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Volume 43 No. 3

MARCH 2021

Drug Store News


March 2021

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MARCH 2021

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Vaccinations at Warp Speed.

Is your Pharmacy Compliant? For over 25 years, The Compliance Team has developed innovative programs to elevate pharmacy services. Our new and exclusive facility-based COVID-19 Vaccination Certification validates the pharmacies in your

network for vaccination administration quality and safety. Our Immunization program also supports the COVID-19 CDC requirements for both pharmacy network administrators as well as independent pharmacies.

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Vol. 43 No. 3 DrugStoreNews.com




10 Industry News 22 Products to Watch 26 ClearCut Analytics Insights Data from ClearCut Analytics’ Amazon market intelligence on hair dye

38 Industry Issues Summit: Strategic Relationships Breaking down a panel on how suppliers and retailers can form strong partnerships from DSN’s 22nd Industry Issues Summit


44 Selfcare Roadmap Insights 46 Focus On: Quantum Health 48 CBD News 52 Cover Story: Leading the Country’s Vaccination Push


DSN takes a look at how retail pharmacy is playing a central role in protecting patients against COVID-19

84 Diabetes Suppliers are innovating to improve consumers’ ability to manage their condition

60 REX Awards 2021 - OTC


74 Focus On: Xtreme Personal Care

COLUMNS 8 Editor’s Note 20 Counter Talk with Marketing Werks’ Ellie Meyer

24 Counter Talk

70 Men’s Grooming 30 One-on-One with Walgreens’ Brad McElya

32 One-on-One with 1health’s Mehdi Maghsoodnia

36 One-on-One with STCHealth’s Michael Popovich

with Kantar’s Badri Narayanan

28 One-on-One

90 Last Word

with GMDC|Retail T omorrow’s Patrick Spear

with David Orgel Consulting’s David Orgel

PHARMACY 76 Regional Chain Report What regional powerhouses have done to serve their patients during a pandemic

80 Independent Pharmacy Report From COVID-19 testing to CBD and everything in between, independents work to serve their communities

As men get more picky, brands bring new products to the shelf

SOCIAL Facebook.com/ DrugStoreNews Twitter.com/ DrugStoreNews

DSN (ISSN 0191-7587) is published monthly 12 times a year by EnsembleIQ, 8550 W. Bryn Mawr Ave, Suite 200, Chicago, IL 60631. Subscription rate in the United States: $125 one year; $230 two year; $14 single issue copy; Canada and Mexico: $150 one year; $270 two year; $16 single issue copy; Foreign: $170 one year; $325 two year; $16 single issue copy. Periodicals postage paid at Chicago, IL, and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Please send address changes to DSN, 8550 W. Bryn Mawr Ave, Suite 200, Chicago, IL 60631. Vol. 43 No. 2, February 2021. Copyright © 2020 by EnsembleIQ. All rights reserved.



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Goodbye clipboard. Take your vaccination program to the next level. Go Paperless.





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INTRODUCING AN EHR DESIGNED FOR PHARMACY: View patient's immunization history

Send patient consent forms through text message

Electronically document encounters

Identify vaccine reimbursement opportunities

Update state IIS registries and the federal data lake for COVID-19 vaccines

Bill immunization claims, even for out-of-network and uninsured COVID-19 vaccine patients


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On the Right Track Retail pharmacy’s crucial role in getting the country vaccinated is becoming clearer every day By Seth Mendelson


id you ever doubt that the mass retailer world, specifically merchants that operate pharmacy counters, would not rise to the occasion? I didn’t. Last month in this space, I wrote about how it was time for mass retailers to shine once more, as if what they have done over the last year or so is not unbelievably impressive already. We needed the retailers to step up once again and help vaccinate America. And, we needed Seth Mendelson them to start doing it, ASAP. Editor in Chief/ Guess what? Just about a month later, it is extremely Associate Publisher clear to all that the retailers are responding — and not only that, but responding in spades. After a few weeks of predictable distribution issues that slowed the rollout of the vaccine, retailers across the country are quickly adapting to the new normal — most importantly to help the country get vaccinated and protected against COVID-19. They are giving shots, lots of them and offering information about how to best compete this pandemic. Many are even holding the hands of nervous and unsteady consumers, who have been knocked around a bit from this year-long situation and the impact it has played on so many lives. The battle is far from over. As this issue, which includes a cover story on how retailers are fighting back, goes to bed, only about 15% of Americans have received a first shot and 10% are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Yet, as we discuss in this article, it is extremely clear that retailers and distributors have figured out how to maximize their talent and store locations to get as many people in and out as possible. The hard part is protecting the rest of us with the vaccinations. Retailers are going to have to put on their marketing and logistical hats and do all they can to let their customers know they can go there for their vaccinations. That means using both in-store and out-of-store advertising. It also means educating the in-store team to ensure they continue to be able to answer customer questions and quickly, but safely, give them the shots they need. The light at the end of the tunnel is visible, though we still have a few curves before we all get there. Mass retail is at the forefront of this long and dark journey, but, at the end, the people who work in this industry should continue to realize that they carried the beacon to safety. They provided the safe route to put this pandemic in the rearview mirror. Stand up and take a bow. You are all doing great. Thank you. dsn

The light at the end of the tunnel is visible, though we still have a few curves before we all get there. Mass retail is at the forefront of this long and dark journey.


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

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


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Alcon Launches Pataday Once Daily Relief Extra Strength

EcoTools Debuts Biodegradable Makeup Sponge EcoTools is turning the traditional makeup sponge into a sustainable tool. The Chicago-based company is debuting its new BioBlender by EcoTools, which is made with only five ingredients, all of which have been USDA Certified Organic and are bio-based, all-natural and vegan. “Traditional makeup sponges are a leading cause in adding to unnecessary waste, and as a leader in sustainable beauty, we saw an opportunity in the market to address this,” said Niki Rybacek, product innovation manager at EcoTools. “The consumer is looking for ways to reduce their environmental footprint and expects brands and retailers to do the same. We’re excited to answer that with BioBlender and continue our mission to create high quality, planet-friendly beauty and self-care products attainable by all.” Shaped with a patented design of three unique edges that aid in applying makeup to all angles of the face, it can be used wet or dry with liquid and cream foundations, the company said. “I’m extremely proud of the team for taking our sustainability journey one step further and creating a first-of-its-kind product that’s just as effective in performance as it is eco-conscious,” said Kristen Chase, senior vice president of global marketing at PPI Beauty, the parent company of EcoTools. “We will continue to push boundaries to reduce our footprint in our products, our packaging via our partnerships and our sustainability efforts as an eco-conscious beauty brand.” Currently, BioBlender by EcoTools is available online at Amazon.com, at drug stores and at such retailers as Ulta Beauty and Walmart.


Following a successful Rx-to-OTC switch last year, Alcon is wasting no time expanding its Pataday line of prescription-strength OTC products. The latest addition to the line is Pataday Once Daily Relief Extra Strength, which joins the original-strength Pataday Once Daily Relief and Pataday Twice Daily Relief. Pataday Once Daily Relief Extra Strength offers 24 hours of eye allergy itch relief with a single dose that the company said begins working in minutes. It helps combat eye itching caused by animal hair, dander, grass, pollen and ragweed for people aged 2 years old and older. “The introduction of Pataday Once Daily Relief Extra Strength brings a full 24 hours of eye allergy itch relief over the counter for millions of Americans with eye allergies,” said Sergio Duplan, president of Alcon North America. “We’re thrilled to provide access to the strongest concentration of olopatadine, previously the No. 1 doctorprescribed eye allergy itch relief ingredient, to consumers in time for the spring allergy season.” Alcon said that since 2008, there have been more than 40 million prescriptions written for the active ingredient in Pataday. The company also noted that the switch to OTC has brought new shoppers into the OTC eye allergy category, citing IRI data that showed 58% of Pataday shoppers were new to the category. Pataday Once Daily Relief Extra Strength has launched nationwide at select stores and online. Widespread commercial availability kicked off in late February for all major food, drug and mass-market retailers.


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You need a partner you can rely on to understand your goals — one who can elevate your pharmacy, expand your business and bring your unique vision to life. This requires the right product at the right time. But it also requires the right technology. It requires strategic insights, dedicated service and a focus on what really matters: improving patients’ lives. At Cardinal Health, we are more than a wholesaler and more than a logistics company. We are an ally for pharmacies across the US, and we’re always in pursuit of even better.

Pursue better with Cardinal Health

| cardinalhealth.com

© 2020 Cardinal Health. All Rights Reserved. CARDINAL HEALTH, the Cardinal Health LOGO, and ESSENTIAL TO CARE are trademarks of Cardinal Health and may be registered in the US and/or in other countries.

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Glade Rolls Out EnergyEfficient PlugIns Glade is looking to help consumers limit the cost of their energy consumption and keep homes smelling fresh with the latest from its PlugIns line. The Racine, Wis.-based company has launched energy-efficient PlugIns Scented Oil Plus, which aims to provide consumers with a long-lasting fragrance of their choice with minimal waste, the company said. “The new PlugIns Scented Oil Plus was designed for people who want to create the best mood for their homes but are mindful of waste,” an SC Johnson spokesperson said. “The device fills any room with our popular and seasonal fragrances, and is the only scented oil warmer designed with a rest mode, allowing people to save both energy and fragrance.” Featuring smart-light technology that works more efficiently, each product has two modes — continuous or an eight hour rest mode. Also featured are an automatic shutoff that activates when the fragrance is empty and a refill indicator light, the company said. Available as a warmer that retails for $4.99 or as two starter kits that retail for $6.99 in Aqua Waves and Hawaiian Breeze scents, Glade PlugIns Scented Oil Plus Warmer is compatible with its other PlugIns scented oil refills.

Reese’s Cups Go Organic On the heels of announcing plans to expand its array of better-for-you confections, Hershey introduced one of the first products of that initiative by putting a new spin on a classic treat. The Hershey, Pa.-based company has launched Organic Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Available in dark and milk chocolate, the launch is certified USDA Organic, Non-GMO Project Verified and Rainforest Alliance Certified. “We’re continuing to expand our product line so there is a Reese’s cup for nearly everyone,” said brand manager Eric Newton. “When consumers go down the candy aisle or shop online, we want everyone to have an option to choose from, and we aren’t settling until everyone can enjoy a Reese’s product.” Currently, Organic Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups come in a 1.4-oz. pack that retails for $1.99.


Tums Introduces Tums Naturals GSK Consumer Healthcare’s Tums brand is expanding its offerings to meet consumer demand for naturally sourced products. The Warren, N.J.based company is rolling out Tums Naturals, an antacid that is free of artificial flavors and dyes while offering multi-symptom relief of acid indigestion, burning in the chest and sour stomach. The company said that research has found that an increasing number of shoppers prefer products with natural ingredients, but can’t find such options from brands they trust. The insight drove Tums to adapt its trusted products to meet consumer desires while still delivering heartburn relief. “As consumers are increasingly aware of the ingredients they consume, we saw an opportunity to offer them the efficacy they rely on and expect from TUMS while delivering on their desire for more natural-leaning solutions to their medicinal needs,” said Amy Sharon, director at Tums. “Millions of people suffer from heartburn, caused by things like stress and the foods they consume, and our mission is to continue ensuring they have access to relief that fits their personal preferences, so heartburn isn’t something they have to worry about.” Tums Naturals are sold in two fruity flavor combinations — black cherry and watermelon and coconut and pineapple. Both feature calcium carbonate as an active ingredient and also are free of GMOs and gluten. The products have rolled out in various sizes of packaging at drug stores nationwide.


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The Sleeeep Brand.

Rediscover restfulness with our natural sleep aids No morning-after drowsiness + Fast-acting & effective + All natural ingredients


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Lazarus Naturals, Sandland Sleep Win Over CBD Buyers

Lazarus Naturals won the Drug Store News/ECRM Buyers’ Choice Award for its CBD Fruit Tarts at ECRM’s Hemp/CBD Health and Beauty Care Session held in February. Sandland Sleep was a finalist for its Stay Asleep pills. The products were selected from dozens of entries submitted by participating suppliers. Buyers were able to evaluate each entry and cast their votes based on product packaging and innovation via the Drug Store Newsbranded Buyers’ Choice Awards section of the ECRM Connect platform. “The stress and anxiety from the events of the past year have sparked broader interest in the CBD segment,” said Craig Chmielowicz, senior vice president of health and beauty care at ECRM. “The two winners have developed innovative CBD products with clean and natural ingredients to help consumers address their wellness needs.” Lazarus Naturals is a vertically integrated CBD company with six years of hands-on experience crafting high-quality products for effectiveness, without being expensive. Its hemp, grown on a 120-acre farm in central Oregon, is third-party tested, pesticidefree and non-GMO, with B Corp, 100% USDA Certified Organic and cGMP certifications set to come this year. The company has a 90-day stress-free return policy and an assistance program to make CBD affordable for all consumers. Its CBD Fruit Tarts are vegan, non-GMO, naturally sweetened and infused with high-quality, high-potency CBD isolate to ensure a more consistent, effective and delicious experience, according to the company. Sandland specializes in all-natural sleep aids developed to assist the body in restoring its natural ability to sleep. It uses only natural ingredients, including hempderived cannabinol, or CBN, to provide clean sleep with no hangover. CBN is a minor cannabinoid found in the hemp plant that is known to impact the body’s sleep reactors. Its Stay Asleep pills are an extended-release, long-lasting sleep aid that contains hemp-derived CBN, melatonin and other natural ingredients. Taken orally with a glass of water, the pills are designed to slowly impact the body, allowing for longer, more meaningful sleep with no grogginess or hangover.



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Project Sunscreen Adds Target Distribution Aussie-inspired sunscreen Project Sunscreen is rolling out to Target shelves. The brand’s Tropical Palms and Aerial Beach rollerball designs will be sold at 130 of the retailer’s locations, as well as online. “This is a dream come true,” co-founder Rachel Henderson said. “What started as an idea after struggling to apply sunscreen on my kids has evolved into an exciting reality, as we hit the retail big league.” Henderson said that selling her products at Target has long been a goal for her. “Having spent countless months working on a concept, I decided late one night to sneak into my local Target and place my bottles, with photocopied labels stuck to them, on the shelf,” she said. “I stood back and was in awe of the opportunity I could see in front of me. It was my ah-ha moment. For any small business, to be carried by Target is such an endorsement and recognizes the commitment we’ve made to develop a clean sunscreen that’s not only fun to apply, but suitable for all skin types” Each Project Sunscreen product features a roll-on applicator and a patent-pending cap that is easy to transport and houses its mineral ingredients, the company said. “When we created Project Sunscreen, it was essential to us to develop something that was both good for your skin and good for the environment,” Henderson said. “It was also vital that we created something to encourage sun-safety habits, and a sunscreen that people actually wanted to use. We believe that our roll-on applicator, coupled with our beautiful designs, clean formula and fun cap toppers, help achieve that.” All of the brand’s products, including those making their Target debut, are reef-safe, ocean friendly and formulated from such mineral active ingredients as naturally derived titanium oxide and zinc oxide.




Bite-sized gummy goodness to keep you

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* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.


Say hello to OLLY: Sales@OLLY.com


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Wet Ones Plus Alcohol Keep Hands Sanitized Wet Ones is debuting a line of hand sanitizing wipes that feature additional alcohol. The Plus Alcohol Hand Sanitizing Wipes contain 70% alcohol and are formulated with ethyl alcohol for a clean that can be felt after each use, the company said. Created to meet recommendations put in place by the Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the wipes aim to kill 99.99% of bacteria, as well as wipe away dirt and messes. Also including aloe and vitamin E, the wipes come in 50-count canisters and 20-count travel packs that are TSA approved, the company said. Consumers can find Wet Ones Plus Alcohol Hand Sanitizing Wipes on Target. com and Amazon.com.

Welch’s Juicefuls Bring Fruit Juice to Snacks Promotion In Motion’s Welch’s Fruit Snacks line is getting an infusion of fruit juice. The Allendale, N.J.-based company is rolling out its new Juicefuls fruit snack line, which contains a juicy center made with flavors and colors from natural sources. Available in three varieties — berry blast, mixed fruit and island splash — Welch’s Juicefuls are gluten-free and made without preservatives, the company said. “We take great pride in bringing consumers new and exciting snacks, and are thrilled to officially launch Welch’s Juicefuls to consumers nationwide,” said Nicole Luisi, brand manager of the Promotion In Motion. “Welch’s Juicefuls offers consumers of all ages a unique experience to enjoy a surprising twist on our beloved classic snacks. They feature next level bursts of fruit juice in the centers for added goodness and are a unique and authentic alternative to other snacks. Parents can feel good about serving them, while the entire family will equally enjoy Juicefuls.” Welch’s Juicefuls are sold in six-count boxes of 1-oz. pouches for $3.39 and 4-oz. bags for $2.09 at the candy, front-end and snack sections of select retailers. The product’s distribution is set to expand throughout the year.


