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COVID-19 moved the needle on pharmacy reform; shifting industry to ideal model will take time

MARCH 2023 DRUGSTORENEWS.COM INSIDE Regional pharmacies thrive amid
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COVID-19 moved the needle on pharmacy reform; shifting industry to ideal model




Dove, LinkedIn partner to end race-based hair discrimination

#BlackHairIsProfessional sets goal to help create a more equitable and inclusive work environment by the end of 2023


Back-to-Office Means

Men’s Grooming Bonanza

Sales of shaving products, hair removal and hair care are getting a boost from men looking to spruce up for work and social activities


Trend Spotters

Spate is using data to predict the next big consumer trends in beauty


Innovations and Unique Opportunities

Regional pharmacies are thriving as a result of diversifying their offerings and services


Vitamin Vitae

Vitamins and nutritional product sales may be correcting, but there’s still innovation across key segments


REX Awards 2023

DSN’s Retail Excellence Awards spotlight companies that help consumers treat minor maladies with over-the-counter solutions

6 March 2023 DRUGSTORENEWS.COM 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. 45 No 3, March 2023. Copyright © 2023 by EnsembleIQ. All rights reserved. Vol. 45 No. 3 DEPARTMENTS 8 EDITOR’S NOTE 10 INDUSTRY NEWS 14 PRODUCTS TO WATCH 18 ISSUES SUMMIT REPORT 22 WOMEN IN THE NEWS COLUMNS Facebook.com/DrugStoreNews Twitter.com/DrugStoreNews
16 ONE-ON-ONE With Will Righeimer, CEO, Hyland’s Naturals 66 LAST WORD
David Orgel Retail Marketing That Drives Education and Trust 24

Access for All

Solving health care access will require retail pharmacy

America has a health care access problem.

According to the National Rural Health Association, the patient-to-primary care physician ratio in rural areas is 39.8 physicians per 100,000 people, compared to 53.3 physicians per 100,000 in urban areas.

But lack of access is an issue in urban areas, too. Transportation issues, as well as access to care in certain neighborhoods, create barriers that often affect low-income families, as well racial and ethnic minorities, studies show.

There is a solution: retail pharmacy. Pharmacies, especially those that are located in rural and disadvantaged communities, play a huge role in solving some of these issues. And regional pharmacies are on the front lines.

Last month, Lynne Fruth, president and chairman of Fruth Pharmacy in West Virginia, wrote a column for the magazine talking about the importance of regional pharmacies and what would happen if communities don’t have access to them. “If you think healthcare is expensive now, just wait until our oldest and poorest patients no longer have access to care in their communities,” she warned.

Our cover story this month (page 24) takes a deeper dive into regional pharmacies and looks at how they are innovating and helping to address health disparities in less populated and underserved areas of the country.

“Lewis Drug has numerous locations where we are the only pharmacy in the entire county in these rural areas,” Bill Ladwig, senior vice president of professional services at Lewis Drug, told us. “These locations serve as a healthcare destination in small communities by providing immunizations, adherence packaging and counseling and medication therapy management.”

Of course, retail pharmacies — regional or national — probably could be doing more if they are given the opportunity, said the Lown Institute, a nonpartisan think tank advocating for bold ideas in healthcare.

“In most states, pharmacists are not recognized as health providers and cannot be reimbursed for clinical services, only for filling prescriptions,” the organization wrote in 2020. “This limits their role to cogs in the pharmacy machine, when we could be utilizing their medication knowledge to helping conduct prescription checkups and reducing harmful overmedication. Medicare should recognize pharmacists as health providers, so that pharmacists can be integrated into clinical care teams.” dsn

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Chief Executive Officer Jennifer Litterick

Chief Financial Officer Jane Volland

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Executive Vice President, Content & Communications Joe Territo Executive Vice President, Operations Derek Estey


