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DRUG STORE NEWS February 2022

FEBRUARY 2022 DRUGSTORENEWS.COM

The Pharmacist

In these extraordinary times,

we are all asking more from pharmacists than ever before because we know they deliver. At Dr. Reddy’s, we salute your selfless dedication, rigorous attention to detail, and commitment to patients everywhere. Thank you.

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Vol. 44 No. 2

Facebook.com/DrugStoreNews Twitter.com/DrugStoreNews

FEATURES 44

INSIDE BEAUTY

Moisture Moves

Skin care trends in 2022 focus on healthy skin, with an emphasis on hydration and antiaging

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LOOKING

FORWARD Executives size up the state of retail pharmacy in 2022

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PHARMACY: GENERICS

Overcoming Obstacles Despite challenges, generics companies optimistic for 2022 56

PHARMACY: DIABETES

Diabetes Goes Digital Innovative technologies are revolutionizing diabetes care and monitoring 62

HEALTH: SLEEP

The Search for Sleep

DEPARTMENTS 8

EDITOR’S NOTE

10

INDUSTRY NEWS

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DSN INDUSTRY ISSUES SUMMIT

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PRODUCTS TO WATCH

30

WOMEN IN THE NEWS

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CBD NEWS

Fatigued consumers are driving innovation in ingredients, formats and other features in the sleep products category

COLUMNS 26

GUEST COLUMN By FDS Amplicare’s Jason Ausili

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ONE-ON-ONE with Tabula Rasa HealthCare’s Calvin H. Knowlton

68 78

HEALTH: FEMININE CARE

Focus on Natural and Innovative

LAST WORD By David Orgel Consulting’s David Orgel

New products reflect women’s desire for more options, less synthetics 74

HEALTH: CBD

Are CBD Topicals the Only Way to Play?

Risk-averse drug stores can still find new ground to till with hemp

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. 44 No. 2, February 2022. Copyright © 2022 by EnsembleIQ. All rights reserved.

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EDITOR’S NOTE

Taking Stock Industry insiders share optimism on the future of retail pharmacy By Nigel F. Maynard

RETAIL PHARMACY IS NOW ACCEPTED AS A KEY PART OF THE PUBLIC HEALTH INFRASTRUCTURE.

Do you remember February 2019? It seems like such a long time ago. Back then, social distancing wasn’t really a thing, contact tracing wasn’t being bandied about and delta variant was not in our lexicon. But then the world changed and, with it, our definition of “normal.” Retail pharmacy looked different, too. Now as we enter year three of a pandemic that seems to have no end, it’s time to take stock. Our cover story this month does just that. We spoke to a wide variety of industry insiders to get a sense of where retail pharmacy stands, where it’s going and how it must adapt and evolve to get there. Their responses were illuminating. On a basic level, everyone agrees that retail pharmacy is in a relatively good place. Retailers have upped their e-commerce game, and telehealth is growing. Moreover, presented with an opportunity to step up during the pandemic, the industry has had a huge impact. As a result, retail pharmacy is now accepted as a key part of the public health infrastructure. But many questions remain: What’s next for the industry? What happens when the pandemic recedes into history? What will happen on the legislative front? and others. Our panel of executives predict various scenarios. “We need to create the future we want to see,” said Sandra Leal, president of the American Pharmacists Association. “I personally see a bright future for pharmacy because of our evolving roles and our impact on patient care. I hope that one of the silver linings of this very dark time is that everyone had an opportunity to see exactly how pharmacy unequivocally contributed.” Steve Anderson, president and CEO of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, believes the changes on the federal and state levels are needed. “Government leadership is sorely needed to ensure pharmacies can continue to be there for Americans in times of need from family emergencies to global pandemics,” he said, adding that “unworkable and unsustainable pharmacy reimbursement models, which jeopardize pharmacies of all sizes and formats, risk the public health assets that came through when the nation needed them most.” And Mike McBride, vice president of partner relations at UpsherSmith Laboratories, sums up the future this way: “Pharmacists are figuring out many ways to make money beyond dispensing medications. They’re now focused on how they can make money on dispensing care, which will depend a lot on technology that allows not only connection but also coordination for patients.” Read more of their insightful comments starting on page 32. If you have ideas of your own, drop us a line. We can’t wait to hear what you think. dsn

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 | Editorial Director Nigel F. Maynard nigelmaynard@ensembleiq.com

EDITORIAL

Managing Editor Hannah Esper (773) 992-4449, hesper@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

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PRODUCTION/ART

Creative Director Colette Magliaro cmagliaro@ensembleiq.com Production Manager Jackie Batson (224) 632-8183, jbatson@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 ●●●

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INDUSTRY NEWS

CVS Health Names Supply Chain SVP Mario Rivera has joined CVS Health as its new senior vice president of supply chain. Michelle Peluso, executive vice president and chief customer officer at CVS Health and co-president of retail, welcomed Rivera to the company in a post on LinkedIn. “He brings to this role unparalleled expertise and passion, and I know the CVS Health team is thrilled to have him on board, especially during such a dynamic time,” Peluso said. “I look forward to seeing all Mario and his team will do to ensure we meet our promise — that consumers’ everyday health-andwellness essentials and medications will be available when and how they need them, in our stores and online. Welcome, Mario!” CVS Health said that Rivera, who reports to Peluso, will be responsible for supply logistics, distribution, inventory, omnichannel and engineering, as CVS Health looks to transform its supply chain operations to enhance the consumer experience. He brings more than two decades of experience to CVS Health, with extensive leadership roles driving business transformation globally, including in the United States, Latin America, Asia and Europe. Most recently, Rivera led the engineering and activation organization for global supply chain and logistics at Target.

Native continues to make waves in the beauty category by expanding into the world of skin care. The personal care brand has released Moisturizing and Brightening collections, which aim to help consumers cater to their skin care needs in three easy steps. Native’s Moisturizing line includes the following: • Coconut and Vanilla Moisturizing Facial Cleanser, which is gentle enough for daily use to remove dirt, oil and impurities without leaving the skin feeling dry; • Coconut and Vitamin B3 Moisturizing Facial Serum, a fragrancefree moisturizing serum that contains vitamin B3 for hydration; and • Coconut and Vitamin B3 Moisturizing Facial Lotion, a fragrancefree moisturizing lotion with vitamin B3 for skin hydration. Native’s Brightening collection includes the following: • Citrus and Bergamot Brightening Facial Cleanser, designed to be gentle for daily use to remove dirt, oil and impurities from the skin while leaving behind a radiant and bright appearance; • Vitamin C and Vitamin B3 Brightening Facial Serum, a fragrancefree serum that contains vitamins C and B3 for intense hydration and a bright complexion; and • Vitamin C and Vitamin B3 Brightening Facial Moisturizer, a fragrance-free moisturizer that contains vitamins C and B3 for a brighter and more hydrated-looking appearance.

Cheez-It Takes on Puffy, Airy Texture with Puff’d Line Cheez-It is adding a twist on snacking. The Battle Creek, Mich.-based company recently rolled out its latest product innovation — Puff’d. Featuring puffy and airy cheesy crackers, the snack contains a cheesy, crunchy outside layer and then transforms into a melt-in-your-mouth snacking experience, the company said. “Our Cheez-It Original crackers are a tried-and-true snack-time classic beloved by the whole family,” said Erin Storm, senior

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marketing director at Cheez-It. “We know families are constantly seeking new ways to boost snack time and afternoon fun, and Cheez-It Puff’d delivers just that. This puffy and airy Cheez-It transformation is the perfect way to unlock a surprisingly uplifting snack-time experience the whole family is sure to enjoy.” Baked with 100% real cheese inside and out, Cheez-It Puff’d is available in double cheese, white cheddar and scorchin’ hot cheddar flavors, the company said.

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INDUSTRY NEWS

SpartanNash Appoints Chief Merchandising Officer

Walgreens, VillageMD Bring Clinics to Tucson, Ariz. Walgreens Boots Alliance and VillageMD announced plans to open eight new Village Medical at Walgreens coordinated primary care and pharmacy practices in the Tucson area in 2022, with the first opening on Feb. 8 at 7885 E. Speedway Blvd. These openings represent expansion into the second major market in Arizona, following Phoenix, and add to the growing number of locations in the state. Through the Walgreens and VillageMD coordinated care model, patients can receive care for chronic health conditions, as well as preventive services and treatment for everyday illnesses and injuries. Physicians and pharmacists collaborate closely to fill prescriptions immediately following medical visits, often at the same location, and ensure patients have ongoing access to support that helps them get and stay healthy. More than 3 million Arizonans live in an area that does not have enough doctors to meet the medical needs of the people who live there, the company noted. If current trends continue, the projected medical and productivity cost of chronic disease in 2030 is $8,200 per Arizona resident. Creating greater access to primary care provides residents better health outcomes in addition to expanded opportunities to interact with healthcare professionals. VillageMD and Walgreens plan to open more than 200 Village Medical at Walgreens practices by the end of the year, including 81 locations that have already opened across 11 markets in Arizona, Florida, Texas, Kentucky and Indiana. WBA recently announced an increased investment in VillageMD to advance its strategic position in the delivery of value-based primary care. The investment will accelerate the opening of more than 600 Village Medical at Walgreens primary care and pharmacy practices in more than 30 U.S. markets by 2025 and 1,000 by 2027, with more than half of those practices in medically underserved communities.

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SpartanNash has welcomed a new executive to its leadership team. Bennett Morgan has joined as senior vice president and chief merchandising officer, effective Jan. 24. He reports to president and CEO Tony Sarsam. “SpartanNash continues to recruit top talent as part of our ‘People First’ strategy, and we are thrilled to welcome Bennett to the team,” Sarsam said. “Bennett will play a critical role in driving innovation for our customers and excellence with our in-store experience.” Morgan joins SpartanNash from Amazon, where he helped launch its fast-growing grocery business, including opening physical stores across the country. He most recently served as Amazon Fresh Category Leader, overseeing produce and protein products and having previously managed center store products as well. Morgan is the seventh addition to the SpartanNash executive leadership team since Sarsam joined the company in September 2020. His announcement follows the promotion of Amy McClellan to senior vice president and chief marketing officer.

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INDUSTRY NEWS

CVS Health, Uber to Provide Transportation for Individuals in Underserved Communities CVS Health is embarking on a collaboration with Uber Health, Uber’s healthcare arm, to provide critical transportation support at no cost to people who need it most when seeking access to medical care, work or educational programs. The relationship is part of Health Zones, CVS Health’s new initiative that provides concentrated local investments designed to reduce health disparities and advance health equity in highrisk communities across the country. Health Zones is an integrated approach to addressing six key social determinants of health: housing, education and access to food, labor, transportation and health care. CVS Health and Uber Health will help eliminate a critical barrier to

care and overall well-being — transportation — which can limit a person’s ability to receive medical care, to get to work or to job trainings, and can ultimately lead to adverse health outcomes. Rides with Uber Health will be available to a target population living in three of the five Health Zones: Atlanta; Columbus, Ohio; and Hartford, Conn., with plans to enter additional cities later this year. “Our Health Zones initiative allows us to make a real impact on the health of communities across the country by working closely with organizations that share our commitment to addressing social determinants of health,” said Eileen Howard Boone, senior vice president of corporate social responsibility and philanthropy and chief sustainability officer at CVS Health. “With the Uber Health platform, we’ll provide critical transportation to people within communities who need it most, giving them access to healthcare services so they can live healthier lives and to jobs and educational programs that can help them reach their full potential.”

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INDUSTRY NEWS

Dove Aims to Eliminate Plastic Waste with Reusable Body Wash Bottles Dove is looking to keep its packaging sustainable in 2022 by announcing that it will work toward its mission of eliminating plastic waste by launching a reusable body wash bottle with refills. New from the personal care brand is Dove Body Wash Reusable Bottle + Concentrate Refill, which offers consumers an easy-to-use packaging system designed to provide users with the same Dove care but with 50% less plastic after refills, the company said. Available in an infinitely recyclable aluminum or 100% recycled plastic bottle, each design has a quick connect cap for an easy pour without the mess. The eco-friendly format features daily moisture, cucumber, and shea butter and warm vanilla fragrances. Currently, the Dove Reusable Aluminum Bottle and Body Wash Concentrate retail for $14.99 and the Body Wash Reusable Bottle + Concentrate Refill retail for $9.99.

Goldfish Launches Mega Bites Crackers Goldfish crackers have just gotten a whole lot bigger. The Norwalk, Conn.-based company is unveiling Mega Bites, a bigger, bolder and cheesier version of its classic crackers. Mega Bites, which are 50% larger than regular Goldfish crackers, were made specifically with adult consumers in mind, the company said. “This is the first time Goldfish has created a snacking experience specifically with ‘Grown Up’ tastes in mind,” said Janda Lukin, chief marketing officer of Campbell Snacks. “We’re at the start of a new chapter for the brand and are expanding our offerings and appeal to all age groups — in the college dorm, snacking at your desk, wherever that is these days — while remaining a snack for all families. We’re excited to keep creating bold and playful snacks and experiences.” Available in sharp cheddar and cheddar jalapeño, the crackers deliver a robust flavor and feature a crispy and flaky texture, the company said.