Secret Derma+ Antiperspirant Addresses Underarm Skin Concerns Secret is addressing common underarm skin concerns with its Secret Derma+ Antiperspirant. The clinical-level sweat and odor protection product that contains skin conditioners and a soft-touch applicator. Containing ProVitamin B5 and Derma-Shield, a combination of skin conditioning ingredients, the collection aims to help prevent such visible signs of underarm shaving irritation as bumps, discoloration, dry skin, nicks and redness, the company said. “Visibly healthier, smoother underarm skin is at the heart of Secret Derma+ Antiperspirant’s innovation,” said Nilima Shenai, senior director of global antiperspirants and deodorants R&D at Procter Gamble. “In collaboration with female dermatologists, our team designed a new formula and a new application and usage experience that addresses women’s underarm skin care needs while still delivering the superior sweat and odor protection women have come to expect from Secret.” Packaged in a squeeze tube bottle, as opposed to the standard deodorant stick, the product was designed to aid in minimizing friction points against the skin, the company said. “We talked to hundreds of women of color who also want a solution for underarm skin discoloration,” said Maiysha Jones, senior scientist at Procter & Gamble. “Secret Derma+ Antiperspirant provides clinical-level sweat and odor protection, it was designed to visibly improve skin health, and it helps promote visibly even skin tone.” Secret Derma+ Antiperspirant currently is available in four scents — cooling + aloe, even tone + vitamin C, fragrance free and nourishing + coconut oil — at mass retailers nationwide for the suggested retail price of $7.99.


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Pivot for Success Using omnichannel marketing to build brand trust after a year of consumer skepticism and doubt By Ellie Meyer

N Ellie Meyer, senior account director, Marketing Werks, a Crossmark agency

ew year, new you, new … normal? Our values, needs and everyday lives have drastically changed over the past 12 months. For one, we’ve seen a significant uptick in online shopping. But in addition to behavioral shifts, there have also been deep-seated values and lifestyle shifts. One shift important to consumer marketing has been an increase in general skepticism. How can brands turn that barrier into an opportunity for growth? By building brand trust. Focusing on building trust will be a key driver of growth, as shoppers prefer brands they trust 40% more than brands they don’t. As we bridge the gap between the evolved shopper journey and increased skepticism, brands and retailers should consider focusing on trust building through omnichannel solutions that focus on three key factors:

1. Caring The most prominent trust-building tactic is caring. By showcasing that a brand or retailer cares about consumers and their values, they relate on a deeper level, leading to higher consideration. There are many omnichannel solutions to manifest caring: • In store: Utilize floor stands and shippers strategically placed out of category in high foot traffic areas to highlight brand-wide community service and charity efforts instead of key product messaging; • Online: Activate a “Buy One, Give One” promotional strategy to alleviate delivery fees for vulnerable shoppers. For every delivery fee a shopper incurs, another in-need customer will get their goods delivered for free; and • Experiential: Host a shopper “surprise and delight” event in a retailer parking lot, showing your appreciation by distributing free shopper perks like warm beverages and snacks.

2. Authenticity Authenticity is a mainstay marketing buzzword, but for good reason: PBJ Marketing’s study, “Transparency Matters: How to Be Truly Authentic in Your Digital Marketing,” found that 90% of all


millennials said brand authenticity is a key factor when it comes to supporting brands. And brands can practice through open and honest communication, as well as being true to their mission. Omnichannel solutions can reinforce authenticity through: • In store: With the increase in overall assortment at shelf, clutter and shopper confusion is high. With simple, honest “what’s in it for the shopper?” aisle blades or out-of-category displays, you will catch eyes and make the decision to purchase easy for shoppers; • Online: There’s nothing more authentic than your consumers talking about your product in their own words. Develop a peer-to-peer social strategy by driving user-generated content through digital sweepstakes, and tag retailers to drive shoppers to a branded sweepstakes page, increase awareness and engagement; and • Experiential: Deploy street teams to local communities in order to reinforce your brand mission in a tangible way. Act, don’t tell.

3. Dependable Per Gartner, brands that showcase dependability build 3.66 times more trust than those that don’t. How can brands prove their dependability using an omnichannel approach? • In store: Out of stocks continue to be an issue for brands, retailers and shoppers. Face the facts straight on by acknowledging OOSs with on-shelf merchandising that fills empty shelf space with equity.; • Online: Deploy social listening then develop clear and consistent digital messaging that tackles the pain points and how you’re planning against them in a nimble way; and • Experiential: Send cleverly themed “kits” to influencers and consumers to inspire social media unboxing and positive PR. Surprise shoppers when they didn’t even know they needed you. While this new year certainly finds us also ringing in a new normal, the opportunity to achieve growth is more than possible by deploying caring, authentic and dependable omnichannel solutions. Trust us. dsn


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Sambucol’s expanded range gives your customers the immune support* they’re looking for.


Now more than ever consumers are looking for natural solutions to help their families stay healthy. The Sambucol® range offers a variety of Black Elderberry based ways to provide natural immune system support*.

Available in several formats:    

Best-selling Original Syrup Kids Syrup & Gummies Throat Lozenges Infant Drops

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Contact us at Sales@pharmacareus.com, 858-997-1156 x509 www.sambucolusa.com *These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

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New and Noteworthy HRG’s five picks from February 2021

ebruary brought with it 263 new products in the OTC, wellness and beauty categories for the Hamacher Resource Group’s new product team to sift through. As always, the team evaluated the crop of newcomers — including 21 OTC products, 110 wellness products and 132 beauty items — to find five that stood out. They were:



Always ZZZ Period Disposable Underwear Overnight, L/XL


Nexcare Duo Fabric Bandages


Bactine Max Advanced Healing + Scar Defense Hydrogel


Zarbee’s Children’s Black Elderberry Syrup


Blue Lizard Sunscreen Sport Lotion SPF 50

3M Consumer’s Nexcare Duo line of bandages is designed to offer strong hold for up to 24 hours while also offering pain-free removal. The bandages, sold in a 20-count box of assorted sizes, create a seal around the pad to create a skin-friendly, waterproof wound covering. With immunity as a growing area, Zarbee’s is expanding its line of products aimed at children with an immune-support offering. Zarbee’s Children’s Black Elderberry Syrup contains elderberry, vitamin C and zinc to offer immune support and help maintain healthy cells. Formulated for children 2 years old and older, the product is free of alcohol, drugs, gluten, artificial sweeteners and artificial flavors.


A well-known period care brand is branching into period garments. Always ZZZ disposable underwear is designed to offer overnight period protection that doesn’t require users to sleep with a pad or stay in one position all night. The underwear is designed to offer 360-degree protection while being more absorbent than a pad.

The second first aid item on this month’s list comes from Wellspring, maker of Bactine. The product combines four natural ingredients and Wellspring’s advanced technology to create what the company said is a first-of-its-kind hydrogel. It is formulated to help heal wounds without antibiotics while reducing the likelihood of scarring and creating an invisible moisture barrier against germs. The product is free of alcohol, fragrance, lanolin, minerals, parabens and petroleum. Crown Labs’ Blue Lizard brand of sunscreen is adding more SPF to its formulation with its latest products. The mineral-based sunscreen has an SPF of 50 and offers the reef-friendly claim. The product also is formulated to be water resistant for up to 80 minutes. dsn


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Checking Out Your Options Can a frictionless checkout experience really improve your bottom line? By Badri Narayanan

A Badri Narayanan, principal - customer analytics, Kantar

s retailers plot the next phase of their offerings, following COVID-19 lockdowns, they face growing pressure to deliver an in-store experience that attracts and retains customers. Many innovative brick-and-mortar retailers are turning to data engineering and analytics to better understand the optimal customer insights for their stores. This includes measuring customer satisfaction, frequency and volume, staffing needs for high and low traffic time periods, and which setup of checkout methods would lead to faster throughput and increased basket size. Customer satisfaction is known to have direct impact on the bottom line, along with significantly influencing the customer perception of the brand/store, as a September 2018 study from Popspots found that 70% of customers feel checkout experience influences their perception of a store more than any other factor, and about 79% of customers said a negative checkout experience makes them less likely to return.

Today’s customers no longer accept the down time of waiting in line. If retail businesses cannot keep their lines moving as quickly as their customers want, they will lose out to stiff competition. Today’s customers no longer accept the down time of waiting in line. If retail businesses cannot keep their lines moving as quickly as their customers want, they will lose out to stiff online competition. So, what’s the secret to keeping the lines moving and getting customers to return every time? To understand how retailers can identify key drivers of customer satisfaction and how to improve their customer experiences, we performed a comprehensive analysis that combined customer experience survey data, store level operational data, customer transaction and behavior data across both satisfied and dissatisfied customers. One of the key outcomes of the study was that checkout experience


had the most negative impact on overall shopper satisfaction. Factors impacting a poor checkout experience were further analyzed to identify if any of the following components had a significant influence: self-checkout versus assisted checkout, store location and shopping hours. In looking at the customer satisfaction data, we were able to understand a shopper’s expectation of an ideal checkout experience. Transactional, operational and observational data revealed the gap in the current state of checkout versus customer expectation. For example, lower satisfaction — as per the consumer experience survey results — was heavily correlated to a longer payment processing time (derived from transaction data). From there, the friction points were grouped into shopper issues, staffing issues, process issues and technology issues, so that relevant business stakeholders could take ownership in resolving the issues. The checkout process of key retail competitors was also analyzed to identify qualitative avenues of improvement. The outcome of this work was a set of actionable recommendations, along with short-term and longterm monetary impact of every recommendation so that retailers could properly evaluate the changes they would want to implement. For example, a recommendation to reduce payment processing time by six to 10 seconds for card transactions could significantly improve checkout satisfaction. Another recommendation was the use of machine-learning triggers — apply for credit card, warranty upsell — to cut down unnecessary upsell prompting for customers at checkout that could help save time during transactions and potentially improve acceptance rate. Overall, data-enabled processes can help retail stores capture and use customer transaction data and behavioral data in tandem to outline solutions and design a better checkout experience for the customer. With ever-evolving customer behavior and the advancement in technology, retail is changing at an accelerated rate. Retailers need to integrate analytical insights with the latest tech innovations to offer a better customer experience. dsn


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Color by Numbers ClearCut Analytics shares insights on which hair color products are hot on Amazon Insights powered by ClearCut Analytics


t the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the implementation of lockdowns sparked a wave of stockpiling essentials like food and hygiene products. At-home hair color products, in particular, saw rising demand as hair salons and barbershops were ordered to remain closed or limit capacity across the country. Unlike some beauty categories in the United States, such as makeup, that were seeing a slight decrease in sales in 2020, the DIY hair color category went up 172% year over year in both online and offline total revenue. A significant piece of this growth, and where some unique trends emerged, was on Amazon. Drug

store retailers and brands alike need to pay attention to what’s happening on the marketplace to not only better understand consumers’ preferences for hair color products today, but to also draw insights into the direction of the category in the future. According to ClearCut Analytics’ Amazon market intelligence, here are some highlights of hair color trends from 2020.

1. Hair Color Category Size

The hair color category as a whole generated $229 million in sales in 2020 on Amazon, up from $96 million in 2019 — a 138% year-over-year increase. This included a total of 223 hair color





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brands selling their products on Amazon. Of the 223 brands, 68 generated over $1 million in total revenue during those 12 months. Overall, there were a total of 1,419 products sold within the category on Amazon. This includes color-depositing and clarifying shampoos and conditioners.

2. Hair Color Shades

There currently are more than 200 different hair color shades selling on Amazon. The top performing hair color by total revenue was silver, followed by dark brown and medium brown. The top performing blonde shade was dark blonde followed by light blonde. Silver and purple hair color products had almost 10% and 6% market share, respectively.

3. Natural Brands versus Nonnatural Brands

Nonnatural products had significantly more total revenue than


natural products from January through December 2020, with sales of $44 million and $16.5 million, respectively. This corresponds to a 73% market share for nonnatural products, while natural products made up the remaining 27%. However, natural products have seen a staggering 152% period growth versus nonnatural products with a still impressive 135% growth. This demonstrates that even with less overall revenue, natural brands and products are on the rise for the hair color category.

4. Competitor Brands

The largest brand in the hair color category on Amazon is L’Oréal Paris with nearly $36 million in revenue, representing a market share of 16%. L’Oréal Paris is followed by Clairol, which had revenues of almost $16 million in the same period. The top 10 brands accounted for 55% of total category revenue, with approximately 223 total brands selling on the marketplace. dsn



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Connecting the Industry GMDC|Retail Tomorrow’s slate of 2021 virtual events looks to help build connections


We quickly discovered that more frequent, category-specific events better position our members to conduct business and grow in the ever-changing COVID-19 landscape.

atrick Spear, president of GMDC|Retail Tomorrow is looking forward to the association’s upcoming events. Here is what he has to say about what’s happening later this year.

Drug Store News: What’s happening at GMDC|Retail Tomorrow these days? Patrick Spear: Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, last year was one of the most disruptive years anyone has ever experienced, and like many industries, the retail industry was greatly impacted. Much like other trade associations, we quickly realized we would be unable to host our in-person General Merchandise Conference and Selfcare Summit events in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus. So we quickly pivoted, moving our GM Conference to the fall alongside our Selfcare Summit and ultimately holding the two events virtually over the course of three weeks in October. The shift from in-person to virtual events helped our members to conduct business safely, effectively and efficiently despite the difficulties to do so because of COVID-19. DSN: Tell us about the GMDC|Retail Tomorrow virtual event series. How does it work? PS: Following the success of our first-ever virtual GM Conference and Selfcare Summit events last fall, and based on member feedback, we decided to host a series of virtual events in 2021 aimed at enhancing business connectivity for members as the industry continues to navigate the disruption caused by COVID-19. Focused on GM, self-care, housewares and holiday seasonal categories and scheduled over several weeks, event attendees will have the flexibility to schedule strategic and discovery meetings throughout the year to more frequently engage with current and potential trading partners. • April 6 to 23: Spring GM, Selfcare and Housewares Strategic Executive


DSN: How does it benefit retailers? PS: The nature of how we connect and conduct business is completely changed. Our events will look and feel different in 2021, but they will continue to deliver the same benefits expected by our members, only more frequently. In April, GMDC|Retail Tomorrow has partnered with IHA to offer our respective members the opportunity to connect and uniquely collaborate with members from each association, enabling our nonfood retailers and wholesalers to meet with IHA supplier members. Patrick Spear, president, GMDC|Retail Tomorrow

Connection Meetings, in partnership with the International Housewares Association; • June 2 to 11: Summer GM and Selfcare Product Discovery Sessions (Buyer’s Choice); • Sept. 14 to 23: Fall GM and Selfcare SEC Meetings; and • Oct. 13 to 14: Holiday Seasonal Strategic and Discovery Sessions. We’re also launching a five-part virtual Startup Mic-Drop series that will run throughout the year. Part of our Retail Tomorrow platform, the program will focus on retail tech and CPG start-ups, with a panel of industry executives judging the pitches. At our Mic-Drop Showdown finale in December, we’ll award two $10,000 prizes to the series winners. DSN: Besides COVID-19, what influenced GMDC|Retail Tomorrow to move in this direction? PS: Member feedback is really what drove our decision to offer these more frequent, targeted events in 2021. Coming out of our virtual GM and Selfcare events in 2020, we gathered feedback from and listened to our members on what worked well during our virtual events and where we could improve.