John Beckner, NCPA

Becky Dant, Costco

J. Jeremy Faulks, Thrifty White Pharmacy

Doug M. Long, IQVIA

Nancy Lyons, Health Mart Pharmacy

Katie Scanlon, Publix Super Markets

Heidi Snyder, Drug World Pharmacies


#1 Selling pen needles just got even better.1,2*

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completed 6 pairs of abdominal injections of 0.3 mL sterile saline in random order and utilized a Likert Scale where ratings range from -2 to 2; positive scores reflect less thumb force for BD Nano and negative scores reflect less thumb force for the comparator pen needle. Scores of 0 indicate no difference. BD Nano™ 2nd Gen 32Gx4mm contoured hub 5-bevel extra thin wall demonstrated superiority vs each comparator group for less injection force. [(P <0.01) (Artsana 33Gx4mm mean +0.80, 95% CI, +0.62 to +0.98); (Artsana 34Gx3.5mm mean +0.98, 95% CI, +0.80 to +1.16); (Comfort EZ 33Gx4mm mean +0.31, 95% CI, +0.13 to +0.49); (Terumo 34Gx4mm mean +0.21, 95% CI, +0.07 to +0.35)]. §198 patients with diabetes were included in this prospective, multicenter, randomized, open-label, 2-period, crossover study to evaluate differences in confidence that the full dose of insulin was delivered between the participants’ usual pen needle (PN) and the corresponding extra-thin wall (XTW) PN. Confidence in delivering the full dose of insulin was assessed with the use of a visual analog scale (VAS). Confidence results would be considered statistically significant if the 95% CI for the mean VAS score was either positive (XTW preferred) or negative (current PN preferred). XTW PNs had statistically significantly increased confidence that the full dose was delivered by 24.4mm ([95% CI, 19.7-29.1] [P<0.001]). ||Single-blind, randomized, control trial of 154 patients with diabetes where each completed 6 pairs of abdominal injections of 0.3 mL sterile saline. Leakage was measured with a calibrated analytical scale. The occurrence of leakage from the needle tip and the injection site (measurements combined) was defined as wet weight equivalent to ≥5% of the injection volume, [equivalent to ≥0.015 g (0.015 mL)]. Leakage frequency for BD Nano™ 2nd Gen 32Gx4mm contoured hub 5-bevel extra thin wall was 0.4% vs 3-bevel posted hub (Artsana 33Gx4mm, 6.2%; P<0.001); (Artsana 34Gx3.5mm, 18.8%; P 0.026); (No significant difference vs Comfort EZ 33Gx4mm). ¶Fingertip Formulary, as of 1/27/2022.

1. IQVIA XPT Device Retail TRx Data. United States, Nov 2020- Oct 2021. 2. Whooley S, Briskin T, Gibney MA, et al. Evaluating the User Performance and Experience with a Re-Engineered 4 mm x 32G Pen Needle: A Randomized Trial with Similar Length/Gauge Needles. Diabetes Ther. 2019;10(2):697-712

3. Rini CR, Roberts BC, Morel D, Klug R, Selvage B, Pettis RJ. Evaluating the Impact of Human Factors and Pen Needle Design on Insulin Pen Injection. J Diabetes Sci Technol. 2019; doi: 10.1177/1932296819836987.

4. Aronson R, Gibney M, Oza K, Berube J, Kassler-Taub K, Hirsch L. Insulin pen needles: effects of extra-thin wall needle technology. Clin Ther. 2013;35(7):923-933

5. Hirsch L, Gibney M, Berube J, Manocchio J. Impact of a modified needle tip geometry on penetration force as well as acceptability, preference, and perceived pain in subjects with diabetes. J Diabetes Sci Technol. 2012;6(2):328-335. 6. Gibney M., Fitz-Patrick D., Klonoff D., Whooley S., Lu B., Yue W., Glezer S. User experiences with second-generation 32-gauge × 4 mm vs. thinner comparator pen needles: A Prospective Randomized Trial. Current Medical Research and Opinion, DOI: 0.1080/03007995.2020.1803248, 2020. 7. BD Compatibility Confirmation for Pen Needles and Pen Injector Manufacturers, Document Number: 149OTH-0004-20, Ver S, Dated 3 February 2021.


embecta, formerly part of BD. BD is the manufacturer of the advertised products. embecta and the embecta logo are trademarks of Embecta Corp. BD and the BD Logo are trademarks of Becton, Dickinson and Company. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners. © 2022 Embecta Corp. All rights reserved. U.S. Patent Nos. D787054, D825749, D804023 and other patents pending. 2203772033N1SADDSN

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Private brand sales hit record

RangeMe highlights emerging global buyer trends

RangeMe’s Retail Recap 2022 report finds that coffee, candy and mushrooms were top-of-mind among retail buyers within the last year.