FDA Green-lights Alembic’s Generic Comtan Alembic has received the Food and Drug Administration’s permission for entacapone tablets in a dosage strength of 200 mg. The product is the generic of Orion’s Comtan. The drug is indicated as an adjunct to levodopa and carbidopa to treat end of dose “wearing off” in patients with Parkinson’s disease. Entacapone tablets 200 mg have a market value of roughly $10.5 million for the 12 months ending September 2021, according to IQVIA.

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INDUSTRY NEWS

M&M’s Updates Look Amid Ongoing Commitment to Help Create an Inclusive World M&M’s will soon be boasting a brand-new look and feel. The brand update is part of the company’s global commitment to creating a world where everyone feels they belong and society is inclusive, the company said. As part of M&M’s brand strategy built on purpose, the company said it looks to use the power of fun to include everyone with a goal of increasing the sense of belonging for 10 million people around the world by 2025. “M&M’s has long been committed to creating colorful fun for all, and this purpose serves as a more concrete commitment to what we’ve always believed as a brand: that everyone has the right to enjoy moments of happiness, and fun is the most powerful way to help people feel that they belong,” said Cathryn Sleight, chief growth officer at Mars Wrigley. “As one of the world’s most iconic candy brands, who better to commit

to a world with more moments of fun by increasing a sense of belonging around the globe than M&M’s?” The overall transformation will include a modern take on its characters, including more nuanced personalities to underscore the self-expression and power of community through storytelling. In addition, the brand will enhance its color palette by using different shapes and sizes across various touchpoints to prove that all together, everyone is more fun. Also, an added emphasis on the ampersand will demonstrate how the brand aims to bring people together. “We’re excited to reveal our new M&M’s brand look and feel, which fans will see come to life across all M&M’s touchpoints around the globe,” said Jane Hwang, global marketing vice president at Mars Wrigley.

Betr Remedies Extends Distribution to Walmart Stores After a successful launch on Walmart’s e-commerce platform, Betr Remedies is working to get its products onto the retailer’s physical shelves. The Santa Monica, Calif.-based company, which calls actress Ellen Pompeo its co-founder and chief impact officer, shared that its full line of over-thecounter products is now available at 2,000 Walmart stores across the nation. This marks the first time that the brand’s products are available on store shelves, the company said. Manufactured in the United States, Betr Remedies’ portfolio consists of more than 15 SKUs that span across the pain, allergy, digestive health, and cold and flu categories. Each Betr Remedies product, which contains FDA-authorized ingredients, follows a buy-one, give-one component that is managed through Sirum, a nonprofit that enables healthcare organizations to donate unused medications through select charitable pharmacies in underserved communities.

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DSN INDUSTRY ISSUES SUMMIT

Rising to the Occasion The second panel of DSN’s annual Industry Issues Summit highlighted strategies for turning retail pharmacy into healthcare destinations By Sandra Levy

Drug Store News kicked off the second day of its three-day annual Industry Issues Summit with retailers and technology experts sharing their strategies on how pharmacies can transform into healthcare destinations. Moderated by Nimesh Jhaveri of McKesson, the panel discussed how the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic led to pharmacies and pharmacists helping to bring the country back on its feet. Rina Shah, group vice president of specialty and retail pharmacy operations and services at Walgreens, agreed with the sentiment by pointing out how pharmacy is the first stop and the last mile in healthcare delivery. “We saw that with the pandemic,” Shah said, citing COVID-19 testing services as an example. “We were asked, can our pharmacy and techs provide testing services? Within a couple of weeks, we offered testing. Now over 7,000 locations are providing COVID testing, and we have administered over 60 million tests and

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45 million vaccines. We’ve transformed the model. We know our pharmacies are community-based healthcare destinations. The pandemic highlighted the need for that. This has allowed us to think: What does the future hold? The future is being able to deliver testing, vaccinations and consultations in our locations differently than we’ve done before.” Shah also emphasized that the silver lining through the pandemic has been the importance of pharmacists who can provide to their community in times of need, and “how we launch that to future services as we move forward,” she said. Other topics discussed included how customers enjoyed the convenience of ordering what they needed on the phone and being able to pick them up when ready, noted Colette Heimowitz, vice president of nutrition communication and education at Simply Good Foods. Heimowitz also predicted that the convenience that customers found when ordering online is a trend that will

continue. And, while consumers stuck with the familiar, which brought a sense of comfort and was a boon for big brands, as we emerge from the pandemic, she said that people will have a pent up desire to explore more and different things. “People will start to branch out a bit, but they’ll hold on to the familiar,” Heimowitz said. Tyler Woods, pharmacy district manager at VMC, said independent pharmacies have branched out from what traditional pharmacy has been and made an effort to understand the needs in their communities. “How do we assess and address those needs? Whether delivery or drive-thru, being quick to adapt has been a huge factor for the success of those programs. We were able to show a service unlike anything else. That goes a long way.” Woods noted that VMC encourages and expects pharmacies to be involved in their communities. “We should meet with our local health departments. What are they seeing, what are the challenges, how can pharmacy be part of the solution?”

February 2022 DRUGSTORENEWS.COM

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Available through your preferred wholesaler today! * Co-pays and preferred status vary by plan. 1. IQVIA XPT Device TRx Jun 19-May 20. 2. Whooley S, Briskin T, Gibney MA, Blank LR, Berube J, Pflug BK. Evaluating the User Performance and Experience with a Re-Engineered 4 mm × 32G Pen Needle: A Randomized Trial with Similar Length/Gauge Needles. Diabetes Ther. 2019; doi: 10.1007/s13300-019-0585-7. 3. Rini CR, Roberts BC, Morel D, Klug R, Selvage B, Pettis RJ. Evaluating the Impact of Human Factors and Pen Needle Design on Insulin Pen Injection. J Diabetes Sci Technol. 2019; doi: 10.1177/1932296819836987. 4. Aronson R, Gibney M, Oza K, Berube J, Kassler-Taub K, Hirsch L. Insulin pen needles: effects of extra-thin wall needle technology. Clin Ther. 2013;35(7):923-933. 5. Hirsch L, Gibney M, Berube J, Manocchio J. Impact of a modified needle tip geometry on penetration force as well as acceptability, preference, and perceived pain in subjects with diabetes. J Diabetes Sci Technol. 2012;6(2):328-335. 6. BD Compatibility Confirmation for Pen Needles and Pen Injector Manufacturers, Document Number:149OTH-0004-20, Rev R, dated 04 February 2021.

bd.com/pharmacypartner BD, the BD Logo, EasyFlow, Nano, PentaPoint and Ultra-Fine are trademarks of Becton, Dickinson and Company or its affiliates. © 2021 BD. All rights reserved. U.S. Patent Nos. D787054, D825749, D804023 and other patents pending. 1906699642NITDSN

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DSN INDUSTRY ISSUES SUMMIT

The future is being able to deliver testing, vaccinations and consultations in our locations differently than we’ve done before.

— Rina Shah, group vice president of specialty and retail pharmacy operations and services, Walgreens

How do we assess and address those needs? Whether delivery or drive-thru, being quick to adapt has been a huge factor for the success of those programs. We were able to show a service unlike anything else. That goes a long way.

How do we take advantage of technology to increase that bond and relationship between the patient and pharmacist? The future is bright with the additional testing and services pharmacies can provide today.

— Jeffrey Bekos, vice president of new business development, provider and pharmacy, eHealth

— Tyler Woods, pharmacy district manager, VMC

he said, suggesting that being on school boards is critical in ascertaining if students are getting their vaccines, and to find out if there are viruses or infections in school that VMC can help with. “Whether it’s OTCs stocked on the shelf, how can we pinpoint our involvement in the overall care in the community?” Woods said. Also on the agenda was the topic of the power of data and technologies, which Alecia Lashier, chief automation officer at iA, made note of how it can begin improving the ability to give patients more choice. “We have to look at how we change the narrative upfront,” she said. For example, when a new medication is prescribed, a prescriber asks where you want it filled. “We need to provide an increased level of choice to our customers,” Lashier said. “We have to rethink this process. We have to ask, how do we make it so the patient doesn’t have to manage it, and an online experience can help the patient take care of that.” Dain Rusk, vice president of pharmacy at Publix, agreed, saying that data needs to be emphasized to drive personalization. “We need to lean into the data to drive more personalization,” he said, noting

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that COVID-19 caused many consumers to try new services and new pharmacies. He also said customers expect a personalized experience that is unique to them and which “meets them where they are. They also want to feel important by ensuring you‘ve personalized their health journey.” Rusk shared that Publix has a tradition of being engaged with its communities. “Our vendor partners and suppliers and future suppliers understand we want you to help us with our business needs but want a relationship where you help us positively impact the communities,” he said. When it came to discussing what lay ahead, Jeffrey Bekos, vice president of new business development, provider and pharmacy at eHealth, shared his vision. “We want the pharmacist to be more proactive and to get paid for these additional services. How do we take advantage of technology to increase that bond and relationship between the patient and pharmacist? The future is bright with the additional testing and services pharmacies can provide today,” he said. Craig Norman, H-E-B’s senior vice president of pharmacy, said that while H-E-B’s mission is to be a total healthcare

destination, every pharmacy can fit into that mold. “We developed and cemented in the public’s perception that they can go to their pharmacy for anything health related,” he said. “We stress to everyone, we need to be the voice of calm, reason, compassion, deal with the facts, give accurate information and be totally transparent in how we deal with things. Customers want convenience, curbside and home delivery, and to make sure they can go to the drive-thru when they don’t want to interact with people. We saw those components skyrocket. That is now the shopper of the current and future.” He also said that H-E-B needs to continue to meet shoppers’ needs while fostering one-on-one relationships at the pharmacy counter with customers. “We’re in a great position to positively affect everyone with each interaction,” he said. “This is the spotlight for retail pharmacy.” Norman envisions primary health care will be at the top of everyone’s mind. “Pharmacy will play an integral component to meet healthcare needs. Everyone has stepped up. We’ve shown our resilience, professionalism and leadership in our communities,” he said. dsn

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P R O D U CTS TO WATCH

New & Noteworthy HRG’s Products to Watch from January 2022

Suppliers started the year strong, with a high volume of new product introductions. In January, companies introduced 273 new products in the health, wellness and beauty categories. Hamacher Resource Group’s new product team evaluated 26 products in the health category, 104 products in the wellness sector and 143 in the beauty aisle to highlight the top five that could be winners for retailers in 2022. Here are the products they found:

3. Systane Complete PF Lubricant Eye Drops

1. Children’s Xyzal Allergy 24HR Liquid

4. Scope re-FRESH-ables Chew Capsules

Sanofi’s Children’s Xyzal 24HR Allergy, formulated to deliver kids relief from sneezing, runny nose, itchy throat and watery eyes, is now available in new flavors including grape. It’s designed for use at night for kids ages 2 years old and older and to last through the next day. It’s available in 5-oz. bottles.

2. Neutrogena Sun Rescue Rehydrating Spray Johnson & Johnson’s Neutrogena has released a line of after-sun care products to restore natural moisture balance on sun-stressed skin. To be used in conjunction with its sun protection products, the Sun Rescue spray is designed to be easy to apply with a nongreasy formula that includes aloe vera and hyaluronic acid to provide moisturizing freshness and cooling and to prevent peeling. It comes in a 6.7-oz. spray bottle.

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Systane Complete Preservative-Free Eye Drops by Alcon was developed to provide relief from all major types of dry eye and is now available in an environmentally friendly, multiuse bottle. The drops are formulated to provide eight hours of hydration for sensitive eyes and come in a 10-ml bottle.

Procter & Gamble’s Scope re-FRESH-ables are designed to offer bad breath relief conveniently and discretely on-the-go. The chewable mouthwash capsules release a small burst of minty liquid quickly, anytime, anywhere. Available in a spearmint flavor, it comes in a 30-count pack.

5. Softsoap Foaming Tablet Starter Kit The Softsoap Foaming Tablet Starter Kit and refill packs from Colgate-Palmolive were developed to be less messy to replace as well as sustainable and good for the planet. Each foam tablet is added to the aluminum bottle after it is filled with water and is ready for use. The tablet form, which comes in lemon, eliminates spills and waste from attempts to refill dispensers with hard-to-pour liquid soap. dsn

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GUEST COLUMN

New Era

Access and affordability are trends that will be important to independent community pharmacists in 2022 By Jason Ausili

Jason Ausili, chief clinical officer, FDS Amplicare, now part of EnlivenHealth

As we look to a new year, it’s interesting to think about the future role of the community pharmacy. The COVID-19 pandemic shifted the epicenter of primary care away from traditional settings like the doctor’s office and hospitals to the home, phone, computer and the local community pharmacy. Already among the most trusted healthcare professionals, community pharmacists are poised to take on an even greater role in the healthcare continuum. Pharmacists today offer so much more than dispensing medication. The pharmacist now plays an integral role in bridging care gaps, providing preventive and acute care services and delivering lifesaving therapeutics.