DSN: How does it benefit suppliers? PS: Since our founding more than 50 years ago, GMDC|Retail Tomorrow has built unique capabilities to facilitate strategic and meaningful one-to-one connections. In 2021, buyers and sellers will indicate their interest in meeting by way of a ranking system. In advance of the events, buyers will express high/ some/low/no interest, while sellers will qualify meetings with a yes/no selection. From there, GMDC|Retail Tomorrow will build all meeting schedules to accommodate participants’ schedules and availability. Different than in years past, participating companies are not limited in the number of colleagues they’re able to bring to each meeting. And there is no registration cost for the events. Suppliers will simply pay for the meetings they accept. DSN: GMDC|Retail Tomorrow is holding a new holiday season event. Tell us about this. PS: In October, GMDC|Retail Tomorrow will, for the first time, host a holiday and season-specific event, offering strategic and discovery meetings to buyers and sellers. We’ll have more information to share in the coming months. dsn


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Treatment, Prevention and Education How Walgreens is helping fight the HIV epidemic


algreens has long been working to combat the HIV epidemic. In addition to specially training its pharmacists to offer compassionate and confidential HIV care with a focus on treatment as prevention, the company also focuses on HIV testing and participates in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Ready, Set, PrEP program, with the ability to dispense preexposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, medications from all of its pharmacies nationwide. Drug Store News caught up with Brad McElya, Walgreens’ director of specialty health solutions, to talk about the company’s HIV efforts and what they have looked like throughout the pandemic. Drug Store News: Walgreens has done a lot of work around making HIV care and testing accessible. How does the overall accessibility of pharmacists play a role in this? Brad McElya: As a pharmacist myself, I take great pride in the accessibility of pharmacists as touchpoints within our communities. I know that the relationships that I’ve been able to build with patients are key to really making an impact on a patient’s life. The accessibility of our pharmacists is two pronged. There’s accessibility in terms of geographical location as we have a pharmacy team with expertise in HIV embedded in neighborhoods nationwide. And then there’s accessibility in terms of patients feeling comfortable in approaching pharmacists, which is something that we are committed to as we center our pharmacists training around being approachable. We also make sure that we’re equipping our pharmacists with resources to be able to address the questions that a patient may have. Maybe they’re not able to afford their medication, so we equip pharmacists with various programs like savings programs or Ready, Set, PrEP in order to specifically address the patient’s needs.


need to do in order to take their health care into their own hands. It’s up to us to help inform patients that they can take this medication and it can actually prevent them from acquiring HIV. In our “treatment as prevention approach,” I believe that we have a key role in helping patients afford their medications, to remain adherent, knowing that if we do that, then we can help the patient’s viral load be suppressed and therefore they would not transmit HIV to another individual.

Brad McElya, director of specialty health solutions, Walgreens

DSN: What role does education play in combating HIV and what is Walgreen’s role in educating patients about the epidemic? BM: When it comes to HIV, there are some nuances. We know that, for instance, 1 in 7 individuals in the United States do not know that they are living with HIV. That’s why we’re really trying to increase the focus around HIV testing because, if a patient does not know their HIV status, then they can’t get into treatment or they wouldn’t be able to take PrEP as it is one of the requirements. Secondly, when it comes to PrEP, many patients may not be aware of what they

DSN: How has Walgreens worked to make its HIV resources available safely for patients throughout the pandemic? BM: One of the things that we’ve increased our focus on is making sure that we’re not losing sight of the HIV epidemic as we’re fighting a pandemic. It’s really a matter of meeting patients and our community-based partners where they are. With testing, we had to pivot last year. Normally, we partner with Greater Than AIDS every year around National HIV Testing Day as an opportunity for individuals to have a free, confidential HIV test in a private room. And due to COVID-19, we weren’t going to be able to do that, but we still wanted to help patients get tested. And that was where we were able to make a donation to Greater Than AIDS as part of National HIV Testing Day in 2020 to distribute over 10,000 self-test kits, so that patients could still be aware of their HIV status and receive information about PrEP and the Ready, Set, PrEP program. We’re also coming together with our community-based partners and really trying to meet the need for the country and specifically patients who could be at risk of HIV. As we move forward, I want the conversation around HIV to really be infused with hope because I do believe that we are at this key moment in time in which the practice of pharmacy can actually help end an epidemic. For those who wish to learn more, visit walgreens.com/HIV. dsn


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Testing as a Service 1health’s platform aims to help pharmacies lead in wellness


ehdi Maghsoodnia, CEO of 1health, said he believes that his company offers retailers and consumers something very much in demand: to make it easier and more accessible for people to get diagnostic, health-and-wellness testing. He told Drug Store News about the company’s journey and its goals to help mass retailers and pharmacies be more efficient and effective. Drug Store News: Tell us about 1health and its history. Medhi Maghsoodnia: In 2016, I founded 1health in order to provide fast and affordable diagnostic, health-and-wellness testing to more people. I was frustrated by the lack of easy, accessible and cost-effective testing options that were available. This is what led me to create testing as a service, or TaaS. DSN: What services do you offer? MM: We are the pioneer in testing as a service and are making diagnostic, healthand-wellness testing easy and accessible for everyone. The 1health platform powers engaging health applications for telehealth companies, hospital systems, corporations and government agencies, school systems, and consumer brands, allowing them to easily deploy, manage and personalize testing at scale. 1health’s cloud-based architecture allows for seamless management and tracing of tests, providing distribution across the country for faster testing and an easy-to-read dashboard with actionable next steps after testing. We keep more than 7 million people healthy and informed through our partners and direct-toconsumer brand, Vitagene, and support compliance with applicable privacy and security requirements of our partners and their customers.



Mehdi Maghsoodnia, CEO of 1health

“Our testing as a service platform allows retail pharmacies to offer a far broader array of tests to their customers.”

DSN: How does your company help the mass retail community? MM: Our testing as a service platform allows retail pharmacies to offer a far broader array of tests to their customers. By providing tests, ranging from COVID19, antigen, antibody, DNA, vitamin D, A1C and many other types of tests, retail communities can deepen the engagement and personalization with new and existing customers, while creating a new revenue stream. Customers will rely on these retailers as wellness partners. Also, because 1health has a large network of labs, we are not restricted by geography to provide fast and accurate test results. This means TaaS will provide vital testing services to rural and underserved areas, allowing the retail community to provide critical services to their communities. DSN: What role does education play in this? MM: By providing proactive, actionable insights and guidance to underlying health conditions discovered by ongoing testing, 1health is educating consumers how to live the healthiest lifestyle possible. Directly offering this service and information to retailers, 1health allows the retailer to serve as the educator, further deepening the relationship with the customer. DSN: Finally, how will this evolve in the future? How do retailers stay ahead of the curve, especially as technology keeps changing so quickly? MM: By providing testing as a service, retailers will be seen at the forefront of a paradigm shift that is happening in health care, transitioning away from a fee-for-service model to proactive wellness. Not only will this empower people to live longer, healthier lives, but it will also drive down the cost of health care across the spectrum. dsn

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


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

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


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

Jay Smith, owner, MacGill

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

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

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


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Data in Focus STChealth helps pharmacies keep track of patient data, including immunization records


ichael Popovich, CEO of STChealth, said that his company is helping pharmacies do a better job of providing the right care and increasing revenue. In a discussion with Drug Store News, he talked about what needs to be done to keep the momentum moving in the right direction for the Phoenix-based company founded in 1988 and its retail and pharmacy partners. Drug Store News: Tell us about STChealth. Michael Popovich: STChealth is an innovative healthcare data exchange company that facilitates the transfer of critical healthcare data to key stakeholders in real time. Providers throughout the United States use STChealth solutions to capture and report critical patient data, including immunization data, to public health systems and to patients themselves through our consumer access solution, MyIR Mobile. In 2018, New Hampshire, the last state in the nation to leave paper records behind, chose STC’s IWeb to manage its immunization data. That same year, the company was selected to implement its Immunization System to support the next World Cup. DSN: How does your company benefit the retail pharmacy community? MP: Our pharmacy clinical services solutions enable pharmacies to close patient gaps in care and boost revenue by increasing immunizations per patient encounter. With our bidirectional reporting capabilities, retail pharmacists can access patient immunization history directly from their state immunization information system. This ensures accuracy with the data and returns any existing immunization gaps that the pharmacist can close at the point of care. A study conducted by the American Pharmacists Association found that bidirectional reporting increased immunizations per patient by approximately 40%. To give an example, when a patient comes into the



pharmacy for their flu shot, the pharmacist can view the patient’s immunization history and suggest any vaccines the patient is past due for.

Michael Popovich, CEO, STChealth

“Retail pharmacists need to connect their pharmacy management systems to state and federal information systems if they are planning to administer the COVID-19 vaccine.”

DSN: Tell us about bidirectional reporting and its benefits. MP: Bidirectional reporting is the ability to pull patient immunization history in real time from a state or jurisdictional immunization information system. In COVID times, this is incredibly important because the two most popular COVID-19 vaccines — Moderna and Pfizer — are two-dose series vaccines that require both administered doses from the same manufacturer. Without bidirectional reporting, pharmacists would have to rely on patient self-reporting or paper immunization records. The ability to pull patient immunization history in real time ensures an efficient and safe administration of COVID19 vaccinations. DSN: What does the retail pharmacist need to do to maximize the benefits of such reporting? MP: Retail pharmacists need to connect their pharmacy management systems to state and federal information systems, if they are planning to administer the COVID-19 vaccine. STChealth facilitates these connections for pharmacies every single day. To learn more about this, we suggest that you visit immslink. com to get started. DSN: What does the future hold for you? MP: We will continue to innovate for retail pharmacists and help them expand their clinical services as the consumer drives more business to retail locations. The future of health care in the United States is a consumer-driven market, and our solutions are connecting consumers looking for healthcare services with pharmacists providing clinical services. We think it is extremely important that retailers look to partner with STChealth, and we will work together to drive more digital and foot traffic to your retail locations. dsn

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Tackling Challenges Together Panelists discuss how the pandemic has affected partnerships and what outstanding partners bring to the table By David Salazar

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artnerships between retailers and suppliers are the backbone of the industry, but what happens when they must also be built and maintained digitally during a

pandemic? That was the topic of the final panel, “Building Strategic Supplier and Retailer Partnerships,” of the Drug Store News Industry Issues Summit, held virtually in November.

Moderated by Dan Mack of Mack Elevation, the panel of executives from leading retailers was focused on some of the biggest factors of building successful business relationships — innovation,


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DSN INDUSTRY ISSUES SUMMIT alignment between companies and what the most valuable suppliers bring to the table, as well as how the pandemic changed the process of building partnerships and strong internal teams. At the outset of the panel, Mack said that only about 1 in 7 suppliers end up being viewed by a retailer as a strategic partner, and that collaboration is the key to unlocking real value from these relationships. “From a supplier perspective, 50% of retailers believe that the biggest block to collaboration is a lack of trust, a lack of clear communication and a lack of data transparency,” he said, noting that often, suppliers believe their products are more differentiated than retailers do, and working together can help accentuate differentiating features of products and drive sales.

A New Kind of Partnership One of the key things to understand about retailing now, according to Brian Owens, senior vice president of commerce strategy at VMLY&R Commerce, is that retailers are putting customers first, and so must suppliers. “Everyone is moving to a more shopperfirst way of thinking,” he said. “When you think about it, the shopper doesn’t care about walls, brick and mortar; doesn’t care about online; doesn’t care about all the places where retailers start to make money; or where brands make money. They want their needs met.” Owens said that the evolution of partnerships between retailers and suppliers — and even sometimes competing retailers — to come together and meet consumer needs has been a key change that has taken place over the past year, but it’s something that retail has been well equipped to do. “The DNA of retail is partnership,” he said. Panelists’ comments highlighted that much of retailers’ work with suppliers throughout the pandemic has been about embracing an uncertain environment in a way that focuses on execution and what they can achieve working in concert. “Ultimately, the dynamics of this year required a whole new level of visibility, transparency and purpose around our


vendor partnerships,” said Dave Semersky, senior divisional - healthcare at Target. “With so many unknowns in the market and the accelerated rate of change, the conversations have needed to evolve to focus on clarity over certainty. This is because we recognize that we can’t predict the future, so we focus on where we can be clear on our perspective, assumptions and future direction.” As evolving consumer needs led to changing what companies needed to offer, Semersky said that retailers have needed suppliers to shift to a digital-first mindset, in which suppliers are required to drive ease, value and accessibility not just with product, but with content, engagement, digital search and fulfillment. As a result, alignment has become even more import-

that both of these undertakings required the chain to partner with suppliers to better understand insights on changing consumer behavior. “I think we’ve had conversations around how to better get products to shelf and how to streamline production that we’ve never had to have before,” he said. “I think we’ve learned a lot this year as partners, and my hope is we’ll really continue to pull that learning forward and be better partners in the future.”

Innovating in Trying Times With retailers needing to pivot to new categories and services in order to meet consumers’ desire for safety while also offering an assortment they want to shop, it also has changed how retail executives conceive of innovation.

“With so many unknowns in the market and the accelerated rate of change, the conversations [with suppliers] have needed to evolve to focus on clarity over certainty.” — Dave Semersky, Target senior divisional - healthcare ant throughout the pandemic, he said, noting that two areas where retailers and suppliers need to be on the same page are around inventory and reliability. “This is a spot where, if we’re misaligned and we have limited visibility, this impacts the guest and all of the fulfillment options we’ve been working so hard to provide,” he said. “Things may also materialize differently than anticipated, but it’s much easier to adjust and react if we’re all working off the same aligned baseline approach and goal.” At Walgreens, two big efforts over the past year have been its buildout of its pickup offering — which now allows for contactless pickup at stores across its footprint — and its revamped myWalgreens loyalty program. Mike Wolf, Walgreens’ senior director/DMM for OTC drug, said

“The word innovation historically would make me think of something that’s maybe fancy and a tech-enabled product,” said Sherri Keeth, senior director of healthcare strategy and business development at Sam’s Club. “But in this new environment, it really has proven the value of our partners who are able to innovate by just quickly adapting to the needs of the member, whatever way they can.” She also said that best partners have been ones that have internalized not just their own business objectives, but also those of Sam’s Club and are proactive in suggesting solutions. “Good partners are able to help fill gaps in objectives, but the best ones have been able to understand the retailer’s strategy to the point that they were able to identify threats to achieving their objectives,” she said.


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12:36 PM

*Retail measurement service for Hand and Body Lotion segment (Beiersdorf defined) for the 52 week ending 12/29/2018 for the total US xAOC market

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DSN INDUSTRY ISSUES SUMMIT Karen Staniforth, Rite Aid’s senior vice president of clinical and operational pharmacy services, said that increasingly over the past several months, innovation has not meant a new item, necessarily, but meeting needs in a new way — something Rite Aid exemplified by opening COVID-19 testing sites, the process by which getting testing set up across the company’s footprint required bringing on new partners to help facilitate testing, she said. “If I had said to everybody nine months ago, ‘We’re going to do 50 COVID tests through the drive-thru window of the store every day across the footprint of our stores,’ I think everyone would have said to me, ‘You’re crazy,’” she said. “But just the level of effort that went into this stepping up — and everyone represented here did the same thing in a very short space of time — was very innovative.”

— the most important element was communicating with his team so that everyone was on the same page and working toward a single goal. “As new plans were being developed, we may not have had all the data we normally would have to make a decision, but we didn’t have time to wait,” he said. “We needed to quickly align and be comfortable with being uncomfortable in the decisions we were making, then set expectations with stakeholders on what would and would not work because obviously we couldn’t do everything.” Staci Cochran, Walmart’s senior director of health and wellness new business development, moved into a new role late last summer and ended up hiring an entire team virtually. She said that the experience

“As new plans were being developed, we may not have had all the data we normally would have to make a decision, but we didn’t have time to wait. We needed to quickly align and be comfortable with being uncomfortable in the decisions we were making.” — Jacob Trombino, CVS Health DMM for HealthHUB and front-store innovation New Approaches, Inside and Out As retailers worked to strengthen relationships with suppliers under new circumstances, panelists said that getting many of the elements that define successful business-to-business partnerships also helped build strong internal teams to tackle business objectives. The same communication and embrace of the unknown that Target’s Semersky outlined was discussed by Jacob Trombino, CVS Health’s DMM for HealthHUB and front-store innovation. As his team was required to quickly roll out necessary products and services — from testing to omnichannel offerings and a 4-ft. face mask section that didn’t exist before


taught her the importance of grit and consistency, as well as a concept that is stressed at Walmart — psychological safety. “You want to perform your best at work. You need to feel here in your role if you like, your contributions matter,” she said. “And it’s up to leaders to make sure that your team feels safe, they feel trusted and they feel like they can take risks.” Sam’s Club’s Keeth said that vulnerability has come to play a necessary part in professional relationships, both within and outside of organizations. “We have to be responsive as a retailer in a way that we haven’t before, and I’m sure that is the same on the supplier side. To some degree, we need a little bit of grace

because those changes are happening for our customers and we need to be able to roll with that,” she said, noting that it is important for colleagues to hear each other’s needs and respond to them. “If you are really good as a leader or as a supplier partner, to anticipate the next need is what separates both good leaders and good suppliers in this new environment.”

