty movement.” The products, which already are available online, will roll out to 1,246 Ulta Beauty stores on Jan. 28.


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#1 in

FDA Clears First At-Home COVID-19 Test The Food and Drug Administration has approved the first at-home test for COVID-19 that can be purchased over the counter. The Ellume COVID-19 Home Test is a rapid, lateral-flow antigen test that detects fragments of proteins of the SARS-CoV-2 virus from a nasal swab for anyone age 2 years old and older. “By authorizing a test for over-the-counter use, the FDA allows it to be sold in places like drug stores, where a patient can buy it, swab their nose, run the test and find out their results in as little as 20 minutes,” said FDA commissioner Stephen Hahn. “As we continue to authorize additional tests for home use, we are helping expand Americans’ access to testing, reducing the burden on laboratories and test supplies, and giving Americans more testing options from the comfort and safety of their own homes.” So far, the FDA has approved more than 225 diagnostic tests for COVID-19, including more than 25 that allow for home collection of samples that are then sent to a lab for testing. The Ellume test is the first that can be used entirely at home without a prescription. The test includes a sterile nasal swab, a dropper, processing fluid and a Bluetoothconnected analyzer. Ellume’s test works in conjunction with a free smartphone app that offers step-by-step testing instructions, including a how-to video. All analysis is performed using the test’s electronic analyzer, which displays the test result on the user’s smartphone in 15 minutes or less via Bluetooth. “Ellume’s COVID-19 Home Test delivers this important first line of defense. It can be widely available without the need for a prescription, enabling the U.S. to respond to the pandemic in its most urgent stage,” said Sean Parsons, Ellume’s founder and CEO. Ellume — which is based in Valencia, Calif., and Brisbane, Australia — said the test is priced at $30 and began shipping them in the first week of January. A spokesperson said the company was in advanced discussions about national retail commercialization. As it prepares to ship the test, Ellume is ramping up its manufacturing efforts, with production on track to create 100,000 tests per day in January. In data submitted from a simulated home setting clinical study of 198 participants, the test showed an overall sensitivity of 95% and specificity of 97% when results were compared with an RT-PCR lab test. In patients with symptoms, sensitivity was 96% and specificity was 100%, while asymptomatic individuals saw a test sensitivity rate of 91% and specificity of 96%.



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Trojan’s Tantrix ‘Pleasure Sleeve’ Hits Stores Trojan continues to expand its product offerings beyond its flagship condoms. The Ewing, N.J.-based Church & Dwight brand has unveiled Tantrix, a handheld softtextured sheet with ridges that the brand has dubbed a “pleasure sleeve” for manual penile stimulation. “While the world continues to spin, we all need a little something extra to stimulate our day,” said Eileen Hsu, director of sexual health and well-being at Church & Dwight. “The newest addition of Tantrix to our Trojan lineup is our way of helping provide a new, uncharted feeling of relief and satisfaction to men. Masturbation helps release endorphins, aid in sleep and relieve stress. Tantrix Pleasure Sleeve is designed for mind-blowing pleasure that beats your bare hands.” Trojan said that the pandemic has seen a rise in consumer demand for accessories that can enhance solo stimulation, noting that, per Nielsen, in August of this year, vibrator sales saw year-over-year sales grow by 41% for the four weeks ended Aug. 22. Seeing an unmet need, the company engineered Tantrix, which currently has rolled out to Walmart and Amazon for a suggested retail price of $5.99. The company said that Tantrix is designed to fit comfortably in the palm of the hand, allowing a user to maintain a full range of motion. It recommended using the product with a water-based lubricant.


Agile Therapeutics Launches Twirla Contraceptive Patch Agile Therapeutics’ first marketed product is bringing a new birth control patch to patients. Twirla (levonorgestrel and ethinyl estradiol transdermal system) offers a non-daily, noninvasive contraceptive patch that the company designed in consultation with women. Twirla is worn weekly and delivers a 30-mcg daily dose of ethinyl estradiol, the lowest exposure of estrogen in a transdermal contraceptive option, along with a 120-mcg daily dose of levonorgestrel, a well-known progestin with a long history of use in the category. Twirla is designed to be worn on the abdomen, buttock or upper torso (excluding the breasts), using Skinfusion technology. At less than 1 mm thin, Twirla is made up of five layers for focused drug delivery and to help maintain adhesion. “We are thrilled to launch our first commercial product, Twirla, an effective, modern contraceptive option for women and their healthcare providers,” said Al Altomari, Agile’s chairman and CEO. “Family planning experts believe the most successful contraception for a woman is one of her choosing that fits her lifestyle, and we believe Twirla will be a valuable addition to the category’s available options. We are committed to seeking ways to make Twirla affordable and accessible for women.” Twirla is indicated for women of reproductive potential, with a body mass index less than 30 for whom a combined hormonal contraceptive is appropriate to prevent pregnancy. The company said that Twirla is less effective in women with a BMI between 25 and 30, and should not be used in women with a BMI of 30 or more. “The approach that we have taken in the development and launch of Twirla is representative of Agile’s ongoing dedication to addressing the unmet needs of today’s women,” said Paul Korner, chief medical officer at Agile. “Not only did we design our Phase 3 trial to closely represent the U.S. demographics of women, but we also worked with women over the last four years to better understand their evolving needs to ensure our patient programs holistically support women who use Twirla.”


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Sunbeam Gets Mobile with GoHeat Cordless Heating Pad

UpSpring Grows Milkflow Supplement Line

Sunbeam’s line of heat therapy products is growing. The GoHeat Cordless heating pad is the latest product from the Boca Raton, Fla.-based company, and it is designed to help relieve pain and treat sore muscles at home or on the go, with the ability to heat up in as little as 30 seconds. “From sore muscles after working out to back pain caused by uncomfortable workspaces, everyone experiences their pain differently,” said Chris Robins, Newell Brands’ business unit CEO for appliances and cookware. “Our new portable heating pad offers a solution for consumers to customize their relief from anywhere — no longer confined to the couch or restricted by cord length. At Sunbeam, it’s our goal to provide the most innovative, safe and convenient options to help people better manage their pain, and our GoHeat Cordless delivers on this promise.” The portable device, which uses a rechargeable lithium-ion battery that can support up to four hours of heat therapy on a single charge, features three heat settings, allowing users to customize their treatment. The battery fits into the pad’s side pocket to allow for portability. The pad comes with an adjustable strap that fits up to 55 in. around, allowing for users to target such areas as the back, arms, legs and shoulders. The Sunbeam GoHeat Cordless heating pad currently is sold only online from select retailers, including Walmart, Target and Walgreens, as well as on Amazon. It carries a suggested retail price of $69.99, and the company also sells a quick charger accessory for $19.99, enabling the pad to charge in 75 minutes rather than the standard three hours. Sunbeam also sells a replacement GoHeat battery for $39.99.

UpSpring is growing its flagship Milkflow line of herbal breastfeeding supplements. The Austin, Texas-based brand has added three products — Milkflow + Electrolytes Drink Mixes, Milkflow FenugreekFree Capsules and Milkflow Fenugreek Free Drink Mix. The company said that the electrolyte offering is designed to help breastfeeding moms restore and replenish, as the body uses up to 25% of its energy producing breast milk. The mix is available in berry and chocolate flavors. The Fenugreek-Free Capsules are made with moringa, blessed thistle, fennel and anise to help promote breast milk supply, Upspring said. It offers consumers a different herbal option than its original fenugreek and blessed thistle formula. The Fenugreek-Free Drink Mix, sold in blackberry lime flavor, is made with the same herbal blend as the capsules. “At UpSpring, we understand that every mom’s body is unique and not all herbals work for every woman, making it important to have as many options as possible,” said co-founder and CEO Lisa Williamson. “That’s why we are thrilled to now offer Milkflow formulations with and without the herb fenugree to give even more moms access to our helpful products — and we are extremely proud to be the first to do so.” Milkflow, which first launched in 2015, currently is carried at Target, Walmart, Walgreens, The Vitamin Shoppe, H-E-B, Meijer and buybuy Baby, as well as online via Amazon.com and UpSpringBaby.com.

AriZona’s Latest Fruit Snacks Channel its Iconic Drinks There’s now a new, chewy way to enjoy two classic AriZona Beverages flavors. New to the brand’s portfolio of fruit snacksare two flavors based on popular drinks — Arnold Palmer and Green Tea. The Arnold Palmer flavor features a combination of half iced tea and half lemonade, as well as original, strawberry, mango and peach options. It is made with real fruit and contains 100 calories per serving. The Green Tea option, which includes a mix of original, apple, mandarin and plum blueberry flavors, has 100 calories per package, the company said. Both the AriZona Green Tea and Arnold Palmer fruit snacks have rolled out to select bodegas, delis and grocery stores nationwide.



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Taboo No More Retailers can play a role in changing the conversation around sexual wellness products By Katie Keating

F Katie Keating, co-founder and chief creative officer, Fancy


act: Sex is a normal part of everyday life. Also a fact: Sometimes (many times? All the time?) people need, want and enjoy something besides themselves — and each other — to make the experience more pleasurable. This is not new news. The vibrator was invented in the 1880s during Victorian times. And though the first commercial lube was on the market in 1904, our ancestors have been using plant oils, seaweed and yams for thousands of years. So, why do so many consumers feel so weird about buying what they want today? On the one hand, the options are practically endless. Exquisite design is everywhere. Sophisticated technology abounds. And, on the other hand, stores that sell these products are mostly places the consumer is afraid their motherin-law will drive by and see their car in the parking lot, or online purveyors that will ship “in discrete brown packaging” so no one will know your “secret.” If you search in your local mass drug store, you might find a few options from the major players, but they are tucked away. Often between the period care and the pregnancy tests. There’s no aisle sign. There’s no endcap. There’s no in-store celebration of new products or featured brands. All of these scenarios perpetuate the idea that sexuality — and pleasure, in particular — are taboo. By carrying only a small assortment and hiding away the products that actually do have shelf space, the message the consumer gets is that she should hide away her needs, her wants and her desires. This is in direct conflict with so much mainstream editorial. Note, I don’t say the media because it’s still mighty hard to advertise pleasure products. Major fashion magazines regularly have reviews and top 10 lists. Blogs on beauty, healthy living, self-care, wellness and design all feature the what, how, where and why of sex toys and intimate care. All ages have been welcomed

to this conversation, as everyone from Gen Z to baby boomers and beyond are becoming more vocal about what works for them and the fact that a sex life is real life. These mixed messages are not doing anyone any favors. Women are feeling more confident in their sexuality and are willing to spend on it, but the in-store experience tells them that doesn’t matter. They don’t matter. Imagine if there was an aisle dedicated to, and labeled as, “Sexual Wellness.” It would be a place where all the major players were stocked, but also, where some new brands — smaller brands, women-owned brands — were featured. Imagine if store associates were trained and knowledgeable about the different products, able to answer questions, and suggest options. Imagine creating a judgement-free zone where people were encouraged to feel good about wanting to make themselves feel good. Imagine getting customers to spend more time exploring, putting more items in their baskets and building more of a rapport with your store. Imagine. One thing we learned in 2020 is that the sexual wellness business is big business. We had time on our hands during lockdown. Time to experiment. Time to add a little spice to the same old same old. Time to spend thinking about what we really wanted — alone or with a partner. Time to try a lot of different things. Sales in the category skyrocketed, and now that we’re feeling so comfortable purchasing, we’re only going to be looking for more. So, here’s the opportunity: as advertisers, marketers and retailers, we can impose puritanical points of view on people, we can use innuendo and subtlety, and we can imply that their desire for pleasure needs to be hidden and is therefore shameful. Or, we can recognize the turning tides of culture and use our powers of influence to help people express who they are, have what makes them happy and enjoy every aspect of their lives. It’s up to us. dsn


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Proper Preparation Protecting the vaccine cold chain at the pharmacy level By Raja Rao

T Raja Rao, director of immunization logistics, B Medical Systems


he recent approval of two vaccines to prevent COVID-19 and their high efficacy rates has brought with it optimism of a hoped-for end to the pandemic. With the rollout beginning with front-line healthcare workers and longterm care facilities begun, the next goal will be widespread availability. Overall, getting the vaccine to hundreds of millions of people in the United States — let alone the rest of the word — will be a massive undertaking. Are the logistics in place to support the rollout of such vaccines? That is a work in progress — airlines are taking part and municipalities are lining up their ability to distribute vaccines in preparation. One thing the federal government has done is to partner with pharmacies, including the well-known national chains, to allow them to administer the vaccine without making people go to hospitals and doctors’ offices. In looking at how to solve the challenge of the last mile, let’s look at the entire journey of a vaccine, also known as the cold chain. We call it the cold chain because temperature is the most important factor in making sure that a vaccine arrives safely to the end user. To make sure this happens, vaccines must travel through multiple layers of the supply chain — from the manufacturer to distribution centers to the final destinations, and every mode of travel in between. A variation in temperature — either too hot, or even too cold — can render a vaccine ineffective, or worse, unsafe. Complicating this is that the different vaccines in development require different storage temperatures: Pfizer’s vaccine, for example, needs a roughly -70 degrees Celsius environment, requiring special freezers, while Moderna’s vaccine requires a roughly -20 degrees Celsius temperature — in the range of standard freezer temperatures. Oxford and AstraZeneca’s vaccine, which has been rolled out in the United Kingdom, reportedly can be stored at refrigerator temperatures for

months. This puts greater pressure on the entire supply chain to ensure that there is an unbroken cold chain. What does this mean for pharmacies? Representing the last mile, or even the last few feet to the patient for many Americans, the pharmacy needs to be prepared to receive and store vaccines that could come in at a range of temperatures. They need to have shorter-term storage for warmer temperatures needed to unfreeze the vaccines before they are used on patients. Many pharmacies, and likely other planned vaccination end points, do not necessarily have the sophisticated refrigeration and freezer space to accommodate one vaccine, let alone be prepared for any number of vaccines with separate requirements. Pharmacies have a few things they can do to be prepared: 1. Take an inventory of your cold chain storage volume and calculate that against the impending future needs for a vaccine rollout; 2. Understand each vaccine cold storage profile. Can you store them at different temperatures? If so, for how long? Some freezer units can be adjusted from between -80 degrees Celsius and -20 degrees Celsius, and from -20 degrees Celsius to between 2 and 8 degrees Celsius, thereby reducing costs and saving time; 3. Plan for 24/7 temperature tracking. Several manufacturers offer built-in, wireless remote temperature tracking, which is set to alarm if the temperature gets too hot or too cold. These remote trackers also can be purchased separately and installed quickly; and 4. It’s essential that healthcare workers know when units are opened, or lose power, and for how long. This will go a long way towards preventing vaccine waste and guaranteeing safety. Once the COVID-19 vaccines are ready for the public, it will be the result of a huge effort to make sure the front-line businesses and workers supplying them to patients are prepared as well. dsn


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Sound Solutions Three ways drug stores can beat COVID-19 staffing challenges By Chad Halvorson

P Chad Halvorson, founder and chief experience officer, When I Work

art-time workers are the lifeblood of most retail pharmacies, making the creation of employee work schedules historically a time-consuming and tedious process. Added complications introduced by the COVID-19 pandemic — from losing high schooland college-age employees practically on the spot because their parents thought they’d be safer at home to needing to double delivery teams because of state-mandated shutdowns — make planning those schedules now nearly impossible using traditional methods (think: a paper schedule hung up in the breakroom). Fortunately, there are strategies and technologies that can make it easier for pharmacy managers and owners to create and change work rosters on the fly and allow for contactless scheduling and time tracking to keep all employees safer, as well as assist in contact tracing should the need arise.

Flexible Self-Scheduling Having gained traction in health care several years ago, flexible self-scheduling enables managers to define scheduling needs based on customer demand, while enabling employees to select, trade and fill shifts themselves. In turn, managers can create schedules faster, with less effort, and give hourly employees more control over their work life. Selfscheduling systems are based on an easy-to-use application that employees access through their mobile devices, eliminating the need to congregate in one spot to find out when they work — not ideal in the age of social distancing. Our data also shows that workplaces using a mobile-based, flexible platform resolve scheduling and coordination issues faster than those that don’t. Take Mike Koelzer, pharmacist and third-generation owner of Kay Pharmacy in Grand Rapids, Mich., for instance. I spoke with Koelzer to learn how this approach has improved his staffing challenges. “Switching to a flexible, software-based scheduling model has reduced the amount of time needed for scheduling by one-third,” he said. “And, by providing flexibility, I can hold on to better employees longer.”


That’s a big deal as retail pharmacies adjust to a pandemic-enforced way of doing business.

Team Communication When there’s a need to convey critical information, such as that of a co-worker who’s become ill or a sudden change in the work schedule, communicating via a single technology platform enables managers to inform all staffers in real time without everyone having to physically be in the same spot. “As the owner, I need to be able to communicate with my team at all times,” Koelzer said. “If one of my pharmacists suddenly couldn’t work because they tested positive for coronavirus or was even just in a fender bender on the way in, our store can’t open. I need to be able to send out a communication immediately to fill that shift. Using our scheduling app to communicate with the whole team in real time has been a lifesaver in that regard.” Moving all nonessential in-person communication to a messaging app, preferably one that also lives within your contactless scheduling and timetracking tool, also means that employees can have a direct line to their co-workers and store managers without risking infection.