An Expanded Role and Better Patient Care If people don’t seek care virtually, they want to see someone they know and trust where they live and work. Social factors are now a critical piece of understanding the complexity of holistic primary care, and pharmacies are no exception. According to a 2019 article by the UMass Chan Medical School, nearly 9 in 10 Americans live within 5 miles of a community pharmacy, meaning many patients overlook the role of the pharmacist in orchestrating care. Taking this a step further, 77% of community pharmacies serve populations of 50,000 or fewer and may be the only convenient healthcare destination in rural and medically underserved areas. The pharmacist took a front-row seat to help curb a global pandemic when COVID-19 testing, vaccination and therapeutics launched. Pharmacists are a main source of ACIP-recommended vaccinations and “test-and-treat” programs (for conditions such as flu and strep) for many years. The privileges granted to pharmacists during the pandemic have amplified the public health benefit while highlighting the improved access to care that community pharmacy brings to the table. Local pharmacies have a unique advantage when engaging with patients and forming meaningful relationships. The expanded clinical role of a pharmacist has far-reaching benefits — such as helping mitigate medication nonadherence, addressing clinical burnout and labor shortages, and improving outcomes, care equity and access.

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We can’t talk about improving outcomes and broadening the reach of pharmacists without thinking about connectivity and interoperability. We must expand interoperability standards among pharmacies and EHRs if we want to impact point-of-care decisions and clinical workflows. Pharmacists are now regularly documenting care electronically, using the same coding and formatting standards that are commonly used and recognized by other providers, payers and health information exchanges. The groundwork has been laid for improved connectivity between pharmacists and other providers, but challenges exist that impede information sharing between pharmacy systems and EHRs.

We can’t talk about improving outcomes and broadening the reach of pharmacists without thinking about connectivity and interoperability. Additionally, we made progress this year as the Health and Human Services Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology unveiled 13 new elements for its Exchange Framework and Common Agreement. This framework implements policies, procedures and technical standards to support a pathway toward interoperability. It’s clear that the path forward for health IT and data sharing must include pharmacies both for better automation and information sharing.

Who Will Pay? Commercial payers are beginning to recognize pharmacists as providers and putting medical services under the scope of practice, but we need more. Vaccine boosters and COVID-19 tests are driving demand, but if patients’ insurance coverage won’t pay at the pharmacy, it could continue to drive up costs. Soon, value-based care models will give pharmacies an incentive to take on more risk, and I predict this trend will increase as more value-based care programs take hold and demonstrate success. In 2022, we must empower our industry to put forth regulations, technology solutions and care delivery that continue to value the pharmacist to achieve a better and more equitable healthcare system for everyone. dsn

February 2022 DRUGSTORENEWS.COM

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ONE-ON-ONE

Medication Safety Tabula Rasa HealthCare provides solutions to combat medication overload

Rising healthcare costs and a growing elderly population could have significant implications for adverse drug events, which occur when an individual is harmed by medication. Tabula Rasa HealthCare, the first national medication risk mitigation company, is on the front line providing medication safety solutions to combat overload adverse drug events. Drug Store News recently spoke with Calvin H. Knowlton, CEO and co-founder of Tabula Rasa HealthCare, about what the company is doing in this area.

Calvin H. Knowlton, CEO and cofounder, Tabula Rasa HealthCare

Drug Store News: Can you briefly tell us what adverse drug events are? Calvin H. Knowlton: Adverse drug events, or ADEs, are a leading cause of death in the United States — among the ranks of heart disease and cancer — and occur when an individual is harmed by medication, even when that medication is used appropriately. They are responsible for around 1.3 million emergency department visits a year, and roughly 350,000 individuals require hospitalization for additional treatment. We have found ADEs to be most prevalent when there is no single source of truth to provide oversight and help mitigate health risks associated with normal multiple-medication use. With over 6 billion prescriptions dispensed in 2020, technologies to support pharmacists with risk mitigation and patient intervention, at scale, are critical. DSN: What are the implications for patient health? CHK: With the rise of chronic conditions, and prevalence of outdated 1-to-1 drug interaction methods, the risk of ADEs only grows. Who is left to pay the price? Our healthcare system, and most of all, the patients we serve and care for the most. Facing this challenge head on, advanced tools like MedWise Science and the MedWise Risk Score equip front-line pharmacists with unmatched clinical insight to deliver impactful care to patients. Research has proven the MedWise Risk Score effective in identifying patients whose medication regimens put them at greater risk for negative outcomes. For high-risk patients, pharmacists can pinpoint medication-related problems and recommend measures that reduce risk through pharmacist-led consultations, which leverage MedWise Science.

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DSN: How would your MedWise Science technology help? CHK: MedWise Science is the heart of our medication optimization offerings. This software identifies potential multidrug interactions in aggregate to help clinicians manage polypharmacy patients, reduce trial-and-error prescribing and ensure patient safety. Tabula Rasa HealthCare’s medication decision support tools, such as the MedWise Risk Score and MedWise Matrix, enable pharmacists to deliver point-of-care support on key patient health issues like pain management, prevention of ADEs and more. The pharmacists’ interventions have been documented to improve outcomes, including reducing annual medical spend, enhancing quality-of-life parameters and preventing premature death. DSN: Can you explain how this technology would help pharmacists? CHK: Research has proven that MedWise Risk Scores can help pharmacists successfully identify patients whose medications — when used together — put them at greater risk for negative outcomes, including ADEs, falls, higher medical expenditure, emergency department visits, hospitalizations and death. We have found these pharmacist-led interventions to result in better patient outcomes and more meaningful relationships with patients through personalized care. Pharmacists and other healthcare providers working with Tabula Rasa HealthCare clinical pharmacists can use these technologies to effectively pinpoint risk, identify medicationrelated problems and make recommendations that advance outcomes, strengthen patient engagement and, ultimately, save lives. dsn

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In 2021, adverse drug events (ADEs) were a leading cause of death in the U.S. after COVID-19 MedWise® Science is now available to help you quickly identify patients who are at risk for ADEs and to deliver unmatched personalized care through the safe use of medications.

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Scan me Copyright ® 2022, Tabula Rasa HealthCare, Inc., All Rights Reserved. These materials are confidential and proprietary information of Tabula Rasa HealthCare, Inc. and may not be reproduced in whole or in part without the written consent of Tabula Rasa HealthCare, Inc. | NASDAQ - TRHC

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WOMEN IN THE NEWS

Achieving Excellence

Amber Specialty Pharmacy’s Peggy Tomes receives Specialty Pharmacy Service Excellence Award By Hannah Esper

When it comes to patient-facing roles, Peggy Tomes has done it all — welcome calls, refill reminder calls, benefit verifications and more. These days, she’s a resource for all employees of Amber Specialty Pharmacy for her extensive knowledge of Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ regulations and billing procedures. In January, The National Association of Specialty Pharmacy, or NASP, presented Tomes, who is now the senior vice president of auditing and quality assurance at Amber Specialty Pharmacy, with the Specialty Pharmacy Service Excellence Award. The award recognizes an industry professional who isn’t a pharmacist but has demonstrated a commitment to delivering high-quality service and care to patients. Having been with Amber Specialty Pharmacy, a Hy-Vee subsidiary, since the pharmacy’s beginning in 1998, Tomes was recognized for her commitment and passion for patient care throughout her career.

“I’m proud to help our organization uphold our transplant legacy and extend that same level of passionate care to all the disease states we support today.” — Peggy Tomes “When I started with Amber Specialty Pharmacy, it didn’t take long for me to gravitate toward caring for our transplant patients,” Tomes said. “I’m proud to help our organization uphold our transplant legacy and extend that same level of passionate care to all the disease states we support today. Thank

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The Specialty Pharmacy Service Excellence Award recognizes an industry professional who isn’t a pharmacist but has demonstrated a commitment to delivering high-quality service and care to patients.

Peggy Tomes, senior vice president of auditing and quality assurance, Amber Specialty

Pharmacy

you to my peers and NASP for this honor and award.” In addition to performing many client-facing roles, Tomes has lobbied in Washington, and presented to lawmakers and clinical experts on issues that directly impact the lives of transplant patients. Tomes’s voice and involvement were also key in persuading CMS to reassess and ultimately revise its language regarding policy change that affected the shipment of transplant medications. “Peggy is incredibly deserving of this award, and we are happy her peers thought so too,” said Kristin Williams, president of Amber Specialty Pharmacy. “Peggy has been with Amber Specialty Pharmacy since day one and has helped shape some of the most important elements of our business and patient care strategies. This award celebrates and recognizes Peggy’s impact on our patients and the industry at large.” In response to receiving the award, Tomes thanked her fellow Amber Specialty Pharmacy employees on LinkedIn, saying, “I am most thankful to have spent the last 24 years working alongside such compassionate, inspiring people. Each one of you achieves excellence in hundreds of small and big ways — every day — to serve our patients.” Washington-based NASP is the only nonprofit national association representing all stakeholders in the specialty pharmacy industry. Amber Specialty Pharmacy, headquartered in Omaha, Neb., with an additional 20 locations throughout the United States and Puerto Rico, was named the 2020 Specialty Pharmacy of the Year by the organization. dsn

February 2022 DRUGSTORENEWS.COM

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PET SPECIALTY

SUPPLIER PERSPECTIVES

Purina’s Commitment to Pets, People and the Planet By Joe Toscano, Vice President, Trade & Industry Development at Purina At Purina, we are committed to pets, people and the planet we all share. You love your pets and want a safe and clean environment where you can play together for years to come, and so do we. That’s why Purina is committed to the safety and health of our pets, and to our planet. From the soil where our ingredients grow to our manufacturing facilities where our pet food is made, you can be confident that we’re using resources efficiently throughout the journey of your pet’s food. How are we pursuing a more sustainable future? To start, we are working to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent by 2030 and striving for net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Purina is also transitioning away from paper FSIs and focusing instead on digital FSIs. In 2021, Purina’s FSIs were printed on 1.1 billion pieces of paper, which equals roughly 54,217 trees. For 2022, our Dog Chow, Friskies and Beyond brands have all committed to not running paper FSIs. If all of our brands fully transition to digital FSIs, we estimate we could save roughly 136 acres of forest while still offering our consumers great deals on their favorite pet products. When it comes to sustainable business practices, we source ingredients responsibly and continuously work to reduce our energy, water and waste in our operations. Every ingredient in our food serves a purpose. We work to ensure it meets the nutritional needs of your pet. Purina is working with America’s farmers to assess the ongoing challenges facing their community and collaborating to help implement innovative approaches like regenerative agriculture to improve the health of the ecosystem and enhance overall production. Purina is working to help Nestlé source 20 percent of its key ingredients globally from regenerative farming by 2025. We also partner with leading national conservati on organizations like The Nature Conservancy, Ducks Unlimited, and Pheasants Forever to promote healthy ecosystems in sourcing regions

complementing the work done by thousands of farmers. Today, more than 80 percent of Purina’s product portfolio by weight is packaged in recyclable materials. We are working to optimize our packaging with the goal of making the remaining 20 percent reusable or recyclable by 2025. We are also working to incorporate more recycled content into our packages and eliminate unnecessary materials. For instance, our Tidy Cats Naturally Strong cat litter is available in 14 lb and 20 lb jugs that are made with 50 percent post-consumer recycled plastic, and Yesterday’s News clumping and non-clumping cat litters are made with recycled paper. The aluminum cans that our wet dog and cat food come in can be recycled endlessly, resulting in a significant decrease in waste. In fact, recycling 75 percent of all aluminum cans

would prevent 11.8 million metric tons of CO2 emissions, which is why we are working on a program that encourages consumers to recycle their empty cans of wet food. Why does this matter for your store? Research has shown that consumers are choosing brands whose values align with theirs, especially when it comes to sustainability. A September 2021 survey conducted by PwC showed about half of respondents said they consciously consider factors related to sustainability when making purchasing decisions. You can learn more about Purina’s sustainability efforts by visiting purina.com/about-purina/cares. Please contact your Purina sales rep to discuss further and learn how you can get involved.

Purina trademarks are owned by Société des Produits Nestlé S.A.

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COVER STORY

LOOKING

FORWARD EX ECUT IV E S S IZE UP TH E STAT E OF R ETAIL P H ARM ACY I N 2022 By Sandra Levy

T

he pandemic has brought seismic changes to the pharmacy industry. And the second year of the pandemic has brought new obstacles and uncertainties, adding to the challenges that already exist for pharmacy, including DIR fees, declining reimbursement and the requirement to quickly fill a higher volume of prescriptions. Yet, despite these daunting challenges, the industry has been outperforming. As we bid adieu to a year that played havoc with expectations and look forward to the pandemic fading in the rearview mirror, the role of the pharmacist and pharmacies has never been more crucial. DSN asked several pharmacy industry executives and those who provide products and services to pharmacies to weigh in on the state of the pharmacy business. Their answers illustrate that the glass is indeed half full.