Eyes on the Future Mack also asked panelists to consider the future of health and wellness at retail, having them weigh in on potentially big emerging trends in the coming years. Walmart’s Cochran said that customtailored offerings will be critical. “The one word I’ll bring up is personalization: What do you need based on your genetics, based on your lifestyle, etc. What personally helped you find solutions, feel better, be proactive and be well?” For Staniforth, Rite Aid’s ongoing RxEvolution and its testing has highlighted the value of pharmacists and their role in patient engagement and retention on the front end, which she already has seen as drive-thru testing that has driven more store traffic and even gained new customers. “It’s given us a huge opportunity for future innovation for pharmacy and pharmacy’s role in testing,” she said. “And I think that will have implications on the retail side of the business we start to think more about it.” VMLY&R Commerce’s Owens said that health and hygiene will continue to be top of mind with consumers, as will an ongoing effort to take health into their own hands. “We’re moving to well care, where a lasting impact of COVID is going to be more of an understanding of themselves in relation to the ones around them,” he said. “You’re also going to see sustainability show up on the shelf, as well as more scrutiny around supply chain and who you’re affiliated with. All these things I think will be happening even faster. And I think every retailer here is positioned to win because of that.” dsn


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◊ Based on: Nielsen xAOC 52 W/E 1/23/2021 and the 2020 Pharmacy Times OTC Survey. † Based on: Total AZO Brand Nielsen data W/E 1/23/2021 and the 2020 Pharmacy Times OTC Survey (Urinary Pain Relief and Cranberry Supplement categories). ‡ Based on: Nielsen xAOC 52 W/E 1/23/2021 and the #1 Pharmacist recommended menopause brand based on the 2020 Pharmacy Times OTC Survey. Culturelle,® Estroven,® AZO® are trademarks of DSM.

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


SHOPPING HABITS NONPRESCRIPTION SPENDING TRENDS Average non-prescription HBW spend is $15.25 per trip for caregivers

30% 22%

19% 14%









Other healthcare provider








Own Research






Caregivers are two times as likely to seek advice from a physician than they are to do their own research

4% Less than $5.00

$5.00 $10.00

$10.01 $15.00

$15.01 $20.00

$20.01 $25.00

$25.01 $30.00

Key insight: Caregivers spend the most among the identified shopper segments on non-prescription purchases per trip − about $1.50 more per trip than the average.



Key insight: Four out of 10 nonprescription OTC recommendations come from a physician.


7% 22-36



48% 10%




Key insight: Nearly half of those caring for a loved one are between the ages 53 and 71.



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A Standout Approach Quantum Health’s transparency and product quality set it apart in crowded categories BY SETH MENDELSON


uantum Health is just trying to give consumers — and retailers — peace of mind when buying its products. Operating in many categories where some manufacturer claims have consumers and retailers wondering about ingredients and efficacy, officials at the Eugene, Ore.-based company want to make it clear that they follow the rules all the time. The privately-held company, which celebrates its 40th anniversary this year, offers more than 70 SKUS — most of them featuring natural ingredients — in six different healthcare and wellness categories, including immune system supplements, as well as eye care, head care, oral care and skin care segments. Products are quite specific. For example, the eye care line features products that help eyes filter high energy blue light and that also provide nutritional support for the macula to keep eyes healthy as you age. The company also has a line of DEET-free bug repellents, featuring both sprays and towelettes. For the most part, these are crowded fields filled with companies that have long contended that their brands and formulas offer the best protection for eager consumers who are focused on using natural products as much as possible.


Interestingly, the growth of the category and claims made by suppliers have always put merchants in a bit of a bind. Many mass retailers have made it abundantly clear that they want to grab sales away from natural health stores by expanding further into the natural OTC field. Yet, a number of mass merchants also said that they remain concerned that some of the products they put onto store shelves do not do what they say they will do, which can lead to push back from shoppers and, perhaps, a blemish on the retailer’s reputation. Officials at Quantum Health said they think this situation gives them an opportunity to stand out in a crowd. They said they believe that the company’s focus on being totally transparent in every step of the manufacturing and marketing processes puts them in a very good position and will give retailers, as well as consumers, the confidence they demand when purchasing natural healthcare products. “That’s not the way we do things here. We follow the letter of the law when we produce our products,” said company CEO Jason Pellegrini, who joined Quantum Health nearly eight years ago after an 11-year stint at MillerCoors, where he rose to become vice president of sales-grocery. “The secrets to our success are that, first, our products work and they work because we have developed products


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QUANTUM HEALTH Founded: 1981 U.S. Headquarters: Eugene, Ore. Categories: Immunity, oral care, eye care, head care, skin care Number of SKUs: 70+ Number of Employees: 30+ Phone Number: (800) 448-1448 Email: Orders@quantumhealth.com

that have proven science behind them. We have studied these ingredients, and we have studied what the right dosage is for each product.” Second, he said, is that Quantum Health’s items are focused on preventive care as an aging and more educated consumer base looks for products that boost the immune system or provide other protections from disease or illness. “I think that is the secret to our success,” Pellegrini said. “Consumers know us and they know the amount of work we do to ensure that we have products with the right ingredients and the right dosage. Every ingredient that goes into one of our products is there because it can help make it a better product and make the consumer feel better after taking it.” Quantum Health got its start in 1981 when transplanted New Yorker David Shaw saw a void in the emerging natural health-andwellness categories. Shaw identified an opportunity to come up with better supplements with cleaner labels, according to Pellegrini. That led to the introduction of a cold sore ointment created from research on the amino acid L-Lysine and other targeted nutrients. Today, that product is known as SuperLysine+ and sold through natural products stores. A similar product, Lip Clear Lysine+, is sold at mass retailers, including drug stores. “Our big break came in the mid1980s when Fred Meyer (based in Oregon) gave us a chance with our products, I think because we were a local company and they wanted to help local companies,” Pellegrini said. “They are still our partners today, which I think shows a great deal of consistency on our part.” Pellegrini also said that becoming the first client of the Emerson Group, the Philadelphia-based broker, played a big role in the company’s success as well. “They did a lot of work getting us into stores

and have played a big role in our success,” he said. “I have gotten to know Scott Emerson (Emerson’s founder and CEO) very well, and I really value our partnership.” After some successes, new and unique products started flowing out of the company’s research and development department on a regular basis. The company has continued to expand its immune support line into different delivery systems and has launched a line of eye health supplements based on the latest science. Quantum Health now also offers a line of USDA Organic cough drops and zinc lozenges. Educating the consumer is part of the battle too, Pellegrini said, noting that the company offers retailers different in-store merchandising displays and endcaps to help them build awareness of the brand. He also said that digital was a big part of the focus, saying that social media and podcasts are being used to make the consumer more aware of Quantum Health products and their advantages. “People are looking for these items,” he said. “We want to be front and center in their search, so we are using Facebook and Instagram, as well as influencers to tell people the real story.” The company is busy working on its future too. With a distribution center in Eugene and about 30 employees, Pellegrini said that everyone is hard at work developing the next great new item. “Right now, we have more than 15 products in the pipeline and they are all designed to make people feel healthier,” he said. “Our sales are growing at a double-digit rate and we want to maintain the momentum in the future. Look for us to be aggressively growing in the future, which will greatly help our retail partners in the food/drug/mass world.” dsn


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Cheech Marin, Ayurvedic Pharmaceuticals Partner on Cheech’s Stash CBD

CBDfx Intros Balm Sticks to its Topical Line The Los Angeles-based company is adding two new vegan offerings to its line of topical products — Muscle & Joint Balm Stick and Calming & Moisturizing Balm Stick. “CBDfx is committed to continually improving the sustainability of our products, and our new line of balm sticks uses candelilla plant-based wax to make them vegan and cruelty-free,” said co-founder Jameson Rodgers. “Our fast-absorbing balm sticks are made with broad spectrum CBD for maximum impact and are ideally sized to give consumers immediate relief, whether they’ve just finished an intense workout or are simply looking to soothe irritated, dry skin.” The Muscle & Joint Balm Stick contains menthol, black pepper oil, wintergreen and arnica to help ease aches and pains. The Calming & Moisturizing Balm Stick includes lavender and vetiver essential oils, as well as tea tree oil, to tackle dry and irritated skin. Each 2-oz. stick has 750 mg of CBD and a combination of broad spectrum hemp, effective botanical extracts and essential oils to hydrate and soothe skin, while offering cooling relief for sore muscles and joints.


Move over Martha Stewart, one of the best-known names in cannabis is entering the CBD space via a distribution deal with Ayurvedic Pharmaceuticals. Cheech Marin is spinning off his popular marijuana brand, Cheech’s Stash, with Cheech’s Stash CBD. Created alongside his children, Cheech’s Stash CBD includes tinctures, soaking salts and body creams, as well as tea. It will be merchandised in more than 5,000 gas stations, smoke shops and 7-Eleven convenience stores in Arizona, California, Florida, Nevada and Texas. “I am excited to share these wonderful CBD products that my family and I have carefully curated,” Marin said. “We love these products for our own use and think others will believe the same.” Cheech’s Stash CBD is the latest CBD brand to get a big name attached to it. Launched last year, Martha Stewart CBD has made big inroads in the marketplace via its eponymous founder’s partnership with Canopy Growth. The brand already has expanded into pet products and is being stocked at The Vitamin Shoppe nationwide. Ayurvedic Pharmaceuticals is an African-Americanowned business with a focus on vegan-friendly and crueltyfree products grown in the United States. Currently, the company is building a cannabis testing lab in California. Lisa Marcus, CEO at GLE Brands and marketing and PR director at Cheech’s Stash CBD, worked with Ayurvedic Pharmaceuticals’ Barrett LaRoda to create and negotiate the distribution agreement. “We are very happy to enter into this agreement with Ayurvedic Pharmaceutical,” Marcus said. “They recognize the quality and potential benefits of our CBD products, and are dedicated to making them available to as many consumers as possible.”


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Study: 3 in 4 Topical CBD Label Amounts Are Inaccurate

Gaard Labs Launches with Focus on New York Market A new CBD brand is hitting the market with the aim of being a major player among consumers in New York State. Gaard Labs is making its debut at several independent sellers in New York City and throughout the state with an initial collection that includes Relief Balm, Relief Roll-On with Lidocaine, Calm Oral Spray, Focus Oral Spray, Relief Day Oral Spray and Relief Night Oral Spray. The needs-focused products feature physician-formulated ratios of broad spectrum cannabinoids, terpenes and active pharmaceutical ingredients. “As a Manhattan native, it’s a privilege to launch our brand from New York City,” said co-founder Steven Levy. CEO David Meister said the company sees big opportunity in the Empire State. “New York is developing the nation’s most stringent regulatory hemp and marijuana cannabis frameworks, while remaining focused on the highest standards of consumer safety. It’s a perfect fit for us.” Early partnerships include Manhattan-based retailer Willner Chemists, the continent’s largest and oldest nutritionally focused pharmacy, as well as Empire Nutrition, which has various supplement/vitamin stores throughout the state. Not just sticking to the East Coast, Gaard Labs also launched in partnership with Pacifica Compounding Pharmacy in Torrance, Calif. The company said that it works with a Manhattan-based fulfillment center in New York City and a fulfillment center in Cicero, Ill., for all of its nationwide e-commerce and retail distribution.


Transparency-focused online resource Leafreport’s latest study examines how accurately CBD topical products are labeled when it comes to CBD content. The study found that only nine of the 40 products it tested had CBD contents within 10% of their label — and a majority of products contained more CBD than advertised. Leafreport noted that topicals are more difficult to formulate than CBD oil, and the small amounts of CBD used make consistency difficult, with some products’ labels off by as much as 99% when an independent lab’s results were compared with labels and certificates of analysis provided by the companies. Overall, the study’s findings showed that many major companies’ products performed better than lesser-known brands, but some small companies’ products were among nine products whose labels were within 10% of the actual CBD content, earning them an “A” rating. The nine products that earned an “A” rating include: • CBDfx Muscle and Joint Cream; • Erth CBD Face Serum; • Lazarus Naturals CBD Lotion; • Koi Naturals Hemp Extract CBD Healing Balm; • Medical Mary Pain Relief Cream; • Social CBD Muscle Rub; • Steve’s Goods’ CBD Relief Balm; and • Receptra Naturals’ Yoga Balm. Only Koi Naturals’ product was found by the third-party lab to have less CBD than advertised, while the rest of the products contained more CBD than on the label. To see the full results of the study from Leafreport, visit leafreport.com/education/ cbd-topicals-market-report-9816.


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Leading the Country’s Vaccination Push

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When the going got tough, the tough — in this case retail pharmacies across the country — got going. As we have seen over the last month, retail pharmacies are playing a significant role in the administration of COVID-19 vaccines, leveraging their extensive experience in offering vaccinations against other diseases, as well as their strong relationships with their local communities. “Frankly, we see this as an exciting time for our nation’s pharmacies,” said John King, CEO of Omnisys, a Dallas-based technology company that works with pharmacies. “And, we think that what is going on right now is going to be a great catalyst for change as more retailers realize the importance of their pharmacies to the general public. Covid showed that there is a shortage of primary care doctors and that the pharmacy will have to step up to help fill that void.” Even with the excitement there were some glitches. While operators have spent months preparing their systems and personnel for the vaccine rollout, mass retailers have been at the mercy of the lengthy drug approval, manufacturing


processes and distribution of the vaccines. “The limited supply of the vaccine has been our biggest challenge,” said Aaron Wiese, executive vice president and chief health officer at West Des Moines, Iowa-based Hy-Vee. “We would love to vaccinate every single person that inquires.” The Federal Retail Pharmacy Partnership program kicked off on Feb. 11, with 1 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine distributed to 6,500 pharmacies across the country. That supplemented previous distribution of vaccine doses that had been conducted at the state level. The federal program is expected to expand to include more retail pharmacies as more doses become available. The potential exists for the nation’s approximately 40,000 retail pharmacies to begin offering vaccinations when the supply level increases, said National Association of Chain Drug Stores president and CEO Steve Anderson, who noted that 90% of Americans live within 5 miles of a pharmacy. “Ultimately, NACDS members can meet and exceed the 1 million vaccinations a month threshold, yet it’s important to


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Left to right: Pharmacists from Giant Eagle, CVS Pharmacy and Hy-Vee all have worked to provide patients with resources about when they will be able to get vaccinated in stores.

understand the supply of vaccines remains the rate-limiting factor in the vaccination effort,” Anderson said. “Pharmacies across America are prepared and have the experience to turn vaccination doses into vaccination appointments, and that will continue to ramp up as more vaccines become available.” Both chain and independent pharmacies have joined the state and federal programs, which identified pharmacy locations based on the anticipated needs of the populations in each area. Independent pharmacies have the opportunity to join the federal program through their network administrators. “All the pharmacies are ready to go,” said Kurt Proctor, senior vice president of strategic initiatives at the National Community Pharmacy Association. “We’ve got a very well entrenched, good distribution system that patients have preferred for years now to get their vaccines and, at this point, it’s very underutilized. Hopefully, pharmacies will be utilized more and more as the volume of vaccine supply increases.” Many independent pharmacies have been involved in both the state and federal programs, he said, and more are expected to join as the supply of vaccine increases.


While obtaining enough doses to administer vaccines has been difficult and frustrating for retail pharmacy operators, the COVID-19 vaccine also poses some unique logistical challenges. The first two vaccines, from Pfizer and Moderna, must be stored frozen and must be used within a certain time frame or be discarded. In addition, both require a series of two shots — 21 days apart in the case of the Pfizer vaccine and 28 days for the Moderna vaccine — which adds to the complexity of scheduling and record keeping. “Everything under COVID is different [from other vaccinations] in some ways,” said Mitch Rothholz, chief of governance and state affiliates and immunization policy lead at the American Pharmacists Association. “The process of actually giving the injection is the same, but the steps leading up for storage and handling, documentation, the use of [personal protective equipment], social distancing, and so on — that’s all different than in other vaccination activities.”


The biggest challenges in the early days of the vaccine rollout have been around managing scheduling and patient expectations, he said. That’s especially difficult, considering the uncertainty about ongoing replenishment of the dosage supply. “The demand is amazing, and that’s part of what the system is trying to manage,” Rothholz said. “One thing that we don’t want to do as pharmacists is to promise something to a patient and not be able to deliver.” Because of the two-shot process, as well as the expected rollout of a single-shot vaccine in March and additional vaccines to follow, strong record-keeping systems also are critical, he said. Jared Tancrelle, vice president of store operations at CVS Health, said the vaccine rollout has a lot of moving parts that require careful management at the store level. “As the first two approved vaccines were in development, the initial challenge we faced was that each required different and special storage requirements, and that both required two doses to be effective, with different times between each dose,” he said. “We’ve also dealt with state-specific and varying eligibility requirements, which caused different populations to become eligible at different times and in different locations. This caused confusion for customers. Another initial challenge was sourcing vaccine from two sources — state and or local and federal.” The company leveraged the end-to-end digital experience that it has had in place for flu vaccinations and for COVID testing, and adapted it to use in the COVID vaccine administration process, Tancrelle said. The digital scheduling mechanism allows CVS Pharmacy to match information entered by the customer against state eligibility criteria, ensure customers schedule both required doses in the recommended timeframe, send text and email reminders in advance of upcoming vaccine appointments, and provide real-time appointment availability on cvs.com, he said. Last fall, CVS Health announced the hiring of 10,000 pharmacy technicians and other healthcare workers to support its COVID-19 response efforts, including vaccinations. This move was based, in part, on the updated federal authorization of certified pharmacy technicians to deliver vaccine under supervision of onsite pharmacists, Tancrelle said.