Assisted Contact Tracing Contact tracing is just one new element the pandemic has introduced to drug store management. If an employee becomes sick with COVID-19, an employer needs to quickly determine with whom that person worked or came into contact with over the previous 14 days. With their hourly-based workforce, pharmacies can readily leverage employee scheduling and time tracking apps to assist with contact tracing efforts by reviewing shifts and time punches that overlap amongst employees. In some cases, these mobile and cloud-based technologies can create reports that provide a list of employees who may have come into contact with a sick employee. “Now that we’re in the midst of coping with COVID-19, flexible self-scheduling allows me to do all of that while keeping everyone safer,” Koelzer said. dsn


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Can You Ear Me Now? Doctor Easy’s president highlights how the ear care category can grow


ar care company Doctor Easy is looking to live up to its name by offering convenient products to keep ears clean at retail. Drug Store News caught up with Marsha Garcia, president of Doctor Easy, to discuss how the company has fared throughout the pandemic and what it’s doing to help retailers grow the ear care category. Drug Store News: Given the events of the past year, how is your business doing? Marsha Garcia: While we have seen an impact from COVID-19, overall, Doctor Easy is doing well. Initially, we saw substantial declines in our medical division, while our retail side held up. Most likely, these occurrences were related. As consumers were unable to visit their medical professionals for ear wax removal, they turned to WaxRx, our professionalgrade, home-use ear wax removal system, for relief. That’s the beauty of being able to offer a self-care option at retail. Consumers can solve their own healthcare problems, even if they can’t get into the doctor, whether that’s due to a serious pandemic or just an everyday hectic schedule. DSN: Doctor Easy is involved in some niche categories. What is the best way for retailers to merchandise and market your products? MG: Ear care is a small category and, until recently, it was a bit of a sleepy one. It’s important for retailers to understand, however, that consumers have a real need for ear care and there’s a new kid in town, called WaxRx, to fill that need. WaxRx has invigorated the ear care category with its national advertising campaign and professional-grade quality. Stocking WaxRx in the ear care section, or near the hearing aids, is the best placement. A number of retailers have piggybacked off our national advertising by running in-store promotions. For the most part, however, we do the heavy lifting with our national advertising campaigns and by offering “where to buy” information


trade shows, such as NCPA and NACDS, especially the Total Store Expo. We strive to educate retailers about the demand for ear wax removal and our 20-plus years of manufacturing professional ear wax removal systems. We want retailers to know, if they add WaxRx or Earvana to their ear care offerings, they will be offering their customers quality products backed by decades of clinical experience, from the inventors of spray ear washing technology.

Marsha Garcia, president, Doctor Easy

“So many ineffective ear wax products have been pushed on unsuspecting consumers over the years. That’s why we entered the consumer market to offer our professional ear washing systems for home use.” on our website. When consumers see our TV ads, they can visit our website, learn which of their favorite retailers carry WaxRx and purchase the product locally. The main thing for retailers is to have WaxRx in stock. DSN: What are you doing to help educate retailers about your categories? MG: Since we entered the retail market a few years ago, we’ve continually participated in

DSN: How are you educating consumers? MG: Consumers who suffer from ear wax impaction, or itchy ears, are keen to learn about professional-grade products that can actually solve their problems. So many ineffective ear wax products have been pushed on unsuspecting consumers over the years. That’s why we entered the consumer market to offer our professional ear washing systems for home use. To educate consumers about WaxRx and Earvana, we run nationwide cable TV advertising and digital and social media campaigns to drive viewers to our website. There, they can learn about ear care, WaxRx and Earvana. Doctor Easy’s commitment to consumer education is ongoing. DSN: Tell us about your product line and any new products on the way to market. MG: Currently, we offer our WaxRx Ear Wax Removal System and the WaxRx Refill pack for professional-grade ear wax removal at home. This year, we launched Earvana Soothing Ear Rinse as the first clean, nonoily, natural solution for itchy ears. Doctor Easy has always been more focused on quality than quantity. So, while we do have other products in development, you won’t see us rushing to launch additional products until they are ready. We prefer to support our current product offerings with well-financed advertising campaigns and a commitment to quality. dsn


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Doctor Invented

The #1

Selling Brand of Spray

The Ear Was h System Used by Doc tors for


Ear Washer

Shelf Friendly Size!


We Invented the Category!

8 Million consumers seek medical treatment for ear wax impaction every year

W WATCH IT WORK! Vi Visit www.WaxRx.video

Help consumers

save $80-$100 by NOT paying for a doctor visit

$3 Million

Used more than

in national and regional advertising—cable TV, radio, digital, and social media spend to date

times in the clinical setting

RE X 2020

40 Million

CONTACT axrx logo] Sterling Price 904-579-4498 sprice@doctor-easy.com | waxrx.com

*Source: *S Source: Amazon.com

Winner of the Retail Excellence Award

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Tools for Success Elsevier aims to empower pharmacists to improve patient health


rygve Anderson, vice president of commercial and pharmacy at Elsevier, said in an interview with Drug Store News that his company can help build consumer trust and sales at the pharmacy counter through different measures. Drug Store News: Tell us about Elsevier. Trygve Anderson: Elsevier is a global analytics business leading the way in advancing science, technology and health. We help our customers make better decisions, deliver better care, and combine content with technology, supported by operational efficiency, to turn information into actionable knowledge through various vehicles, including: • Clinical Pharmacology powered by ClinicalKey: a trusted source for current, accurate, clinically relevant drug information; • Gold Standard Drug Database: enables intelligent drug data decisions; and • Patient Engagement: evidence-based and interactive information. DSN: How can you help retail pharmacists build better relationships with patients, maximize your products and get consumers more involved? TA: Elsevier partners with customers to help pharmacists serve the needs of their patients throughout their health-and-wellness journey. We work closely with our customers to ensure they have evidence-based content and solutions needed to be confident, informed medication advisors. The following patient scenario demonstrates how Elsevier’s solutions help retail pharmacists build stronger relationships with patients, while helping pharmacists maximize products and encourage discussions regarding their patients’ medication therapy. For example, a 30-year-old female walks in to a retail pharmacy to pick up a new prescription – Synthroid — and plans to speak with a pharmacist regarding her struggles with both sleep and stress. The patient is stressed,


Trygve Anderson, vice president of commercial and pharmacy, Elsevier

feeling overwhelmed and anxious due to sudden changes of working from home and parenting due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, she is experiencing nausea and heartburn — hoping for an OTC recommendation. Utilizing Elsevier’s content management system, the pharmacist finds a video and invites the patient to watch a short video on “Understanding Anxiety.” While the patient is watching the video, the pharmacist reviews Elsevier’s patient education to help prepare for the consultation. With Elsevier’s content management solution, pharmacists have access to over 1,000 videos on various health topics, ranging from 2-to-3 minutes in length, allowing pharmacists to create personalized playlists based on patients’ needs. The videos feature 3-D graphics, onscreen text and closed captioning in both English and Spanish. While the patient is watching the video, the pharmacist accesses ClinicalKey, Elsevier’s online reference tool to access information on anxiety and insomnia. The ClinicalKey solution includes point of care clinical overviews; full text references; practice guidelines; Medline access to abstracts, videos, clinical

calculators; and more. The pharmacist accesses clinical overviews for anxiety and 2021 Ferri’s clinical advisor text, focusing on nonpharmacologic therapy and sleep hygiene topics within ClinicalKey. As the pharmacist is discussing stress-related measures, they access Elsevier’s text-based education library, which includes over 3,800 titles on disease states, health conditions, wellness and other complementary topics. It also contains drug education sheets for all medications. The pharmacist then reviews education on the recommended treatment and discusses the medication with the patient, and uses Gold Standard Drug Database to run a drug interaction screen against the patient’s current medication and discusses the interaction screen for lifestyle choices regarding alcohol, caffeine and tobacco. As a result of access to Elsevier’s content, the pharmacist is able to engage with the patient by sharing information on mindful stress reduction and quality sleep information. The pharmacist discusses over-thecounter options, recommending melatonin for sleep and omeprazole for heartburn. In closing, the pharmacist prints the education and video QR code or agrees to send education links by email to make sure the patient can reference the information anytime they choose. As you can see, Elsevier delivers evidencebased content for both the pharmacist and the patient, whether they need to access traditional medication information, complementary and alternative medicines or wellness topics — Elsevier has the pharmacist covered. DSN: How does Elsevier see itself being involved in the future of pharmacy? TA: Our team is committed to maximizing the positive impact our solutions provide to the pharmaceutical industry. Our executive and product management teams welcome the opportunity to engage with stakeholders for ongoing solution development and strategic planning discussions. dsn


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Building stronger relationships

Elsevier partners with customers to help pharmacists serve the needs of their patients, throughout their health and wellness journey. We work closely with our customers to ensure they have evidence-based content and solutions needed to be confident, informed medication advisors.

Clinical Pharmacology powered by ClinicalKey – trusted source for current, accurate, clinically relevant drug information Gold Standard Drug Database – enables intelligent drug data decisions Patient Engagement – Evidenced-based and interactive information

For more, visit: elsevier.com/drug-information

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Branching Out Trividia Health looks to be a diabetes go-to for humans and their best friends


In addition, our consumer education program,“Meet Lance,” creates consumer-friendly, easy-to-understand tips, educating the consumer on all aspects of living a healthier lifestyle with diabetes and the products that help them to do that. The program has expanded to include Lance’s Pets — Buddy Dog and Keto Kitty — with simple, friendly and instructive educational material to help pet owners feel more comfortable about blood glucose testing and caring for their pet with diabetes.

rividia Health is entering the pet diabetes monitoring category, confident that its well-earned reputation in the human sector will help establish trust in the pet world. Michael Schlanger, the company’s director of channel marketing, spoke with Drug Store News about the new venture. Drug Store News: Tell us about Trividia Health and its products and categories. Michael Schlanger: Trividia Health brings a history of innovation, with more than 30 years of experience and dedication in the diabetes category. Trividia Health is a leading developer and manufacturer of co-branded blood glucose monitoring systems to retailers throughout North America and to a growing international audience. With the launch of Healthy Tracks for Pets and Test Buddy that are specially designed for dogs and cats with diabetes, Trividia is now bringing this expertise and experience to the pet diabetes category. Test Buddy Pet Monitoring Blood Glucose Test Strips, like our other human diabetes products and test strips, are made in the USA and manufactured in our high-tech facilities in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. They are our partners in life, let’s be their partners in health. DSN: How do you suggest mass retailers best merchandise your products to gain maximum exposure MS: Our True Metrix Blood Glucose Meter and Test Strips, along with our TRUEplus portfolio of additional diabetes-related products (fast-acting glucose tabs, gels and shots; insulin syringes; lancets; skin care; etc.), typically reside in both the OTC diabetes planogram in most retailers and in the pharmacy planogram, as these products (testing supplies and syringes) are often paid for by a third-party insurance and adjudicated through the pharmacy. Similar to our human diabetes-related products, Test Buddy Meters and Test Strips


Michael Schlanger, director of channel marketing, Trividia Health

should initially be carried in the retail pharmacy planogram, aligning with the consumers who already fill their pet prescriptions at the pharmacy. Since these products have historically been sold online, we are creating a natural synergy that helps the consumer gain better access to their pets’ diabetes needs at the pharmacy counter, all in one trip. As we continue to grow our Healthy Tracks for Pets product portfolio, we are creating a pet health OTC planogram to complement the ecosystem. DSN: What can your company do to help retail sell-through in terms of merchandising and marketing? MS: Trividia Health has always set itself apart from other manufacturers in the space as we are the co-brand leaders in the United States, manufacturing most of the retail pharmacy brands (along with our own national brands) in the United States, providing not only the products, but the marketing and advertising support to drive not only pharmacist recommendations, but consumer awareness and demand.

DSN: Have your products taken on more importance with consumers during the pandemic? MS: The arrival of COVID-19 has certainly increased awareness that keeping one’s diabetes in control is imperative. Education and awareness are key as the specific needs of the consumer with diabetes become critical, as they are an at-risk population, with additional complications possible due to COVID-19. Monitoring and management play huge roles in addressing and preventing any additional complications. In addition, we are working with retailers to develop omnichannel programs and create new pathways for consumers to decide how and where to order and receive their products as shopping patterns adapt to this new environment. DSN: Any new products coming down the line? MS: Trividia Health continues to innovate and develop high-quality, lower-cost solutions for people with diabetes, including: 1) new blood glucose meters and test strips to address the features sought by consumers as their needs continue to evolve; 2) connected health solutions to provide prescribers, pharmacists and consumers the insights and ease of use to tighten the continuum of care, and create opportunities to monitor patients’ data and intervene; and 3) additional improvements and innovations to products that help consumers with diabetes live a healthier lifestyle. dsn


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Provide Your Four-Legged Customers Quality and Value at a Price Your Pet Owners Can Afford!

Healthy Products From Nose To Tail! Healthy Tracks for Pets™ ancillary products and Test Buddy™ Pet-Monitoring Blood Glucose System are brought to you by Trividia Health, a leading developer and manufacturer in the Diabetes Category with over 30 years of experience.


High quality1, affordable products specially designed for dogs and cats with diabetes. Products Include: Test Buddy™ Pet-Monitoring Blood Glucose System Healthy Tracks for Pets™ Lancets (26 Gauge and 28 Gauge) Healthy Tracks for Pets™ Lancing Device

Not For Human Use

Healthy Tracks for Pets Insulin Syringes (U-40 and U-100)

Visit www.healthy-tracks.com to learn more.

Test Buddyª App

Educational Material Featuring Buddy and Keto

Allows pet owners to easily track, monitor and share their pet’s blood glucose results with their veterinarian.

NICO-4548-9.25x11 09/20 @ 2020 Trividia Health, Inc. Healthy Tracks for Pets and Test Buddy are trademarks of Trividia Health, Inc. 1. Data on File. The Test Buddy System and Healthy Tracks for Pets products are intended for use only with dogs and cats. Not For Human Use.

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Personalized Messages with Value Designer Greetings aims to help smaller retailers outvalue larger competitors in greeting cards


customers. In addition, data has shown that the Card$mart customer will purchase more units of cards, ultimately improving the retailer’s profit.

ven during a pandemic, greeting cards have managed to maintain a spot as a tried-and-true way for consumers to tell someone they are on their mind in a way that’s more personal than a group Zoom call. Smaller retailers, in particular, can be a place where customers look for greeting cards. Enter Designer Greetings, whose Card$mart program is designed to help drive foot traffic at small chains and independents. DSN spoke to Steven Gimbelman, CEO of Designer Greetings, to talk about the company and the greeting card category. Drug Store News: How are things going for Designer Greetings? Steven Gimbelman: Designer Greetings is doing its best to navigate through the coronavirus pandemic crisis. Unlike other companies, Designer Greetings, a family-owned and -operated company, is fortunate to have a deep account base from businesses that are deemed essential, such as pharmacy, therefore Designer Greetings remains strong. Despite these challenging times, card sales have not faltered and the ability to send a handwritten card to a friend or family member at this time, when physical touch is lacking, is like sending someone a big “socially distant hug.” The staff at Designer Greetings has gone above and beyond this year, and by taking all of the necessary safety precautions, our turnaround time still remains the fastest in the industry. DSN: What does the retailer need to do during these times to maximize social expression category sales? SG: Designer Greetings offers a variety of programs that are designed to help your pharmacy increase sales. The Card$mart program, selling cards at 50% off, every day, is a traffic driver for independent and small chain retailers. Offering the most


extensive title selection in the industry, with over 23,000 card titles, Card$mart also provides a Preferred Giftware Vendor program, which is an exclusive benefit to the retailer, whereby the store owner gains access to top gift vendors across multiple gift categories. In addition, part of Designer Greetings’ array of products is our premier gift wrap line, Glitterwrap. This program includes the essential gift wrap items, including gift wrap, roll wrap, gift bags, bows and ribbons, all in a variety of sizes and shapes to suit every customer’s need. DSN: How can the independent drug store or small chain drug store compete with greeting cards against large chains? SG: A top advantage for independent drug stores is that Designer Greetings’ Card$mart program outvalues the national drug chains. The three national drug chains sell their cards at full price. As you know, card prices have risen dramatically, and the discerning shopper is discouraged. With Card$mart, the shopper can purchase cards at 50% off the published retail price without sacrificing quality. Such appealing pricing drives traffic to the store, creating new

DSN: Why should an existing store think about giving up prime space in its location? SG: Card$mart Store-In-A-Store is a huge traffic driver. Card$mart is one of the only programs that an independent drug retailer can buy that outvalues the national chains. While the cost to the customer is half the retail price, Card$mart greeting cards do not sacrifice on quality. Card$mart products are equivalent to the competition’s high-end, full price card lines. Moreover, while the customer will receive quality product at a value price, the likelihood that they may purchase more units ultimately drives up retail sales, bringing new customers to the store. However, if your store does not meet the minimum space requirements, our dedicated and experienced sales team will help find the program that best suits your store to maximize greeting card sales. DSN: Are there any new products that you want retailers to know about? SG: Designer Greetings is always updating existing product with fresh, new designs to stay up to date with the latest trends, such as the card line Care and Concern. This card line offers the perfect sentiment for this difficult time with encouraging messages. Another way that we have grown the greeting card category is by adding premium embellishments, such as jewel gems, ribbon, feathers, wood cut outs, etc. With these high-quality embellishments, Designer Greetings offers the same quality card at a more reasonable retail price. Additionally, with a diverse team of worldwide artists, Designer Greetings has developed a new product line of journals and planners, inspired by the artistic card designs. dsn


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1/8/21 11:20 AM


New Lease on Lice MacGill’s WelComb is a new way to tackle lice


est known for supplying medical products to K-12 schools, MacGill is making inroads into retail. The 116-year-old company’s lice product, WelComb, is something company leaders said differentiates them and can help retailers set their lice assortment apart. Drug Store News spoke with MacGill owner Jay Smith — whose family has owned the company since 1980 — to discuss why the WelComb is effective, and how to grow the lice category.

Drug Store News: Tell us about WelComb and what makes it unique. Jay Smith: When we came across the WelComb, we knew we needed to share this product with the world. WelComb is a patented lice comb different from all other combs in that its teeth are specifically designed to easily remove head lice and nits — the lice eggs — from hair. Pesticides are one way to treat lice, but they don’t remove lice, they just kill them, so you still need to remove the dead lice and nits before they hatch. And pesticides don’t even kill all of them because they do nothing about the nits. The nit shell is made of a protein very similar to the composition of human hair, so any solution designed to damage a nit would also damage hair. This is why pesticide-based treatments call for multiple applications days apart in an effort to catch all newly hatched lice before they are able to reproduce. And then there are super lice, which are lice resistant to the common pesticides, necessitating the use of new and stronger pesticides. Using pesticides to treat lice is a bit like using dynamite to create a hole in your garden — it can work, but it is much easier and safer to use a tool specifically designed for the job. Careful combing can remove all lice and nits in one sitting. Physical removal is the best solution for a lice problem, and WelComb is the best tool for that process.


are no studies proving that preventative products work at all, and the end goal of all the other products is the same — to get lice off the head. WelComb does that more effectively, safer and more affordably than any other alternative.