In 2022, private label sales hit a new record, according to the Private Label Manufacturers Association.

Within the last year, sales jumped 11.3% to $228.6 billion in all outlets in the United States for the 52 weeks ending Jan. 1, 2023.

Due to the increase in performance, store brands also grew nearly twice the rate of national brands, which were up just 6.1% in dollar sales, according to the organization.

“The store brands business is booming,” said PLMA president Peggy Davies. “Last year’s record sales and double-digit growth reflect the strong consumer demand for store brands. Shoppers are filling their baskets with great-tasting, innovative and highquality store brand foods, beverages, nonfoods, household goods and many other categories.”

Dollar shares increased 18.9% from 18.2% in 2021 and unit shares grew 20.5% from $19.9%. The study notes that a reason for the growth was the inflationary environment that motivated more shoppers to try, buy, like and remain loyal to store brands because of the quality they provide.

While private brand unit sales slipped by 1% in 2022, they outperformed national brand unit sales, which dropped -4.1%.

Of the 17 departments IRI tracks, 16 showed store brand growth. Numerous categories even had double-digit sales gains. The fastest-growing segments are beverages, up 19% to $12 billion; deli-prepared foods, 17% to $5.9 billion; refrigerated foods, 17% to $47.4 billion; liquor, 15.6% to $62 million; general food, 14% to $38.6 billion; floral, 13.5% to $883 million; bakery, 12.6% to $8.4 billion; produce, 11.9% to $13.5 billion and deli meat, 10% to $1.7 billion.

Strong sales were also reported in general merchandise, up 9% to $27.7 billion; frozen foods, 8.2% to $17.7 billion; deli cheese, 5.5% to $754 million; meat, 5% to $26.5 billion; health care products, 3% to $17.6 billion, beauty, 2.7% to $3.7 billion; and homecare, 2% to $2.7 billion.

“When it comes to quality, value, taste and performance, store brands can’t be beat,” Davies said.

The report, which highlights trends among the activity of national and international buyers on the RangeMe platform, also tracks keywords and certification searched, most visited collections and engagement with products and brands.

“The products buyers are searching for now are those that will be on the shelves in the coming months and years,” said Nicky Jackson, founder of RangeMe. “By analyzing the buyer activity on RangeMe, we get a look at what will be trending next in the fast-moving consumer goods arena.”

Coffee was the most popular keyword of buyers in 2022, garnering 19.4% of all searches, which also reflected new trends in the category—cold brew, fair trade, functional coffee and coffee accessories. Just behind coffee, representing 18.4% of keyword search terms was candy, a category that includes some of the top-performing brands on RangeMe based on overall buyer activity and engagement.

Mushroom, on the other hand, has an 18.3% search volume, which searched in the context of several different categories across the food, beverage and health and beauty care categories, such as “mushroom coffee” and “mushroom supplements.”

Other popular search terms included toys at 10.5%, water at 9.6%, pet at 8.3%, sunscreen at 8%, and candles at 7.5%.

Search terms varied among the international markets analyzed. Popular U.K. RangeMe search terms include porridge (41.1%), tiles (21.4%), makeup (19.6%) and baby (17.9%). For APAC buyers, salad dressing was the most popular search (28.6%), followed by bacon, wet wipes (23.5%), and acne (20.2%). In the Netherlands, lozenges topped buyer searches at 41.5%, followed by sun care (27.2%), keto (19%) and dog cookies (12.2%).

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Community pharmacies facing drug, staff shortages

A new survey by the National Community Pharmacists Association indicates that many independent community pharmacies are experiencing ongoing drug shortages and difficulty filling open staff positions.

percent overall report having a difficult time filling open staff positions, a slight decrease from previous surveys.

“Independent pharmacy owners typically have more flexibility than chain pharmacies when it comes to personnel,” said NCPA CEO Douglas Hoey. “They can offer more flexible hours and more attractive working conditions, for example. But unlike small businesses in other industries, they can’t easily raise prices to cover rising costs because PBMs and big insurance companies dictate prescription drug pricing. Unfortunately, these ongoing pressures with the supply chain, PBMs, and our economy continue to make it a challenging time for the very pharmacies who, for so many patients, are the most accessible health care option.”