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Kroger’s efforts around COVID-19 vaccination have included a scheduling tool that can accomodate 250,000 daily appointments and accurately reflect the number of confirmed doses in its system.

CVS Health also hired pharmacists in certain geographies, based on the concentrations of long-term care facilities that selected CVS Pharmacy as a COVID-19 vaccination partner, he said. “When COVID-19 vaccines are widely available in our stores, we’ll have 90,000 healthcare workers, including pharmacists and pharmacy technicians, prepared to play a critical role in the vaccination process,” Tancrelle said. “We’ll continue to adjust our hiring levels to meet demand, which has been the case since the start of the pandemic.” As more vaccine supply becomes available, he said he expects more CVS pharmacies to join the effort. “Since the start, we’ve refined and improved our process and will be able to scale at the pace of available supply,” Tancrelle said. “We anticipate there to be less consumer confusion as we work through the next stages, and eventually to the general population phase.” In addition, scheduling and administration of vaccines should become smoother as state-specific eligibility criteria are reduced, he said. CVS Pharmacy locations throughout the country will have the capacity to administer 20 million to 25 million shots per month, if the doses are available, he said.


Hy-Vee created a COVID-19 vaccine landing page and an enewsletter to keep its patients informed, Wiese said. The retailer also added a location finder component to its online scheduler and vaccine landing page to help customers identify where vaccines are available at its pharmacy locations. Hy-Vee began meeting with local jurisdictions last fall “to ensure they knew we were eager to partner to serve the communities in which we operate,” Wiese said. The company also began operational planning, which includes weekly educational and operational meetings with pharmacy and store leadership to keep everyone up to date on clinical elements of the administration, training on handling the vaccine and the vaccine rollout. He said it has been important for Hy-Vee to remain agile during the early stages of the rollout. “At Hy-Vee, our goal is to be a partner that is able to adapt


to the needs of the CDC, our local jurisdictions and — most importantly — our patients,” Wiese said. “As guidance and logistics change, we need to be able to adapt and change to serve. Having a robust internal digital development team has helped tremendously to quickly update and adapt our tools for customers as guidelines change.” He also said that in areas where it is permitted, Hy-Vee has added nursing staff to its pharmacy teams to assist with vaccination efforts. “Today our immunizing workforce exceeds our supply,” Wiese said. “Nothing is more exciting to Hy-Vee than the future outlook of having ample vaccine supply to be able to immunize every individual who wants a vaccine within our communities. Our pharmacists and technicians consider it a privilege to be part of this historic effort to vaccinate our communities and help to bring an end to this global pandemic.”


Vic Vercammen, chief pandemic officer at Pittsburgh-based Giant Eagle, said managing patient frustration over the relatively slow rollout of the early vaccine doses has been a significant challenge. “We have worked to maintain transparent communication with Giant Eagle Pharmacy patients as we reassure our communities that we are opening additional vaccine appointments as supply becomes available to us,” he said. Vercammen also said the chain had administered more than 84,000 vaccinations at its 200 in-store pharmacies by mid-February. In preparation for the rollout, the chain launched an online scheduling tool that patients can view and schedule available vaccination appointments. “From the early stages of the vaccine rollout, we have recognized the importance of being a source of trustworthy information for our communities,” Vercammen said. “We have taken steps to share reliable vaccine-related resources on our website and continue to have our pharmacists available to address patient health concerns and questions. “As we continue to work through the different stages of the


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vaccine rollout, we look forward to continuing to play a leading role in vaccinating our communities,” he said. Cincinnati-based Kroger also created a scheduling tool to help patients book vaccination appointments. The new tool can manage more than 250,000 requests daily, the company said, and will reflect the amount of vaccine doses confirmed within Kroger’s system. Like many of the appointment-scheduling systems that have emerged during the vaccine rollout, the system screens users for their eligibility and then creates appointments. In addition, Kroger Health’s COVID-19 vaccine support call center has partnered with IBM Watson to create an AI-powered phone experience. Watson will share answers to frequently asked questions and reduce the wait time for patients, making appointments by transferring them to a care representative as needed. As of Feb. 16, Kroger Health had administered more than 380,000 COVID-19 vaccines in 25 states to essential healthcare workers, skilled nursing facilities, elderly populations, educators and eligible employees. The company was administering vaccines at 1,300 of its 2,200 pharmacies, and noted that if all of its pharmacy locations begin to receive doses of the vaccine, it could administer an average of nearly 500,000 vaccinations per week. “Kroger Health’s priority is the safety of our customers, associates and communities,” said Colleen Lindholz, president of Kroger Health. “Thanks to our incredible team of health professionals and technology experts, we’ve been able to streamline the vaccine rollout process across our family of pharmacies during these ever-changing times. As more vaccines become available nationwide, our pharmacies and clinics will be ready and able to administer thousands of doses to our communities every day. Our new online scheduling tool and improved call center experience will allow us to easily scale to meet demand once more vaccine doses are available to Kroger Health.” Deerfield, Ill.-based Walgreens was one of the first retail pharmacies to begin administering COVID-19 vaccinations in December to long-term care facility staff and residents. “Our pharmacy teams have already provided nearly 2 million COVID19 vaccinations and stand ready with their expertise to help educate and vaccinate additional Americans, including those in rural and underserved communities,” said the chain’s president John Standley in a statement. Camp Hill, Pa.-based Rite Aid also is participating in both the state and federal vaccine programs. The company said it anticipates providing vaccinations in all of its locations once supply is available. “With vaccine demand outpacing supply, the establishment of an additional channel for vaccine allocation and distribution is an important and positive first step in the effort to end COVID-19,” said Heyward Donigan, president and CEO of Rite Aid, when it was announced that the chain was part of the federal program that launched on Feb. 11. “We expect to see availability of the vaccine improve over time, and Rite Aid stands ready to administer as many


vaccines as we are allocated quickly, safely and efficiently.”


One way retail pharmacies can ensure they are administering the vaccines properly and meeting all the criteria set by the CDC is by obtaining certification. The Compliance Team, which launched its first pharmacy certification program last year to certify COVID testing operations, has now expanded that effort to vaccine administration. As pharmacies prepare to activate more locations for vaccine administration, it may behoove them to have a third party ensure that they are following all the proper protocols. In addition, as pharmacy operations are audited in the coming months to ensure that they have followed protocols, The Compliance Team can verify that proper procedures are being followed with regard to the handling of the vaccine itself, the management of the patient flow and the record keeping, among other aspects of vaccine administration. Having third-party certification might also help pharmacies overcome consumer hesitancy about getting the vaccine, said Sandra Canally, founder and CEO of The Compliance Team. “Even though they trust their neighborhood pharmacist — that’s a given — this is just that extra assurance to the community that safety and quality has been validated by a third-party accreditor,” she said. The Compliance Team evaluates pharmacies remotely by having them upload their operating procedures to the company’s portal and then conducts a video conference during which it can review the facility to ensure that it is set up properly. It was the first company to set up remote accreditation for COVID testing, which it has been conducting for the past year. “Pharmacies have been doing vaccinations for the flu, shingles and many other things for years, but this mass immunization for COVID can be truly challenging,” Canally said. “But we have a lot of really good pharmacies out there, and they truly are community leaders. If anybody can get it done, the neighborhood pharmacy can get it done.” NCPA’s Proctor said pharmacies have appreciated the opportunity to participate in the nationwide effort to administer COVID-19 vaccines. “We’re hearing how rewarding this is for the pharmacy, after all the struggle and the effort they’ve gone through,” he said. “Nobody’s going to make a ton of money on this, but they are so overwhelmed by the positive response that they get from patients that it’s been professionally rewarding.” “I think there will be lots of things from this that are going to spill forward, and that becomes part of standard practice,” Proctor said. “That it’s going to be good for the profession and for patients.” King from Omnisys was just as direct. “No one is more trusted, affordable and convenient than the pharmacy,” he said. “We do not see any way forward without the pharmacist being involved.” dsn


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OTC Stars DSN spotlights over-the-counter medication leaders with Retail Excellence Awards - OTC By Nora Caley


ow more than ever, over-the-counter medications are consumers’ first choice when they suffer from aches and pains, cough and cold, insomnia, or other maladies. Taking health matters into their own hands has long been a consumer trend, and the COVID-19 crisis made it even more difficult or even unappealing to visit a doctor’s office. While OTC products can help drive retail sales, the category also offers another financial benefit. According to a joint study by IRI and the Consumer Health Products Association in 2019, each dollar spent


on OTC medicines saves the U.S. healthcare system approximately $7.20, totaling nearly $146 billion in annual savings. The study also found that nearly 90% of consumers who treat a condition with an OTC medicine would have sought professional medical treatment if OTC options were not available. Some manufacturers have stood out in their ability to help retailers compete in this complex arena. This month, DSN recognizes some of the innovation leaders in OTC medicines. Here are this year’s Retail Excellence Awards – OTC.


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ADM Protexin

Research forms the basis of innovation at the probiotic company ADM Protexin. The Doral, Fla.-based company, which makes BioKult products, developed its own probiotic strains, identified with the initials PXN. The lineup includes Bio-Kult Original, which targets the digestive and immune system; Bio-Kult Migréa, which targets the head, Bio-Kult Mind, which targets cognitive function; and others. In 2020, the brand launched Bio-Kult S. Boulardii. Saccharomyces boulardii is a yeast strain that the company said is well known within the health food industry, and the product also has vitamin D3 to support the normal function of the immune system. Also launched last year was Bio-Kult Boosted, answering consumer demand for a higher CFU count of the original Bio-Kult formulation, with vitamin B12 to help the normal function of the immune system. Bio-Kult has a manufacturing facility in Somerset, England, and the products are manufactured to regulatory and cGMP standards. The products, which are non-GMO, are free of artificial colors and flavors, eggs, gluten and nuts, with guaranteed viability to the end of the two-year shelf life without needing to be refrigerated. The company ensures new products are efficacious, well researched and produced to high quality standards. “Our passion and commitment to taking the time to get it just right is just one of the reasons we continue to be the market leaders in the live bacteria industry,” said Janine Barlow, product development director at ADM Protexin.

Avadim Health

Avadim Health saw that one of the biggest gaps in retail was in topical solutions for leg cramps and muscle spasms. “There was nothing over the counter that was clinically proven to prevent, relieve or reduce symptoms,” said Chris Sposato, vice president of consumer health. In 2017, the Asheville, N.C.-based company launched Theraworx Relief, available as a topical foam and topical spray. Leg cramps and muscle spasms are becoming more common, Sposato said, because they are a side effect of many commonly prescribed medications. As the population ages, more adults are using inhalers, statins and other medications. Also common is restless leg


syndrome, which the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke said afflicts between 7% to 10% of the U.S. population. Since leg cramps and RLS tend to happen at nighttime, using the topical product also helps people sleep. Sposato said feedback from a national retail chain indicated that sales of Theraworx Relief delivered approximately 90% incremental revenue in the external pain products category over the previous 12 months, as consumers had not been purchasing topical pain relief products before. “We want to be a company that delivers differentiated solutions, not just items that are similar to items that are already in the marketplace,” Sposato said. Avadim, which also makes Theraworx Protect Advanced Hygiene and Barrier System, Theraworx U-Pak for Daily Urinary Health, and other products, plans to launch more SKUs this year.

Bausch + Lomb

A driving force in the eye care industry for more than 165 years, Bausch + Lomb is a fully integrated eye care company. With headquarters in Bridgewater, N.J., it manufactures and distributes a wide range of eye care products to meet the needs of eye care professionals, patients and consumers. Its consumer healthcare portfolio of OTC products focused on contact lens solutions, dietary supplements and eye drops. Bausch + Lomb uses consumer and data-driven insights, direct feedback from customers, and its own research and development to produce products that address the evolving eye care needs of consumers. “This cohesive approach, coupled with our company’s flexible, nimble culture, empowers the organization to quickly tackle and deliver meaningful innovation, so we can make a positive, tangible difference in people’s lives,” said Joe Gordon, U.S. president of Bausch + Lomb. Among the company’s recent new product launches is Lumify redness reliever eye drops, which gained its initial U.S. approval in 2017, and ocular vitamins PreserVision AREDS 2. New in 2021 is Alaway Preservative Free antihistamine eye drops, which Bausch + Lomb said are the first over-the-counter preservative-free antihistamine eye drops approved by the Food and Drug Administration to temporarily relieve itchy eyes due to animal hair, dander, grass, pollen and ragweed.


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The Bio-Kult range is a line of probiotic supplements for the whole family. 30 clinical trials Leading probiotic brand Resistant to the acid of the stomach Manufactured to Pharmaceutical Standards (MHRA cGMP)

For more information contact Bio-Kult





Distributed By: ADM Protexin, Inc., 1833 NW 79th Avenue, Doral, Miami FL 33126. Tel: 786.310.7233 Manufacturer: ADM Protexin, Lopen Head, Somerset, TA13 5JH

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Sublingual sprays are an effective delivery system because they absorb into the bloodstream in less than 30 seconds. A solution that is sprayed under the tongue bypasses the digestive system and does not need fillers or binders. That’s the idea behind itSpray by Benesprays, which is designed to be convenient, easy to use and portable . “The inspiration behind itSpray solutions is a natural and long-term approach to health and wellness,” said Kimberly Stiele, who founded Largo, Fla.-based Benesprays in 2018. “Living a healthy lifestyle is based on consistency and habits, which our solutions help to create.” For example, maintaining a consistent sleep schedule is important for physical and mental wellbeing, so the brand offers DREAMit, which contains such natural ingredients as valerian root and 5HTP. Other products in the itSpray line include CHARGEit for sustained energy with B vitamins, as well as gingko and ginseng to support focus. “People need energy to start the new year strong and accomplish their resolutions,” Stiele said. “Especially this year.” There also is BOOSTit vitamin spray with nutrients to support the body’s immune system, support gut health and shorten the duration of a cold. There also are hand sanitizers that are offered in a pack of five and contain more than 60% alcohol.

GSK Consumer Healthcare

GSK Consumer Healthcare offers a large range of products in digestive health, oral care, pain relief, respiratory, and vitamins, minerals and supplements. Its U.S. portfolio includes such brands as Advil, Excedrin, Centrum, ChapStick, Emergen-C, Polident, Preparation-H, Robitussin, Sensodyne, Theraflu and Tums. “These beloved brands help consumers get well and stay well, so they and their families can live healthier lives every day,” said Beth Gaeta, head of U.S. innovation. GSK is based in the U.K. and has U.S headquarters in Warren, N.J. “Importantly, we focus not only on delivering a critical functional benefit, but also on using innovation to create a lasting and memorable emotional connection with consumers, that helps us be the first choice to support people’s health-and-wellness journeys,” Gaeta said. Last year, GSK Consumer Healthcare switched its Voltaren Arthritis Gel from prescription to OTC, making prescription-strength relief more accessible to arthritis sufferers. Also in pain relief, the company launched Advil Dual Action, a combination of acetaminophen and ibuprofen. New this year in oral care is Pronamel Mineral Boost toothpaste, designed to help replenish the vital minerals that keep enamel strong and teeth white, as well as Polident Pro Partials, a product range for partial denture wearers.



With a focus on safety and science-based research, HempFusion strives to stand out in the exploding CBD category. The Denverbased company works with third-party testing labs to make sure products are manufactured correctly and meet regulatory compliance. It also works with a toxicology organization to conduct NOAEL, or no observed adverse effect level toxicology reviews. “We know what we have formulated is safe for consumers to use,” said CEO and co-founder Jason Mitchell. Among HempFusion’s products is a line of FDA drug-listed OTC topicals. “The No. 1 reason why people are seeking them out is for pain,” Mitchell said. The challenge is that manufacturers cannot make pain claims related to CBD. So HempFusion Pain Relief Balm, Pain Relief Cream, Pain Relief Gel, Sports Pain Relief Balm and Sports Pain Relief Cream contain such active ingredients as menthol, which is one of many ingredients in the FDA OTC monograph. The topicals also contain skin-nourishing ingredients that include aloe vera and broad spectrum CBD extract. New from HempFusion are two gummies. One contains 10 mg of CBD and 100 mg of an organic elderberry immune complex ingredient, Eldermune. The other is a cherry-flavored gummy. Also, HempFusion recently announced that it transitioned its line of CBD tinctures to USDA Certified Organic. There also is Probulin, a wholly owned subsidiary that makes probiotics, including digestive probiotics that use the MAKTrek 3-D delivery system. HempFusion is publicly traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

Infirst Healthcare

The product portfolio at Infirst Healthcare is anchored by the antacid brand Mylanta and the infant gas relief medicine Mylicon. Mylanta, which was the fastest-growing major antacid brand of any type in 2020, provides a broad portfolio of fast and strong multisymptom antacid/anti-gas remedies. Mylicon, the fastest-growing infant anti-gas medicine in 2020, launched Infants’ Mylicon Daily Probiotic Drops to help manage crying and fussiness associated with colic. “Infirst’s mission is to make known drugs better by delivering on unmet needs from untapped consumer insights for a better


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products that will have a meaningful impact in consumers’ lives. In 2021, the company will launch Zyrtec in a range of new sizes and Motrin IB Migraine Ibuprofen Liquid Gels. It also will continue to build and meet increased demand for Tylenol and Pepcid.