Jay Smith, owner, MacGill

“Using pesticides to treat lice is a bit like using dynamite to create a hole in your garden — it can work, but it is much easier and safer to use a tool specifically designed for the job. Careful combing can remove all lice and nits in one sitting.”

DSN: How do you want retailers to carry your products to maximize sales? Are there specific segments they should be in? JS: WelComb belongs with the other head lice treatments. Although, I will say that the other treatments are not necessary. There

DSN: Educating the consumer remains extremely important, especially for a company that has specific niches. What are you doing to inform consumers? JS: We use social media to share our message directly with the end user. But more important than that is our effort to educate school nurses and pharmacists, who are the people discovering cases of head lice and advising parents on how to eradicate an infestation. Communicating with school nurses is something that we do all the time, as we talk to school nurses on the phone all day, and we attend hundreds of school nursing conferences a year. Talking to pharmacists is a new world for us, but we’re looking forward to meeting everybody once the trade show circuit is back up and running. DSN: What does the future look like for your company? JS: With 6 million to 12 million cases of head lice annually, we will be busy with the WelComb message for a while. What we’re suggesting is a fundamental switch in the way people conceive of treating a head lice infestation, so it will take time for that idea to sink in. Fortunately, WelComb is very simple, inexpensive and effective. Ideally, I would like to see the elimination of head lice altogether, and while social distancing has put a dent in their population, unfortunately I do not think they will be eradicated anytime soon. Head lice have been with us for about a hundred thousand years, I think it’s safe to assume they will be with us for quite a while longer. In the meantime, WelComb is the best solution to the problem. dsn


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1/8/21 11:21 AM



nowing how consumers are shopping is crucial to merchandising in a way that will successfully drive bigger baskets and higher sales. Recognizing this, GMDC|Retail Tomorrow and Hamacher Resource Group created the Selfcare Roadmap, a tool that can identify opportunities and reveal how forward-looking practices can remake the shopping experience, while inspiring new merchandising and service models that make an impact throughout the store. The tool, which only is available to GMDC|Retail Tomorrow members, demonstrates how to optimize shoppers’ health, beauty, personal care and wellness experiences, as well as how to drive new avenues for profitability by offering more than 140 insights and infographics that can be sorted by category of selfcare occasion. This month, the companies have shared insights with Drug Store News about shoppers or caregivers who are focused on preventing certain illnesses and conditions. dsn








Constipation, Diarrhea, Gas





Sleep Disorder




Infections (Yeast, Athlete’s Foot)


Asthma Anxiety

3.1% 3.4%

Post-operative Care




Chronic UTIs


Heartburn, Indigestion, or Other Stomach


Problems Allergy/Sinus


Skin Problems


General Pain Relief


Oral Care


Chronic Pain



Key insight: Products associated with cough-ecold/allergy and pain-related relief represented more than 50% of planned purchases.











Support Group

was not cited among non-prescription, health-oriented solutions.

Key insight: Diet, counseling, and “other” were the top three forms of non-medicinal measures reported as used by those self-identified as part of the preventing segment.



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1/6/21 9:38 PM


New and Noteworthy Hamacher Resource Group’s picks for standout products from December

ith 2020 drawing to a close, CPG companies showed no signs of slowing down their efforts to introduce innovative products in December. Hamacher Resource Group’s new product team registered 264 new products introduced last month, of which 35 were OTC products, 70 were wellness items and 159 were beauty products. Below are the five new offerings that stood out from the pack.



Jergens Smoothing Avocado Moisturizer


Nature’s Bounty Immune 24 Hour+ Softgel


Coppertone Sport Mineral Sunscreen Lotion


Vicks Pure Zzzs Sleep + Immune Support Gummies


Olay Regenerist Collagen Peptide 24 Moisturizer

The latest from Nature’s Bounty is an immunity-focused vitamin C supplement that the company said is meant to provide 24-hour immune support. The rapid-release softgels contain Ester-C, vitamin D, zinc and vitamin A, as well as elderberry, echinacea and nine nutrients meant to support overall health. The non-GMO product also is free of gluten, sugar, sodium and artificial flavors and sweeteners. Procter & Gamble’s naturally positioned Vicks Pure Sleep line is adding immune support to its melatonin offerings. The new gummies contain melatonin, elderberry and zinc — a formulation meant to offer immune support and a drug-free method meant to help with sleep issues. The product is sold in 42-count bottles.

As it gets colder, Kao knows consumers need moisture for their skin, and it’s looking to deliver that via its Jergens brand. The Jergens Smoothing Avocado Moisturizer uses avocado oil and oat extract, as well as vitamin E and aloe, to help skin look visibly replenished. Using avocado oil keeps the product on trend, while growing Jergens’ line of soothing products. Beiersdorf’s Coppertone sun care brand is bringing its mineralbased sunscreen into its sport line with the Coppertone Sport Mineral Sunscreen Lotion. The product uses 100% naturally sourced zinc oxide to offer sun protection that can stay on through sweat, heat and water. The product also is free of oxybenzone, octinoxate, PABA, parabens, phthalates, dyes and fragrances. P&G’s second brand on the list this month is Olay, which is looking to capitalize on collagen’s trendy status. Olay Regenerist Collagen Peptide 24 is a lightweight, fragrance-free formula meant to quickly absorb into skin and offer 24-hour hydration. The product uses collagen peptide and vitamin B3 to transform the look of skin. dsn


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Lessons Learned Industry Issues Summit panel looks at what the pandemic has taught the industry and how to apply these learnings By Seth Mendelson


hat have we learned over the last 10 months? More importantly, how do we take that information, gathered during the darkest days of the COVID-19 pandemic, and use that data to become better retailers and merchandisers? To gain a better knowledge of what has happened and how that will impact mass retail in


the future, Drug Store News held an online webinar as part of the 22nd annual DSN Industry Issues Summit in December. The panel was moderated by Nimesh Jhaveri, president of community pharmacy at McKesson. Panelists for the one hour-plus session were Dain Rusk of Publix, Rina Shah of Walgreens, Ryan Rumbarger of CVS Pharmacy, Craig Norman of H-E-B, Samantha Hoye of

Cardinal Health, Jeff Key of PioneerRX, Tom Utech of iA and Alisha Mecier of eHealth. Jhaveri got the lively debate going by emphasizing all that has happened in the world and the world of mass retailing during the course of 2020. And, he stressed, in addition to the usual activities in the world of sports and business, not to mention politics, the pandemic managed to make everything


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Thanks to central fill from iA. Now that numerous vaccines for COVID-19 have been approved, they must be made available to all as quickly as possible. iA’s leading-edge, software enabled pharmacy automation solutions lessen prescription fulfillment responsibilities for your pharmacists, so they can provide many more vaccines every day. With innovative advancements and inspiring abilities, iA is unleashing pharmacy to rapidly vaccinate our communities against COVID-19. iARx.com | sales@iARx.com | 607.352.2146

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DSN INDUSTRY ISSUES SUMMIT else pale by comparison. “What did we really learn from this pandemic?” he asked the panel. “What did we learn about our industry’s capacity to actually manage all of these issues? And then, how do we use this momentum to solve other common problems facing us in the future?” Shah, group vice president of pharmacy operations at Walgreens, started off by saying that community-based pharmacists were in the front lines of fighting back against the pandemic, and that has created momentum and enhanced the relationship with both the public and private sectors. “As I reflect on this past year, it’s been pretty incredible,” she said. “I think our industry has been relied on by many, including the government, but also our customers and our patients. From the beginning of the pandemic, community-based pharmacies were looked to as being a resource at the very beginning to help support an essential item and being able to provide much-needed essential medication, especially as people were really trying to lock down and trying to contain this virus.” Yet the pharmacy also became a muchneeded educational source for consumers. “All of our pharmacists were answering questions on a day-to-day basis and the government relied on us to play that source,” she said “We were an essential worker. I think at that moment, in that March, April, May timeframe, when everything was all heated up, when we didn’t really even know much about the virus, we realized the importance that our pharmacies provided at that time. It made it very clear to ourselves, our customers and to the government that they could rely on us.” The experience, as well as the partnerships developed during the pandemic, will help Walgreens into the future, Shah said. “I would say it’s a partnership and we don’t do it alone,” she said. “Many of the times I’m picking up the phone, calling many of the people that are on the panel here today, as well as our distribution supply chain partners. We all worked together to help support that. When we get into vaccinations, I’m really excited that we’ve developed these relationships and ways of working together, so that we can continue to build on the foundation that we’ve been able to establish.” Rumbarger, senior vice president of retail store operations at CVS Pharmacy, said he


will use the “craziness” of 2020 as a learning experience and an opportunity to leverage the momentum and the credibility developed with consumers and the government. “I think the silver lining for me is this is a year that ended up being a proving ground for what we’ve been saying all along, which is retail pharmacy can and should play a major role in community health care,” he said. “We were there from day one on the front lines, whether it was at rapid testing sites that we set up inside of one or two weeks, and then moving on to our drive-thru testing, which we have in over 4,000 stores now. We were able to really show the public and the government that not only do we have the footprint to provide these services, but we’ve got the infrastructure, we’ve got the clinical knowl-

with the CDC federal pharmacy partnership strategy to get vaccines out and how we’re all working with Operation Warp Speed within the government. There is collective power in the fact that every single person is working on this panel hand in hand to ensure that we are able to distribute the vaccine. “I can tell you personally, at Cardinal, that is our mission. Our mission is we get up and we talk about, wow, this is a lot of work. It is to really help the pharmacies get to that next level. I think there’s something that we should all reflect back on and be proud of the fact that despite the competitive boundaries, we’re working together to help in a situation that I hope to God we never have another pandemic in my lifetime.”

“I think the silver lining for me is this is a year that ended up being a proving ground for what we’ve been saying all along, which is retail pharmacy can and should play a major role in community health care.” —Ryan Rumbarger, senior vice president of retail store operations, CVS Pharmacy edge, we’ve got the operational prowess in the system to really make a difference here. “We’ve talked for years about pharmacies being providers. We’ve talked for years about pharmacies providing more service and expanding our role. What we’ve been thinking a lot about is how do we leverage the credibility we’ve built and the great work that we’ve all done to move that forward and not only provide the services, but get paid fairly for the services that we provide. It’s been an exciting year and one we’ll all look back and be really proud of, but one we will be happy to put behind us.” Samantha Hoye, vice president of marketing strategy transformation and execution at Cardinal Health, discussed how proud she and her team were when they were able to provide aid and products to emergency hospitals during the first days of the pandemic. And, she is equally proud of how the industry is working with each other. “We are working together here,” Hoye said. “You think about the work that’s happening

Like the other panelists, Norman, senior vice president of pharmacy at H-E-B, said that the pandemic proved, again, the importance of the pharmacy to their own companies and to the consumer, who visits them 12 times more, on average, each year than they might see their primary care providers. “Especially here in Texas, we saw a tremendous number of providers literally closing up shop in the March, April and May timeframe,” he said. “The pharmacy was the one place that was open and accessible. In our H-E-B stores, we’re seeing hundreds of thousands of people walking through our doors every day, and the amount of questions and the amount of things that we were able to do to help our customers and help them best understand what they were dealing with, what they should be concerned with, and in keeping them on their most important medication therapy.” What will he take from this experience? “We need to take advantage of the value that we’ve illustrated to our legislators, and run with this so that we can have broad authority across the


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Working Together To Create Snacks For Your Healthy Life

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DSN INDUSTRY ISSUES SUMMIT entire nation for things such as test and treat, initiation of therapy on certain protocol drugs, immunizations down to age 3, regardless of the state that you’re in,” Norman said. “These are our opportunities as we go forward. “I’m really looking forward to seeing the profession develop within the next couple of years. We’re going to make light years of improvement. I’ve been in the profession 37 years now. Things that we were talking about back then are now starting to come to fruition. This is really the opportunity for all of us to jump in as more concerned and more viable participants in the healthcare system.” Rusk, vice president of pharmacy at Publix, said the pandemic is playing a huge role in leveraging the role of technology and other tools to build a better business operation and enhance the relationship with customers.

and how it really saved the day across many aspects of society, including retail, asking Mecier, eHealth’s vice president of business development, her opinion. “What I saw in this pandemic is pharmacies immediately became a sort of hub for their local community,” she said. “From our perspective, what we heard a lot from the folks that we serve is they felt safe going to their pharmacy. I think that says a lot about the service and the support that each of the pharmacies provided across the country.” Specifically, she said that technology played a huge role in contactless shopping. “Through our tools and through our technology, how do we help those seniors and folks get into the right plan, make sure they understand their plan and make sure they know that they’re covered on COVID types of services, and really connect them into their current pharmacy?

“From the beginning of the pandemic, community-based pharmacies were looked to as being a resource at the very beginning to help support an essential item and being able to provide much needed essential medication, especially as people were really trying to lock down and trying to contain this virus.” —Rina Shah, group vice president of pharmacy operations, Walgreens “I think the pandemic really became this accelerant, to be perfectly honest. It was this opportunity to really start to leverage things like technology that we’ve been using all along. We will leverage our central-fill facility quite often. Frankly, that investment was critical for us during this pandemic. We want our pharmacists to be customer facing. I think we saw firsthand during this pandemic that our pharmacists were running into the fire to take care of their patients. If it wasn’t for some of these technological investments that we’ve made over the years, I think it would have been really, really challenging,” he said. “I think those technological advancements that we’ve made over the years clearly allowed us to shine at a time when so many others were really depending on the pharmacy to be there and help them.” Jhaveri turned the discussion to technology


“You know, my viewpoint is we will still be able to serve from a contactless perspective. A lot of your third-party technology relationships that pharmacies use will be helpful. But the pharmacy really has now established itself as that hub. We said at eHealth that patient care and patient services are going to happen within the pharmacy.” Key, president of PioneerRx, said that Amazon is still the 800-lb. elephant in the room, particularly when it comes to contactless retailing. “Amazon does that well,” he said. “They are quick, accurate, inexpensive and convenient. We have to figure out what they can’t do. They don’t want to do immunizations. How do we really use this opportunity to fight [Amazon]? He also said that many companies that tried telehealth ran into trouble when they were unable to offer patients what they wanted or

needed. Yet, technology could even the playing field for retailers and the pharmacy. “A lot of people who telehealth ran into trouble. How do I get a strep test? How do I get these types of testings?” he said We’ve got to figure out where that thin ice is and where Amazon doesn’t want to be,” he said. “I think in that way the pandemic was kind of a sour patch. You know, it’s kind of got a good side and a bad side. The bad side is more people took on telehealth. The good side is that the world started to see the value of pharmacy. Now, we have got to leverage that positive side as we take on this giant in this big battle.” Utech, chief product officer at iA, also said that automation could help free up the pharmacist to spend more time working directly with the consumer. “The pharmacists spend 60% of their time on the phone and filling prescriptions, and really not dealing with that direct patient care,” he said. “Software that drives pharmacy automation really takes that burden off the pharmacists.” Walgreens’ Shah also addressed this issue. Noting that technology has helped her chain more closely engage with consumers, as well as keep tabs on their needs, she said the future looks bright. “When we think of what the future of pharmacy could look like, it really creates this omnichannel experience where our team does not have to be tethered to a location and they can actually be much more agile on that,” she said. “The second piece is our customer experience. I think it’s been really great to see technology at the forefront of that. Convenience has always been something that’s important to a patient, regardless if it’s health care or it’s not.” With the Internet, consumers want answers right away. “From our standpoint, we need to connect differently with our patients more than what we’ve done in the past,” Shah said. “It’s a combination of physical and digital assets that combine in order for us to deliver that. That’s what led us to having pharmacy chat, virtual pharmacy engagement, so that we can have this type of interaction with the patient when they’re at home, offering convenient solutions so that we can counsel the patient over the phone and get their medication delivered to their house or when they come into the pharmacy.” dsn


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Seeing the Trends ClearCut Analytics’ Amazon market intelligence can help mass retailers identify product trends and consumer demands in immunity and VMS Insights powered by ClearCut Analytics


rom an extraordinary surge in demand for immunity supplements to a greater willingness to experiment with new vitamin and supplement products and brands, the COVID19 pandemic introduced significant shifts in consumer behavior in 2020. However, which behaviors were a shortterm reaction to the pandemic news? And, more importantly, which behaviors are here to stay that will shape our new normal? To answer these questions, the mass retail industry can turn to the sales data and information from Amazon. When analyzed, Amazon sales data offers retailers and brands a clear indicator of emerging consumer trends faster and more accurately than other market research tools. The marketplace’s endless product options, coupled with its dominance of e-commerce in our rapidly increasing digital world, positions Amazon as the truest microcosm of consumers’ evolving preferences. According to ClearCut Analytics’ Amazon market intelligence, here are some consumer trends seen in 2020 for vitamins and supplements, and which ones are expected to continue in 2021.

1. Consumers are placing more emphasis on their health than ever before, as demonstrated by immunity supplement growth across key categories.

Observations: From February to March 2020, the four categories that experienced the greatest month-over-month growth on Amazon were: zinc, vitamin C, elderberry and vitamin D, with approximately 400%, 240%, 200% and 100% growth, respectively. While the four immunity categories saw incredible upward spikes in early 2020, this was followed by a sharp correction and then a leveling off in the summer months. All categories then picked back up in Q4, other than elderberry, which has seen a slight decline. Forecast: ClearCut officials said revenue for immunity supplements after the mid-year corrections still are significantly higher than their pre-March revenues. This suggests a new baseline for immunity supplement sales on Amazon, as well as other retail channels. Consumers will continue to buy immunity products proactively in 2021, as they look to gain greater control over their personal health following the impacts of COVID-19.

Immunity Supplement Category Sales, 2020



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Vitamin D Category Sales on Amazon, 2020

Forecast: Of the four immunity categories highlighted, vitamin D is worth diving deeper into, according to ClearCut. While the segment saw a correction during the summer, as all immunity supplements experience, this was the only blip on an otherwise upward revenue trajectory. The data suggests that vitamin D’s seasonality may be diminishing, and it looks to be one of the most promising immunity supplements in terms of long-term, sustained growth.

2. Consumers are more willing to switch to other brands and products as demonstrated by new entrants’ unprecedented growth.