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Ranging from the automated prescription fulfillment solution NavixRx™ Compliance Packaging, to the manual Dispill® Medication Packaging System, we will take care of the most time-consuming and often the costliest area of your pharmacy so that you can provide your patients with an easier way to manage multiple prescriptions and stay on track with their medication regimen.

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COVER STORY

Drug Store News: How would you describe the state of pharmacy? Sandra Leal: There have been incredible flexibilities granted to pharmacists during the public health emergency that has created acute awareness of the vital role we play in equitable access for patient care. We are a key part of the public health infrastructure that needs to be supported to extend beyond the pandemic for the secondary crushing wave of deferred care, mental health needs and chronic conditions that will follow. Steve Anderson: NACDS members and their teams — in traditional drug stores, supermarkets and mass retail — have proven themselves again throughout the pandemic as the face of neighborhood health care. They have stayed open; filled gaps in care; rolled out COVID testing; vaccinated against COVID, flu and other diseases; and leveraged and enhanced pharmacies’ ongoing focus on health equity. Government reporting shows that, as of mid-July 2021, 92% of all COVID vaccines were getting to Americans’ arms through the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program. Pharmacies’ vaccinations through state programs take that percentage even higher. Pharmacies continue to lead the way with COVID boosters, expanding to pediatric COVID vaccinations and giving flu vaccinations and other shots. Douglas Hoey: Policymakers and patients are increasingly turning to pharmacy teams as healthcare resources, whether for point-of-care testing services like SARS-CoV-2 diagnostic testing, blood glucose, influenza or rapid strep, or to receive immunizations

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like flu or COVID-19. With around 200 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccines having been administered and reported by pharmacies in the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program (in addition to the millions of additional doses administered by pharmacy teams through state distributions), pharmacy teams have proven to be an effective, dominant force.

Sandra Leal,

president, American Pharmacists Association

Steve Anderson,

president and CEO, National Association of Chain Drug Stores

Jenny Bryant: Like many parts of our healthcare system, pharmacists are experiencing unrelenting pressure in the face of this pandemic. Yet they remain on the front lines, providing heroic service as we battle COVID-19 by operating both testing and vaccination sites. Given their unique position in communities, pharmacists are often acutely aware of the struggles patients can experience. For example, many pharmacists know what it’s like to have patients show up at the pharmacy counter and find they are either unable to afford their medicine or face access restrictions on the treatments their doctors prescribe. Reforms are needed to ensure that patients benefit directly from the rebates, discounts and other payments negotiated on their behalf. Mike McBride: Pharmacists are figuring out many ways to make money beyond dispensing medications. They’re now focused on how they can make money on dispensing care, which will depend a lot on technology that allows not only connection but also coordination for patients. Pharmacists and other healthcare professionals are figuring out the complexities of technology, so they can bring simplicity to health care for their patients. Health care itself isn’t getting simpler, but I think it can be presented as simpler.

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COVER STORY

Clay Courville: Pharmacies continue to experience market pressure from lingering pandemic recovery. Pharmacies are also facing increasing pressures to respond to evolving patient expectations about quality, cost and convenience. This has contributed to growth in digital pharmacies as well as mail order and home delivery services. Eyad Farah: The challenges of managing a pharmacy over the past two years have been significant. Pharmacists continue to manage their business operations despite labor shortages and front-line worker burnout. In addition to these demands, they are meeting the needs of their patients in new ways through COVID-19 testing and vaccines. Debbie Weitzman: Pharmacies need to navigate the shortage of front-end staff and skilled pharmacy technicians with tools and services that help meet the patient demand for clinical services in the most time-efficient and cost-effective manner possible while maintaining quality service. Advocacy for provider status legislation under Medicare Part B remains a top priority to ensure Medicare beneficiaries can access critical point-ofcare services from their community pharmacist. Danny Sanchez: Because of COVID-19, retail pharmacy is now expanding as a new epicenter of health care. We believe the recent pharmacy industry trends will continue strongly in 2022 and beyond. A major factor fueling these shifts is the other historic trend that has been transforming both the practice and business of pharmacy — digitization. Ken Whittemore Jr.: In my 40-plus years in the pharmacy profession, the opportunities that have been presented in the last 18 months are unparalleled. The increased professional demands of COVID-19

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have spotlighted areas where technology can help create a more streamlined and efficient workflow while also improving patient care.

Douglas Hoey,

CEO, National Community Pharmacists Association

Amy Baxter: The past year saw slower retail prescription growth due to a lag in patients seeing clinicians for routine wellness and delayed elective surgeries. By providing vaccinations and point-ofcare testing, pharmacies are drawing consumers/ patients into stores.

DSN: How would you describe challenges for pharmacies and pharmacists? Sandra Leal: Historically, the public health infrastructure has been woefully underinvested. Pharmacists too, as part of this infrastructure, have not received the level of support and recognition to sustain clinical practice models in a way to allow for them to expand and create more reach. It is time for this to change.

Jenny Bryant, executive vice president of policy, research and membership, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America

Steve Anderson: A key takeaway is that, if pharmacies had not been successful in urging public policy that is critical for pharmacies’ operational efficiencies, today’s challenges amid a lingering global pandemic would be even more daunting. With virtually all industries confronting employee shortages, and particularly challenging environments throughout all healthcare settings, government actions urged and secured throughout the pandemic are proving essential. These include enhanced roles for pharmacy technicians and

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COVER STORY

vice president of partner relations, Upsher-Smith Laboratories

Clay Courville: According to the 2022 Medication Access Report, 77% of pharmacists now regularly give immunizations, 37% have newly taken on helping patients find affordable options, 42% now perform patient follow-up calls and 44% are managing a prescription home delivery program. Increased workloads due to patient care duties, extended hours during the pandemic and inadequate staffing have contributed to a surge in pharmacist burnout.

Clay Courville,

Eyad Farah: Yet one of the biggest challenges to pharmacists today is being fairly reimbursed for the quality care they provide patients. As pharmacists routinely counsel patients on medication and health issues, new payment structures are needed to support pharmacists’ role as healthcare providers, allowing them to receive consistent reimbursement for disease state management, medication optimization and other valuable preventive services.

interns, the ability to put patients over paperwork, opportunities to leverage technology and more. Pharmacy flexibilities and authorities put into place during the pandemic should not be rolled back but rather expanded. Douglas Hoey: The growing market trend for pharmacist-led offerings will help support NCPA’s aim of changing the pharmacy payment model to a system that includes fair payment for the drugs we dispense and recognition for pharmacists’ contributions to better health care. It also would result in simplicity for consumers, who are currently forced to navigate the complex, convoluted covert payment model to get their prescriptions and access care. Jenny Bryant: Growing consolidation in health care has increased the market power of a few insurers and PBMs, often at the expense of patients and front-line providers. Restrictive pharmacy networks and the closing of local neighborhood pharmacies can result in patients losing access to the longstanding relationships built with a pharmacist they trust. This growing emergence of “pharmacy deserts,” particularly among communities of color, can exacerbate healthcare disparities and create access challenges for patients. Mike McBride: Many pharmacists are exhausted from “running hard and fast” since COVID hit almost two years ago. And new hires are hard to find, due to the state of the U.S. labor market that’s affecting almost every industry. But besides staffing shortages, there also are bound to be shortages of certain generic drugs, as pricing gets compressed to the point where companies opt to stop making certain unprofitable products. Pharmacists are going to be on the front lines of solving this challenge.

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Mike McBride,

vice president and general manager of pharmacy automation, CoverMyMeds

Eyad Farah, president, Health Mart and Health Mart Atlas

Debbie Weitzman: Patients value the personalized, high-touch care from their community pharmacist but also want the convenience of on-demand services. Cardinal Health is developing innovative solutions that provide pharmacies the ability to outsource costly and time-consuming compliance packaging prescription fulfillment, expand digital services to provide online shopping for over-thecounter products and utilize digital workflow tools for the scheduling of point-of-care appointments. Danny Sanchez: Powerful digital technologies that automate everything, from patient engagement and clinical operations to financial management and population health programs, are empowering

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COVER STORY

pharmacies to thrive and grow amidst these new healthcare challenges and opportunities. Other challenges on the horizon include expanding provider status for pharmacists and streamlining pharmacy workflows. Pharmacies can only meet today’s growing healthcare challenges if they have the right technology. An example of that is EnlivenHealth’s new Personalized IVR solution. Ken Whittemore Jr.: Patient needs will always continue to evolve, as will the number of questions and demands that are directed at pharmacists and pharmacies. This will especially be the case during a health crisis like COVID19, but it can be expected during calmer times as well. These growing administrative burdens often detract from pharmacists’ expanding role as care team members.

DSN: How would you describe your expectations for the industry in the future?

Debbie Weitzman,

president, pharmaceutical distribution and The Medicine Shoppe International, Cardinal Health

Cecelia Byers: Inefficiencies in the specialty prescribing and fulfillment process can spread administrative and financial burden throughout the patient’s care system and increase the risk of patient nonadherence. But technology exists today that can help simplify the process and help get patients started on much-needed medication faster. Amy Baxter: Supply chain constraints and increasing costs will challenge operational efforts to keep shelves stocked while controlling margins. Attracting new employees and retaining talent will be a priority to ensure continuity of service and care from the register on through to prescription fulfillment.

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Danny Sanchez,

senior vice president and general manager, EnlivenHealth, an Omnicell Innovation

Sandra Leal: We need to create the future we want to see. I personally see a bright future for pharmacy because of our evolving roles and our impact on patient care. I hope that one of the silver linings of this very dark time is that everyone had an opportunity to see exactly how pharmacy unequivocally contributed. Steve Anderson: Government leadership is sorely needed to ensure pharmacies can continue to be there for Americans in times of need from family emergencies to global pandemics. Much has been made of the statement: “There is a pharmacy within 5 miles of 90% of Americans.” However, unworkable and unsustainable pharmacy reimbursement models, which jeopardize pharmacies of all sizes and formats, risk the public health assets that came through when the nation needed them most. Even as the industry advocates for the public policy that is needed for pharmacies’ viability and to leverage their full value for all Americans, the industry continues to innovate. Douglas Hoey: The CPESN USA clinically integrated network of pharmacies is a solution and in many ways is the future of pharmacy. It improves quality, lowers costs and can negotiate pharmacy provider services with payers, as opposed to the middlemen who continue to make things difficult for independent pharmacies and patients alike. Among our priorities has been ending retroactive pharmacy DIR fees. With a recent rule proposed by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services,

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COVER STORY

we’re closer than ever to accomplishing that goal. There’s a lot to do to ensure the best possible rule is finalized for plan year 2023. We will be working with our partners, members and champions in Congress toward that end, and to continue changing the pharmacy payment model. Jenny Bryant: As treatments for COVID shift from hospital administration to more accessible retail options, many patients will have the convenience of going to their local pharmacy to pick up their prescriptions. Pharmacies will continue to play a significant role in helping to end this pandemic by providing the first line of treatment against the disease. Mike McBride: Technology, again, will be key. Pharmacists are finding new ways to monetize the dispensing of care. In general, the future will be bright for those who are willing to innovate and collaborate well with others. But overall, pharmacists will continue to benefit from their unique, historic relationship with patients. Clay Courville: Pharmacists have proven their value as a member of the patient care team, especially while delivering critical front-line care throughout the pandemic. As pharmacists continue a path to practice at the top of their license, optimizing operations and reimbursements are paramount. Pharmacy automation can help simplify virtually every task that doesn’t involve direct contact with a patient — including prescription intake and dispense. Eyad Farah: Fortunately, the industry is moving more and more to value-based reimbursement and we are at a stage where community pharmacy must

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prepare for value-based care. We need to focus on demonstrating the impact pharmacies have on patient outcomes and reducing total cost of care.

Ken Whittemore Jr., vice president, professional and regulatory affairs, Surescripts

Debbie Weitzman: We see patients connecting with their pharmacist seamlessly in the pharmacy aisle, in their home or travel destination via a simple scan of a QR code from their mobile device, with the patient receiving a consistent experience from their most trusted healthcare provider regardless of location. Danny Sanchez: Pharmacies now have an unprecedented opportunity to move to the Main Street of health care. This new era of pharmacy will be an essential player in advancing the necessary transformation of healthcare access, quality outcomes and affordability.