Newell Brands

consumer healthcare experience,” said Gigi Leporati, marketing director of digestive health. “With Mylanta, we have developed formulations that deliver outstanding relief with consumer-preferred sensory experiences: smooth, creamy liquids that coat and soothe with innovative, great-tasting flavors, such as lemon-mint, vanilla-caramel, honeychamomile and new chocolate-mint.” Leporati said that solid antacid dosage forms are the most popular, and 80% of consumers want relief with one tablet and just one dose. With that in mind, the Westport, Conn.-based company launched Mylanta One, a strong multi-symptom acid and gas relief medicine that combines three powerful ingredients in a chewable fast-acting tablet available in berry ginger and lemon mint flavors.

Sunbeam Pain Relief, a division of Atlanta-based Newell Brands, offers a range of products that ease common cramps, muscle fatigue, pain and stiffness. Products include heating pads and come in a variety of sizes to suit the area of pain. With XpressHeat technology, the user can treat pain fast with heat they can feel in just 30 seconds. Sunbeam also offers Heat Wraps designed specifically for neck and shoulder pain, back pain and joint pain. Deep consumer insights drive the innovation at Sunbeam. “We believe in putting the consumer at the heart of all that we do,” said Kelli Wright, associate manager of product marketing. “Sunbeam is purpose driven to make a positive difference in people’s lives. Product innovation is developed specifically based on the consumer wants and needs.” The consumer research identified portability as an unmet need in the heating pad category, so Sunbeam released the GoHeat Cordless Heating Pad in 2020. It provides targeted, high-level heat therapy for up to four hours on low setting, with a rechargeable battery for relief at home or on the go. Sunbeam will extend the product line with the new GoHeat USB Powered Heating Pad, a compact, travel-friendly heating pad that straps in place to provide hands-free, high-level heat therapy on the go with a USB port (not included). Also in 2021, Sunbeam will launch its largest heating pad yet, a 20-by-24-in. XXL-size plush pad that is 60% larger than a Sunbeam Standard Size Heating Pad.

PharmaCare US

Johnson & Johnson

For more than 130 years, Johnson & Johnson Consumer Health has been inspired by the needs of consumers, who now are increasingly health conscious, empowered and proactively searching for better outcomes. The company, which is driven to improve the personal health of consumers around the world, offers a robust portfolio of OTC and health-and-wellness products that are rooted in science and endorsed by professionals. This includes a range of products across such key categories as allergy, digestive health and pain relief and in well-known brands that include Imodium, Motrin, Pepcid, Tylenol and Zyrtec. Johnson & Johnson Consumer Health said it stays close to consumers to understand their needs, preferences and unique experiences, and combines these insights with superior science to make differentiated


Elderberry is one of the hottest ingredients around now, and PharmaCare US, which makes the Sambucol Black Elderberry line of products, stands out in this crowded space. “We created the category, first off,” said Art Rowe-Cerveny, vice president of marketing. “What makes us different is the three P’s: place, production and potency.” Sambucol Black Elderberry uses elderberries grown in a specific region in Europe. The berries have been cultivated for centuries, mainly used for dyes. Over time, the berries became very dark and that made them nutritional powerhouses. For production, the company uses a proprietary process that does not use alcohol and preserves as much of the berry as possible to make it into syrup. The potency is the third factor, Rowe-Cerveny said, as it takes a significant amount of elderberry to provide benefits for immune support. San Diego-based PharmaCare US is part of the Australian company PharmaCare. When the U.S. company was founded in 2009, it acquired the Sambucol Black Elderberry brand, years before anyone knew about elderberry or looked to retailers for immune support products. As interest in elderberry increases, Rowe-Cerveny said inferior products risk losing a category shopper, which is why SambuCol has been focused exclusively on elderberry products for 11 years. “We are not a me-too,” he said. “We know when people use our product they enjoy it, and they perceive a benefit.”


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Prestige Consumer Healthcare

Prestige Consumer Healthcare has a diverse portfolio of brands, including Monistat, Summer’s Eve, BC, Goody’s, Clear Eyes, DenTek, Dramamine, Fleet, Chloraseptic, Luden’s, Compound W, Little Remedies, Boudreaux’s Butt Paste, Nix and Debrox. The Tarrytown, N.Y.-based company also has international brands: Gaviscon antacid in Canada, Hydralyte hydration products, and the Fess line of nasal and sinus care products in Australia. The company points to several factors that make it an innovation leader, including a seasoned internal team of category experts, a supportive management structure, and a deep connection with the consumer. “Everything we do starts and ends with the consumer. True Innovation is driven by insights with the goal of improving the lives of our consumers” said Joseph Juliano, vice president of marketing. The strategy for Prestige Consumer Healthcare is to invest for growth to build brands and ensure organic long-term growth across its portfolio. Among its newest products is Summer’s Eve Active Chafe Gel, a long-lasting, dual-action formula that glides on smoothly and dries to a silky, powder-dry feel to both prevent and relieve chafing and irritation on delicate areas. Chafing is a common problem and, in an in-home use test, 90% of women who used Active Chafe Gel for two weeks said they would purchase the product. Summer’s Eve Active Chafe Gel is lightweight and nongreasy, as well as paraben-free and safe for everyday use.

Quest Products

The mission for Quest Products is to give people the power to solve their own healthcare problems. The Pleasant Prairie, Wis.-based company does this by developing its own products and by partnering with inventors and entrepreneurs. Its brands include Alocane burn remedy products, breatheWell Nasal Filter products, Clinere earwax tools, CopperFixx Pain Relief Cream, OraCoat XyliMelts dry mouth products and ProVent Skin Tag Remover. Much of the growth at Quest, a portfolio company of Promus Equity Partners, has been through acquisitions. In 2019, Quest acquired SunBurnt and First Degree brands of burn and sun recovery products from Welmedix Consumer Healthcare. In 2020, it acquired Summit Pharmaceuticals/Alliance Labs and added the Enemeez and DocuSol brands of bowel care products to its lineup of self-care products.

Reese Pharmaceutical

Founded in 1907, Reese Pharmaceutical is a fourth generation familyrun business that operates two facilities, totaling more than 40,000 sq. ft. The Cleveland-based company manufactures Reese’s OTC branded products and private-label products that are sold to national and regional retailers and wholesalers. The company builds its success around focusing on being a trusted vendor, and prides itself on providing excellent service levels and prompt responses from customer service and sales associates. Reese’s Pinworm Medicine is the company’s feature brand, launched in 1986. In private label, Reese’s focus, which historically has been on


niche items in feminine hygiene, analgesics and cough-cold, recently has expanded into digestive and sleep. Within the digestive category, the company is launching private-label versions of popular softgel laxatives and gas relief formulas. For sleep items, the company currently is focused on several softgel formulations, featuring diphenhydramine as the active ingredient. Also in the works are several new cough-cold multi-symptom formulas. In 2021, Reese Pharmaceutical will expand its offerings across all OTC categories where it has a foothold. Softgels will continue to be a focus in the digestive category, while expanding into other such categories as cough-cold and sleep. “Reese is always evolving — from improving and expanding its facilities to developing unique products — and providing new and better solutions,” said CEO Mike Svec.


Swiss company Similasan started 40 years ago, selling hay fever remedies in a pharmacy in Lucerne, Switzerland. Similasan makes OTC homeopathic remedies, primarily eye and ear drops, that are available in eye/ear sections in retail. The products cover such ailments as allergies, dryness, earache, pink eye, styes and others. The company also makes pediatric cough-cold syrups. Its U.S. headquarters are located in Highlands Ranch, Colo. Similasan uses natural active ingredients and is free of vasoconstrictors and harsh preservatives. The products leverage what nature has to offer to help the body get better. “We are not steadfastly against artificial ingredients,” said Yann Pigeaire, vice president of marketing. “It’s just that the power of nature is often overlooked. There is a place for both.” New items from Similasan include Pink Eye Nighttime Gel, a companion product to Pink Eye Relief Drops. This thicker formula is optimized for nighttime use. The company also is launching Swimmer’s Ear Relief Drops, which help with clogged ears without burning or stinging from alcohol. Customers and patients are still the primary sources of inspiration for the company’s innovations. “Whenever our formulator feels a particular product can help patients get better, we consider commercializing it under the Similasan brand,” Pigeaire said. dsn


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Men’s Grooming Gets Creative Companies focus on innovation to court increasingly picky male shoppers By Seth Mendelson


hen did men get so difficult? Well, at least in the flourishing men’s grooming category where many industry officials note that the old theory that one or two types of products would fit all now has been replaced by the hard fact that every guy is looking for products geared especially toward them. Sounds a lot like the way retailers and suppliers have to market their products to women. As countless officials — among them David Taylor, CEO of Procter & Gamble, in comments to CNBC in February to retailers across the country — talk about fine-tuning the men’s grooming category to meet all needs, many merchants are trying to develop the right product mix to entice, educate and satisfy the male shoppers, and the women who often still do their shopping for them. It sounds easy, but it is not. Especially as so many new companies and products flood the marketplace, and some people still complain that the merchandise they are seeking is nowhere to be found. More and more male consumers are seeking products that create a specific image and the industry is responding by unveiling as many of these items as possible. For example, Steven Yde, vice president of marketing at Wahl Clipper, said his company quickly got on board the manscaping craze and has introduced items to satisfy that need. Other suppliers point to such items as shaving creams, deodorant, soap, shampoo and other hair care products that have


unique features. “Innovation is the key to this category,” said Stan Ades, CEO of Pacific Shaving Company. “The world does not need another shaving cream. It needs products like our caffeination shaving cream that people use because they make a difference and can reduce redness.” The bottom line is the bottom line. Price points of men’s grooming products are increasing and so are the margins for retailers. That makes it more reasonable for retailers to deal with the changing category. “Men’s grooming routines are undergoing significant change — both due to the pandemic and macro trends that have been years in the making,” said an official at Unilever,

the giant consumer packaged goods company that manufactures Axe, a leader in the men’s care area, and Dove Men+Care body wash and deodorant. “Obviously, COVID-19 has changed the way we all live and men’s grooming is no exception. Hand sanitizers, hand soaps and hand lotions have seen an increase in sales, and we expect this trend to continue since 80% of men indicate they plan to continue washing their hands more frequently.” Still, retailers and suppliers need to keep tabs on the future of the category. Not every new item works or is met with acceptance by retailers. And what may be hot today may not be cutting edge a year from now. “There has been a shift into natural


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products that has taken place over the last decade, and it is permeating into all categories now,” the Unilever spokesperson said. “Men want to know what is in their products and, sometimes most importantly, what is not in their products. Because of this you see a lot of natural or naturally inspired grooming products on the shelf today versus just a handful a few years ago.” Unilever said it sees growth coming in such traditional categories like deodorant and body wash from new formats like dry spray antiperspirants and foaming body washes that elevate grooming routines. “We are also seeing men paying a lot more attention to their hair — whether it’s on their head or on their faces,” the spokesperson said. “Young men especially like to experiment with different looks, which has driven growth in hair styling products and beard care over the past few years. Hair and beard care is not a one-size-fits-all proposition like it used to be, which is why you see brands like Axe really catering to young men and Shea Moisture Men aiming to over serve the needs of African-American men.” Chris Silk, sales operation manager at Shelton, Conn.-based Edgewell, said that by building a well-organized men’s grooming section, retailers can attract a more affluent male customer into their stores. “In general, the men’s grooming consumer is primarily aged 25-plus and falls into the high-income bracket earning over $80,000 annually,” he said. “He tends to be the head of the household for large families of over six members, living an affluent suburban lifestyle. Among


these men, given the global COVID-19 pandemic, we are seeing accelerated trends that were already in motion before the pandemic, such as increased attention to selfcare, a focus on the environment, and shifts to online purchasing and DIY grooming.” Yet, men are still men and many do not have the patience to shop an aisle, even for their own grooming needs. That puts more of an onus on both retailers and suppliers to have the right products available in the right spots. “In store, we know that men put a big priority on convenience, so merchandising products from different categories together — either on a display or permanently in aisle — can help men pick up an extra product or two versus forcing them to walk down multiple aisles,” said the Unilever spokesperson. “Particularly in this COVID period when people are looking to spend less time browsing in stores, endcaps and displays are particularly effective to help guys find and explore new products. Different retailers are starting to experiment with ‘Men’s Zones,’ and we’ve seen it effectively drive bigger baskets.” Some suppliers are having fun with the category and using that to draw in a different audience. For example, officials at Duke Cannon are promoting their brand to the “hard working men,” tying in a military heritage with products that include the Big Ass Brick of Soap, Tactical Scrubber and some unique military-based names for hand soap and repair. The goal, according to company officials, is to stand out in a crowd and get new users to consider trying men’s grooming items.

It also seems that more men are looking at the ingredients in the products, too. Pacific Shaving’s Ades said that his company is paying extremely close attention to what goes into its products because more consumers want answers. Unilever is doing the same thing with its Dove brand, adding more items with plant-based cleansers and moisturizers in skin cleansing, deodorant and hair that deliver the benefits men are looking for with natural ingredients. Wahl’s Yde said that men are looking for added benefits from the category, though he stressed that retailers need to make the shopping experience as easy as possible for the consumer. “We recognized the shortcomings of the competitive product, so we created a product that could trim close while retaining an integrated guard to avoid those ‘accidents’ that can occur with competitive product,” he said. “The other big news is the explosion of hair clippers. We have yet to figure out why, but similar to what happened during the lockdown last year, hair clipper sales have gone through the roof. We are working on supply to keep up with this resurgence.” At Edgewell, Silk also pointed to premium products as the engines driving sales. He said that the company’s premium Cremo and Bulldog skin care brands are showing strong growth. “Since the onset of the pandemic, we’re seeing growth sourced from categories like men’s hair coloring and hand and body lotions,” Silk said. “Frequent hand washing has created an increased need for hand and body lotions.” dsn


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What’s in a Name? Beyond name recognition, self-directed grooming routines are driving Xtreme Personal Care’s big growth By Seth Mendelson


hat it always comes down to the power of the brand. At Xtreme Personal Care, acquiring the Barbasol license for its electric and personal care products is making all the difference in the world. The license of the well-known shaving cream, used by generations of men for more than 100 years, has put the spotlight right on the emerging company as it continues to roll out an impressive line of electronic men’s grooming products that is gaining traction across the mass retail arena. Started less than four years ago, the company already has more than 50 products available in the marketplace in more than 50,000 retail locations across the country, with big plans to keep on growing as a larger percentage of men take their grooming habits more seriously and search for the right product for the right use. “We have the license to one of the most recognizable brands in the shaving category,” said Jack Gemal, division head and partner of the Edison, N.J.based company. “Consumers trust the Barbasol name and that has helped us make a difference with these shoppers, particularly when they see our products on retail shelves. On top of that, we offer a great value to the consumer and very attractive margins to the retailer.” Xtreme offers products in several categories, including rotary and foil shavers in men’s shave; powered body groomers, beard trimmers and detailers in body; pro clippers for the head; and nail clippers, tweezers and personal care items in implements. “It is amazing what the pandemic did for us,” Gemal said. “Sales increased by more than 150% during the year as salons and barber shops were forced to close. People had to cut their hair themselves, and they needed our self-grooming products.” Then, as restrictions eased, Gemal said that sales continued to increase as more men decided to do what they could to look good on Zoom calls. “Products like ours allow the consumer to really decide how they want to look and do what is needed to get there in the comforts of their homes,” he said. “This proves that we are one of the few categories that are both pandemic-proof and recession-proof.” Still, the men’s grooming department has some way to go to become a major player at retail. While more retailers are giving the category space in their stores — and even its own department — suppliers emphasized that more needs to be done to grab the consumer’s attention while in store. “The bottom line is that men are more than ever concerned about grooming,” Gemal said. “This is a category that is evolving. Men want to have their own looks and that means different products for different looks.” Additionally, he said retailers are paying attention to these trends and responding with more marketing to make customers — both male and female — aware that they have a broader assortment of men’s grooming products in their stores. “This is about growing their business incrementally and looking for white space,” Gemal said. “Retailers just need to look around, and see what their competitors are doing and how successful they are with this category. The more they do with it, the better the results.” Gemal said he is excited about the future. Besides delving into more