Top-Selling Zinc Brands on Amazon, Q3 2020

Observations: ClearCut officials said that as shopping patterns changed in 2020 and out of stocks were common, consumers were much more willing to try new brands and products outside of their normal habits. For vitamins and supplements, this was most apparent when analyzing zinc data on Amazon. In 2020, a flurry of new brands and products in the zinc category took advantage of the huge demand spikes across every quarter. Looking at the top 25 brands in the category based on Q3 2020 revenue, nine of the top 25 brands had zero sales or only nominal sales in January and February of 2020. Those brands went from less than $10,000 in aggregate sales for all of January and February to generating over $500,000 in revenue in just the month of May. Forecast: ClearCut officials noted that consumers will continue to experiment with new products and brands in 2021, as they have grown accustomed to making choices based on convenience and value over brand recognition during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is critical for retailers and brands to monitor the growing number of products, both offline and online, to clearly understand up-and-coming brand dynamics and consumers’ evolving preferences. dsn


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CBD Living Overhauls CBD Living Freeze

SeraLabs Lands Nicole Kidman as Brand Ambassador Nicole Kidman is joining forces with SeraLabs. The Oscar-, Golden Globe- and Emmy Award-winning actress was named the brand’s first strategic business partner and global brand ambassador for its topical products. In addition to being the face of the brand, Kidman will play an integral role in the strategic direction of product development and messaging, company officials said. “We could not be more excited by Nicole’s decision to join our team,” said Nancy Duitch, SeraLabs CEO and CURE Pharmaceutical Holdings’ chief strategic officer. “We wanted to work with someone who genuinely cares about growing the business as much as we do. A person just looking to lend their name was never going to work for us. She is savvy, forward-thinking and embodies our brand values.” Duitch said that Kidman became a proponent of the benefits of topical CBD when she experimented with it on an ankle injury last summer. She also said that Kidman will bring her vast experience in the beauty sector to help SeraLabs boost its multichannel distribution efforts and sales for its antiaging skin care line, Seratopical, and its topical ultrahydrating and pain relief body creams and serums. The deal includes nine current SeraLabs topical products, with an additional three products set to launch in 2021 where Kidman will be key in the development process. “The partnership with SeraLabs was an easy decision for me,” Kidman said. “With my injury last year, I experienced the benefit of CBD wellness products firsthand. I believe these products are a vital solution in health and wellness, and Nancy and SeraLabs are a company I believe in. Joining them in this partnership is something I am very excited about.” SeraLabs, founded in 2018, is a global leader in the health, wellness and beauty sectors. CURE Pharmaceutical Holdings, which acquired SeraLabs in 2020, is focused on the innovation of pharmaceutical technology, wellness products and drug delivery. “The growth and global interest of our newest acquisition SeraLabs has been tremendous over the past few months,” said CURE Pharmaceutical CEO Rob Davidson. “Nicole will undoubtedly help SeraLabs reach more consumers than ever before and grow our revenue exponentially over the next few years.”


CBD Living has given one of its leading products a makeover. The Corona, Calif.based company’s CBD Living Freeze now is available in an airless pump bottle in four strengths — 300 mg, 750 mg, 1,500 mg and 4,500 mg. The line also includes CBD Living Freeze roll-on. CBD Living Freeze is a cold therapy gel infused with broad-spectrum nano CBD that users can apply locally to sore or inflamed muscles. The product, which includes menthol to create a cooling effect, is meant to penetrate the skin for sustained relief. CBD Living Freeze uses the company’s proprietary skin retention technology, which aims to help nutrients better penetrate the skin and stay on longer. The company said that the 4,500 mg offering — available both in the airless pump packaging and roll-on form — is a high-dose option suitable for customers with a major injury or who suffer from chronic pain. “CBD Living Freeze has always been one of our most popular products,” said CBD Living COO Sean McDonald. “We wanted to offer an alternative application method, especially for our customers with chronic pain who tend to apply CBD Living Freeze liberally and daily, but still without any mess or sticky residue.” CBD Living’s products are sold at more than 5,000 stores nationwide and online, with free shipping on orders that exceed $75.


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CRN Calls for Consistent State-Based CBD Regulations

The Vitamin Shoppe to Carry Martha Stewart CBD Martha Stewart’s CBD brand of wellness products has picked up a big retail partner — The Vitamin Shoppe. “When I created this new line of CBD products, it was important that the assortment be delicious and elegant, but also affordable and accessible. I’m thrilled that our customers will now be able to shop our CBD collection at The Vitamin Shoppe and Super Supplements retail stores nationwide,” Stewart said. “It is easier than ever to treat yourself and your loved ones to the wellness benefits of CBD, and my new gummy sampler, inspired by flavors from my garden, makes the perfect holiday gift this season.” Developed in collaboration with Canopy Growth and Marquee Brands, Martha Stewart CBD products are naturally flavored and formulated to deliver a consistent daily dose of pure CBD isolate, the companies said. “The Vitamin Shoppe’s CBD HQ is the industry-leading destination for trusted CBD hemp extract products. We are thrilled to be the first national retailer to offer Martha Stewart’s distinctive and delectable product offering,” said Sharon Leite, CEO of The Vitamin Shoppe. “With her consummate vision and taste, Martha Stewart and her partner Canopy Growth have created a truly innovative product range that will resonate with our customers’ search for wellness solutions crafted with the highest levels of quality. I’m delighted to welcome Martha Stewart CBD to the trusted family of brands at The Vitamin Shoppe and Super Supplements.” Products that the retail chain will carry include the special edition 15-flavor wellness gummy sampler at select locations; 10-mg wellness gummies in citrus medley and berry medley; 750-mg oil drops in blood orange, meyer lemon and unflavored options; and 25-mg soft gels. “The Vitamin Shoppe is one of the nation’s most recognized and trusted names when it comes to supplement retailers with convenient locations all over the country,” said Canopy Growth CEO David Klein. “We are pleased to partner with The Vitamin Shoppe to make Martha Stewart CBD more accessible to consumers across the U.S. at the height of this year’s holiday shopping season.”


The Council for Responsible Nutrition is taking its ongoing push for a legal path for hemp-derived CBD in dietary supplements to the state level. The Washington, D.C.based organization has published a white paper calling on states to create a consistent framework for state CBD regulation, and weighed in on a proposed Kentucky regulation related to CBD. CRN’s white paper outlines ways that states can model their CBD-related requirements on the federal requirements for dietary supplements, even in the absence of federal legislation regarding hemp-derived CBD in dietary supplements. The white paper also notes that states should keep federal requirements for dietary supplements in mind when crafting their policies because a federal framework likely will incorporate the requirements. “It is CRN’s position that state hempderived CBD regulations, even in the current absence of federal direction, should establish or maintain a regulatory framework consistent with the federal approach for dietary supplements,” the white paper said. “By creating a consistent, harmonized framework, states will encourage companies to develop high quality products that can be sold interchangeably from state to state.” CRN also commented on Kentucky’s proposed administrative regulation outlining requirements for CBD products and labeling requirements. Among the organization’s suggestions: a definition of hemp that mirrors the 2018 Farm Bill, clarifying certain language regarding permits, and making language about product labeling and packaging requirements to be more consistent with those of the Food and Drug Administration. As it eyes the future, CRN said that it continues to push for Congress to consider H.R. 8179, the Hemp and Hemp-Derived CBD Consumer Protection and Market Stabilization Act of 2020, which it said is expecting to be taken up early in the 117th session.


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CVSCIENCES.COM | 855–758-7223

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Building Awareness Flora Health enters mass retail with a bevy of natural products BY SETH MENDELSON


fficials at Flora Health are relying on the company’s history, experience and reputation to take it into the complicated, yet lucrative, world of mass retailing. The Lynden, Wash.-based company, which started in 1916 in Germany and 1965 in North America, is using its well-earned reputation in health stores to build a strategy to take the company into the mass retail arena over the next few years. The push starts now. The company — run by Thomas Greither, the third-generation family member to lead the operation — has made a big commitment to get its products into various mass retail stores, including drug stores. The strategy simply is to make both retailers and consumers know what Flora Health has accomplished over the last century and how its products can benefit them, as well as take advantage of the pharmacist-patient relationship to build awareness of the product lines. “We have a great history of offering products that consumers need and want,” Greither said. “We think that by moving into the mass retail space, we are giving a greater audience an opportunity to try our products. We think they will be very happy with what they get.”


In fact, Mark Hicks, the company’s vice president of sales, said that Flora Health is all set to release a bevy of products for mass this month and in February, as well as two iron products coming in March. “Consumers are wanting to stay healthy,” Hicks said. “But who can you trust? This industry is full of claims and there is an understandable mistrust. But Flora is a legacy brand, and has been in the USA for decades. We have the highest standards that people trust.” “The natural products we have chosen for the drug channel fall under a few categories, including iron, bone health, beneficial oils, stress relief, detox, probiotics, brain health, digestive support and, of course, immune,” Hicks said. “The two big products — and a large reason for this channel focus — is our new revolutionary iron supplements. We feel that, compared to the competition, these will be the best capsule and liquid iron supplements on the market.” Hicks also said that the new Ferritin+ iron capsules will be released to the mass market in early spring. “We have a lot of SKUs. But we have chosen these items because of their broad appeal with baby boomers to millennials, who are all looking for lifestyle products for being better for you, or treating a condition.”


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FLORA HEALTH Founded: (North American operations) 1965 U.S. Headquarters: Lynden, Washington Categories - Iron, De-Stress, Detox, Probiotics, Brain Health, Digestive support, Immunity Number of SKUS: More than 400 Number of Employees: About 200 Phone Number: 800.498.3610 Email: sales@florahealth.com

He said that an 8.5-oz. bottle of the liquid iron product is priced at $15.99. Greither said he sees a natural tie-in with pharmacies as more consumers seek products to help them with various ailments. “We see this as a great opportunity for the pharmacist to interact with the consumer and help build sales of our products,” he said. “For example, iron deficiency is a conventional and common problem. A lot of consumers are looking for answers on how to use these items. The pharmacist can certainly help. There are a lot of natural synergies between our products and what the pharmacist does.” Both Flora Health officials point out that products like FlorEssence and Sambu Guard Elderberry+ formula should quickly become part of a successful mix at mass retail. “Our Flor-Essence product is the No. 1 detox formula in the country,” Hicks said. “Everyone knows detoxing is important and this formula is super easy. It works for people on the go. Another example is our Sambu Guard Elderberry+ formula. Now, there are too many elderberry products on the market, and many will be gone in a year’s time. But our product will be around. It’s an amazing formula, with no added sugar and certified organic.” Hicks also said that it is important that retailers do what they can to both educate consumers and make it easy for them to find these products. “Of course, every brand wants a brand block, including us,” he said. “But retailers are building more issue-focused sets now. An example is the new ‘immune sets.’ My preference would be to work into sets by category.” Flora Health officials said they want to do their part as well.

Both Greither and Hicks emphasized that the company offers a wide range of merchandisers to help consumers understand their products and purchase them. Hicks said the company offers full graphic display cases and promotions to motivate trial with consumers, and uses influencers and social media to build awareness. Educating retailers about the products and what they do is also a big part of the process. “Our job is to find the right person in each store to share the education/message with,” Hicks said. “Ferritin+ requires that education. We train our sales staff extensively to be educators.” Flora Health has always been a pioneer in the industry and has strived to provide the most efficacious and innovative products in the market, while utilizing environmentally conscious packaging and manufacturing processes. In 1988, the company opened a manufacturing plant in Lynden and acquired several acres of farmland in the area to grow its own organic herbs. In 1992, it began distributing Flor-Essence, an herbal formula that company officials said is designed to deal with a host of chronic conditions. The company also launched Udo’s Choice, a line of health products, including the first age-specific probiotics and vegetarian DHA. “I think our message to retailers is that we are constantly innovating our product line to make sure we have the right products for our customers,” Greither said. “We are extremely excited about opening up in the mass retail world and giving more and more consumers the opportunity to try Flora Health’s many products. I think this is going to help retailers better connect with their shoppers and help shoppers find products that help them with certain issues. It is a win for everyone.” dsn


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Turning the Page on a Pandemic Year

Retailers can capitalize on the shopping trends consumers adopted in 2020



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If there is an asterisk next to the year 2020 in the retail record books to indicate what an aberration it was, there also is a question mark next to the year 2021. It remains to be seen how many of the habits that consumers adopted during the pandemic will persist in the year ahead, and how long it will take for a new standard set of consumer behaviors to evolve. One of the key retail trends that emerged in 2020 was the shift toward consolidated shopping trips, as consumers made fewer excursions to physical stores, but purchased more items on each visit in order to keep their pantries and medicine cabinets fully stocked. This behavior was supplemented by a sharp increase in online shopping, whether for curbside pickup or for home delivery. “Shoppers want to make the most out of each of their trips,” said Tory Gundelach, senior vice president of retail insights at Kantar Consulting. “Retailers like supermarkets have really benefited during times like back to school, where they typically haven’t been a significant player, but consumers have been saying, ‘Now I’m going to pick up my back-to-school supplies while I’m getting my groceries.’” At least in the first half of 2021, she said the trend toward retail trip consolidation may continue, and shoppers may appreciate retailers that offer opportunities for this kind of one-stop shopping.


Katie Thomas, who leads the Kearney Consumer Institute, an internal think tank at global strategy and management consulting firm Kearney, said the trend toward trip consolidation and bigger baskets “is not going to change overnight. Even once we have a vaccine, people have gotten a little bit more used to making fewer trips and having those bigger baskets,” she said. For many retailers, a key opportunity will be to retain new customers they may have attracted during the past year. That includes completely new shoppers — such as those who may have come in for a COVID test, for example — and customers who expanded the range of products they purchased by shopping additional categories, Gundelach said. Retailers that already excel at data analytics and targeted messaging, such as through personalized loyalty programs, will have the upper hand, she said. “I think we’re going to start to see even more separation in the retailers that are able to talk to, message and give offers to those shoppers who changed their behavior with them during the pandemic,” Gundelach said. “There’s going to be a lot of focus on how to maintain those gains.”

Click and Collect Seen Growing

Curbside and in-store pickup already have been gaining significant traction before the pandemic, and these services accelerated in 2020. “I think that the good news is that most retailers


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feel pretty comfortable in that space,” said Gundelach, who predicted click-andcollect services will continue to gain traction in the year ahead. She said she sees food and drug retailing migrating toward a model in which home delivery is offered only in the densest urban markets, where it can be done profitably, while most of the country will instead offer a click-and-collect

style of e-commerce. Opportunities that food retailers may have are in the convergence of delivery from restaurants and delivery of hot, prepared foods from supermarkets, Gundelach said. And, on the flip side, retailers may be able to capitalize on the delivery of dry goods by such third-party restaurant delivery services as DoorDash’s DashMart. “We’ve seen

even more options launched during the pandemic, and I think that’s going to be one of the more interesting things to watch going forward,” she said. Kearney’s Thomas said food and drug retailers have considerable opportunity to improve upon the e-commerce experiences they offer, citing as an example the often bewildering array of products displayed online when shoppers are looking to make

Retailers Maintain Focus on Strategic Plans Retailers said their strategic plans remained largely on track for 2020 and expected the same for 2021, despite the widespread upheaval caused by the pandemic. George Coleman, senior vice president of merchandising at CVS Health, said almost all aspects of the company’s operations were impacted at some level in 2020, but the retailer persevered. “One of the most significant initiatives that was threatened to be derailed by the pandemic was the rollout of our new store formats � including HealthHUBs, Beauty in Real Life and y Más stores � which all play an integral role in our success and offer enhanced experiences to our customers,” he said. “COVID-19 complications could have disrupted those plans completely, but after only a six-week pause in April and May, we were able to overcome logistical challenges and remain on track with our commitment to expand our number of HealthHUB locations to 1,500 by the end of 2021.” The retailer also continued to roll out its Beauty in Real Life and y Más stores, both in their own stand-alone formats and in new combination formats that integrate those products and experiences into HealthHUB locations. “Even now, as consumer shopping habits begin to return to prepandemic trends, we’re continuing to innovate, stay nimble and listen closely to our customers,” Coleman said. “I’m personally excited and humbled by what we’ve accomplished in 2020, and we look forward to greeting the new year with a continued focus on innovation and the customer experience.” Likewise, Rite Aid also remained on track with its plans to revitalize its store operations. “Thanks to the hard work of our associates in the face of the

pandemic, we are right on track with the execution of our new RxEvolution strategy,” said Erik Keptner, senior vice president and chief marketing and merchandising officer at the company. He cited the rollout of a new ad campaign, a new logo, new whole-health merchandise, refreshed digital experiences and its Store of the Future concept, which currently is piloting in select markets. “While we know it will take some time to realize our full potential, we remain fully focused on reaching our mission of becoming the neighborhood pharmacy of choice in our communities,” Keptner said. “Heading into 2021, our initiatives will continue to directly tie into and help to accelerate our larger RxEvolution and vision for the future of the neighborhood pharmacy. “We are reimagining Rite Aid as a whole-health destination that elevates mind, body and spirit, and provides the perfect fusion of traditional medicine and alternative remedies,” he said. Walgreens Boots Alliance, meanwhile, continued to roll out improvements to its loyalty and digital offerings during 2020, including the launch of myWalgreens as a highly personalized rewards program. “We plan to announce significant developments in the months ahead,” Walgreens Boots Alliance co-COO said in a recent call with analysts when he was also serving as interim Walgreens president prior to John Standley’s hiring. In addition, the company is debuting a click-and-collect option that will allow online or app-based orders to be available for pickup in as little as 30 minutes, he said. — Mark Hamstra


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a quick purchase. Retailers could benefit, she said, from an interface that allows those shoppers, who are seeking to fill a quick basket with their needed items, to execute those types of trips more quickly and efficiently. Retailers and suppliers also have opportunities to leverage tools that were widely used in 2020, including telemedicine, online video product demonstrations and live video chats for categories like beauty, Thomas said. As an example, she cited the success of livestreaming infomercials as a sales tool in other countries such as China. Shoppers likely will continue to use both in-store and digital shopping channels, she said, including delivery and click and collect, based on what suits their needs at any particular time. “There’s a lot of talk around people never going back to the store, now that they’re used to this delivery option, but I’m not a believer in that. I think it’s not delivery or the store, it’s delivery and the store,” she said. “These different options like click and collect and telemedicine really enable consumers to have that much more flexibility in their lives.”