The NCPA survey was conducted from Jan. 23 to 30, 2023. It was sent to approximately 8,000 independent pharmacy owners and managers, with approximately 330 responding.

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New & Noteworthy

HRG’s five notable products from February 2023

Product introductions were relatively strong again in February, though the number of new products was lower than in January. It was the third straight month of declines. For the month of February, suppliers introduced 194 new products, which is 30 less than the 224 they introduced in January. Waukesha, Wis.-based HRG reviewed six products in the health category, 83 in the wellness sector and 106 items in the beauty aisle to see which ones stood out as Products to Watch. Here is what they found:

1. Neosporin + Lidocaine Maximum Strength Ointment

Johnson & Johnson’s new Neosporin + Lidocaine Maximum Strength Ointment provides consumers with a topical antibiotic to desensitize and numb painful cuts, scrapes and burns. The no-sting formula is designed to deliver relief quickly and offer 24-hour protection, the company said. It comes in a 0.5-oz. tube.

2. Smooth AF Athlete’s Foot Towels

Smooth AF Athlete’s Foot Towels from Pelli Skin were developed to cure and prevent athlete’s foot while also cleaning, conditioning and revitalizing feet. The towels are made with the active ingredient Tolnaftate, but are alcohol- and paraben-free. Pelli Skin claims the towels are gentle enough to be used daily. It comes in a 30-ct. pack.

3. Tagamet Heartburn 200mg Tablet Icy Cool Mint

Medtech Products’ Tagamet Heartburn 200mg Tablet Icy Cool Mint is formulated to provide a cooling sensation in the mouth and throat. The company said that with just one tablet, heartburn and acid indigestion can be prevented or relieved. It can be taken before, during or after a meal. Icy Cool Mint comes in a 30-ct. pack.

4. Sensodyne Sensitivity Gum & Enamel Toothpaste

Sensodyne Sensitivity Gum & Enamel Toothpaste by Haleon is formulated to create a protective layer over enamel while providing sensitivity relief. The brand uses stannous fluoride for triple action to target hard-to-reach places and help restore and maintain gum health. It comes in a 3.4-oz. tube.

5. Gillette Intimate 2-in-1 Shave Cream + Cleanser

Procter & Gamble has introduced Gillette Intimate 2-in-1 Shave Cream + Cleanser as a way to protect the pubic area from shaving irritation. Made without parabens, dyes or silicones, the dermatologist-tested shave cream is gentle enough to double as a daily cleanser, the company said. It comes a 6-oz. tube. dsn

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Natural Sources

Will Righeimer, CEO of Hyland’s Naturals, takes a look at what’s ahead for the company

Drug Store News recently spoke with Hyland’s Naturals CEO, Will Righeimer, about what is happening at the company now and what’s ahead. Righeimer, who joined Hyland’s Naturals in March 2021, previously served as President and Global General Manager at Mars Inc., where he oversaw the global health and wellness division.

Drug Store News: The 2022-2023 cold and cough season was surprising to everyone. How did Hyland’s Naturals respond?

Will Righeimer: This last cold and cough season was certainly above average, largely due to the “tripledemic” that swept across the country. In 2022, though, we completely transformed our supply chain process to become the supplier of choice for our retail partners. I’m extremely proud to say that our team was able to ship all customers 100% on time and in full during this unpredictable cold and cough season. To do that, we invested significantly in more raw material supplies and completed our state-of-the-art manufacturing facility. The new facility has multiple high-speed production lines that enabled us to meet demand this season and triples our future capacity.

DSN: We understand preventative options are a focus for Hyland’s Naturals going forward; what can you tell us about that?

WR: I think the pandemic and this resultant rampant cold and cough season have many of us looking at our health more proactively and year round. Consumers want solutions that help them feel better quickly and they are also asking what they can do to stay healthier overall.