XTREME PERSONAL CARE Founded: 2017 U.S. Headquarters: Edison, N.J. Categories: Men’s shave: rotary and foil shavers, powered body grooms, beard trimmers, head pro clippers, nail implements Number of SKUs: 50+ Phone Number: (844) 777-9601 Email: support@barbasolelectric.com

categories, including oral care, scales, massagers and thermometers, the company is starting to market its Pure Silk line of products geared to women. The line includes electric hair removal products, hair styling tools, and spa and bath products. “It all comes down to timing,” he said. “We think we have the right brand at the right time. It’s about offering them the right merchandise and getting the products out in a timely fashion. “Four years ago, we did not even exist. Look where we are now. This company is on the fast track to success and we are really excited about it.” dsn


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‘New Ideas and Novel Opportunities’ Regional chains have used the pandemic to bolster their workforce and diversify their pharmacy offerings By Sandra Levy


othing ventured, nothing gained. Many regional pharmacy chains are heeding this maxim, as evidenced by the innovative strategies they have embarked upon that are sparking growth in their businesses, enabling their pharmacists to practice at the top of their license and accentuating their pharmacists’ relationships with patients. Indeed, the ability to be proactive, especially amid the pandemic, has been the key to many regional chains’ success, as emphasized by Lynne Fruth, president and CEO of Fruth Pharmacy. Speaking at the National Association of Chain Drug Stores Regional Chain Conference in February, Fruth said that the Point Pleasant, W.V.-based chain was proactive when it came to providing COVID-19 testing and vaccines. “You can wait for things to come to you or be assertive and go after it,” she said. “We decided we were going to take a very proactive approach to the pandemic.” Fruth reached out to government leaders to make clear the chain’s value to the healthcare system during the pandemic. She said she conducted a virtual meeting with the chief of staff of West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice that proved productive. “We were able to put forth our thoughts about brands we have in West Virginia and the value we have as a brand,” she said. “We were the first pharmacy and first chain in West Virginia to stand up the everyday COVID testing in our location at the drive thru. We are still doing that. It is a pharmacist observed, self-administered interior nasal swab.” Doug Long, IQVIA vice president of industry relations, echoed Fruth’s sentiments. “Retail pharmacies stepped up big time, particularly in the first stages of COVID, with hand sanitizers, Lysol, toilet paper, and masks; then it was the COVID testing, and, now the vaccines roll out,” he said. “CVS and


Walgreens did virtually all of long-term care and now we’re seeing various retailers picking up the mantle of vaccines.” NACDS president and CEO Steve Anderson pointed out that COVID-19 has been a great accelerator. “What we thought would happen in 10 years happened in 10 months in 2020,” he said. To be sure, regional and independent pharmacies have been operating at a fast pace, but that doesn’t mean that their plans haven’t been well thought out.

Investing in Pharmacy Staff One just has to take a close look at Plymouth, Minn.-based Thrifty White. The regional chain operates 91 retail locations, two central fill locations and six long-term care closeddoor facilities in the upper Midwest. Thrifty White executive vice president of pharmacy Justin Heiser said that the COVID19 pandemic created an opportunity for Thrifty White Pharmacy to roll out a program to train hundreds of technicians across the company to administer vaccines. “We could not be prouder of the active role our pharmacists have taken in supporting COVID vaccination efforts and have been so impressed with the way pharmacy technicians have stepped up to help pharmacists with vaccination efforts,” he said. Thrifty White also rolled out training programs to support the creation of an advanced role for certified pharmacy technicians. “The certificate programs allow Thrifty White to be assured that technicians in this more advanced role have the appropriate additional education and training to be used more extensively to free pharmacists from specific activities where allowed by state laws, allowing pharmacists’

time to be redirected to additional clinical activities,” Heiser said. The regional chain also gathered input from some of its pharmacists on the changes necessary to create an environment where they are able to take on increasing responsibility, including managing complex specialty therapies, monthly injection administrations, point-of-care testing and an aging population with multiple chronic conditions. Their input resulted in a series of strategic investments in processes, programs and technology. “A couple of the larger investments included an upgrade to our central fill, as well as the build out of a new proprietary workflow platform designed by pharmacists for pharmacists,” Heiser said. “The upgrade to their central-fill automation more than tripled the throughput capacity of the facility, which allowed them to enroll tens of thousands of additional patients in our Rx MedSync program, shifting many more prescriptions to being filled centrally, freeing up both pharmacists and technicians to work with patients.” Finally, the company has been investing in their brick-and-mortar locations to convert their Healthy Outcomes format to provide their teams with proper spaces to engage in patient care.


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The design goal was to be patient-centric, with a focus on driving outcomes through more direct accessibility to the pharmacy team through additional clinical service offerings, added clinical suites, additional testing options through CLIA certifications, adding Ask Your Pharmacist stations, and enhanced pickup and drop-off areas within these stores. The ability to diversify location strategies is yet another hallmark of successful regional chains, as evidenced by Sioux Falls, S.D.-based Lewis Drugs, which has a total of 58 pharmacies in Iowa, Minnesota and South Dakota. The chain delved into several different models, including locating its 30,000-to-40,000sq.-ft. pharmacies connected to Sanford Health Clinics, a large hospital system. There are nine Lewis pharmacies directly adjacent to clinics via shared entryways and 11 pharmacies in grocery stores, as well as two pharmacies in hospitals and a pharmacy in a quasi clinic that serves mental health patients. “Those are our delineating future hopes and aspirations for what we think pharmacy will be — a vertically integrated component,” said Bill Ladwig, Lewis Drugs’ senior vice president of professional services. “We’re going outside of the traditional pharmacy realm because we’re meeting patients’ expectations with new ideas and novel opportunities.” Lewis Drugs has embedded clinical pharmacists in four of these clinics. These pharmacists spend their day interacting, educating and coaching patients. “It has increased our volume and it has also created a new relationship, not only with the patients because they can see more of what we do on the other side of the counter, but it also creates incredible teamwork with the providers as far as patient-centric activities, from drug coverage


to A1C control,” Ladwig said. “There’s a myriad of opportunities available to pharmacists to make patients be healthier patients.” Providing patients living in rural areas with access to care is yet another focus of Lewis Drugs. “We have several pharmacies where we are the only pharmacy in the county. The value of rural health care is not lost on Lewis Drugs,” Ladwig said. “Half of our stores qualify for rural status, but we also have a large urban presence in Sioux Falls and larger cities in our three-state area. We have two focuses, rural and urban, but they have the same purpose.”

Convenience and Safety A focus on a safe and convenient customer experience is a key strategy for regional chains, especially amid the pandemic. The Giant Company, which has 133 pharmacies in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia, stands out for success in this area. Leigh Shirley, director of pharmacy, said that the company’s focus and current initiative is preparing its pharmacy teams to administer COVID-19 vaccines. To that end, the company launched a parking lot flu clinic program to safely immunize customers in their cars. “This allowed us to immunize our most at-risk customers without them needing to enter the store, if they did not feel safe doing so,” she said. “We wanted to provide this service during flu season, so we could further develop and improve the process for administering COVID-19 immunizations in the spring.” Safety and convenience also are the focus points at Hy-Vee, which has more than 280 retail pharmacy locations in Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wisconsin. The chain has been

offering patients drive-thru flu shots, prescription delivery via DoorDash, and drive-thru molecular PCR and rapid antigen COVID-19 testing. It has instituted an online scheduler, socially distanced waiting areas and second dose management for the COVID-19 vaccine. “The caring, nurturing relationships our pharmacists and technicians have with our customers instills confidence in our dependability during a time when many customers are concerned about their health due to COVID,” said Aaron Wiese, Hy-Vee executive vice president and chief health officer. “Our focus is on no-contact pharmacy transactions for customer safety, including free prescription delivery and pharmacy prepay in our Hy-Vee app to allow for quick prescription pickup, as well as extra sanitation measures.” Hy-Vee also has a fleet of mobile clinics, called Hy-Vee Healthy You Mobiles, that the chain has employed for several years to help with vaccine clinics and community events that it is able to utilize for onsite vaccination clinics. What the past year has shown is the extent to which regional chains are a part of their communities and a critical part of the country’s healthcare infrastructure. It also has charted a potential path forward for pharmacy’s overall role in healthcare delivery. “What is critical is that regional retail pharmacy operators make pharmacy’s strengths in the healthcare system clear to policymakers by continuing to offer exceptional care,” said Craig Norman, senior vice president of pharmacy at H-E-B and NACDS’ 2021 regional chain chair. “At a minimum, we should work to make sure we make permanent all the things we’ve been granted to do during COVID.” dsn


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Independents Raise the Bar Amid difficult times, independent pharmacies rise to the challenge By Sandra Levy


hroughout the pandemic, “community” has been integral to the success of independent community pharmacies nationwide. Even as many pharmacies — stymied by DIR fees, declining margins and increased competition — have been forced to close their doors for good, many independents actually are thriving as a result of launching innovative strategies. When COVID-19 hit, a number of independents were able to pivot with lightning speed to provide curbside pickup, home delivery of prescriptions and OTCs, COVID-19 testing, and COVID-19 vaccinations. These new offerings have come amid ongoing efforts to build out unique offerings, including point-ofcare testing, specialty pharmacy, durable medical equipment and vaccinations, as well as launching CBD, vitamin and supplement lines.

Ports in a Storm Over the past year, many independents have been in overdrive, working to service patients in an environment for which there is no playbook. Heidi Snyder, a pharmacist and the owner of Drug World in Cold Spring, N.Y., quickly adapted when COVID-19 emerged, having employees shop for customers and offering curbside pickup, even as the pharmacy was busy filling a greater number of new prescriptions. “Cold Spring is a small town and we’re the only pharmacy,” she said. “A lot of people moved here from New York City and, in the beginning of the pandemic, there were a lot of prescriptions that were being transferred here.” In September, Snyder began to work diligently so she could qualify to receive COVID19 vaccines. “I was on phone calls and even two webinars at a time,” she said. “I didn’t want people leaving their town to have to go somewhere to get the vaccine.” After being informed that her pharmacy was going to receive vaccines on Jan. 10, a



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priest at St. Mary’s parish in her town called and asked her to have a Zoom meeting with some other people the next day to talk about how the parish and pharmacy could partner to give COVID-19 vaccines in the community. “I told them I was expecting to receive the vaccine. They offered the parish hall, and they got nurse volunteers to immunize, volunteers to help register people and the ambulance corps to do the observations,” Snyder said. “The vaccine came on Jan. 13, and on the 15th we vaccinated 50 patients at the parish. Since then, we’ve done 637 vaccines.” Snyder also has been proactive in securing limited service laboratory registration to perform COVID-19 testing. “We’re hoping that will allow us in the future to do all kinds of testing because we’re showing that we’re willing and able, and we’re right here in the neighborhood,” she said. Utilizing new technology also is crucial for success. Snyder is using online schedulers for vaccine appointments and she partners with a COVID-19 testing company so that customers can make online payments. Drug World recently added a COVID-19 services tab on its website to communicate with the public. Bartle’s Pharmacy in Oxford, N.Y., is yet another independent that has stepped up to the plate in the unchartered waters of COVID-19. In May, through a partnership with the Department of Health and Human Services, eTrueNorth and McKesson, Bartle’s began offering free molecular testing for COVID-19. “We have done thousands upon thousands of tests. We were one of the first partners to be able to bring molecular testing to our community,” said Bartle’s owner Heather Ferrarese. Through the partnership with HHS, Bartle’s is granted an administrative fee of $9 per test, and Ferrarese allocates her pharmacists to perform tests from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m., two days a week. “Every week, they’re providing close to 200 tests to the community free of cost,” she said. When New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo mandated that nursing home employees be tested, Ferrarese was able to reduce the financial burden for local employers by providing testing. She also was instrumental in helping to meet Cuomo’s criteria that a certain percentage of


residents get tested so the area could reopen. “We were lacking in testing, so it helped our community be able to come out of the pause and open back up, which our economy and our community really needed,” she said. Bartle’s is offering rapid COVID-19 tests as well, for which Ferrarese also receives a fee. She credits her local CPESN network for partnering with Prescriptive, which enables the pharmacy’s patients to register through BinaxNOW to obtain these tests. Ferrarese, who in 2008 was among the first group of pharmacists to provide vaccines when pharmacists were granted the authority in New York State, has vaccinated over 1,030 people against COVID-19. “As a small independent pharmacy that has been operating in the community for 55 years, I love this town and the people,” she said. “I’m able to do something to give back, even though it’s been an incredible strain on my staff. At the end of the day, they are excited to be able to be doing a lot of good.” Another innovation at Bartle’s that benefits patients is a medication synchronization program that has 600 patients enrolled. “It’s a great tool for us to keep people on track, and it’s a great platform to be able to monitor and manage all of our patients,” she said.

Branching Out into Specialty As independents worked to deliver for their patients amid a pandemic, two ongoing areas where they have been growing their capabilities have been in specialty pharmacy and longterm care to support patients and buoy their businesses. Alps Pharmacy, which started as a community pharmacy in Springfield, Mo., in 2004, opened a specialty pharmacy in 2015 and a long-term care pharmacy in 2017. Both are located in Nixa, Mo. Morgan Miller, Alps’ director of specialty pharmacy, said the owner’s decision to branch off from community pharmacy set the stage for why the pharmacy is still here. “We cover all bases in the pharmacy world,” she said. “Our owner was looking for other opportunities to grow. At that point, specialty was an extremely hot pocket.” To be sure, getting into specialty can be a boon as a new revenue stream, but branching out into this area requires the ability to forge partnerships. Alps Specialty Pharmacy used its connections in the local area with a hepatitis C provider and rheumatologists to jump-start its specialty operations. With many specialty medications, such as biologics and some long-acting injectables subject to cold chain


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opioid use disorders. “We were able to learn the ins and outs of grant funding, billing and eligibility and to partner with the drug court, rehab facilities and manufacturers to become the Vivitrol hub in the area,” Miller said. She also has developed a line of vitamins, minerals and herbals, and she educates patients on these products.

Getting Creative

requirements, Alps had to put systems in place to not only package these medications, but ensure they are safe and secure within a set temperature range for a set time. The specialty pharmacy is closed door, but it offers convenient options for patients to receive their medication, including an option for in-store pickup, free hand delivery in a 100-mile radius and free overnight delivery. “We are a local independent and value our local relationships, including partnering with one of the best cold chain shipping manufacturers in Springfield,” Miller said. “Although we serve a regional four-state area, we strive to maintain the independent community feel and not lose that personal touch with our patients or providers we serve.” Alps also has partnerships with the Nixa Public School System, delivering medications to drop boxes for faculty at 15 schools. It also teamed up with local drug courts and drug rehabilitation facilities to administer Vivitrol injections, which are used for alcohol and

Strategies to build new revenue streams have not been limited to specialty pharmacy. Syosset Pharmacy in Syosset, N.Y., is yet another independent pharmacy that has created innovative ideas. In 2017, when Jonathan Sholder became its supervising pharmacist and manager, the owner, who has several pharmacies in Long Island, instructed him to do what he needed to do to keep this pharmacy location afloat. One of the first things Sholder did was introduce CBD products. “That’s what sustained us from 2018 to 2019 until we started to drum up our prescription business. Then we started Rasavada Botanics, our own brand of CBD products,” he said. “We want to be more than just a CBD dispensary, but also a CBD educator.” Another initiative Sholder has launched is an opioid exit strategy using CBD. He is partnering with local pain management physicians. “I talk to them to get them more involved,” he said. “It’s a learning curve for them as well. It’s still an uphill battle, but it’s rounding the bend.” Syosset Pharmacy, which also provides rapid and PCR COVID-19 tests, was one of the first independents in the area to get the COVID19 vaccine. “We administer 100 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine a week,” Sholder said. As a provider for the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles, the pharmacy provides vision tests to customers. “Once they get the OK from us, they can then go back online and apply to get their license renewed,” he said. “We charge $10. People say it’s worth $50 not to have to go to the DMV.” Oswald’s Pharmacy in Naperville, Ill., which has been in business for 146 years, provides another lesson in the importance of independents continually innovating. Alex Anderson, the sixth generation to be

involved in the pharmacy, has been running the store for the past two years. In the first half of 2020, he was on the path to offer COVID19 antibody tests. “We became a certified laboratory. We started doing antibody tests in the summer and then got on the trail of antigen testing with BD’s Veritor System,” Anderson said. “We also collaborated with a lab in California and started doing PCR testing. In our community, we were the first ones doing that.” To date, Oswald’s has conducted 1,000 antibody tests and 5,000 antigen tests. Oswald’s pharmacists also are certified to give COVID-19 vaccines, and three technicians are working towards certification to give COVID-19 vaccines. If that weren’t enough, Anderson is working to expand upon the pharmacy’s medical equipment department that his father created. He credited the DME department’s success on being a retail showroom with numerous pieces of equipment. It does not accept or bill insurance. “There’s so many pieces of medical equipment that could improve someone’s life, that insurance won’t cover,” he said. “We match the minimum advertised price on the Internet. It’s because of our volume that we’re able to do that and to be competitive in this marketplace.” Unquestionably, the past year has thrown curve balls to independents operating in an environment that they have never experienced, but it also has ushered in a new age for pharmacists who have been striving to be recognized by payers and to practice at the top of their license. Snyder said she sees the glass as half full. “I’ve been allowed by the government to practice at the height of my profession,” she said. “We’re looking at changes in the law so that we will be able to do all vaccinations. We are looking for provider status and we’re proving that we can do things.” Ferrarese also sees a rosy future. “COVID has shined a bright spotlight on being pharmacists and our contribution to the community,” she said. “We’re very hopeful in New York State to have some PBM reform through our legislation and possibly have our scope of practice expanded.” dsn


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Navigating Diabetes Care New tools and approaches aim to help patients thrive By David Salazar


iabetes management is undergoing something of a revolution. With 34 million Americans afflicted with diabetes and who have developed a self-care mindset that has only increased with the pandemic, suppliers of products targeted toward diabetic patients — from glucose monitors and pen needles to compression socks and nutrition — increasingly are offering and bringing new ways of managing diabetes to the fore, as well as helping retailers cater to diabetic patients throughout the store.