A More Digital World

Erik Keptner, senior vice president and chief marketing and merchandising officer at Rite Aid, based in Camp Hill, Pa., said the company expects retail and e-commerce to continue rapidly evolving as more and more customers adopt online shopping. “No matter the generation, we are all participants in the digital world now, and we’re seeing a greater openness across the industry to different models of interaction, such as telehealth, store-to-home delivery services, pickup and drive-thru,” he said. Rite Aid has long been investing in technology to improve the online and mobile experiences for its customers, and has added such services as same-day delivery of nonprescription items. “We will continue to find new ways to enhance the digital experience so shoppers can seamlessly connect with the care and products they need to thrive,” Keptner said. George Coleman, senior vice president of


merchandising at Woonsocket, R.I.-based CVS Health, said the pandemic has accelerated a shift toward online and mobile transactions at that company as well. “In response, we’ve leaned heavily into our digital capabilities and are leveraging strategic partnerships to expand our offerings,” he said, citing the chain’s June expansion of its same-day home delivery options to include DoorDash, in addition to existing partnerships with Instacart and Shipt. CVS Pharmacy also recently launched a new touch-free payment method in its stores, which allows customers to pay

presents an opportunity for the company to “play a crucial role as the neighborhood pharmacy in helping to protect our communities,” he said. Coleman said CVS Pharmacy also has noticed strong demand for proactive health-and-wellness solutions, a trend the company expects to continue. “Our customers rely on us for convenient access to everyday health products, including vitamins, immunity support supplements, hand sanitizer and face coverings, popular self-care items, and grocery needs,” Coleman said. “In 2021, we’ll continue to expand on our proactive well-

Analysts said the fact that most food and drug retailers appeared to take great pains to provide safe shopping environments during the pandemic should bode well for the year ahead. with their smartphones using PayPal or Venmo QR codes. The retailer saw doubledigit increases in downloads and engagement with the CVS Pharmacy app in 2020, which Coleman attributed in part to higher engagement with the company’s ExtraCare Rewards loyalty program.

Trend Toward Self-care

The pandemic also has driven increased consumer interest in self-care, Keptner said, noting that consumers have been seeking out not only traditional medicine but alternative remedies, including lifestyle changes. These consumers are prioritizing product attributes over brand name when it comes to purchase decisions, he said. “That is why Rite Aid is overhauling our merchandise and will continue to work with suppliers to give customers an assortment of on-trend health products, with attributes like organic, natural and chemical-free,” he said. The influx of customers to Rite Aid pharmacies seeking the COVID-19 vaccine

ness assortment, introducing new brands across health, beauty and consumables.” He said CVS leaned more heavily into its store brands in 2020 amid financial pressures on consumers and their increased demand for health-and-wellness products. “Launching a new brand during a pandemic certainly isn’t easy, but we were able to successfully introduce our expanded Live Better by CVS Health line in June by adding more than 80 new products, including vitamins, supplements and digestives,” Coleman said. In addition, CVS Pharmacy also added 30 new better-for-you snack and grocery items to its Gold Emblem and Abound lines, as shoppers have continued to view the retailer as a convenient destination for pantry staples, he said.

Consumers Support Local Favorites

Analysts said the fact that most food and drug retailers appeared to take great pains to provide safe shopping


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+ Food and Wellness Continue to Converge The opportunities for the convergence of grocery shopping and health care perhaps have never been stronger, as consumers have consolidated their shopping trips during the pandemic and looked for diet-based solutions to improve their health. Drug stores and supermarkets are well-positioned to benefit from this opportunity, given their neighborhood locations and their status as integral elements of the communities they serve, said Phil Kafarakis, a food industry veteran who is now a senior advisor to executive boards, CEOs and governments. “I think you’re going to see a lot more food purchases in the drug store environment, driven primarily by COVID,” he said. Retail pharmacists and dietitians can help steer customers toward the foods that meet their specific nutritional needs, and often those foods � such as items as gluten-free pasta or products that help control cholesterol levels � can boost retailers’ bottom lines, he said. “The food that’s sold at drug stores will be more premium priced, have higher margins, and it will appeal to consumers from a nutrition and health standpoint,” Kafarakis said. “We have for a long time talked about ‘food as medicine,’ and it is really playing out now.” He predicted more mergers and partnerships among food retailers and drug stores going forward in order to drive this ongoing trend. Erik Keptner, senior vice president and chief marketing and merchandising officer at Rite Aid, said retail pharmacists at that chain will be much more involved in consumers’ interest in self-care in 2021, calling them the key to the company’s RxEvolution strategy. “In the year ahead, we will continue to unlock our pharmacists’ potential so they can play an even larger, more personalized role in our customers’ everyday lives as whole-health advocates,” he said. “We will also create a greater connection between pharmacy and our merchandise by focusing on products that address our consumers’ priority health conditions, including sleep, stress, anxiety and immunity.” Another trend drug stores can benefit from is the increasing adoption of clickand-collect shopping, which, Kafarakis said, is similar to the way consumers have shopped for prescriptions for years. “What if, in addition to phoning in the prescription, the doctor also recommends that you eat more oranges, or follow a gluten-free diet, or buy lactose-free dairy? Maybe the patient could download that list, preorder it online at the drug store and pick it all up at once,” he said. � Mark Hamstra


Retailers and suppliers also have opportunities to leverage tools that were widely used in 2020, including telemedicine, online video product demonstrations and live video chats for categories like beauty. environments during the pandemic should bode well for the year ahead, said Kantar’s Gundelach. That has helped fortify the trust that consumers have in food and drug retailers, which those companies now have the opportunity to reinforce through the efficient distribution of the COVID vaccine, she said. In addition, consumers threw significant support behind local businesses in general in 2020, whether it was their favorite local restaurants or the local mom-andpop shops that struggled to stay in business. That could translate into ongoing appreciation for retailers that distinguish themselves as vital parts of their communities, said Kearney’s Thomas. “I think that’s really starting to show the need to be a little bit more personalized and to think about the local community, and maybe think about how to bring in some local brands and change things up a little bit,” she said. “That can be an opportunity to add a little bit of fun and excitement for shoppers, and something that could be pretty valuable for the year ahead. Before, we were all global to a fault, perhaps, and now we have a greater appreciation for the local.” dsn


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Tools of the Trade Pharmacists look to tech and automation to enable better patient care By Sandra Levy


s pharmacists join other healthcare providers as vaccinators against COVID-19, it’s hard to envision how they will have time to perform their myriad responsibilities, which have ballooned amid the pandemic to include filling a higher volume of prescriptions, performing COVID-19 testing, and providing curbside pickup and home delivery of prescriptions and OTCs. Pharmacy technology and automation companies have been ramping up their solutions to help pharmacies juggle their expanded roles in 2021. Many of these solutions involve ensuring that pharmacies can offer patients a contactless experience, while others involve assisting pharmacists with COVID-19 vaccine administration and documentation. Still, other companies have developed new software that improves pharmacy workflows and dispensing of prescriptions.

Making Pharmacies Convenient Areas that pharmacies have focused on throughout the pandemic are convenience and reducing the number of customers inside stores. Maineville, Ohio-based Bavis Drive-Thru aims to make the drivethru experience as seamless as possible as more pharmacies focus on convenient, socially distanced approaches. The company’s Captive Carrier TransTrax is a remote lane drive-thru delivery system that executives said improves upon pneumatic tube systems and can enable reliable touchless transactions with patients. “It offers a high carrying capacity and is low maintenance,” said Ed Arwine, Bavis Drive-Thru’s marketing director. “This system is proven to be easy to use, while providing the room needed to transport large prescriptions, which adds convenience.” He also said that the company’s B.E.A.M. intelligent audio system enhances the experience


by reducing outside environmental noise by as much as 90%, making communicating clearly easier for pharmacists. Bell and Howell, based in Durham, N.C., is interested in taking human contact out of the prescription pickup process, enabling pharmacists to work more efficiently. The company’s QuickCollect Rx is a contactless prescription pickup kiosk that integrates seamlessly into existing pharmacy systems to automate the prescription pickup and storage experience. Because the kiosk has multiple self-service portals, pharmacy staff can induct new prescriptions or retrieve return to stock orders while multiple customers are picking up their prescriptions. “At QuickCollect Solutions, powered by Bell and Howell, we are focused on providing solutions that improve the customer experience at the pharmacy,” said Grace Vanier, director of product development. “Our QuickCollect Solutions help pharmacies remain cost competitive and operationally efficient, freeing up pharmacy staff to focus on more essential tasks like delivering COVID-19 testing and vaccines.”

Freeing up the Pharmacist With the volume of clinical services increasing — and a coming wave of COVID-19 vaccinations to administer — many pharmacies are overhauling their prescription fulfillment strategies. Kennesaw, Ga.-based KNAPP Healthcare Solutions is installing new micro-fulfillment operations that use its Apostore Robotic ASRS systems, Apsocreen digital ordering systems and 24/7 dispensing terminals to provide in-store storage and retrieval systems with digital ordering technologies and 24/7 dispensing capabilities. “These systems open space in the store for broader clinical services, while consolidating inventory and broadening revenue opportunities outside of traditional store hours,” said Brian Sullivan, KNAPP’s senior systems sales manager of healthcare solutions USA and Canada, noting that products can be used for direct patient orders, as well as hub and spoke multi-store support. Durham, N.C.-based Parata also is looking to be a partner in enabling efficiency behind the counter. The company is expanding its portfolio to include a cloud-based platform to


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streamline pharmacy operations by offering just-in-time information — real-time diagnostics and batch queues so that pharmacists can make decisions during their workflow. It also offers customized recommendations on inventory and workflow to continually increase automation usage and centralized control — configure script routing for all machines from one screen and advance analytics to optimize inventory and workflow. “Pharmacy managers can connect previously siloed systems to detect and mitigate problems before they impact efficiency and safety,” said Art Swanson, Parata’s vice president of product development. “Our new pharmacy automation management system also connects pharmacies with our internal industry experts in a partnership focused on your growth, so you can focus on your patients. Parata can help pharmacies adapt and even reduce the cost to dispense medication.” Improving pharmacies’ efficiency also is a top priority for Canada-based Synergy Medical, which has made inroads with its flexible approach to blister-pack production. “Rather than poke holes in a particular packaging choice, SynMed is expanding its capabilities in the framework, embracing single- and multidose options, as well as covering blister and pouch configurations,” said Samantha Cockburn, vice president of marketing and corporate development. “The key is providing the ability to adapt, while


ensuring accuracy and efficiency at every touchpoint. With patented pick and place technology already in place, SynMed automation minimizes cross-contamination issues driven by ongoing COVID-19 concerns, and it easily adapts and integrates with existing pharmacy management software.”

Getting it Right As convenience and making pharmacists more available for clinical services become priorities, pharmacists must continue to prioritize accuracy for all of their patients. Among the companies that aim to assist with this is LexisNexis Risk Solutions, whose VerifyRx validation tool enables real-time verification of prescriptions to ensure the prescriber data and licensure are accurate. “This is done automatically within the pharmacist’s workflow to bring assurance without disruption,” said Craig Ford, LexisNexis Risk Solutions’ vice president of pharmacy market. “Provider Data Masterfile also gives our customers a way to standardize and cleanse provider data. We also offer correct patient identification via LexisNexis LexID, a unique patient identifier used as a linking agent for all data points associated with a specific, single patient. Pharmacies implement this solution to ensure the correct patient is receiving the correct medication.” Surescripts, based in Arlington, Va., also wants to improve pharmacy efficiency, while

focusing on accuracy. Surescripts’ manager of clinical informatics, Larry King, said that pharmacists often have to deal with unclear or incorrect prescription data and spend time clarifying the provider’s intent via fax, phone calls or electronically using RxChange. The company’s main goal is improving e-prescribing accuracy to make pharmacists’ lives easier. “Through our Critical Performance Improvement program, we’ve engaged the Surescripts Network Alliance to improve e-prescribing accuracy,” King said. “We’re focused on driving greater use of things like RxChange and Structured and Codified Sig. These aspects of electronic prescribing are even more important today, as COVID-19 is shifting pharmacists’ role, adding more stress and impacting their own well-being.” Surescripts’ newest tool, Real-Time Prescription Benefit service, enables pharmacies to access information on out-of-pocket prescription costs and therapeutic alternatives at the point of dispensing.

Shots, Shots, Shots As if navigating a pandemic hasn’t been enough, pharmacies now are looking at the Herculean task of providing mass COVID19 immunizations once vaccines become widely available — and keeping track of the vaccine’s effects. EagleForce Health, based in Herndon, Va., has developed MyVax, which enables states,


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manufacturers, distributors and patients to securely administer the mass dispensing of vaccines, the associated laboratory testing, and adverse event reporting safely and securely with real-time collection, analysis, surveillance and reporting. MyVax also provides a digital immunization card and can connect to any state immunization system to streamline reporting. “MyVax National Immunization Management solution is the last-mile patient engagement solution whose infrastructure is already deployed nationwide, operating at every point-of-sale pharmacy, providing realtime alerts directly into the pharmacy workflow,” said CEO Stanley Campbell. He also said that MyVax also can provide individuals with information on where to get the vaccine, match Vaccine National Drug Code dispersed to the patient, and set appointments and alerts for the subsequent doses. San Francisco, Calif.-based 1Health, and STChealth, Phoenix, Ariz. are offering a patient engagement COVID-19 vaccination solution. It is an open platform that will allow pharmacists and patients to simplify and automate vaccination tracking, ADR collection, reporting and anti-body validation. “With the federal government about to deploy vaccines at the largest scale in history, we are now providing the technology that will help seamlessly manage this process through vaccination, monitoring and antibody testing,” said 1health’s CEO Mehdi Maghsoodnia. “We were able to quickly adapt our existing Testing as a Service platform to create this new offering for patients and providers who desperately need a single tracking and reporting system to achieve immunity and end this pandemic.” 1health also offers the first FDA emergency use-authorized COVID-19 saliva test. Digital results are provided on the company’s secure platform within 48 hours of the lab receiving the results. Omnicell’s EnlivenHealth division also is using technology to make administering the COVID-19 vaccination less daunting. The company’s EnlivenHealth CareScheduler solution provides pharmacies with the digital technology they need to automate the operational and administrative processes involved


with administering the COVID-19 vaccine. CareScheduler automates vaccine scheduling, patient consent form collection and vaccine registry reporting. “The digital tool dramatically reduces the coronavirus infection risk for patients and staff by eliminating the need for patients to sign physical pieces of paper, while minimizing their time spent in the pharmacy,” said Danny Sanchez, EnlivenHealth vice president and general manager. He noted that EnlivenHealth in 2021 would work with health plans to prioritize outreach to high-risk populations, schedule vaccine administration at local pharmacies and enable reporting to vaccine registries.

Getting Paid Once a vaccine is administered, it is important that a pharmacy be compensated, something Winston-Salem, N.C.-based Inmar Intelligence knows all about. Lari Harding, vice president of client development, said that Inmar will be helping ensure that pharmacies can bill, get paid and reconcile all transactions related to COVID19 vaccinations. The company also will help pharmacies manage damaged, expired or otherwise returnable vaccination doses. “This is a pivotal moment for retail pharmacies as they further secure their status as front-line healthcare providers,” Harding said. The need to bill for immunizations comes as many pharmacies, particularly independents, are facing cash flow difficulty during the pandemic. Jeffrey Swanson, head of sales at Libertyville, Ill.-based Pharma Logistics, said that as a result of the pandemic, some 66% of pharmacy owners are experiencing negative cash flow. “In 2021, Pharma Logistics will continue to offer pharmaceutical returns services that are convenient and, more importantly, help drug store pharmacies remain compliant while improving their cash flow,” he said.