Cecelia Byers,

specialty clinical product advisor, Surescripts

Ken Whittemore Jr.: In 2022, I expect to see greater adoption of new health information technology tools that allow pharmacists to remain focused on being caregivers. Cecelia Byers: The future of specialty prescribing and fulfillment is here, thanks to the help of advanced technology. In 2022, we’ll see greater adoption of solutions simplifying the inherently complex process of these promising and pricey medications. Amy Baxter: As automated prescription filling processes free up pharmacist bandwidth, opportunities will emerge to expand patient care services, for patient monitoring, vaccinations/immunizations, chronic disease management and patient education. dsn

Amy Baxter, CEO and chief medical officer, Pain Care Labs

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Moisture Moves

Skin care trends in 2022 focus on healthy skin, with an emphasis on hydration and antiaging

Harsh winter weather elevated the hunt for hydrating skin care solutions that were exacerbated by the past two years of slathering on drying antibacterial products. Consumers are ready for moisturization. Constant Zoom calls also made consumers face the reality of aging. “Attention to skin health during the pandemic made people more aware of skin hygiene and care,” said Lauren Brindley, group vice president of beauty and personal care at Walgreens. “That translated to increased sales of premium products to support regimens.” Recent IRI data supports the growth of hydration and antiaging. Facial moisturizer sales soared 15% in mass stores last year, and facial antiaging products jumped 6%. Retailers are making it easier for consumers to find hydrating skin care as well as ingredients to help halt the appearance of aging. Many are remerchandising departments to cut through the confusion, while others are engaging the help of beauty consultants and pharmacists. Consumers were introduced to mass skin ranges that are as good or better than pricier options. At the same time, the blurring of mass and class charges ahead. Retailers such as Target can now sell Clinique, MAC, Tula and Shiseido in select stores with Ulta shops. Kohl’s has rights to Tatcha, Drunk Elephant and Fenty via its alliance with Sephora. It was the industry making the boundaries in the past, said Larisa Jensen, the NPD Group’s vice president and beauty industry advisor. “Consumers don’t think less of a brand if it is sold at mass,” she said.

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Perhaps no retailer knows the cross-shopping habits of consumers in skin care better than Ulta Beauty. “The consumer is not walking in and saying ‘this is a mass brand’ or ‘this is a prestige brand.’ They want to find great products that are innovative,” said Monica Arnaudo, chief merchandising officer at Ulta. CVS is adding new brands that reflect the direction of skin care, which in tandem with hydration and antiaging includes folding in safer ingredients. Andrea Harrison, vice president of merchandising, beauty and personal care at CVS, used GoodSkin MD as a prime example. The lineup is safe for sensitive skin but has a whimsical side rather than an overly clinical look. Heritage skin care brands, she said, have done an admirable job of stepping up efforts to deliver ingredients that many consumers crave, such as retinol and hyaluronic acid, and beauty from within in the form of vitamins and supplements. At Walgreens, there is a focus on healthy skin, which requires both hydration and antiaging elements. “It is a great opportunity for dermatological-led skin care brands in the mass market,” Brindley said, noting the additional foot traffic for vaccines and other healthcare needs.

Private label is growing rapidly, and consumers are now trusting store brands to give a product as good as any national brand at more affordable pricing. — Greg Rubin, CEO, Garcoa Laboratories Walgreens also has the advantage of pharmacists and beauty consultants, who are both trained in skin care and who collaborate to get consumers to the right solution. “Pharmacists give a warm handoff to the beauty consultant, who can walk with customers to find the right solutions,” she said. At Rite Aid, Erik Keptner, chief merchandising and marketing officer, has seen the movement to consumers shopping by ingredients first rather than only brand. He said he believes 2022 will be the year of ingredients. Brands are taking the ingredient story to heart. “Hydration is in our name,” said Psyche Terry, founder of Urban Hydration, a brand

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gaining shelf space across many retailers. Walgreens has the largest presentation in mass retailing, Brindley said. Urban Hydration is now extending its products beyond facial care to deliver the same plant-based formulas for the entire body, Terry said. In particular, the new formulas address the body equivalent of maskne — or “bacne.” The formulas include peach, papaya and vanilla, and range from hand creams to body oil. Versed is also taking its facial capabilities to the body with its new Firm Ground Retinol Body Lotion. The company said the daily body moisturizer is formulated to deliver retinol results from the neck down while hydrating the skin. It is sold online and in Target.

For the year-ended 2021 in mass stores, facial moisturizer sales soared

the highest in the skin care category.

Skin Care Buzzwords in 2022 Skin barrier ● Sensitive skin ● Microbiome ● Vitamin C ● Hyaluronic acid ● Blue light protection ● Clean ● Hydration ● Hybrid skin care ● Foundations

adults said they had been unable to access the skin care or information they needed. At Garcoa Laboratories, CEO Greg Rubin has a checklist of ingredients he said he believes will propel skin care sales, including those addressing the microbiome and ones with detoxing capability, ozone protection, collagen builders, hyaluronic acid and the venerable vitamin C. “Let’s face it, everyone wants to cure wrinkles, blemishes, scars, dark circles, crepey necks and more. Masks and scrubs are superhot in the category, and we will see more simple ingredients soon taking over the category,” Rubin said. Adding to the hot ingredients for 2022 is bakuchiol, which is considered a “softer” alternative to retinol. It is featured in Sky Organics’ Youth Boost collection, which is suited for sensitive skin, according to the company. Ingestible beauty continues to create buzz. Yamit Sadok, senior director of marketing at Twinlab and Reserveage, said she is confident the market will be “very receptive” this year to using vitamins and supplements to benefit skin. The company is introducing natural, sugar-free, vegetarian gummy products.

Beauty Icons CeraVe has established itself as one of the powerhouses in mass skin care with its items topping the sales charts in almost every segment, as tracked by IRI. Its new CeraVe Skin Renewing Nightly Exfoliating Treatment has been a fastgrowing addition to its Anti-Aging range, the L’Oréal-owned brand says. The new chemical exfoliator helps smooth fine lines and reduce the appearance of wrinkles. Neutrogena was a trailblazer in hydration with its Hydro Boost range. Last year, the company initiated a groundbreaking campaign, For People with Skin, a campaign designed to lower the barriers posed to consumers due to race, healthcare access or their socioeconomic standings. The idea behind the concept was Neutrogena’s Skin Health in America survey, which revealed that 62% of American

Retailers are also enthused about legacy brands’ expansion into skin care, such as CoverGirl’s new Clean Fresh Skincare, an affordable, mostly under $15 line encompassing cleansers, moisturizers and more. “CoverGirl is an icon in the makeup aisle with a deep heritage in skin-forward products, so breaking into the skin care category is a natural evolution for the brand,” said Andrew Stanleick, executive vice president of Coty North America. Dove is also serious about helping consumers age gracefully with its Body Love collection. The Unilever brand is focusing on body positivity. One example is Age Embrace, a pre-cleanse shower butter peptide serum that brings together all of the sales drivers in skin care — hydration and positive ways to deal with the results of aging on the skin. Retailers and brands concur that consumers have been complaining more about skin sensitivity. Lanaia Edwards, vice president of marketing at Alaffia, explained that this is resulting in a focus on skin preservation and transparency. The brand is unveiling innovations in skin care, bath and body this year, including an Authentic African Black Soap Facial Skin Care collection, inspired by its African Black Soap, which is handcrafted at its women-led Alaffia Village Co-op in Togo, West Africa. “We anticipate that ‘skin kindness’ and formulas that support the skin’s natural moisture barriers will continue to rise in demand as we begin to assimilate ourselves back into a more inclusive community lifestyle and venture outside into environments that are less predictable,” Edwards said. dsn

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PHARMACY: GENERICS

Overcoming Obstacles Despite challenges, generics companies optimistic for 2022 By Mark Hamstra

As the COVID-19 pandemic drags into its third year, supply chain issues and labor-related challenges continue to wreak havoc across a range of industries around the world. Makers of generic pharmaceuticals are not immune to these problems, but those interviewed by Drug Store News said they have made some adjustments to their supply chains — including

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changes in transportation and sourcing strategies — and are confident in their outlook for the year ahead. DSN spoke with executives from Aurobindo, Amneal Pharmaceuticals, Ascend Labs and Alembic Pharmaceuticals about their challenges in 2022 and the outlook for the industry, including their retail pharmacy partners.

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PHARMACY: GENERICS

Drug Store News: What are the challenges you see in the year ahead for your company? Paul McMahon, president, commercial operations, Aurobindo Some challenges that are out of our control include port staffing issues, container availability, and sea and freight capabilities. The global supply chain crisis has forced us to look at alternative transportation methods. Despite these challenges, Aurobindo has been able to leverage a strong vertically integrated supply chain with less reliance on CMOs (contract manufacturing organizations) and external suppliers. Aurobindo is uniquely positioned to manage supply chain risk by controlling all major aspects of the pharmaceutical supply chain. As the pandemic continues, Aurobindo’s global teams are keeping products flowing as seamlessly as possible in terms of staffing, production, and global and domestic logistics, so that patients get the medicines they need and depend on. Aurobindo’s integrated supply chain is long and complex, yet nimble enough to quickly shift with market factors.

Andy Boyer, executive vice president, chief commercial officer, generics Amneal Pharmaceuticals The key to success for manufacturers in growing their generics business is innovation, particularly in more complex product areas such as injectables and ophthalmics. In these complex product areas, there tends to be higher barriers to entry and thus more unmet need and less competition. At Amneal, we are constantly focused on our innovation pipeline — from the selection of the right products to develop and how we develop and manufacture them internally to how we can quickly bring them to market with high-quality standards. The formula is clear, but it comes down to execution.

John Dillaway, executive vice president, Ascend Labs The biggest challenges are twofold: The first revolves around logistics and the continuing effects of the global pandemic. Early on, we benefited from the sizable inventory of finished goods we had on hand. However, as the pandemic has progressed, we have seen an impact on the supply of materials that we need, from API (active pharmaceutical ingredient) suppliers all the way to bottle and bottle top suppliers. We continue to qualify additional API sources in an ongoing risk-prevention effort. We are also beefing up our investment in components to insulate ourselves as best as possible from shortages. The second challenge I see revolves around the increased focus on identifying and eliminating any unwanted impurities in products such as the NDMA impurity

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Andy Boyer,

executive vice president, chief commercial officer, generics

Amneal Pharmaceuticals Founded: 2002 Headquarters: Bridgewater, N.J. Number of employees: Approximately 6,000 worldwide Types of products offered: Generics and specialty brand products (with biosimilars slated later this year).

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PHARMACY: GENERICS

that has affected several molecules. While Ascend has not been impacted largely by these, all manufacturers need to be diligent.

Eric Purcell, vice president, sales and marketing, Alembic Pharmaceuticals Disruptions to pharmaceutical supply chains are always prevalent, and I think more so now. During the peak of the pandemic, I think we saw fewer FDA inspections and warning letters going out to marginal suppliers. If the FDA gets back to doing more inspections, I think you’ll start seeing more supply disruption from marginal suppliers. We’re already seeing some of those folks not being able to supply, and we’ve picked up share. But, I think it’s key for us and for industry in general to make sure there’s enough supply out there so that patients can get access to and can afford these medications because when there are supply disruptions, pricing goes up. We try to have 90 days of supply here in the United States, plus another 60 days of safety stock in India. Now, there’s another whole level of complexity with the labor challenges — making sure enough workers are there to pick, pack and ship the products.

The key to success for manufacturers in growing their generics business is innovation, particularly in more complex product areas such as injectables and ophthalmics. — Andy Boyer, executive vice president, chief commercial officer, generics, Amneal Pharmaceuticals

Paul McMahon,

president, commercial operations

Aurobindo Founded: 1986 Headquarters: Hyderabad, India; U.S. headquarters: East Windsor, N.J. Number of employees: More than 23,000 globally Types of products offered: Generic orals, generic injectables, OTC products, oncology and vaccines. Specialty products under development.

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PHARMACY: GENERICS

Drug Store News: What’s in store for your retail customers in the year ahead in terms of generics? Paul McMahon, Aurobindo Aurobindo Pharma USA looks forward to launching many more products in the coming months as the company continues to expand its portfolio. As of Dec. 31, 2021, we have received final approval for 430 ANDAs, tentative approval for 29 ANDAs and 184 ANDAs are under review, bringing our total filings to 643. Azelastine Hydrochloride Nasal Spray 0.1% (137 mcg per spray) is Aurobindo’s first product launch in the United States utilizing a pump nasal spray delivery system. The development and launch of Azelastine demonstrates Aurobindo’s strategic push into alternative delivery systems, which in addition to pump nasal sprays include metered dose inhalers, prefilled syringes and transdermal patches. In addition to our robust organic pipeline, we recently acquired a portfolio of 45 product families, as well as a new, FDA-approved 269,000-sq.-ft. manufacturing facility located in Puerto Rico. The facility is designated for manufacturing oral solid dose products, both tablets and capsules, with both regular and high-potency capabilities. The acquired products will bolster our already industry-leading portfolio and ensure Aurobindo a steady stream of new competitive medicines to launch for the foreseeable future.

“The global supply chain crisis has forced us to look at alternative transportation methods.” — Paul McMahon, president, commercial operations, Aurobindo

Andy Boyer, Amneal Pharmaceuticals Innovation in complex generics continues as a key growth driver for Amneal. More than 85% of our generics products in development are non-oral solid products, and an increasing share of that is drugdevice combinations, injectables, ophthalmics and inhalation. In 2021, we launched 28 new products, and we expect to launch another 20 to 30 in 2022. In particular, we remain committed to the expansion of our generic institutional injectables offerings. Amneal is also gaining large-molecule momentum with three oncology biosimilars — Neupogen, Neulasta and Avastin — all filed and under review with the FDA, and all are expected to launch in 2022. In early 2022, we announced our planned acquisition of the baclofen franchise from Saol Therapeutics, which will help support our biosimilar launches.