Managing a Complex Condition As one of the tentpoles of diabetes management, glucose monitoring also can be a longstanding pain point for diabetic


patients. Sticking fingers multiple times daily to keep track of blood sugar levels has been the industry standard. Yet, as connected health’s profile grows, wellknown names in the category are looking to get smart about both glucose monitoring and injection. “In many areas of chronic condition management like diabetes, medical innovations are making it easier for patients to connect remotely with doctors,” a spokesperson for Abbott Laboratories said. Over the past several years, this has taken many forms, including cell-enabled monitors that relay information to healthcare providers or even app-paired monitors that allow for smartphone management — many of which still require the finger stick.

The next evolution in smart diabetes management are continuous glucose monitoring systems paired with digital tools. For Abbott, that solution is the Freestyle Libre, a CGM offering that also includes an app and cloud-based data management system to connect patients, caregivers and physicians to enable remote monitoring and easier management. This particularly has been useful as COVID-19 has led to fewer in-person provider visits. “By providing continuous glucose data, users can make informed decisions about their food intake, exercise and medication to better manage their diabetes,” the Abbott spokesperson said. “During the pandemic, as telehealth and remote monitoring have proved vital, the FreeStyle Libre helped


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doctors access their patients’ glucose data remotely to help inform treatment.” Monitoring is not the only element looking to get smart. In late February, Eli Lilly announced a collaboration with digital health solution provider Welldoc to join Lilly’s in-development connected insulin solutions to Welldoc’s BlueStar app. The partnership is aimed at making insulin dosing more accurate. “Today, less than half of people who use insulins are achieving their target A1C goals,” said Marie Schiller, vice president of product development for connected care and insulins at Eli Lilly. “We want to simplify the experience of using insulin by integrating our medicines with the most innovative technology available.” Outside of connected solutions, suppliers are rolling out products focused on ensuring patient safety with insulin injections. UltiMed, which makes the UltiCare line of pen needles, has debuted the UltiCare safety pen needles, which conceal the needle before and after use to prevent accidental needle stick injury. Compatible with most diabetes pen injector devices, the product also offers an audible cue to indicate when the needle has penetrated the skin and the safety mechanism has been activated.


A Whole-Store Approach Beyond the baseline management of diabetes via insulin injections and constant monitoring of blood glucose levels, various additional products that can help diabetic patients thrive while keeping their condition in check exist. A critical area of the store that many forget is integral to keeping diabetes under control is one that also is central to the retail offerings of almost all retailer pharmacy operators — food. The American Diabetes Association, in its 2021 Standards of Medical Care, noted that a reduced-carbohydrate diet is one that has seen the most evidence when it comes to improving blood glucose levels. Additionally, a recent meta-analysis of 23 studies published in the journal BMJ found that when compared with a low fat diet, lower carbohydrate diets for six months saw higher rates of remission than those on low fat diets. Colette Heimowitz, vice president of nutrition and education at Simply Good Foods, said that in these studies, participants’ carb intake ranged from 10% to 25% of daily calorie intake — in line with Atkins 20, Atkins 40 and Atkins 100. “This great news if your customer is already living a lower carb lifestyle or considering it as a way to manage Type 2 diabetes,”

Heimowitz said. “Reducing carb intake and eating satisfying foods rich in nutrients is a lifestyle change that has the greatest effect on regulating blood sugar levels and getting Type 2 diabetes under control.” Simply Good Foods is the parent company of Atkins, which offers bars, shakes and treats tailored to consumers on reducedcarbohydrate diets. Even patients who are focused on their nutrition occasionally can experience low blood sugar and require something to quickly get their blood sugar back to a safe baseline. A longtime staple for low blood sugar episodes has been glucose tablets. Pamela Hayward founded Glucose SOS when trying to help her daughters with Type 1 diabetes recover from low blood sugar episodes because the tablets they were taking took time to metabolize, and getting the correct dosage can require some trial and error. Her goal was to develop something that would work quickly and offer more convenience than a tube or bottle of glucose tablets. Glucose SOS is sold in boxes of six 15-g pouches of powdered glucose that is absorbed sublingually. “It’s a maintenance tool to keep your blood sugar up. Once it comes in contact with saliva, it dissolves and it’s absorbed


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A NEW CHAPTER IN DIABETES CARE. PATIENTS CAN JOIN MYFREESTYLE AND TRY CGM FOR FREE* MyFreeStyle is a new program that patients with diabetes can try for free*, designed to help them stay engaged and in charge of their health. Patients who join the MyFreeStyle program may be able to try a Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM) system for free*, along with educational content to encourage better decisions with lifestyle, food and activity. The FreeStyle LibreLink app is only compatible with certain mobile devices and operating systems. Please check the website for more information about device compatibility before using the app.

Recommend your patients enroll today at MyFreeStyle.us

* Eligible patients will receive one (1) FreeStyle Libre 14 day sensor or one (1) FreeStyle Libre 2 sensor and reader at $0 copay. The expiration date of the voucher is 60 days from the issue date. This program is not available for patients with gestational diabetes. Only patients 18 and older are eligible to receive an offer for the FreeStyle Libre 14 day sensor, and patients 4 and older are eligible to receive an offer for the FreeStyle Libre 2 sensor and reader. This offer is void where prohibited by law. Abbott may modify or rescind this offer at any time without notice. The discounts are not available to beneficiaries of Medicare, Medicaid or other federal or state healthcare programs or residents of Massachusetts, Puerto Rico and other US territories. The free FreeStyle Libre 14 day sensor or FreeStyle Libre 2 sensor and reader is provided as a sample and is limited to one NDC per eligible person. The FreeStyle Libre 14 day sensor or FreeStyle Libre 2 sensor and reader cannot be re-sold, traded nor submitted to any third party payer for reimbursement and is not provided as any inducement for future purchases. The free sample card is not health insurance. Indications and Important Safety Information FreeStyle Libre 14 day system: The FreeStyle Libre 14 day Flash Glucose Monitoring System is a continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) device indicated for the management of diabetes in persons age 18 and older. It is designed to replace blood glucose testing for diabetes treatment decisions. The System detects trends and tracks patterns aiding in the detection of episodes of hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia, facilitating both acute and long-term therapy adjustments. Interpretation of the System readings should be based on the glucose trends and several sequential readings over time. The System is intended for single patient use and requires a prescription. CONTRAINDICATIONS: Remove the sensor before MRI, CT scan, X-ray, or diathermy treatment. WARNINGS/LIMITATIONS: Do not ignore symptoms that may be due to low or high blood glucose, hypoglycemic unawareness, or dehydration. Check sensor glucose readings with a blood glucose meter when Check Blood Glucose symbol appears, when symptoms do not match system readings, or when readings are suspected to be inaccurate. The FreeStyle Libre 14 day system does not have alarms unless the sensor is scanned, and the system contains small parts that may be dangerous if swallowed. The FreeStyle Libre 14 day system is not approved for pregnant women, persons on dialysis, or critically-ill population. Sensor placement is not approved for sites other than the back of the arm and standard precautions for transmission of blood borne pathogens should be taken. The built-in blood glucose meter is not for use on dehydrated, hypotensive, in shock, hyperglycemic-hyperosmolar state, with or without ketosis, neonates, critically-ill patients, or for diagnosis or screening of diabetes. When using FreeStyle LibreLink app, access to a blood glucose monitoring system is required as the app does not provide one. Review all product information before use or contact Abbott toll-free 855-632-8658 or visit www.FreeStyleLibre.us for detailed indications for use and safety information. FreeStyle Libre 2 system: The FreeStyle Libre 2 Flash Glucose Monitoring System is a continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) device with real time alarms capability indicated for the management of diabetes in persons age 4 and older.** WARNINGS/LIMITATIONS**: The System must not be used with automated insulin dosing (AID) systems, including closed loop and insulin suspend systems. Remove the sensor before MRI, CT scan, X-ray, or diathermy treatment. Do not take high doses of vitamin C (more than 500 mg per day), as this may falsely raise your Sensor readings. Failure to use the System according to the instructions for use may result in missing a severe low blood glucose or high blood glucose event and/or making a treatment decision that may result in injury. If glucose alarms and readings from the System do not match symptoms or expectations, use a fingerstick blood glucose value to make diabetes treatment decisions. Seek medical attention when appropriate and contact Abbott toll-free 855-632-8658 or visit ** www.FreeStyleLibre.us for detailed indications for use and safety information. **Please refer to www.FreeStyleLibre.us for the indications and important safety information. The circular shape of the sensor housing, FreeStyle, Libre, and related brand marks are marks of Abbott. Other trademarks are the property of their respective owners. ©2021 Abbott. ADC-35229 v1.0 02/21

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into the buccal mucosa, going directly into the bloodstream, so it works super fast,” Hayward said. The product comes in four flavors — fruit medley, green apple crisp, kiwi strawberry, and original sweet and tangy — and is free of additives, artificial colors and flavors, and preservatives. The product, which meets ADA guidelines for combating hypoglycemia with its packet size, is serving as the starting point for other products, including the forthcoming glucose melts, which like the powder are absorbed sublingually once they melt. “Managing your blood sugar levels is the most important thing,” Hayward said. “You want to give people with diabetes choices of something that tastes good and is convenient. The goal is to help them be as healthy as they can be and give them choices so they’re not grabbing candy bars or products that might not be the best for them.” Blood sugar dips are not the only potential complication that can occur when managing diabetes. Patients also are at increased risk for foot problems that can result from poor circulation, which leads many to turn to compression socks to help improve circulation and reduce swelling in the feet and legs. Like Hayward at Glucose SOS, Michelle Moran has come to market with a product meant to improve upon a category staple with Skineez, compression socks that also aim to hydrate the skin. Developed in


partnership with orthopedic surgeon Dr. David Jaofsky, Skineez are infused with apricot kernel oil, retinol, rosehip oil, shea butter, vitamin A and vitamin E. “The creams usually sit next to conventional (drying) compression and diabetic socks,” Moran said. “Now there is a solution where these ingredients are included inside the product.” She also said that Skineez uses micro-capsule technology to embed the ingredients into the fabric of the sock. The hydrating benefits are meant to last for 10 washes, after which Moran said users can apply Skineez Garment Spray to reinfuse the socks.

Education and Merchandising Diabetes is an area in which retail pharmacies successfully can leverage their not-sosecret weapon — the pharmacist — to educate customers on their assortment and recommend products throughout the store. To do so, though, they have to know what options exist, which is why Abbott has focused on supporting education grants for pharmacy continuing education. “To date, Abbott has provided educational grant support for pharmacists who continue education via programs with the American Pharmacists Association, Pharmacy Times, Medscape, the ADA and the American Association of Diabetes Educators,” the Abbott spokesperson said. “In addition to

national and online programs, Abbott provides live peer-to-peer training sessions for pharmacists and webinars on the clinical application of FreeStyle Libre and CGM report interpretation, using the Ambulatory Glucose Profile, a standardized one-page report that visually summarizes glucose trend data. Diet and nutrition also offer an opportunity for guidance. “Now more than ever, [pharmacists] can play a key role in helping individuals navigate the diabetic aisles near the pharmacy,” Heimowitz said. “The evolving research showing how effective low carb diets are in managing Type 2 diabetes should help pharmacists feel confident when recommending low sugar and low carb products, such as low sugar, low carb bars, shakes, meals and treats, to customers.” In terms of educational merchandising, Skineez’s Moran said that the company focuses on making sure its packaging includes educational information about compression socks and the ingredients they are infused with and has developed displays that it ships with the products. “These displays have educational and product information printed on the back of the display — in sight of the pharmacists,” she said. “We do this to help educate the pharmacists about the product benefits Skineez delivers. The more knowledge the pharmacist has about the product, the easier it is for them to recommend.” dsn


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Enhancing the Online Shopping Experience Retailers can further build momentum as shoppers increase expectations By David Orgel

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


e all know about the surge in e-commerce during the pandemic — and how online shopping in such sectors as food and drug made lives easier for countless consumers. However, what happens when the emergency is decreased? Will shoppers stick with their higher levels of online shopping? This is an important question because the e-commerce experience wasn’t always optimal during the pandemic. Shoppers at times experienced out of stocks, long waits for delivery or pickup slots, and inaccurate orders. This was especially true early in the pandemic as retailers pulled out all the stops to address unprecedented demand. Meanwhile, shoppers over time are likely to increase their expectations about what constitutes a good online shopping experience. So what more can be done to keep shoppers engaged and to accelerate momentum? The outlook for e-commerce was spotlighted during the recent virtual Midwinter Executive Conference of FMI — The Food Industry Association. Elizabeth Buchanan, head of consumer intelligence for North America at NielsenIQ, delivered a presentation on the current landscape that included eye-popping data points. She was joined by co-presenter Doug Baker, vice president of industry relations at FMI. Buchanan relayed the following stats: • The total online food and beverage landscape in 2020 saw $106 billion in dollar sales, a 125% increase in growth versus the year-ago period; • The rapid growth of click and collect led to a 130% increase in orders and a 113% jump in users; and • The 2021 sales forecast for digitally engaged food shopping (excluding retail foodservice and meal kits) ranges from $94 billion to $109 billion. I was particularly focused on points Buchanan made about how retailers can maintain and build on the momentum for online shopping in the future, including as the pandemic wanes. Many of her

comments centered on new ways to accelerate shopper experience: • Entertaining occasions: The online shopping experience creatively can help support entertaining when those types of gatherings become more possible, such as through the use of recipe builders that can add the needed ingredients to shopping carts; • Personalization: E-commerce can personalize search with enhanced strategies. In one example Buchanan cited, Nordstrom enables online customers to shop in a category such as dog walking — not a traditional segment for a department store, but one that opens up the potential for new experiences and recommendations; and • New partnerships: New collaborations can expand customer experience in retail omnichannel environments. In one example given, Carrefour of France has partnered with Uber Eats to provide customers access to both prepared meal solutions and groceries. Other retailers are stepping up with new e-commerce experiences of their own, including for curbside pickup. One such initiative that caught my attention recently was from The Fresh Market, which launched “The Friendliest Curbside Experience in America” customer service platform. The retailer’s offering includes personal shoppers and such “wow moments” as having costumed Santa’s bring out curbside orders during the Christmas season. I like the way that The Fresh Market is thinking. This kind of strategy helps to step up omnichannel experiences. I’m using the “omni” prefix because most consumers don’t just shop one way. Nielsen’s Buchanan said two-thirds of U.S. consumers are using online and offline channels — so retailers need to meet their expectations across the board. E-commerce broke all records during the pandemic because of necessity. Yet once the landscape changes, there will be bigger shopper expectations for overall experience. Retailers have an opportunity to start planning now to be ready for what comes next. dsn


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Our products are rooted in science. We use clinically-studied ingredients to produce the most effective immune support products available. For 40 years, Quantum Health has been a leader in providing high quality and trusted immune support products. Now more than ever, customers are looking for effective solutions to give their immune system a boost and you can count on the clinicallystudied ingredients that go into every one of our products. Give your customers an advantage with Quantum Health.*

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Keeping people healthy shouldn’t make the planet sick. Making affordable medicines for good health shouldn’t harm the environment. At Dr. Reddy’s, our commitment to the planet lies at the heart of all that we do. We manage our manufacturing and business activities within a sustainable framework: from zero liquid discharge and zero hazardous waste to landfill initiatives, to reducing packaging, green chemistry, and process innovation. Minimizing the environmental impact of our business operations is our top priority because Good Health Can’t Wait.

www.drreddys.com Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories, Inc. | 107 College Road East, Princeton, NJ 08540 | Tel: 866-733-3952

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