Hyland’s Naturals is the trusted brand with the #1 natural pediatric cold and cough products and it continues to be the #1 category leader in leg cramp and earache solutions. We’re seeing significant interest in our newer VMS products, like our Hyland’s Naturals Organic Elderberry Plus Gummies and Hyland’s Naturals Cough & Immune Syrup made with 99% organic ingredients. This year alone we expect to launch

more than 15 new and uniquely formulated VMS product offerings, from pediatric wellness to women’s health. We’re especially excited to expand our cough and cold business to provide babies & kids with even more options such as our new USDA Certified Organic Chest Rubs and USDA Certified Organic Cough Syrups with additional sleep and immunity support. Hyland’s Naturals has been helping families for a long time and we see this product line expansion as the next natural step for our business.

DSN: What are consumers looking for in their wellness products?

WR: Today’s consumers are looking for products that are not just made with high quality natural active ingredients, but they also want these products to be free of artificial sugar, flavor, color, etc. Hyland’s Naturals products meet these consumer demands for better-for-you alternatives while helping to provide natural relief users. We’ve been focused on staying true to our brand and what it means for consumers with our new products—to empower families to live healthier and happier lives with unique formulations using safe and effective natural ingredients. dsn

Will Righeimer CEO Hyland’s Naturals
*Claims based on traditional homeopathic practice, not accepted medical evidence. Not FDA evaluated. Order today and contact us at sales@hylands.com DAY OR NIGHT

DSN Industry Issues Summit: Eliminating retailer, supplier blind spots



panel tackled how to improve relationships between retailers and suppliers

Panelists on Dan Mack’s “Look Closer: Eliminating Retailer & Supplier Blind Spots” at Drug Store News’s 24th annual Industry Issues Summit discussed ways to improve relationships between retailers and suppliers.

The executives weighed in on innovation, how expectations have changed, enterprise relationships, the future of health and wellness, emerging growth ideas and how to manage difficult conversations.

Moderated by Dan Mack, managing partner of Mack Elevation, the panel included Mike Wolf, senior director/ divisional merchandise manager OTC at Walgreens; Maya Bowie, vice president of marketing at Walmart; Pat Mooney, vice president, health & beauty, general merchandise at Wakefern Food; Jennifer Cowell, vice president of DMM baby, HBA and OTC at Sam’s Club; and Mike Weir, senior director of consumer health and wellness at CVS.

How can we reimagine relationships and identify where the blind spots are?

Commenting on the fact that innovation is the source of growth for Walmart’s partners and retailers, Bowie said, “We’ve all gotten more sophisticated. True transparency in collaboration. You have to be honest about what is important to our business and customers and have real conversations about where innovation comes from.”

She also noted that being customercentric and truly solving customer problems is crucial.

“When you take a customer pain point and brilliantly solve it, that is what customers react to and what drives growth,” Bowie said. “Recognizing that you sit in a category of consumer space that is important, but as

one of your partners, Walmart has a focus. Becoming purpose driven is a key part of our mission. We help people save money so they can live better.”

Wolf chimed in, stating that when customers walk into a store or go online they expect products. “We need to think differently about supply,” he said, adding that curiosity and the pace of change won’t slow down.”

Wolf went on to say that customers demand fast and easy access to health care. He advised that we have to think differently and ask the right questions. “Are you solving a customer problem in a new way? Be courageous. Change is hard and change is happening. Our buyers don’t have infinite aisles. Are we being bold together, making hard choices?” he said.

Weir took the discussion further, noting that CVS talks about innovation internally and with suppliers. “Supply is stable stakes,” he said. “We need to think about the customer first. Is this innovation going to

be incremental to the customer experience? Is the brand the right type of brand for this product, and at the right inflection point to come to the masses? Is the brand extension appropriate for the category? Most critical is the brand plus innovation combination.”

Weir also noted that when he sees success, it’s about a net innovation that is incremental to the category. “Does it appeal to the customer from a brand perspective or is it the same recipe? Sometimes we see innovation that doesn’t have a brand that can cut through on the shelf,” Weir said.

Pointing out that people think about their business metrics, Bowie said, “If you start with the customer problem, the solution will drive those sales.”

How can suppliers create a broader, more holistic partnership?

Emphasizing that Sam’s Club is member-obsessed, Cowell said, “It starts with truly understanding what item you are trying to get a merchant to buy. If you’re

Hosted by Dan Mack, the Industry Issues Summit panel featured executives from Walgreens, Walmart, Wakefern Food, Sam’s Club and CVS.