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John Dillaway,

executive vice president

Ascend Labs Founded: 2000 Headquarters: Parsippany, N.J. Number of employees: 32 Types of products offered: Generic prescription products

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PHARMACY: GENERICS

“As the pandemic has progressed, we have seen an impact on the supply of materials that we need, from API suppliers all the way to bottle and bottle top suppliers.” — John Dillaway, executive vice president, Ascend Laboratories

John Dillaway, Ascend Labs I think retailers will be affected by the same issues that are affecting our company, but hopefully not to the same extent, as there are typically multiple choices for them on any given generic molecule. That can nonetheless cause them issues, as the size, color or shape of a molecule may differ from one manufacturer to another, causing questions or concern among their patients. The FDA has done a good job throughout the pandemic in keeping up with products submitted for approval. Ascend has continued to receive approvals on new molecules throughout the pandemic and now markets over 80 molecules consisting of almost 300 SKUs of various strengths and sizes. Ascend has a robust pipeline of over 100 additional molecules at various stages of development.

“The biggest challenge for retail customers is consistent supply.” — Eric Purcell, vice president, sales and marketing, Alembic Pharmaceuticals

Eric Purcell, Alembic Pharmaceuticals The biggest challenge for retail customers is consistent supply. Supply of high-quality, affordable generics is important to the pharmacies, pharmacists and, ultimately, the patients. Alembic is focused on providing pharmacies with excellent supply service levels. Alembic supply is built on a foundation of vertical integration, and strong and flexible manufacturing capabilities. Adequate inventory levels and strong planning have been key pillars to our ability to meet ever-changing market conditions. Alembic has invested significantly in pipeline and manufacturing capabilities, and now has dedicated facilities for solid oral dose, dermatology, ophthalmics, injectables and oncology injectables, as well as facilities for APIs. dsn

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Eric Purcell,

vice president, sales and marketing

Alembic Pharmaceuticals Founded: Alembic Pharmaceuticals, 1907; U.S. Alembic Pharmaceuticals, 2015 Headquarters: Bedminster, N.J. Number of employees: 10,000-plus overseas; 13 in the United States Types of products offered: Generic pharmaceuticals

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PHARMACY: DIABETES

Diabetes Goes Digital Innovative technologies are revolutionizing diabetes care and monitoring By Debby Garbato

In January 1922, a Canadian doctor and two scientists successfully administered insulin to diabetics for the first time, halting progress of a disease that had been a sure death sentence. Since then, Type 1 diabetes treatment and monitoring have come a long way, thanks largely to better insulin formulations and blood glucose monitoring. But only in recent years has technology allowed diabetes patients to more closely and continuously track and compare glucose levels and other information, and to inject insulin more comfortably. Bluetooth-enabled smart pens, for one, are experiencing widespread adoption. Connected to a smart phone app, they automatically upload insulin timing and dosage information. They can interface with continuous glucose monitors, or CGMs, which garner real time glucose level data. In addition, diabetes patients are benefitting from CGM devices implanted under the skin. These provide continuous glucose readings and send alarms if levels become unsafe. Needles have become more sophisticated as well, with shorter, thinner varieties affording more comfortable injections. “People with diabetes are increasingly likely to use a growing number of connected devices,” said Janice MacLeod, head of clinical advocacy, global professional affairs and clinical

education at Medtronic Diabetes. “Diabetes is a chronic, largely self-managed condition. Devices and apps collect patientgenerated data that can be shared with the care team. This opens the door to remote monitoring and more frequent, brief — but relevant — data-driven continuous care models.” Technology has made products more palatable and easier to use, encouraging people to more closely follow treatment regimens. “It’s not that we don’t have a great group of medications and devices; it’s how do we get people to use them as prescribed?” said Francine Kaufman, chief medical officer at Senseonics. “Making innovations easier to use, less painful or with fewer side effects drives adherence, generating better outcomes.”

Convenient Alternative This was the initial strategy behind insulin pens. They were introduced in 1986 as a more comfortable, discreet, accurate and convenient syringe alternative. Initially, they were not monitoring devices. Then in 2007, “smart” memory-enabled pens were introduced, followed by smart “connected” pens in 2017. In 2020, Medtronic launched the first integrated smart pen by combining its Bluetooth-enabled InPen with Guardian Connect CGM data.

(From left to right): Senseonic’s Eversense Continuous Glucose Monitoring System provides continuous glucose monitoring for 90 days and Medtronic’s integrated smart pen features Bluetooth-enabled InPen with Guardian Connect CGM data.

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PHARMACY: DIABETES

Medtronic’s system includes a small sensor worn under the skin for up to seven days and a discreet Bluetooth transmitter. It tracks data in real time, including glucose readings, past and current insulin doses and recent meals. It also provides dose recommendations and reminders. Information can be shared with medical professionals. “Automatic dose capture, missed dose alerts and individualized dosing decision support provided by devices are key in modernizing care,” MacLeod said. Marketed by Ascensia, Senseonic’s Eversense Continuous Glucose Monitoring System provides continuous glucose monitoring for 90 days and is the only long-term implantable device available, Kaufman said. It consists of a fully implantable CGM sensor with a smart transmitter placed above it on the skin and a mobile app for displaying glucose values, trends and alerts. Glucose values are displayed every five minutes. Information can be shared with up to five people. “The biggest evolution since the 1990s has been in the CGM space,” Kaufman said. “With the first CGMs, only physicians saw data. Now, there’s an implantable device where you don’t feel anything following the day it’s inserted. There’s nothing to insert or reorder. This drives innovation.”

From an evolutionary standpoint, more pharmaceuticals have been introduced in the last 10 years than in the past 50. — Anu Rajora, director of medical affairs, HTL-Strefa

Smaller, Thinner Needles Technology is impacting injection safety and comfort, too. HTL-Strefa’s Droplet Micron 34-gauge pen needle is 3.5 mm long, the “shortest, thinnest available,” said Anu Rajora, director of medical affairs. Droplet Micron is designed to minimize discomfort and pain by reducing penetration force by as much as 50%. Discomfort can prevent patients from properly following treatment regimens. “By removing barriers like pain and apprehension, patients can stay adherent and persistent on insulin therapies and outcomes can improve,” she said.

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Beyond Medical Devices Innovation is impacting more than CGMs and injection equipment, with special foods, beverages and foot care products becoming better tasting and more comfortable for diabetics. Over the past five years, The Simply Good Foods Company, marketer of the Atkins and Quest lines of low-carb, low-sugar products, has been using more natural, better-tasting cane sugar substitutes. “There’s more natural alternatives than before that don’t spike blood sugar,” said Colette Heimowitz, vice president of nutrition communication and education. Substitutes include monk fruit, stevia and, more recently, allulose, said Jonathan Clinthorne, director of nutrition. “They’re more widely accepted and taste profiles have improved. For a long time, sugar substitutes had an aftertaste or you could tell they were artificial.” Approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2020 for food use, allulose is a rare sugar occurring in raisins and figs. Unlike xylitol or erythritol, it does not cause stomach upset. Not every sugar substitute works well with everything. For example, allulose caramelizes well and keeps food moist; stevia does not. “It’s a proposition of what you’re trying to do,” Clinthorne said. In foot care, Skineez is revolutionizing diabetic socks with a product impregnated with a 24-hour skin protectant containing shea butter, retinol, apricot, rose hip oils and vitamin E. The moisturizing socks help prevent blisters and skin breakdowns, which are problematic for diabetics. The domestically made, FDA-approved socks also wick moisture and resist odors. Every 10 washes, socks should be remoisturized with Skineez’s Garment Spray (sold separately for $19.99 at 50 sprays per bottle). Skineez also offers compression socks of varying firmness. “Average diabetic socks are scratchy and dry,” said Michelle Moran, founder and CEO. “You put these on and they start working. There are many copycat brands, but not much innovation.”

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PHARMACY: DIABETES

(Left) HTL-Strefa’s Droplet Micron 34-gauge pen needle is 3.5 mm long and designed to minimize discomfort and pain by reducing penetration force by as much as 50%. (Right) UltiGuard Safe Pack Sharps Container & Mailback Disposal Kit contains 100 pen needles or syringes, a sharps disposal container and a prepaid mailer for returning used needles to UltiMed for disposal. Owen Mumford’s Unifine Ultra pen needle uses a slide-lock action mechanism to secure the needle at both ends.

Owen Mumford, which makes needles for Medtronic’s pens, is emphasizing ergonomics and safety with its new Unifine Ultra. A flatter base provides a better grip while a slide lock action mechanism covers the needle after use and facilitates removal from the pen. Siliconization of needles improves skin penetration. Casey Pflieger, director of retail sales, said Unifine Ultra works well for people with nerve damage, which affects dexterity. “It can be hard to unscrew a tiny needle from a pen. Covering it prevents you from sticking yourself.” UltiMed is addressing ease of use with its UltiGuard Safe Pack Sharps Container & Mailback Disposal Kit. Launched this month, the kit contains 100 pen needles or syringes, a sharps disposal container and a prepaid mailer for returning used needles to UltiMed for disposal. California spurred the Introduction of the product when the state passed SB 212, which requires consumers to send used needles back to suppliers for safe disposal. “It’s definitely easy to use,” said Holly Hartshorn, director of marketing. “People with diabetes already have many things to manage. And it’s an excellent way to ensure sharps stay out of waste streams.” UltiMed also emphasizes injection comfort with pen needles measuring 4 mm by 32-gauge. “They’re super tiny,” Hartshorn added. “Needles continue getting smaller. We’ve also improved flow rate.” Pharmacists: A Hub of Knowledge Pharmacists are playing an increasingly fundamental role in diabetes care and management. Many

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Making innovations easier to use, less painful or with fewer side effects drives adherence, generating better outcomes. — Francine Kaufman, chief medical officer, Ascensia Diabetes Care

have received additional certification through the Board for Diabetes Care and Education and other specialized groups on how to counsel diabetes patients and help them better understand care plans and technologies. Some retailers also employ dietitians and diabetes educators and conduct diabetes screenings and special consultations. “The pharmacist’s role is growing and evolving,” Kaufman said. “They are no longer somebody behind the counter who you rarely see. They’re discussing use and contraindications of medications and use of technologies.” Patients interact with pharmacists more frequently than with doctors. Pharmacists are also more accessible. “Pharmacists are one of the most trusted professionals,” Rajora said. “They advocate for the well-being of people with diabetes. Patients visit pharmacists seven times more annually than physicians, putting pharmacists in a unique position for impactful interventions to advance care and improved outcomes. As a pharmacist myself, I’m inspired by the community outreach and in-pharmacy consultations conducted by my peers.” On both the pharmacy and product innovation ends, diabetes care is a far cry from what it was a few decades ago. “From an evolutionary standpoint, more pharmaceuticals have been introduced in the last 10 years than in the past 50,” Rajora said. “I’ve been practicing 40-something years,” Kaufman said. “We’re a huge galaxy from where we were. It’s all so much more manageable.” dsn

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2/1/22 3:54 PM


HEALTH: SLEEP

The Search for Sleep Fatigued consumers are driving innovation in ingredients, formats and other features in the sleep products category By Nora Caley

Whether it’s due to worries about the pandemic, the economy or just day-to-day tribulations, people are losing sleep. The American Sleep Association, citing figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and others, reports that 50 million to 70 million U.S. adults have a sleep disorder, insomnia being the most common. Also, 35% of adults say they get less than seven hours of sleep during a 24-hour period, and nearly 38% of people report that they unintentionally fall asleep during the day. Consumers are seeking solutions to help them sleep

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“Sleep is not a one-sizefits-all issue.” — Bryan Donaldson, executive vice president of sales, Pharmavite

soundly so they can function safely and effectively when they are awake. Manufacturers are developing iterations of successful products, launching items with less familiar ingredients and formulating products that provide additional benefits. According to data from Nutrition Business Journal, sales of sleep supplements were estimated at $1.25 billion in 2021 with 13.7% growth. Growth spiked to record levels in 2020 as a result of the pandemic, at 36.6%. Also according to Nutrition Business Journal, melatonin is the

February 2022 DRUGSTORENEWS.COM

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HEALTH: SLEEP

Sales of sleep supplements were estimated at

$1.25 billion

in 2021 with 13.7% growth. largest ingredient for sleep at $590 million in sales. Combination herbal formulas have been trending as well, with 117.3% growth in 2020. Consumers are increasingly looking for sleep aids to help them battle corona-somnia, according to Olly brand marketing. People have increased stress levels and trouble sleeping, and are actively taking steps to fall asleep quickly and stay asleep. While the category is booming, manufacturers said they hope to use qualitative and quantitative research to figure out what consumers want in sleep products and other supplements. Olly strives to make vitamins and supplements that are delightful, according to brand marketing, so that people enjoy taking them and are more likely to add them to their routine. Among the important attributes are taste, texture and size. Products with dual health benefits also are driving consumer interest. Olly recently launched Muscle Recovery Sleep, which helps consumers get a good night’s sleep and helps to restore sore, overworked muscles.