Eyes on the Future Industry experts see the future as ripe for technology to boost patient care in 2021 and beyond. Scott Kemme, McKesson senior vice president of pharmaceutical technology and innovation, said empowered pharmacists build stronger patient relationships and drive

outcomes. In 2021, he said it is critical that pharmacists practice at the top of their licenses and focus on improving patient outcomes. “Robust logistics capabilities and innovative pharmacy technology solutions should be tailored to make basic tasks more efficient and free pharmacists to spend more time interacting with patients,” he said. “Pharmacists rely heavily on technology to help them complete many of their daily tasks, such as adjudication, prior authorization and workflow. Automated solutions not only help them with providing better care for their patients, but also aid in upgrading their clinical, operational and financial performance.” Brent Stutz, Cardinal Health’s senior vice president of digital health, also underscored pharmacy’s importance in the healthcare realm. “Pharmacists are a critical part of the healthcare ecosystem, driving improved patient outcomes,” he said. “In order for pharmacists’ capabilities to be fully realized, they will need technology tools that empower them to better communicate with payers and providers.” In 2021, Cardinal Health will integrate new solutions into its pharmacy technology platform that will help drive improved connectivity between healthcare stakeholders and provide opportunities for more targeted interventions and optimized medication therapy. “These enhancements will also help to streamline the pharmacy’s workflow by providing a single platform for working outside the script,” Stutz said. The Dublin, Ohio-based company also is investing in new capabilities, leveraging AI and machine-learning models to help pharmacists predict patient adherence so they can intervene to keep the patient on track. “We will be deploying automation capabilities that will enable pharmacists to deliver products directly to their patients, which will help to improve medication adherence and compliance,” said Samantha Hoye, vice president of marketing strategy transformation and execution at Cardinal Health. On the COVID-19 vaccine front, Cardinal Health said it is working to deploy a solution that will help pharmacies streamline their vaccination workflow, with capabilities for medical billing and patient scheduling. dsn


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With 2020 in the Rearview Mirror, What’s Next? Industry insiders weigh in on how pharmacy fared in 2020 and what to expect in 2021 By Sandra Levy


nmistakably, 2020 will go down in history as the year in which our lives changed in ways we never could have imagined, and one which impacted every industry, especially pharmacy. Drug Store News reached out to a number of key industry executives to get their sense


of how the pharmacy industry managed in 2020. Although the industry was confronted with many daunting challenges amid the pandemic, there also were many opportunities for the industry to shine and achievements to be proud of. Going forward, many industry executives are optimistic about the

potential for the pharmacy industry to have an even greater impact on patients’ health, as well as on the healthcare system. The following is what a number of key industry officials had to say about how the pharmacy industry fared in 2020, and their expectations for the year ahead:


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Steve Anderson, president and CEO, National Association of Chain Drug Stores This year stands as perhaps the most vivid example yet of the professionalism, dedication, trust and accessibility of the teams that comprise NACDS chain member companies, and that together creates one of this nation’s truly essential industries. This year also is a testament to the supplier partners whose products and services have been relied upon by Americans and by NACDS chain members alike. This story drives it all home, in my view. On March 13, NACDS hosted an important conference call with NACDS members and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to confront the emergence of COVID-19. We now have had a total of seven of these calls — and many, many other government interactions on pretty much a daily basis. On March 13, the CDC urged NACDS chain members to do whatever they needed to do to stay open; to keep customers and staff safe so they can stay open; and to stay in close contact with community leaders so everyone could learn from each other about how best to meet the public’s needs. Since that time, NACDS members have served their communities — lights on, doors open. The federal and state governments have turned to pharmacies, pharmacists and pharmacy teams for COVID-19 testing, for expanded childhood vaccinations, to prepare for the administration of safe and effective COVID-19 vaccinations when available, and to perform an


array of health-and-wellness services needed to help prevent the overwhelming of the healthcare delivery system. With every formal decision by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and by state authorities, pharmacy has been empowered to serve patients, communities and the nation at a critical time, and pharmacy has proven to be prepared and determined. We continue to see challenges, though in the complexities and contradictions of public policy. The work of identifying and removing federal and state barriers continues to this day, so pharmacy can fully meet the needs of the American people at this critical time. We continue to point out the ways that government needs to act to help pharmacies staff wisely and safely, to conduct their operations efficiently, to help patients stay on their medications, to offer expanded options for delivery of medications and consumer products, to put patient care over paperwork, and to ensure that pharmacy reimbursement sustains and does not threaten further patient’s critical access to pharmacies and pharmacists. This year also showed, yet again, the need to take seriously the disparities in health care and the social determinants of health that disadvantage some races and ethnic groups more than others. We certainly see that with COVID-19, as we have seen it previously with chronic disease. Pharmacy has demonstrated the ability to help build

“Pharmacy has demonstrated the ability to help build trust and bridge the divide of health care in this nation and pharmacy will continue to do so as we help all Americans defeat this insidious virus together.” — Steve Anderson, president and CEO, National Association of Chain Drug Stores

trust and bridge the divide of health care in this nation, and pharmacy will continue to do so as we help all Americans defeat this insidious virus together. That will be particularly important as we ultimately administer safe and effective COVID-19 vaccinations when they are available. More and more decision-makers in government are recognizing the amazing preparedness of pharmacies; the heroism, education and training of pharmacists and pharmacy teams; the power that comes from having a pharmacy within 5 miles of 90% of Americans; and the proof points, such as the CDC’s finding that our nation can vaccinate 80% of Americans seven weeks sooner when pharmacies are part of the model. Pharmacy is standing united to help patients, communities and the nation at this critical time.

Michael Hogue, president, American Pharmacists Association Pharmacy as a profession experienced some very bright spots in 2020, with practice expansion in nearly every state allowed for by executive order or legislative action. This was further bolstered by executive orders from HHS Secretary Azar, who overrode state practice authorities to even further expand pharmacist authority to prescribe and administer vaccines across the lifespan and COVID-19 tests. The profession has stepped up strongly


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“As we prepare to enter 2021, there is optimism that the gains pharmacy made during 2020 in terms of scope of practice authority and demonstrating value to the healthcare system will be made permanent.” ­— Michael Hogue, president, American Pharmacists Association

and shown consumers and regulators alike that pharmacists in local communities are essential, indispensable partners in health care. While the opportunities have been bright, there have also been continued downward pressures on pharmacists across the healthcare system. In community pharmacy practice, PBMs further restricted their contract networks, often to pharmacies owned or financially affiliated with the PBM. The assessment of DIR fees ramped up further as well. The result is that the pandemic saw further acceleration of closures of community pharmacy, both independent and chain drug store, across the United States. This consolidation has led to a further tightening employment landscape for pharmacists in the community sector. There were decreases in staffing for community pharmacies resultant from these economic pressures, leading to increases in stress and burnout among pharmacists. Additionally, hospital pharmacy has not been untouched by the changes. As COVID19 hit, hospitals were asked to shutter all operations outside of pandemic response. In parts of the country where COVID19 did not surge as quickly, this resulted in many pharmacists and pharmacy technicians being furloughed or placed on significantly reduced hours. Only towards the end of the year has the hospital sector begun to rebound as more comprehensive care services have reopened. As we prepare to enter 2021, there is optimism that the gains pharmacy made during 2020 in terms of scope of practice authority and demonstrating value to the healthcare system will be made permanent. Further, we are hopeful that the shining light of pharmacists during the pandemic


will remove any remaining objections of congressional leaders to granting provider status for pharmacists as part of the Social Security Act. Clearing the way for consumers to have full access to pharmacist services under Medicare and Medicaid programs is essential, and the pharmacy profession needs to hold the new administration and Congress accountable to do the right thing in health care by passing the provider status legislation.

Doug Hoey, CEO, National Community Pharmacists Association As terrible and challenging as the coronavirus pandemic has been, it also reemphasized the importance of community pharmacists, accelerating opportunities for pharmacy to demonstrate value and define itself. Community pharmacies are essential businesses that stayed open when other healthcare providers were forced to shut down. Pharmacists and their pharmacy teams provided essential care on the front lines when their

communities needed them most. NCPA has been working very hard with outreach to government officials and industry partners to make it known that most independent pharmacists are eager and willing to administer COVID-19 vaccines when they come out, and we’re being heard. Pharmacists are being included in early rollout plans and have been granted authority to order and administer COVID-19 tests and vaccinations. These are major advancements in just a few months that normally would take years and, as a result, community pharmacy is in a position to be recognized for the value it provides, in addition to (not instead of) dispensing services. A highlight is October’s Supreme Court hearing of the Rutledge versus PCMA case, which was a long time coming. Not only because the pandemic delayed its original April hearing date, but for PBMs to finally have light shone on them from the highest court in the land. I was glad to hear Chief Justice John Roberts describe PBM drug pricing procedures, calling them “byzantine” — a word I’ve used hundreds of times to describe their overly complex payment system. Changing this pharmacy payment model drives NCPA’s efforts. We don’t know how the Supreme Court will rule, but we do know that the ruling will provide clarity and less ambiguity for PBMs to hide behind.

“NCPA has been working very hard with outreach to government officials and industry partners to make it known that most independent pharmacists are eager and willing to administer COVID-19 vaccines when they come out, and we’re being heard.” — Doug Hoey, CEO, National Community Pharmacists Association


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“In response to the pandemic, many biopharmaceutical companies have expanded their assistance programs to help more people. And PhRMA has made it easier for patients who are struggling to afford their medicines to find patient assistance programs available to them through the Medicine Assistance Tool.” — Stephen Ubl, president and CEO, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America

Stephen Ubl, president and CEO, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America Throughout 2020, as pharmacists and pharmacy techs joined other front-line healthcare workers to provide care to patients, the biopharmaceutical industry worked around the clock to research and develop safe and effective vaccines and treatments for COVID-19. In a few short months following the first sequence of the virus, we began conducting clinical trials that meet the highest scientific and ethical standards, and include tens of thousands of participants. And recently, we’ve started to see the fruits of these labors; the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has already approved the first antiviral treatment for COVID-19 and granted emergency use authorization of an antibody treatment. Further, several vaccine developers have reported positive interim results from their ongoing Phase 3 clinical trials. But while beating COVID-19 is one of our industry’s top priorities, we also continue working to help patients access their medicines. In response to the pandemic, many biopharmaceutical companies have expanded their assistance programs to help more people. And PhRMA has made it easier for patients who are struggling to afford their medicines to find patient assistance programs available to them through the Medicine Assistance Tool.



We are also working on long-term solutions to patient affordability and, as we enter a new year, our commitment to fixing the healthcare system so it works better for patients remains the same. We will keep advocating for policies that make sure more of the $175 billion in rebates and discounts given to insurance companies, the government, pharmacy benefit managers and other entities in the supply chain are shared with patients at the pharmacy counter. We’ll also keep working towards policies that would eliminate barriers to innovative payment arrangements and make insurance work like insurance again through out-of-pocket caps, smoothing costs over the course of the year and counting co-pay assistance toward deductibles and out-of-pocket maximums. These policies can help improve patient affordability, ensure access to medicines and protect the work being done to end COVID19 and other diseases. But we know that in 2021, we’ll continue to face policy proposals that could chill innovation. These policies include foreign reference pricing, an irresponsible and unworkable policy that will delegate how America values treatments and cures for seniors to foreign governments. And drug importation policies that ignore the strong safety standards we demand in the United States and invite counterfeit and dangerous drugs into the states will continue to be debated in both Washington and state capitals. We remain committed to policy solutions that will help patients, but we refuse to sacrifice access to safe medicines

and future innovation in the process. Our industry was able to act swiftly in response to the challenges of 2020 through collaboration and because of our decades-long investments in new technology, research and treatments. As we enter the new year, we look forward to bringing this same collaborative experience and expertise to our work with policymakers and regulators to put the COVID-19 pandemic behind us, advance policies that lower patient costs and protect our robust innovation ecosystem.

Kirk Kaminsky, president, McKesson U.S. Pharmaceutical Our industry’s response to the pandemic — and I’ll use the word of the year here — was unprecedented. I am very proud of how the pharmacy industry responded and served as critical front-line healthcare providers.

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Prior to COVID-19, the role of the pharmacist, as one of the most accessible and trusted healthcare providers, was already transforming. Pharmacists were already evolving from dispensing medications to a more meaningful responsibility for patient care. But the value pharmacies bring to the healthcare system became even more apparent in 2020. As preventive shelter-inplace orders swept across the country to reduce exposure, many hospitals and doctors’ offices stopped or delayed nonemergency appointments. However, pharmacists in all settings transformed their practices to provide safe and efficient care. They have been leaders in providing access to COVID-19 testing in their communities, and we expect their excellent patient care to continue as vaccines become available. What we all experienced in 2020 will become the foundation of how pharmacies will serve customers in the future. Right now, changes to normal procedures are designed to speed care delivery and reduce exposure. Some of these steps are likely to change the practice of pharmacy forever. Pharmacists have an opportunity to build on this difficult time to create the pharmacy of the future and improve patient outcomes. It’s indeed a silver

“What we all experienced in 2020 will become the foundation of how pharmacies will serve customers in the future. Right now, changes to normal procedures are designed to speed care delivery and reduce exposure. Some of these steps are likely to change the practice of pharmacy forever.” — Kirk Kaminsky, president, McKesson U.S. Pharmaceutical 74

lining we can all look to beyond 2020. But ultimately, looking back on this pivotal year, we’re not surprised this industry stepped up and stepped in to help because it’s what we do. We care.

Mike McBride, vice president of partner relations, Upsher-Smith Labs In 2020, nothing has been “business as usual” for the pharmaceutical industry as it faced numerous challenges presented by the pandemic — and found opportunity in some of these challenges as well. Whether it was ensuring consistency in the supply chain in the face of increased demand, leveraging a new, remote sales environment, or recognizing new opportunities for telepharmacy and collaborative care, the industry has experienced many changes that will alter its collective future. Perhaps most critically, the entire pharmaceutical supply chain demonstrated its efficiency and resiliency as it worked collaboratively during the pandemic to minimize, mitigate or avoid shortages of nearly all medications. At Upsher-Smith, we helped to ensure business continuity by expanding investment in our product inventory and by taking great care to protect team members on our production lines and in our product release laboratories. Thanks to similar efforts like ours, the industry was collectively able to support not only the usual demand for medications, but also the surge created by

additional 90-day prescriptions allowed by payers. As a result, 90-day refills saw expanded adoption, particularly during the early days of the pandemic — either via mail order or at retail — and many will likely remain in place going forward. At the retail level, both independent and chain pharmacies saw the rapid adoption of telehealth and telepharmacy, particularly during local shelter-inplace phases of the pandemic. This rapid adoption curve, while driven by necessity, has allowed both practitioners and patients to get comfortable with this technology and its benefits, as well as to learn how to manage its limitations. For pharmacies participating in local collaborative care networks, the challenges of the pandemic have created many new opportunities to provide coordinated patient care. As more patients experience the care that pharmacists can provide, and as local regulations become more accommodating, in-pharmacy patient care will become the new reality, from the simple and obvious expansion into vaccinations to even more complex forms of care.

“However, it has also enabled us to demonstrate the strength and resiliency of our country’s supply chain, to expand our sales and marketing efforts in the virtual realm, and to accelerate the acceptance and use of in-pharmacy patient care.” — Mike McBride, vice president of partner relations, Upsher-Smith Labs On the sales side of the industry, the experience of Upsher-Smith is also telling. Our field sales teams, which support our branded epilepsy and migraine products, quickly leveraged our history of utilizing


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an efficient virtual approach to reach prescribers across the United States rather than only in secondary markets and geographies. This approach is in our DNA. We expanded our virtual capabilities to ensure that patients have access to our products and the many benefits they offer. The industry will likely continue to see increased remote sales and marketing efforts post pandemic. The pandemic has obviously presented a host of challenges to the entire pharmaceutical industry. However, it has also enabled us to demonstrate the strength and resiliency of our country’s supply chain, to expand our sales and marketing efforts in the virtual realm, and to accelerate the acceptance and use of in-pharmacy patient care. The effects of COVID-19 will be felt for many years across the industry and its affiliates, as many new trends in prescribing, medication marketing and patient care originate from the industry’s pandemic response.

data provided by IQVIA, generics saved patients and taxpayers $313 billion in 2019 and close to $2.2 trillion over the past decade. Last year saw several noteworthy steps forward for patient access, including passage of the CREATES Act, which allows generic and biosimilar manufacturers to purchase the drug samples needed to seek FDA approval. The FDA was granted transparency onto information on potential disruptions, on manufacturers’ contingency plans and on the volume of medicines manufactured. The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement was a significant victory for generic and biosimilar competition and set the gold standard for future trade agreements. These important steps will contribute to the sustainability of the generics and biosimilars markets, enhance the security of the U.S. pharmaceutical supply chain, and lower prescription costs for Americans, although more action is necessary on each front.

The following are potential game changers: • A modest increase to Medicare Part B reimbursement, establishment of a Medicare shared savings demonstration program and reduce cost sharing for patients in Medicare Part B would all increase patient access to biosimilars; • The Protecting Access to Affordable Medicines Act would fix the misguided application of the Medicaid rebate on generic medicines known as the Medicaid Generics Penalty; • The Ensuring Access to Lower-Cost Medicines for Seniors Act would lower prescription drug costs in Medicare Part D. Furthermore, Medicare Part D should be updated to incentivize the use of lower-price, high-quality medicines; and • Congress should consider addressing patent abuse by providing a date certain for generic and biosimilar entry, accelerating the biosimilar “patent dance” and strengthening the inter partes review process.

“In 2021, as the nation and the world recover from this deadly pandemic, improving patient access to affordable medicines is more urgent than ever. Ensuring a robust and efficient pharmaceutical supply chain means they can obtain their medicines when and where they need them.” — Dan Leonard, president and CEO, Association for Accessible Medicines

Dan Leonard, president and CEO, Association for Accessible Medicines The generic and biosimilars industry drives the competition that lower patients’ out-ofpocket costs at the pharmacy counter. Balance between patient access and scientific innovation means that manufacturers can thrive and patients can afford treatment. According to AAM’s Access and Savings Report, created with


The biggest difference between the pharmaceutical marketplace of today and that of just a decade or so ago is the prominence of brand name biologics. According to an IQVIA study from October, 10% of the prescription drug market is driving 80% of the costs. Most of the top-selling medicines are brand name biologics and specialty drugs, with spending growing at more than 14% annually over the past five years. The new reality demands new policies.

In 2021, as the nation and the world recover from this deadly pandemic, improving patient access to affordable medicines is more urgent than ever. Many patients in the United States, even those who never got COVID-19, have delayed seeing a doctor and getting prescriptions for other conditions. Ensuring a robust and efficient pharmaceutical supply chain means they can obtain their medicines when and where they need them. dsn


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Who’s Who in Immunity Products Breaking down leading companies in the booming category By Nora Caley


hanks to COVID-19, immunity has become one of the key catchwords over the last few months. It also has spurred a big jump in retail sales across a number of segments, as consumers look for products to prevent any type of illness during the ongoing pandemic. That is great news for retailers in the space as booming sales have encouraged them to add more product to their shelves. Yet it also means that as manufacturers announce new products and line extensions, retailers are trying to keep up with all the innovations. Here is a roundup of the major players in the immunity space and what they are doing to stand out in this crowded arena.

Apax Group Apax Group is the parent company of Prana Principle CBD and FeelGood Superfoods. Launched in 2013, FeelGood Superfoods provides affordable organic supplements. The brand is focusing on meeting consumer demand for products that offer superior immune support and has expanded its portfolio with two innovative products dedicated to helping the body’s natural immune response. The FeelGood Superfoods Immune Support Shots and Immune Support Capsules are physician formulated, and each ingredient was chosen for the natural benefits they provide. “Before we even knew of the coming pandemic, we had plans in place to begin developing our immune support line,” Mike Frink, vice president of business development, said in a press release. “As COVID took hold, we did a thorough investigation to be sure our supply chain could handle any needs we may have in product production.” The shots and capsules provide a daily dose of fruits and vegetables, plus essential vitamins that help support the body’s immune system. A 1,000-mg dose of vitamin C plus vitamins


A, D, B6 and B12 were specifically chosen for their proven immune system support. Also new is Elderberry Powder, which is meant to deliver the antioxidants, minerals and vitamins contained in elderberries.