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coming in knowing everything about our member, you are showing us you have skin in the game and want to work with us because we’re a limited SKU environment. If you can show us you really took the time to know who our members are, that is what starts to set a foundational relationship and we can move into joint business planning.”

Mooney pointed out that trust and communication are foundational to any relationship.

“From there, when you run into rigidity and issues, you focus on the consumer and that friction goes away,” Mooney said. “The pressure in the room comes out and you have this third party you focus on. Talk about the customer and the purpose of your organizations. Open your doors, give us access to your teams. Don’t bring us a one size fits all class of strategy. Let’s listen to each other and reduce some of the rigidity.”

On the subject of the future of health and wellness, Wolf emphasized that the labor market is tight. “There’s less folks to go around so having the right talent will be important in the future from a supply standpoint; the future will be planning around those things,” he said, noting that offering a seamless experience for customers also is critical.

Weir pointed out that there are big industry changes on the horizon as we talk about category evolution, notably the future of Rx to OTC switches. “Increasing access to nonprescription OTCs has helped our customers,” Weir said. “With that there are some complications. We need to ask ourselves, how are we thinking about the customer experience to enable that? As many products go OTC that involves a digital health assessment or video required by the FDA. How are we coming together to allow for this scale to happen from a technology perspective?”

Emphasizing that as a result of COVID there has been an adoption of self-testing, Weir said, “We’re excited about how diagnostics will pay a role on its own and how consumers will take momentum at home to test and treat and consult and create a broader health and wellness journey.”

Next, Bowie advised that we need to be more outcome-based and help patients manage conditions to become healthier.

“Think about Walmart. It’s a large food and consumables business, with pharmacies and clinics and value-based care partnerships,” Bowie said. “We have to work across silos. Outcomes of helping customers manage their health in a more affordable way is the future dream state,” she said.

Bowie also pointed out that by 2026 Gen Z will make more than 60% of purchase decisions via social media. “Where does health care play? How do we leverage these content platforms and even the metaverse?”

How can suppliers and retailers be more fluid and agile?

Mooney noted that for Wakefern it’s about nimbleness and setting objectives for 90 days. “We go and execute, and go back and look at what worked, what didn’t? What’s moved beneath our feet?” he said. “It’s about setting that objective with the expectation you are going to come back and revisit it, and reducing the rigidity of some of our guidelines.”

Pointing out that the pandemic made merchants and suppliers be vulnerable with each other and made people have conversations they wouldn’t have before, Cowell said, “As we evolve out of the pandemic I hope we don’t lose that muscle of being vulnerable.”

What emerging growth opportunities are we not investing enough time discussing? Mack asked.

“We understood customer needs and developed research to identify an opportunity to create a broader platform to engage customers around women’s health,” Weir responded. “We took a stand on the pink tax, giving a rebate on the menstrual tax for products in 13 states, decreased the price of menstrual care products 25% on our CVS brand, and opened a broader suite MinuteClinic and virtual care services for women’s health.”

Bowie moved the discussion to how personalization is growing in importance at Walmart. “We have 5,000 stores and sell in stores and online. We don’t have enough conversations about personalization and data. Customer centricity will be the future. The more relevant and more tied to customers’ needs, goals, past purchases and decisions, the more growth they will see.”

For Walgreens, developing teams is crucial. “We have to teach, mentor and have relationships. Are you fostering those?” Wolf said. “In addition, customers’ need for ultimate convenience and speed will be a core need. Keep pressuring ourselves as retail and supply organizations to get it faster.”

Lastly, Mooney advised that you have to treat every supplier differently, since they have different capabilities and needs. There’s also a finite amount of money. “Figure out, if this is how much money, what’s the best way we can spend it together and give you the best ROI?” dsn

— Maya Bowie, vice president of marketing, Walmart — Mike Weir, senior director of consumer health and wellness, CVS
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Dr. Amy Baxter Creates Product to Relieve Pain

Pain Care Labs offers Buzzy and VibraCool for relief of needle pain and other aches

When Dr. Amy Baxter learned in 2006 that she could qualify for a National Institutes of Health Small Business Innovation Research grant to study pain management if she had a company, she turned to Pain Care Labs. Then a colleague used her pain device to eliminate opioid use after a knee replacement in 2016, and she moved from pediatric emergency medicine to full-time R&D.