Potential for Growth This desire for added benefits is contributing to the category’s expansion. “Sleep is not a one-size-fits-all issue,” said Bryan Donaldson, executive vice president of sales at Pharmavite. “That key insight has driven product innovation in the sleep category with SKUs designed to support specific sleep issues.” Among the company’s Nature Made brand offerings is Back to Sleep, which contains melatonin; L-theanine — which Donaldson said is clinically shown to help relax the mind; and GABA, shown to help support a calm and relaxed mental state. The product is designed to help people who struggle with racing thoughts that prevent them from falling asleep. Another trend is a format that has been popular

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“We rarely spot a snoring banner or label in any retail sleep set.” — John Ende, executive vice president of sales and marketing, Rhinomed

in several VMS segments: gummies. Donaldson noted that over the last nine months, gummies have been the biggest growth driver in sleep and now represent 56% of that segment. Pharmavite has been working with its retail partners to create in-store and online programs to help consumers identify a product that meets their needs. Retailers also can bring attention to the category by merchandising sleep products in secondary locations outside the VMS section, or in endcaps near the pharmacy section. People are likely looking for multiple items when they shop for sleep products. According to the Council for Responsible Nutrition, or CRN, in its 2021 Consumer Survey on Dietary Supplements, 17% of adult supplement users in the United States reported taking products to support their sleep health, up three percentage points compared with 2020. Also, 14% of adult supplement users in the U.S. reported taking products to support their brain health, and 49% of these brain health users reported taking products to improve sleep.

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HEALTH: SLEEP

CRN said that popular ingredients in supplements for sleep health include melatonin, used by

of sleep health users, CBD (22%), magnesium (21%), lavender (17%) and chamomile (16%). Melatonin blends are growing in popularity. “There is strong consumer interest in combining sleep plus another benefit ingredient,” said Chris Hughes, director of sales planning, operations and category management at Chatsworth, Calif.-based Natrol. The brand’s Sleep + Calm includes L-theanine and Sleep + Immune includes elderberry and zinc, and are two top-selling new products. Hughes also said that Kids Melatonin is outperforming the overall category and the higher strength SKUs are also thriving. Gut health is also important to consumers. Functional food company So Good So You, which makes immune-boosting probiotic juice shots, offers a Sleep shot with cold-pressed honeydew and pineapple juice, herbal California poppy, lavender and butterfly pea flowers, and one billion probiotic CFUs to support digestive and immune health. “These ingredients help to relax the body and calm anxious thoughts,” said co-founder and executive chair Rita Katona. “California poppy extract — the hero ingredient in our popular Sleep shot — works without causing drowsiness, a side effect consumers might experience from other available sleep aids.” Retailers have an opportunity to expand their sleep sets. “Because everyone is affected in a unique way by different ingredients, it’s essential to offer a diverse portfolio of product types and ingredients from which consumers can choose,” Katona said. CRN said that popular ingredients in supplements for sleep health include melatonin, used by 62% of sleep health users, CBD (22%), magnesium (21%),

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“Because everyone is affected in a unique way by different ingredients, it’s essential to offer a diverse portfolio of product types and ingredients from which consumers can choose.” — Rita Katona, co-founder and executive chair, So Good So You

lavender (17%) and chamomile (16%). For some, the problem is not sleeping but snoring. “Snoring is a major cause of poor sleep, often impacting two people at one time,” said John Ende, executive vice president of sales and marketing at Rhinomed, which makes the Mute wearable nasal device. In 2021, the company conducted a Harris Poll and found that 66% of U.S. adults said someone in their household snores. Also, 69% of people whose partners snore wish there was a simple solution. Rhinomed has a dedicated professional education team focused on communication and customized support for sleep medicine practitioners. For consumer education, the company uses WebMD, the Rhinomed website, and digital and live media campaigns. The company is also working with retailers to build a snoring subcategory in their sleep sets because Rhinomed data indicates that snoring product sales are growing significantly faster at e-commerce than at retail. “We rarely spot a snoring banner or label in any retail sleep set,” Ende said. “We’re working with retailers to help them curate that snoring mix and effectively merchandise a snoring set.” This is an interesting time for the sleep category as retailers help consumers gain access to new, innovative solutions. “The science and products are a bit ahead of where our consumers are at,” Pharmavite’s Donaldson said. “There is an opportunity for us in sharing that science and insight with them in a way that brings them along on the journey to find the product that will best meet their needs.” dsn

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HEALTH: FEMININE CARE

Focus on Natural and Innovative New products reflect women’s desire for more options, less synthetics By Nora Caley

Even the feminine care aisle was affected by the pandemic. In the early days of COVID-19, women stocked up on tampons, pads and other sanitary protection products to avoid possible product shortages later. Then, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, passed in March 2020, included a provision that enabled women who had Flexible Spending Accounts or Health Savings Accounts to become eligible for reimbursement for feminine hygiene products. Today, the feminine care category is one that consumers must shop routinely. It’s also one in which women expect much innovation. According to a September 2020 Mintel report, Feminine Hygiene and Sanitary Protection Products: Incl. Impact of COVID-19 US, many of the benefits that were once considered nice to have are now expected. “Environmentally friendly packaging/ ingredients, use of natural/organic materials and

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“The consumer is more and more savvy about what they are putting in the most sensitive part of their body.” — Helen Robinson, co-founder, Organic Initiative

ingredient transparency have become quality expectations,” the report noted. Eco-friendly practices are an expectation for nearly half of consumers, and comfort is also essential. The research firm estimated that U.S. retail sales of feminine hygiene and sanitary protection products increased by 3.5% in 2020, outpacing year-over-year category growth since 2015. Growth should continue over the next two to five years, driven by changing demographics and by manufacturers’ ability to innovate in the space. As the vaginal wellness category becomes more recognized by the industry, there will be opportunities for manufacturers and retailers to tailor products to women’s health milestones.

Staying Away From Synthetics The preference for eco-friendly materials does not surprise Helen Robinson, co-founder of Organic

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HEALTH: FEMININE CARE

The global feminine hygiene products market was estimated to total

$21.5 billion in 2021.

Initiative, a New Zealand-based company with U.S. headquarters in Torrance, Calif. “The consumer is more and more savvy about what they are putting in the most sensitive part of their body,” she said. “That is incredibly important.” Oi makes 100% certified organic cotton tampons, pads and panty liners with no toxic chemicals, chlorine bleach, fragrances or pesticides. Social media plays a role in driving interest in and sales growth of the products. “The results that they see from using these are very apparent very quickly,” Robinson said. “Friends tell friends, families tell families about the impact.” Consumers, especially members of Generation Z, are interested in not only what feminine care products are made of but also that they are packaged in sustainable packaging and manufactured according to strict labor guidelines. With sustainability in mind, Diva International partnered with TerraCycle to create the first menstrual cup recycling program in North America, with the DivaCup becoming North America’s first ever fully recyclable menstrual cup. “As we celebrate our 20th anniversary in April, we are so energized to bring forward more expansion to the period care category in 2022 and beyond,” said Carinne Chambers-Saini, founder and CEO of Diva. Retailers have an opportunity to increase sales

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“The problem with period products and bladder care products is they’re a grudge purchase.” — Helen Robinson, co-founder, Organic Initiative

by updating their sets with eco-friendly products, and by highlighting these benefits so that shoppers can find the more innovative products easily. Otherwise consumers will simply buy online or, in another current trend, sign up for subscriptionbased purchases. “The problem with period products and bladder care products is they’re a grudge purchase,” Robinson said. “Consumers don’t want to buy these products. They buy them because they have to.” The company also makes Oi Maxi Plus Pads, made with organically grown cotton, for staying dry during bladder leakage.

Innovation Sells Also according to Mintel, women are seeking products that address multiple aspects of menstruation, such as pain, odor and other issues. The report noted that 43% of people who have their period and 50% of women aged 18 to 34 years old said it’s difficult to control symptoms of menstruation. Women are also looking for efficacy, which in feminine care refers to absorption and comfort. One newer innovation is period panties, which are environmentally friendly because they are washable and reusable and can replace pads and tampons. Overland Park, Ill.-based Genial Day offers LeakProof Period Panties made with all natural, OekoTEX 100 certified fabrics such as cotton, bamboo

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HEALTH: FEMININE CARE

Genial Day offers Leak-Proof Period Panties made with all natural, Oeko-TEX 100 certified fabrics such as cotton, bamboo and Tencel Modal.

and Tencel Modal. “We like working sustainably,” said Vilmante Markeviciene, founder and designer. On the suggestion of gynecologists, the company chose 100% cotton for the inner crotch part of the item, closest to the body. Markeviciene noted that the panties can absorb the same amount as two to four tampons, or can be used as backup underwear with a tampon, pad or menstrual cup. Genial Panties feature patented crotch technology that enables the wearer using a pad with wings to tuck the wings in the crotch pockets to keep the pad stable and discreetly hide the wings. The brand recently added a Boy Shorts version of the panties, designed for teens. Teens are an important demographic for the feminine care category. In 2020 Vagisil launched a teen-focused line, OMV! By Vagisil. The product line includes intimate and body wash, wipettes and anti-itch serum. The White Plains, N.Y.-based parent company Combe said that the line was meant to “celebrate and empower young women,” and to “help them feel comfortable and confident in their vaginal health.” The brand engaged with 2,500 teenage girls and their mothers to develop the gynecologist-tested product line. This year, Vagisil extended its Scentsitive Scents

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U.S. retail sales of feminine hygiene and sanitary protection products increased by

in 2020, outpacing year-overyear category growth since 2015.

62%

line of washes with Scentsitive Scents Rosé All Day Intimate Wash and Scentsitive Scents Spring Lilac Feminine Dry Wash. The washes are hypoallergenic and have no parabens or MIT preservatives. Also new are Peach Blossom Mini Wipes and Spring Lilac Mini Wipes, individually wrapped wipes that are hypoallergenic and pH balanced. Other new products come from Fort Myers, Fla.-based Alikay Naturals, which makes natural and organic cruelty-free products infused with pineapple and other natural ingredients. The company has four new items in the Her by Alikay Naturals line: Foaming Feminine Wash and Feminine Refreshing Spray, each in Sensitive Formula and Normal Formula. The brand said the products “empower women to make positive choices for their feminine care needs.” According to Persistence Market Research, the global feminine hygiene products market was estimated to total $21.5 billion in 2020, and is anticipated to attain a market valuation of $39 billion by the end of the decade, with a Compound annual growth rate of 6.1% through 2031. Demographics will play a role in the expected growth. Mintel, citing the U.S. Census Bureau, reported that in 2025 nearly 46 million women will be 25 to 44 years old in the United States, compared to 42 million aged 45 to 64 years old, so there will be a constant market of menstruating women in the future. dsn

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2/2/22 7:31 AM


HEALTH: CBD

Are CBD Topicals the Only Way to Play? Risk-averse drug stores can still find new ground to till with hemp By Todd Runestad

Retail pharmacies may know about CBD because the Food and Drug Administration in 2018 approved a CBD isolate, Epidiolex, from GW Pharmaceuticals. But the conditions for which Epidiolex was approved are limited to two rare, child-onset epileptic conditions. Industry leaders with an ear to the ground likely know about CBD because its popularity has percolated throughout the culture over the last few years. Used for stress, anxiety and pain, CBD is sold in supplements, topical creams and lotions, beverages, and even foods. It’s sold in as wide a range of sales channels as any product ever, from health food stores and boutiques to ice cream shops and department stores. CBD, of course, has remained in regulatory limbo since the enactment of the 2018 Farm Bill, with industry associations calling on the FDA to allow CBD to be marketed as a dietary supplement and be regulated as such. The product is available

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“There seems to be less resistance in the marketplace for CBG, CBN and CBC.” — Rick Trojan, director of business development at CBD Universe and vice president of the Hemp Industries Association

mainly in topical form because the FDA has repeatedly declared that it does not qualify as a dietary supplement ingredient since the agency approved it as a drug. Risk-averse retailers from mainstream big box stores to pharmacies have tended to shy away from the uber-popular tincture bottles and even gummies, which have really taken off in the last year or so. Despite the lack of positive rulemaking to affirm CBD’s legitimacy in the market, the FDA’s actions against CBD manufacturers have been limited to warning letters about making illegal drug-disease claims instead of softer supplementstyle structure/function claims. “Despite obstacles by the FDA, if CBD companies operate like good dietary supplement companies and make no illegal health claims, I don’t think the FDA is going to come after you,” said Steve Hoffman, principal of Compass Natural Marketing, which represents a number of CBD companies.