Benesprays Founded in 2018, Largo, Fla.-based Benesprays makes itSpray — available in BOOSTit for immune support, CHARGEit for energy and DREAMit for sleep. The company said that sprays offer an alternative delivery system to pills, capsules and gummies. By using a sublingual spray, the user doesn’t have to drink water to wash down the vitamins. “This means no pills, no hassle,” said founder Kimberly Stiele. “It is as simple as seven sprays under the tongue, and your body absorbs 95% of the nutrients in under 30 seconds. You can carry 25 doses of immune support in a purse, diaper bag or even a carry-on suitcase.” BOOSTit’s key ingredients include vitamin C and echinacea root, which Stiele said encourage white blood cell production. BOOSTit also contains zinc for skin and nail health, as well as L-Glutamine for gut

health, which is an important component of immune health. The company recently added elderberry to the formula. The product is designed to be used as a proactive solution for immune support. “You usually buckle your seatbelt before [you] start driving, or at least you should,” Stiele said. “Similarly, you should also take care of your immune system before you get sick.”


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CV Sciences CV Sciences is a supplier and manufacturer of hemp CBD products. In 2020, the San Diegobased company launched two non-CBD immune-supporting products, CV Defense and CV Acute. CV Acute is a clinically researched, widespectrum, proprietary plant-based formula that supports the immune system and respiratory health. CV Acute integrates a time tested traditional Chinese medicine herbal formula with modern analytical chemistry and extraction techniques. CV Defense is a clinically supported immune formula that provides effective daily support for barrier immunity, innate immunity and adaptive


immunity. Based on palmitoylethanolamide, a clinically researched ingredient to support the immune system, and combined with time-tested nutrients and botanicals, including vitamins A and D, the minerals selenium and zinc, and an organic reishi mushroom extract with concentrated beta-glucans, CV Defense incorporates unique ingredients able to optimize immune response. The introduction opened markets and sales channels for CV Sciences, including major e-commerce retailers not currently accessible by CBD-based products. Both new products are made with CV Sciences’ rigorous manufacturing and testing standards.

Among GSK Consumer Healthcare’s portfolio of brands is the Emergen-C family of products, which includes a variety of supplements that can support the immune system. The brand’s flagship flavored fizzy drink mix — introduced in 1978 — offers a high level of vitamin C plus other key antioxidants to support the immune system, as well as B vitamins for energy. There also are gummies and chewables that have been introduced more recently to round out the product line.


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Emergen-C also is working on new products. “Based off the trends of immunity, we have recognized that innovation will come in the form of offering immunity products that are specially formulated and targeted to kids, giving moms another tool in helping to keep their family healthy,” said Tom Rinck, director of customer and industry development. “Additionally, we will be innovating by talking to consumers about the benefits of using Emergen-C year-round versus in cold and flu season to keep their immune system healthy.”

i-Health Supplement maker i-Health, a division of DSM, includes among its brands Culturelle, which offers probiotics for digestive and immune health — two areas that are closer linked than many consumers are aware. “Good health starts in the gut,” said Eric Bianco, Culturelle’s brand manager. “Now more than ever, consumers are looking to support their immune and overall health.” New products include Culturelle Kids Immune Defense Probiotic Chewables and Culturelle Adult Immune Defense Probiotic Chewables. Culturelle Kids Immune Defense Probiotic Chewables feature vitamin C and zinc, alongside a clinically proven probiotic to protect children’s immune health in a once-daily chewable form. Culturelle Kids Immune Defense Chewables have 5 billion colony-forming units, or CFUs, of the probiotic lactobacillus rhamnosus GG. The immunity-focused chewables are made from naturally sourced elderberry fruit juice and contain a good source of both vitamin C and zinc. Culturelle Adult Immune Defense Probiotic Chewables, a once-daily chewable with 10 billion CFUs of LGG probiotic, contain naturally sourced elderberry fruit juice, vitamin C and zinc. Culturelle Probiotics is working to educate on the power of probiotics across all outlets, both digitally and in the retail space. “As consumers better understand how probiotics can impact their immune health and not just digestive health, the category will inevitably become larger, benefiting both retailers and manufacturers,” Bianco said.


Konsyl Based in Easton, Md., Konsyl is best known for its flagship natural psyllium fiber supplement, which has been trademarked since 1934. Yet the company’s extensive product line goes beyond fiber and includes several immunity offerings. Konsyl’s Vitamin D3 Immunity Gummies are vegan and contain 800 IUs of vitamin D3, which the company said can help support bone health and immunity. The pectin-based gummies come in a peach and cherry blend flavor, which uses natural peach and cherry flavors. The Vitamin D3 Immunity Gummies complement Konsyl’s other immunity offerings, which also include the Konsyl Elderberry Immunity Gummies, which, like the Vitamin D3 Immunity Gummies, are vegan friendly and combine 200 mg of black elderberry extract with 70 mg of vitamin C, 400 mg of echinacea extract and 100 mg of propolis extract. Both products are sold in 60-count bottles.

Korea Ginseng Ginseng is a popular herbal medicine worldwide, especially in Asian countries. Ginseng root is believed to have certain health benefits, including boosting the immune system. According to Korea Ginseng, Korean red ginseng is packed with vitamins and minerals, antioxidants, and other essential nutrients that support health and well-being. The 120-year-old company, with U.S. headquarters in Cerritos, Calif., recently launched the Koreselect brand of supplements in the United States. “The company is the leading ginseng company in the world, and it is very Asian centric,” said Adam Goodman, vice president of sales. “We decided to come out with products and packaging that are more reflective of the U.S. market.” Consumers in the U.S. know they can use ginseng for energy, so Goodman works with retailers to get the message out that ginseng is also known for immune support and daily wellness.

Koreselect Immune combines Korean red ginseng extract and European black elderberry, or sambucus nigra, which the brand said is known for its antioxidant action and traditional use for immune support. The product, in liquid formula, contains the extract equivalent to approximately 3 g of European black elderberry fruit per serving. It’s GMOand caffeine-free, as well as all natural.

Mason Vitamins Over its 50-plus year history, Mason Vitamins has introduced more than 300 vitamins and supplements. One of its newest products is Elderberry Gummies with Echinacea and Propolis. Executives said its products are focused on bringing something fresh, while also being on-trend. “The differentiator for us is our products are not a me, too,” said Chuck Tacl, senior vice president of sales and business development. “When elderberry started, everyone was rushing into elderberry.” Propolis, produced by bees, is thought to have antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal and anti-inflammatory properties. The gummies are made with pectin, so they are suitable for vegetarians and others seeking fruit-based chewable supplements. Gummies are a popular format right now, and Mason Vitamins recently introduced Prenatal Multivitamins with DHA and Zinc gummies that are made with pectin and are sugar-free. There also is advanced Probiotic XI, which has 30 billion CFUs and


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in the upcoming months and years, with a robust schedule that I am extremely excited about,” Terry said.


11 probiotic strains. With digestive health linked closely to immune health, the company also has introduced its Plant-Based Ultra Digestive Enzymes with Bromelain, Lactase, Papain and Protease. In all, the company will have 21 new products for the year ending in April, with an emphasis on immunity, sleep, calm and brain function.

on maintaining a healthy immune system now more than ever before,” said Don Kerrigan, president, North America, in a press release announcing the Immune 24 Hour + launch. Among last year’s immune-related launches was Nature’s Bounty Zinc Gummies, glutenfree mixed berry-flavored gummies that contain no artificial flavor or sweetener.

Nature’s Bounty

Nordic Naturals

For nearly 50 years, Nature’s Bounty has manufactured vitamins, dietary supplements, minerals, herbals, protein bars and powders, and ethical beauty products. The Ronkonkoma, N.Y.-based company has more than 16,000 items in its product portfolio, with brands that include Nature’s Bounty, Solgar, Sundown, Ester-C and others. Nature’s Bounty Immune 24 Hour + is a new non-GMO supplement providing 24-hour immune support with Ester-C. The company said this clinically studied, unique ingredient also works to help support upper respiratory health. The softgels include vitamin D and zinc for added immune plus antioxidant support, as well as herbal ingredients like elderberry and echinacea. The company, citing IRI data, said that shoppers are seeking immune products, with a 67% increase in immune sales since the beginning of March. Individual supplement categories, such as echinacea, elderberry, vitamin C, vitamin D and zinc, are seeing similarly strong sales patterns. “Many consumers are focused

When Nordic Naturals launched in 1995, its focus was on fish oil products with omega-3 nutrients. Over the years, the Watsonville, Calif.-based company expanded its portfolio to include probiotics, vitamins, essential nutrients and more. “We always use best-in-class ingredients that are backed by science-based research,” said Brian Terry, national sales manager for FDM and specialty. He also said that almost all products are non-GMO, as well as dairy- and gluten free. The brand never uses artificial flavors, colors or preservatives. Nordic Naturals is expanding its manufacturing and product development business. The company owns its gummy manufacturing facility, which makes Zero Sugar Gummy Vitamins such as Vitamin D, Melatonin, Curcumin and Children’s DHA Gummies. The brand recently launched Nordic Immune, a 4-in-1 product that includes a high potency offering of 1,000 mg of vitamin C, 2,000 IU of vitamin D, 429 mg of elderberry and 15 mg of zinc. “We are constantly innovating and have many new offerings that will be launching


Delray Beach, Fla.-based Oceanblue’s flagship product is Omega-3 2100, which has 2,100 mg of fatty acids. The omega-3 oils are refined in Norway and then further concentrated in Oceanblue’s state-of-the-art facility in Germany. The process removes unhealthy fats, impurities and by-products to create high purity, concentrated omega-3 products. The company also makes Omega-3 2100 with Vitamin D, which supports immune function and wellness, in softgels in a vanilla flavor. In 2020, Oceanblue launched Omega-3 2100 with CoQ10, a compound that helps generate energy in cells, in an orange flavor. In all three products, the potency, 2,100 mg of omega-3’s, is higher than competitors’ fish oil products.

Olly Building on the success of its immunity gummies, Olly launched immunity powders at Target last August. The powders will be available to other retailers this spring. There are three SKUs in the lineup, which all include elderberry, echinacea, vitamin D, zinc and 14 oranges worth of vitamin C. “This combination of ingredients really make Olly immunity products stand out as an all-in-one immunity supplement, so consumers don’t have to take multiple products,” said Anna Selser, brand manager at the San Franciscobased company. Immunity + Elderberry powders are effervescent and provide immune support during the day. They come in two flavors — berry yuzu lemonade and blood orange. Immunity Sleep + Elderberry powder includes a blend of elderberry, vitamin C and melatonin to support immunity, while also encouraging sound, restorative sleep in a soothing lemon flavor. The round-the-clock support also is a differentiator, as Olly Active Immunity gummies and Olly Immunity + Elderberry powders are designed for any time of day, while Olly Immunity Sleep gummies and Olly Immunity Sleep+ Elderberry powders are for nighttime use. In spring 2020, Olly launched its Adult


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well as sleep and stress items that can support overall health and wellness,” said Kimberly Vigliante, senior vice president of wholesale sales and marketing. Piping Rock is increasing its capacity to meet consumer demand and bring new products to market quickly. “We continue to keep a close eye on the latest market trends in order to deliver the products and ingredients consumers want most, and help retailers drive sales,” Vigliante said. “We are also investing in our own state-of-the-art facilities in order to expand our immune offerings in 2021 and beyond.”

Probulin Multi + Probiotic, the brand’s first adult multivitamin with a blend of essential vitamins, minerals and 1 billion CFUs of probiotics to support overall wellness, digestion and immunity. The brand can help retailers attract new shoppers. “Olly over-indexes with younger, more affluent shoppers that enjoy trying new things,” Selser said. “Sixty-three percent of new Olly shoppers are new to the supplements category.”

second quarter of this year. “In the spring, people will get outside more,” Rowe-Cerveny said. “We will be doing messaging in store, calling out our hydration message in the aisle.” Sambucol Black Elderberry Daily Immune Drink Powder packets are available in 10-count, 16-count and 30-count packages. The brand also makes syrups, gummies and other formats, including a new drop for children as young as 6 months old.

Pharmacare US

Piping Rock

Immune support entails more than taking vitamins and other nutritional products. Hydration also is a factor, and it’s one that people often overlook. “You have to approach immunity holistically,” said Art Rowe-Cerveny, vice president of marketing at San Diego-based Pharmacare US. “Immunity involves sleep, proper hydration, and if you don’t have those you are taking away the body’s ability to defend itself.” Pharmacare, which makes Sambucol Black Elderberry, recently added a powder packet format to the lineup. Each packet of fast-dissolving powder delivers the equivalent of 5.4 g of premium elderberry and also contains 500 mg of vitamin C. Sambucol Black Elderberry Daily Immune Drink Powder packets provide daily immune support and promote hydration. The powder is a convenient and portable format for people with active lifestyles, so Pharmacare will provide in-store merchandising during the

Piping Rock’s wholesale division, Nature’s Truth, recently introduced two products, Immune Support Gummies and Black Elderberry Immune Complex Chewables. Immune Support Gummies feature a blend of vitamin C, zinc and manuka honey and have a natural honey lemon-flavor, while being pectin based and thus vegetarian friendly. Black Elderberry Immune Complex Chewables, the first chewable supplement in the brand’s successful elderberry line, has a natural mixed berry flavor and provides Sambucus black elderberry, vitamin C and zinc. These vegetarian chewables are non-GMO and free of gluten and dairy. The Bohemia, N.Y.-based company is committed to supporting its retail partners to help consumers take charge of their health. “A new consumer mindset will continue to drive demand for products that support the immune system, as


With 70% of the body’s immune system residing in the gut, digestive and immune health are linked. The probiotics company Probulin said its newest product, Total Care Immune, supercharges that connection by adding 100 mg of Eldermune, which is equivalent to 4,225 mg of whole elderberry, to a specially formulated blend of 11 probiotic strains. It’s all encapsulated with prebiotics and postbiotics in Probulin’s MAKTrek 3D delivery system, a “seaweed submarine” that protects against stomach acid so the probiotics survive the journey. Total Care Immune had been in the works for months, and much effort went into making sure the key ingredients did not react improperly to each other. “We did some stability studies to verify the elderberry combined with probiotics was stable,” said Jason Mitchell, co-founder and CEO of Probulin. The attention to detail and to safety are standard for Topeka, Kan.-based Probulin. The company manufactures products in an NSF-certified facility that follows current good manufacturing practices. “We are vigilantly focused on quality and integrity, and making sure we put out products that perform as intended,” said Mitchell, who is a doctor of naturopathic medicine, or ND. The brand’s other digestive probiotics include Daily Care Probiotic, Total Care Women’s UT Probiotic, Daily Digestive Enzymes and others. dsn


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Flu Season Surge Deferred Amid a soft flu season, natural remedies and immune support drive the cough-cold category By David Salazar


es, even during the worst pandemic in a century, there is some good news. The country, probably thanks to social distancing and more people washing their hands more often, is facing an uncharacteristically mild cold and flu season. Yet, for retailers and the suppliers of coughcold products, that bit of good news for consumers means a slowdown in category sales among cough-cold and flu remedies. A number of suppliers reported that the category, which saw a boom around the time the COVID-19 pandemic began last March and April as consumers stocked up, has trended down since the beginning of flu season in the fall, with a good amount of sales going to immunity and stress/sleep as shoppers work through their stores of cough-cold and flu products. “My guess is it’s because of a couple different things,” said Les Hamilton, president of Los Angeles-based Hyland’s. “One, people pantry loaded in March and April, and they have yet to go through what they already purchased. Two is people are wearing masks; three, people are socially distancing; and four, kids aren’t necessarily back in school and, if they are, they’re wearing masks so nobody is getting sick, and as a result, there is some decrease in the overall cough-cold business.” The data bears this out. There are not that many cases of influenza-like illness, as tracked by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. On the agency’s FluView map, as of the week ending Dec. 19, all 50 states, as well as Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and the Northern Mariana Islands, are some shade of green, denoting minimal activity. For comparison, during the same week in 2019, 30 states’ flu activity was classified as either high or very high. “We’re definitely seeing trends that it’s a softer season,” said MaryEllen Tefft, vice president


of sales for food, drug and mass at Newtown Square, Pa.-based Boiron. “Looking at numbers from the beginning of the pandemic, people were definitely pantry loading. And for this cold-flu season, I think the transmission rate is lower, which we’re all happy about, but we’re seeing some softening. While immunity is up and treatment is down, we are starting to see less softness in the shorter time frames.” The boost in immunity is no secret [see DSN’s report on Who’s Who in Immunity on page 78], but it also is part of a larger consumer trend toward natural and drugfree products. The natural trend now is so prevalent that suppliers — both the giants of the category and the formerly niche homeopathic and natural suppliers — are looking to capitalize on it and have a host of products ready when consumers next hit the store to stock up. With new products and focused efforts to appeal to consumers, suppliers are looking to help boost the segment later this spring and again in the fall. Among the category giants, GSK Consumer Healthcare is adding to its extensive Robitussin lineup with Robitussin Naturals, a line of drug- and alcohol-free cough syrups that also are free of artificial colors, preservatives and GMOs. Sold in honey and ivy leaf varieties, the products are designed to relieve cough and clear mucus with an elderberry flavor that also is meant to support the immune system. The products also are offered as gummies. On the more traditional flu side, the company, which also makes TheraFlu, said the focus is on providing solutions that flu shoppers need — namely effective ones that work fast. “We also know that the flu shopper is different as it relates to their path to purchase,” said Litthya Burgin, shopper insights manager for upper respiratory at GSK. “They look for products that are geared towards tackling their severe flu symptoms specifically and want clarity when they are

searching for them either in store or online.” At Boiron, the company continues to grow its line of “Calm” products, with the recently rebranded ThroatCalm, formerly sold as Roxalia, joining a lineup that includes ColdCalm and SinusCalm, the latter of which also was rebranded from Sinusalia to better tailor Boiron’s offerings to American consumers (the company’s global headquarters is in Messimy, France, where the company began). Tefft said that ThroatCalm, in particular, offers a differentiated delivery method via a drug-free sublingual tablet that can be used on anyone age 3 years old or older. “It’s benzocaine-free, so it doesn’t mask symptoms or numb, but actually treats the