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That means retailers looking to stock hempCBD supplements should look at how products are positioned. Any claiming to prevent, cure or treat any disease states should get a hard pass. Cannabis market forecaster BDSA predicts that the FDA will indeed provide a regulatory pathway for CBD in 2022. The firm said once regulatory clearance is achieved, the pharmaceutical channel is poised to take 12% of the market — an estimated $2.36 billion. Mainstream retail, which includes retail pharmacies, will take 77% market share, or close to $15 billion.

2022 Product Trends In any event, there is still a market for topicals, which the FDA regulates at a lighter threshold than foods or drugs. CBD is marketed in beauty products, cosmetics and other topicals primarily for its inflammationmodulating effects. By calming the skin, it can benefit those with sensitive skin irritations. It also provides pain relief. Topicals make up 10% of the total hemp CBD market, with an impressive growth rate forecast of 33% per year through 2024, according to market watcher Technavio. While oil tinctures will remain the most popular format, and drinks and gummies expected to be the fastest-growing product types, hesitant retailers may dip their toes with creams, balms and lotions. “Delivery systems are a definite trend,” said Jessica Mulligan, founder of the Winged Women’s Wellness brand. “CBD tinctures are inconvenient and messy for the consumer.” Mulligan said mission-driven brands with authentic founders continue to be important to millennials and Generation Z consumers. Another trend for ingestible supplements is the emergence of minor cannabinoids — those other than THC and CBD — with specific health benefits. CBN for sleep and CBG for focus are the top two on the market today. “There seems to be less resistance in the marketplace for CBG, CBN and CBC,” said Rick Trojan, director of business development at CBD Universe and vice president of the Hemp Industries Association. “I’m not sure if it’s a result of misunderstanding about CBD or the fact they are quote ‘nonintoxicating.’” He pointed out a new trend in formulations that include CBD as part of the functional attributes with supplement-style ingredients such as valerian root, ashwagandha and turmeric. Expect more to come on the pharma front. In 2017

Topicals make up

of the total hemp CBD market, with an impressive growth rate forecast of 33% per year through 2024.

Johnson & Johnson entered an agreement with cannabis firm Avicanna. In 2018 Novartis entered a supply and distribution deal with Canadian cannabis company Tilray. And just last December, Pfizer spent $6.7 billion to acquire Arena Pharmaceuticals, which has one segment of its drug pipeline dedicated to cannabinoid-type therapeutics highlighted by an investigational drug candidate called Olorinab.

Product Innovations CBDMedic from market leader Charlotte’s Web is a topicals line that combines THC-free hemp extract with active pharmaceutical ingredients. Its Muscle & Joint Pain Relief Ointment uses 15% menthol, 10% camphor and soothing botanical oils. Head & Heal Focus CBG Oil grows regeneratively grown hemp from New York using novel seeds high in minor cannabinoid CBG to help with cognitive clarity. Sagely Naturals is an elegant, pioneering brand focusing on topicals and using broad-spectrum hemp — that means no psychoactive THC. The Extra Strength Relief & Recovery Cream uses menthol and peppermint, with no synthetic fragrances, artificial colors, sulfates or parabens. Winged Women’s Wellness is a unique brand created by and for women. A blend of 15 botanical oils in its Radiance CBD Glow Facial Oil provides deep hydration for a glowing complexion, softens the skin’s surface and soothes red or flaky skin. dsn

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CB D N E WS

Top Five Cannabis Sales Days of 2021 The top five sales days, which included 420 and Black Friday, brought in a total of $493 million adult-use and medical cannabis sales.

420/April 20:

$111.8 million Black Friday/Nov. 26:

$99 million Green Wednesday/Nov. 24:

$98.2 million

DNVR8 Announces Four New CBD Products DNVR8 rolled out four new CBD products to its lineup. Melatonin free and 100% vegan, the new product offerings bring increased bioavailability of nano-emulsified CBD to consumers, the company said. “The majority of existing CBD products utilize a raw distillate or isolate as an ingredient foundation,” said DNVR8 founder Robert Jennison. “While this method is effective for some, others may find their products ‘to not be working’ or ‘have a short-term effect,’ and a lot of that has to do with the failed CBD absorption and bioavailability into the body’s endocannabinoid system.” DNVR8’s lineup includes the following products: 500mg Rise Vegan Broad Spectrum CBD:CBG Gummies with Vitamin B-12: Containing a proprietary blend of nano CBD:CBG in combination with vitamin B-12, these gummies work to naturally improve mental clarity and focus while soothing chronic pain and discomfort. 500mg Rest Vegan Broad Spectrum CBD:CBN Melatonin-Free Gummies with Vitamin B-12, L-Theanine, 5-HTP, & Magnesium Glycinate: These PM Rest gummies are 100% melatonin free and promote natural sleep using a blend of CBD:CBN, vitamin B-12, L-theanine, 5-HTP and magnesium glycinate. 750mg Anytime Vegan CBD Oil Tincture with MCT Oil, Natural Peppermint Flavor, Sunflower Lecithin and Stevia: “Anytime” tinctures utilize broad spectrum nano CBD and organically sourced MCT oil to promote recovery from exercise-induced inflammation. 300mg Therapeutic Cayenne & Peppermint-Infused Vegan Body Rub with Vitamin E, Eucalyptus Oil, Cocoa Butter and Avocado Oil: DNVR8’s “Therapeutic” CBD lotion contains a blend of nano CBD, cayenne and peppermint to promote relief from joint and muscle pain. All of DNVR8’s products are third-party full-panel tested, have a 30-day money back guarantee and a scannable QR code, and are produced with 100% organically sourced cannabinoids that remain in compliance with the 2018 Farm Bill.

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Thursday before Christmas/Dec. 23:

$94 million Friday before Labor Day/Sept. 3:

$90.1 million Source: 2021 Akerna Flash Report

CV Sciences Launches PlusCBD Pain Relief Topicals CV Sciences, a supplier and manufacturer of CBD products, has launched PlusCBD Pain Relief Topicals, a collection of four products formulated to pinpoint sources of pain and discomfort. The products use premium hempderived CBD and active drug ingredients

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Pet Releaf Introduces Higher Potency Hemp Oil, Liposomes CBD hemp health brand Pet Releaf has announced two new higher potency CBD products for consumers with larger dogs or who have multiple pet companions. Pet Releaf first released Hemp Oil 750 and Liposomes 600 exclusively online, and it’s now rolling them out to pet retailers following high demand. “As we’ve continued to grow our CBD product family, we knew it was time to give larger dogs some extra special attention,” said Stephen Smith, co-founder and president of Pet Releaf. “We sniffed out that they were being left out, and broadened our hemp oil line to reach those large dogs, extra-large dogs and multi-pet households.” Pet Releaf’s line of hemp oils are certified USDA organic and provide a clean label for your pet, including only two ingredients: organic full spectrum hemp extract and organic coconut oil. They help support mobility, flexibility and a healthy immune system, and promote calmness and relaxation. The veterinarian-formulated hemp oils are available in four different potencies: Hemp Oil 100 for small dogs and cats, Hemp Oil 200 for medium dogs, Hemp Oil 500 for large breed dogs and Hemp Oil 750 for large and extra-large dogs. They are best administered on an empty stomach twice a day. “Pet Releaf Liposome Hemp Oils not only provide health benefits to your pet companions, but also offer a convenient administration method,” the company said.

including menthol and camphor. Finding new ways to improve our customers’ quality of life is at the heart of what we do at CV,” said CEO Joseph Dowling. “Our latest range of topical products offers a noninvasive, holistic alternative to OTC pain relievers, using quality hemp and CBD to alleviate common sources of pain. PlusCBD’s Pain Relief line is just another example of how science-backed innovations in CBD can transform the way we approach health and wellness.” The PlusCBD Pain Relief Sport Recovery Stick is crafted for athletes and fitness enthusiasts who are active and on-the-go. This topical anti-inflammatory and analgesic cream is intended to provide temporary relief related to pain and inflammation while facilitating recovery from physical activity. The 1-oz. stick contains 750 mg of CBD. Another topical analgesic cream, the PlusCBD Pain Relief Penetrating Cream, is formulated to alleviate neuropathic and joint and muscle pain. The cream comes in a 2-oz. tube that contains 1,000 mg of CBD, along with other active ingredients. The PlusCBD Pain Relief Muscle Cream can provide relief to individuals managing muscle pain, stiffness or soreness related to tension, stress, overuse and other minor injuries. Each 4-oz. tube of muscle cream contains 500 mg of CBD per 2 oz. Finally, the PlusCBD Pain Relief Arthritis Cream is formulated for arthritis patients, which represent over 22% of adults in the United States, the company said. The product specifically targets the joints to relieve arthritis-related pain and discomfort. The 2-oz. tube contains 750 mg of CBD.

Bayou City Hemp Releases CannabisInfused, CBD Seltzer in Texas Bayou City Hemp, Texas’ first hemp processing and extraction company, released its first CBD seltzer under its flagship brand, Mixer Elixir. Handcrafted in Houston, the Mixer Elixir Ranch Water seltzer is a zeroproof (nonalcoholic), zero-calorie and zero-sugar sparkling water. It contains 25 mg of hemp-derived CBD and is designed as a ready-todrink beverage or cocktail mixer. “There is a fast-emerging trend of ‘sober-curious’ and ‘cannabis-curious’ consumers,” said Ben Meggs, Bayou City Hemp co-founder and CEO. “It is the perfect time to introduce our very accessible seltzer, infused with our nanoemulsion innovation to make it easier for the body to absorb the CBD and feel the effects faster.” Mixer Elixir’s fast-acting CBD seltzer is complemented with a crisp, citrus-lime taste and hints of agave, the company said. The Ranch Water beverage is the first mind-refreshing seltzer to launch in a series of cocktail-inspired drinks to be enjoyed as a standalone beverage for any time of the day or as a complementary additive with its respective spirit, such as tequila. The product launched in Dry January, a time when people choose to abstain from booze for the entire month, the company said. dsn

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A Transformed Community Role for Retail Two years into the pandemic, retailers are supporting communities and society in more ways than ever By David Orgel

You could always rely on food and drug retailers to donate to a wide range of causes and support communities ravaged by hurricanes and other natural disasters. However, something changed during the pandemic. These retailers have become tied to communities on more levels than ever — supporting needs ranging from mental health to affordable housing. The growing engagement will tighten the bonds between retailers and their communities. And the momentum continues two years into the pandemic, as reflected by recent efforts.

Supporting Mental Health The importance of mental health has been thrust into the spotlight during the pandemic. Retailers are addressing the mental health needs of employees and customers via tailored programs and donations to mental health organizations. One of the latest initiatives was Walgreens’ partnership with Mental Health America during the recent holiday season. Walgreens made a $500,000 donation to the partner organization and announced a donation-match effort.

Prioritizing Diverse-owned Lending The pandemic raised awareness of economic inequities in society, and retailers have pursued initiatives to help. One of the most recent and substantial efforts is Giant Food’s $50 million money fund investment to support The Harbor Bank of Maryland, the only Black-owned and -managed commercial bank with headquarters in the state. The investment helps drive economic development by supporting individuals and small-business bank customers.

Accelerating Vaccinations Retailers have stepped up by providing vaccines in their communities — in extraordinary efforts that have raised the healthcare profiles of these companies. California-based Northgate Gonzalez Markets, a family-owned Hispanic food retailer, received a Community Uplift Award from the Food Industry Association for its strategies to support vaccination

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efforts. The retailer created an internal Covid Vaccination Committee and developed partnerships, bilingual education and vaccination events to support associates and community members.

Championing Affordable Housing

David Orgel is an award-winning business journalist, industry expert and speaker. He is currently the principal of David Orgel Consulting.

Retailers have a long history of serving as a lifeline to communities. Now they are doing so in more ways than ever.

Societal inequities spotlighted during the pandemic include a lack of affordable housing. CVS Health is making big investments to battle this challenge as part of its commitment to address racial inequity and social determinants of health in underserved communities. It is investing $7.7 million with Raymond James Tax Credits Funds to build a 61-unit multifamily apartment for families in Tampa, Fla. It is also investing $11.6 million to provide 171 units of permanent supportive housing in Austin, Texas.

Battling Food Insecurity Programs battling hunger have long been part of retailer community efforts, but this activity reached new heights during the pandemic. This was especially the case in the wake of job losses and the recession during the early period of lockdowns, and the momentum continues. Albertsons has made a big mark with its Nourishing Neighbors Breakfast for Kids checkstand program, raising some $9 million in a campaign last September to make possible some 37 million breakfasts for children in the United States. As remarkable as all these initiatives are, there’s something even more stunning. As retailers take on new areas of community focus, they aren’t pulling back on the old ones either — such as responding in real time to areas hit by natural disasters. A case in point is how Hy-Vee reacted to tornadoes that ravaged Kentucky and Tennessee in December. The retailer sent a team of 37 employees in 19 vehicles that included semitrailers and disaster recovery pickup trucks. The initiative delivered 327,000 bottles of water and more than 220,000 snack bars and breakfast items to support victims. Retailers have a long history of serving as a lifeline to communities. Now they are doing so in more ways than ever. dsn

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