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Melatonin-free sleep aid

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throat,” she said. “Teachers and singers use it all the time, and we’re starting to get some traction in distribution because it’s a great white space opportunity. Coconut Creek, Fla.-based LifeLab Health, which makes the brand HoneyWorks, also is looking to differentiate itself on sore throat relief. The HoneyWorks Kids Soothing Throat Spray, which contains USDA-certified organic honey, moved beyond the walls of food and drug this year, picking up distribution at Walmart and Target. “Part of the attraction to the retailers is that it’s an incremental sale,” said Lou Machin, managing director at LifeLab Health. “The USDA organic honey is all dark honey sourced in the U.S., and because it’s a differentiated delivery system, when you sell the spray you’re not going to take away a sale from anything else on the shelf.” He also said that children’s products offer a key entry point for the entire family for brands that offer products for both children and adults. “People try homeopathic and natural on their children first and, if that doesn’t work, then they go for a product with an active ingredient,” he said. “We’re at the entry point where young moms are looking at not giving their kids any unnecessary medication.” Moms have been a critical area of growth for Hyland’s as well. Hamilton said that the company’s top-selling products are its Cold and Cough for Kids, Cold and Mucus


for Kids and several of Hyland’s coughcold products for babies. He also said there has been good growth in the value channel. “People are still wanting to treat and treat naturally,” he said. “As people have been gravitating toward the value and dollar channel to make purchases, our brand has emerged as the No. 1 pediatric brand at Dollar General.” Beyond value, one of the critical draws for homeopathic and natural products is their purported safety when used alongside prescription medications. “If you have any kind of medication that you have to take on a daily basis, there are no known drug interactions, and you can feel safe that if you have high blood pressure you can use ColdCalm or SinusCalm,” Boiron’s Tefft said. As cough-cold and flu begins to cede sales ground to immunity, several companies are looking to position their cough-cold offerings closer to immunity or ingredients that are sought after. GSK’s elderberry-flavored Robitussin Natural is a case in point. At Hyland’s, the company is looking to better position one of its existing products, redesigning the packaging for its Cold Tablets with Zinc to lean into the zinc segment. Machin said that LifeLab is looking toward immunity with the coming launch of BerryWorks, which will roll out with four SKUs — a liquid and chewable tablets for children and two tablet offerings for adults,

one with an on-the-go focus — containing black elderberry (sambucus nigra) and vitamin C. He said that the company will be positioning BerryWorks with cough-cold and flu when it launches in the first quarter of this year, and in the immune support category beginning in the second quarter. “At the end of the day, people want a natural or holistic solution to be able to ward off or tamp down a cough or a cold and they really only want to resort to active ingredients if they have no choice, and we’re seeing that trend more and more,” Machin said. “We continue to see very strong growth in the natural segments of all these categories, particularly cough-cold, and it’s going to continue for the foreseeable future.” As consumers continue to look for solutions, companies are working harder to make shoppers aware of their products. Hamilton said that this past fall, Hyland’s ran its first TV ad. GSK’s Burgin said that the company’s consumer targeting has had to adapt to better reach customers throughout the pandemic. “Now more than ever, Theraflu and Robitussin have made sure that we are meeting consumers where they are by spending more effort on engaging consumers digitally, targeting new segments using incidencebased data and remarketing to our loyal consumers to drive consideration and gain market share,” she said. dsn


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Bio-Kult Looks to Boost Immunity with New Probiotics

LifeLab Health to Debut BerryWorks As immunity continues to boom, LifeLab Health is looking to tap into the category with a new brand. The Coconut Creek, Fla.-based company is launching BerryWorks, a line of black elderberry products meant to help support immune health with four SKUs — two for adults and two for children. The full line of BerryWorks includes a value-size package of 50 chewable tablets, each of which contain 120 mg of black elderberry and 100 mg of vitamin C. The other adult-focused BerryWorks SKU is for a travel-size package of 10 of the chewable tablets. For children, BerryWorks offers a 30-count package of chewable tablets that each contain 50 mg of black elderberry and 100 mg of vitamin C. Also for kids is a 4-oz. liquid that contains 1.9 g of black elderberry extract per teaspoon. The company has targeted a first-quarter launch for the brand, with plans to merchandise it in the cough-cold category beginning this month, followed by an immune support positioning early in the second quarter.

Konsyl Offers Vitamin D3 Gummies

ADM Protexin’s Bio-Kult probiotic brand is growing its lineup with two new products — one aimed at maximizing probiotic benefits, and another meant to help during travel. Both products also offer immuneboosting ingredients. New Bio-Kult Boosted is designed to complement the 14-strain probiotics of Bio-Kult’s original formulation with 8 billion colony-forming units, or CFUs, making it four times more concentrated than the original formulation. The extra CFUs mean that consumers only need to take one capsule per day, and vitamin B12 means that the product also supports the normal functioning of the immune system, according to the company. Also joining the brand’s lineup is Bio-Kult S. Boulardii, which contains the live yeast Saccharomyces boulardii CNCM I-3799 — which is regularly recommended by nutritional therapists for travel support. The product also contains Preplex and vitamins D3 and B12. Both products sport new, slimmer packaging, which the company said was designed with ease of use and the environment in mind. Like all other Bio-Kult products, the launches are gluten-free, non-GMO and vegetarian friendly. They also do not require refrigeration, since the bacteria are cryoprotected during the freeze-drying process. Bio-Kult Boosted carries a suggested retail price of $36.95 for a 30-count bottle and Bio-Kult S. Boulardii has a suggested retail price of $22.95 for 30 capsules. The products have launched on Bio-Kult’s website and Amazon.com.

Supplement maker Konsyl is getting into the growing immunity space with one of its latest products. The company is offering Konsyl Vitamin D3 Immunity Gummies, a vegetarian offering sold in 60-count bottles of peach- and cherry-flavored gummies. Konsyl’s gummies contain 800 IU of vitamin D3 per serving. The company said the product is meant to help support bone health, immune health and digestive health. The vitamin D3 gummies join Konsyl’s other products, which include various psyllium fiber offerings in powders, caplets and stick packs, as well as multivitamins, Apple Cider Vinegar Gummies and Elderberry Immunity Gummies.



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Consumers Prioritize Personal Care Skin care and bath products are benefiting from self-care needs amid pandemic By Seth Mendelson


ith consumers suddenly looking for all types of products to enhance their skin and basically make them feel better about themselves, many suppliers and retailers are charging full speed ahead into 2021 with innovation-driven skin and bath launches. There is no doubt that these trends are fueled by the COVID-19 pandemic and the fact that shoppers are eager to purchase certain types of beauty products, even during the crisis. So, while cosmetics sales are flailing, skin and bath sales are doing quite well. Suppliers sense the opportunity and the work ahead of them. To nudge sales along, several brands are working on formulas to bring consumers back into the fold. The healthy state of the skin and bath category is reflected in the IRI numbers for the 52-week period ended Nov. 29. A much different story is told by the IRI numbers during the same period for skin and bath. Bath category sales jumped 8.3%. Within the category, sales of devices used for at-home self-care soared by 24%. Skin care sales accelerated by almost 3%, paced by a 16% jump in moisturizers. Industry experts said they believe the habits adopted during quarantine in skin care and bath will remain long after the pandemic has eased. Brands are developing products to serve the demand. For example, clean and purpose-driven


have emerged as major initiatives for Frisco, Texas-based Urban Hydration. “COVID-19 showed us that while customers are home, they are reading labels and they are voting for brands that actually meet their individual needs,” company founder Psyche Terry said of mounting consumer preferences for clean and sustainable items. Urban Hydration sales are up, she said,

not only because of its clean formulas, but also its altruistic efforts — the company has a keystone partnership with the organization WaterisLife, which looks to provide clean drinking water in areas with limited access. “Customers want to do something positive,” Terry said. “We give back with every product we make.” Listening to the brand’s shopper base will


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drive new launches. “In response to what our customers want more of, we’ve expanded our Castor Oil Skin Care Collection from just a face wash and face lotion to a clean ingredient creamy body lotion for dry and eczema-prone skin and a creamy body lotion with SPF for dry and eczema-prone skin,” Terry said. The items will roll out to select CVS Pharmacy stores. Ingredient stories also continue to be important for Urban Hydration. “Aloe is such a great antiseptic and natural cleaner that our Aloe collection of skin care is really selling well in retailers, so much so we’ve added an Aloe Body Moisturizer to the collection that will also launch this fall in a wide selection of CVS stores across the nation,” Terry said. Going forward, Terry said she believes a more price-sensitive consumer will emerge. To that end, the company created a hair care line that mirrors the brand’s salon-inspired lineup at JCPenney InStyle Salons. “It is formulated exactly the same and achieves the same great results, and is more economically affordable for OTC customers that shop at drug and value-conscious stores,” she said. Executives at Edgewell Personal Care said they noticed the impact of people turning to self-care during quarantine. That opened the opportunity to flip the script, turning mundane routines into rituals. Female grooming is a case in point. “Self-care has become more of a trend during the pandemic, with consumers isolated from close friends and family, taking time for mental health and self-care


has become increasingly important for consumers,” said Anthony Pietrini, head of marketing for female grooming at the Shelton, Conn.-based company. “The shower is a place where women gravitate to as a haven of sorts to help escape and briefly recharge. Skintimate has been of service to our women by trying to help bring some good vibes to a small piece of her day.” With growing interest in its brand, Skintimate is rolling out its refillable razors to more retailers in the new year. “The Skintimate brand is designed for consumers who are looking for a source of positive energy, so our razors and shave gels are designed to give women a spirit-lifting, skin-caring experience,” Pietrini said. Beyond the experience, the razor blade technology also provides a close and smooth shave fused with a chic, style-centric razor handle and shave gels that deliver pleasing fragrance, Pietrini said. Edgewell said it noticed women have grown uncomfortable about hair removal needs at salons because of today’s safety concerns. Skintimate’s sister brand, Schick Hydro Silk, is assisting women who wish to transition from salons to the confines of their own bathrooms. “Hydro Silk has continued to see success with Dermaplaning and Brow Shaping tools. Brow Shaping specifically has been a major success for the brand,” Pietrini said.” Our brow shaping tools have been trending in or near the top 10 best sellers of Amazon’s total beauty and personal care items since August.” Another trend emerging during the

pandemic was the challenge of interpersonal communications linked to wearing masks. With that in mind, Hydro Silk recently concluded a new advertising campaign, called “Brows are the New Lips,” to help consumers understand how to use eyebrows as the new focal point of the face. The company offers advice on how consumers can keep eyebrows trimmed for their individual preferences. Pietrini said he expects trends served by Edgewell’s products will continue to flourish even as the virus is conquered. “We’re expecting women to continue engaging with at-home grooming and hair removal at an increased rate,” he said. “We’ve seen that women have become uncomfortable in utilizing salons for their hair removal needs due to the close one-to-one contact, which will potentially lead to increased usage of shaving as a hair removal method. Longer term, Pietrini said, a redefined sense of well-being will become more important for consumers, and “we believe the importance of self-care is here to stay.” COVID-19 limited opportunities that brands had to present items during 2020


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and some resets were put on pause. For Kyle LaFond, founder of American Provenance, the year 2021 offers the chance to bring retailers up to speed on his brand, which he developed based on his experience as a middle school science teacher. Concerned about ingredients in brands that his students favored, LaFond launched his own company based in Mount Horeb, Wis. LaFond’s products will be among those featured at ECRM’s Everyday and Holiday Cosmetics, Skin, Fragrance & Bath program, which will take place virtually from Jan. 11 to 15. “This may be the first time that [some retailers] see our hand sanitizers, liquid soap and AP Botanics line,” he said. Hand sanitizers and liquid soaps have performed well for American Provenance, along with beard products, LaFond said. The brand’s Botanics line performed well as people looked for products to beat stress and anxiety. The only slower category for American Provenance was deodorants. “Sales were down because people weren’t going out and socializing, and didn’t feel the need for everyday application,” LaFond said. He said he feels deodorants will rebound.

American Provenance has new packaging to boost exposure. “Specifically, the packaging for our skin care line is intended to be approachable by both men and women looking to enhance their skin care routine,” LaFond said. “We’re trying to convince men especially to care about their skin more. I’m anticipating significant growth in 2021 and beyond.” Moisturizing and nourishing products are on consumer checklists and benefit Beiersdorf, with its U.S. headquarters in Wilton, Conn. The company is emphasizing both with recent launches of its Nivea Body Wash with Nourishing Serum, an entirely new portfolio with 10 distinct body washes, and a first-to-market, breathable skin technology featured in a new item called Breathable Body Lotion. Less thick than traditional products, the formula allows for fast absorption without a heavy barrier. Also, under the Nivea banner is a 2-in-1 lip balm and scrub to exfoliate and nourish lips — a popular product in these days of mask wearing. Eucerin, another Beiersdorf brand, focuses on serious skin care relief. It has two new entries: Eucerin Itch Relief Intensive Calming Lotion and Eucerin Eczema Relief Cream Body Wash. Reacting swiftly to consumer needs was paramount during COVID-19. This gave more nimble, smaller companies a chance to be discovered by a broader consumer base. “We are a go-to company with many of our retail partners due to our ‘speed of thought’ and capabilities to develop products with buzzworthy trend items and sophisticated packaging that deliver premium value to our customers at affordable prices for cashstrapped consumers,” said Jack Savdie, senior vice president of New York-based Global Beauty Care. Global Beauty Care’s SpaScriptions is benefitting from its problem-specific solutions, such as personalized masks for face, lip, eye and nose. “We have seen tremendous sales increases as consumers are shopping for DIY items to solve problems related to masks,” Savdie said. New going into 2021 is a line called Clinicals, which consists of serums, face oils and capsules. Also debuting is a multivitamin

collection including kits, serums, under-eye pads, and lip and facial masks. Global Beauty Care is gearing up for growth with a new business development, sales and marketing team. It also is engaging a broker network and consultants to help monitor consumer insights. New York-based EOS is no longer just known for its spherically packaged lip care and face care. Its new body care lineup features body lotions and body creams in scents that include coconut water, jasmine peach, pomegranate raspberry and vanilla cashmere. Its gift product bundles, including body products, were singled out as strong holiday performers by retailers. Retailers are doing their share to highlight natural products, such as Walmart with another up-and-coming line, Eco Lips. The lineup includes lip balms, lip scrubs, lip tint and plumpers. To give a boost to the lackluster of makeup sales such companies as CoverGirl, e.l.f., Pixi, Flower by Drew Barrymore and Physicians Formula are delivering fresh ideas. The ammunition includes betterfor-you options, such as New York-based CoverGirl’s Lash Blast Clean Volume Mascara, which features a clean, sustainable, vegan and cruelty-free formula. E.l.f., based in Oakland, Calif., continues to build market share — it now ranks as a top five mass brand — via product innovation and its savvy use of social media. The company created the first Tik Tok reality show with its campaign called “Eyes. Lips. Famous.” The brand also is generating interest for the upcoming launch of a nonmakeup product, Keys Soulcare, backed by the star wattage of Alicia Keys. Meanwhile, Los Angeles-based Physicians Formula is fusing its hypoallergenic positioning with bolder color entries for 2021. One launch getting retail notice is the Mineral Wear Diamond Plumper. “It gives lips a boost for when you take your mask off for Zoom calls,” said Regina Mendoza, director of product marketing. Physicians Formula also is solidifying collaborations with influencers for product creation, as illustrated by a new collection of face powders called All-Star Palette. dsn


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Raising the Bar on Inclusion Efforts Retailers are setting high standards for diversity and inclusion By David Orgel

T David Orgel is an awardwinning business journalist, industry expert and speaker. He is currently the principal of David Orgel Consulting, delivering strategic content and counsel to the food, retail and CPG industries.

he nation’s intense focus on equity and racial issues was one of the biggest story lines of 2020. The impact has been dramatic across society — including in the business world. Retailers in the food and drug industry unleashed a surge of new initiatives to make progress. The upshot is that retailers have raised the bar. This industry now expects more of itself, and it will need to follow through on its new strategies. In one of the most expansive efforts, Kroger unveiled its Framework for Action: Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, featuring 10 immediate action steps. These include moves to create a more inclusive culture, develop diverse talent and advance equitable communities. Kroger is far from the only retailer stepping out with notable commitments. Let’s take a quick tour of the new landscape.

Major Dollar Investments Retailers unveiled large dollar commitments to advance equity. Target pledged $1 million to the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s National Racial Equity Initiative, which focuses on education, economic opportunity and law enforcement. CVS Health said it will invest in 116 units of affordable housing and expand a no-cost health screening program to Orlando, Fla. — part of a commitment of nearly $600 million over five years to address racial inequity and social determinants of health in Black communities. Meanwhile, The Giant Co., began to identify local recipient organizations for $500,000 in grants dedicated to fostering racial equality and furthering diversity and inclusion.

New Leadership Moves A number of retailers announced new internal policies and executive changes to advance diversity. Amazon made a commitment to raise the representation of senior Black leaders in the organization by doubling the share both in 2020 and 2021. Rite Aid, meanwhile, named Texanna Reeves


its vice president of diversity, equity and inclusion. Reeves will establish and lead an enterprise cross-functional diversity council to embed best practices into its talent recruitment, retention and development efforts.

Supplier Diversity Efforts Retailers are striving to improve diversity within their supplier bases. Kroger’s wide ranging new initiative aims to increase spending with diverse suppliers from $3.4 billion to $10 billion by 2030. Schnuck Markets, meanwhile, unveiled a supplier diversity program focused on making its supplier ranks more reflective of its local communities. Schnucks is partnering with ECRM and RangeMe to help identify and engage with diverse suppliers.

New Ways of Conversing The growing focus on diversity and inclusion has featured a number of creative industry forums that addressed these issues — held virtually in this pandemic environment. DSN and Mack Elevation conducted a panel on “the importance of creating and protecting inclusive, culturally competent and empathetic organizations.” The forum included speakers from Target, Wakefern and Walgreens Boots Alliance. FMI - The Food Industry Association, is joining forces with the Center for Food Integrity to produce a series of “digital dialogues” on the issues of racial justice, inclusion and diversity.

Next Steps for Progress All the efforts mentioned — and others not covered here — reflect a growing outpouring of concern about diversity and inclusion. Retailers have raised the bar and it’s more difficult now to sit on the sidelines. However, it will be important for organizations to ensure their initiatives are making a difference — or to fine-tune them for better results. Measurement, follow-through and communication are key because consumers and other stakeholders will be watching. They will insist on authentic actions that help drive change. dsn


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