Today, Pain Care Labs offers Buzzy, an OTC needle pain device, and VibraCool, a product to relieve aches and pains from injuries.

“My research interests have been eclectic in the field of suffering,” said Baxter. “I did research on nausea in children with cancer, on timing child abuse injuries using liver enzymes and I was particularly interested in needle pain. As I’ve gotten older, I realize that both pain from aging and the impact of addiction are preventable forms of suffering. My mission is to eliminate unnecessary pain.”

Baxter’s first NIH research created Buzzy, a vibration device with a frequency that canceled the pain of vaccines. “Vibration in the right frequency, like rubbing a bumped elbow, will stop the same sharp pain nerves that lidocaine stops. Cold goes to a different nerve pathway in the brain that decreases pain everywhere,” said Baxter. “Our devices combine a thin solid ice pack that goes on the back of the vibration device. The vibration/ice combination goes where you are getting the shot for 30 seconds. After it desensitizes the nerves, you push it up and give the injection just below.

Pharmacies can use Buzzy to prevent fainting in those patients who may faint from getting injections, as well as on some of the more painful injections, such as shingles and COVID.

The vibrations stop the pain signal from getting past the spine to the brain.”

Baxter pointed out that there are more than 80 studies showing that Buzzy can reduce needle pain by 80%, and 70% with the vibration alone.

Buzzy was first available at Quest Diagnostics for children, followed by Kinney Drugs, whose pharmacists started offering Buzzy for people who were either afraid of pain or afraid of fainting from immunizations. Buzzy also is available for patients in CVS’ cancer hubs, Baxter noted.

Pharmacies can use Buzzy for those patients who may faint from getting injections, as well as on some of the more painful injections, such as shingles and COVID. The company also is offering pharmacies Buzzy Pro, a sleeker product, to use on dialysis patients.

Baxter noted that pharmaceutical companies are beginning to use Buzzy in their starter kits for biologic drugs to optimize the efficacy of the medicines. “When injections or infusions hurt, patients may delay taking them,” she said.


Noting that all of the company’s devices are reusable, Baxter said she has sold about 350,000 Buzzys. Among those purchasing the product are parents of kids who have diabetes and are afraid of needles, people who are doing IVF and those taking biologics. “The optimal situation is when pharmacists who use Buzzy for vaccines also can explain how Buzzy helps patients who are avoiding injections,” Baxter said.

Another PainCare Labs product, VibraCool, which is intended for musculoskeletal pain and arthritis pain relief, comes with hot packs and ice packs that Baxter described as unique.

“The thermal packs have to be light and solid so you are getting the right frequency and amplitude of vibration,” Baxter said. “After Buzzy worked so well for my friend’s knee surgery, we realized that it’s the same pain nerve for knee pain as for needles. We invented compression cuffs and made the ice packs bigger. After a lot of calculation of thermal energy to make sure they are safe, we created options that give the benefits of heat or cold. For injuries and sore muscles, the benefits of motion for muscles and blood flow go beyond the pain-canceling effects of the vibration. We have a product for elbow pain, tendonitis, wrist pain, knee and hip pain and plantar fasciitis.”

So how did Baxter get involved in sharp pain research in the first place?

“I was doing research on needle pain and realized the issue was to change how doctors perceive needle pain and get them to change their behavior, rather than to prove that different things decrease pain,” said Baxter, noting that she moved to Atlanta to be involved in a sedation database that a hospital was using for children. “In emergency medicine, we do alot of septic workups, spinal taps and lumbar punctures on infants; the problem is most doctors weren’t using the numbing cream. I wanted to do a study to show it improved the success of the procedures. I wasn’t allowed to do it unless I proved that people weren’t using medication to stop pain. The first thing I did was a study that proved people weren’t using the medication to stop pain. The next study,

Baxter pointed out that there are over

was to show that if you decrease pain, it improves outcomes.”

Baxter expanded her research and discovered that the number of injections that a child between the ages of 4 and 6 receives on the same day results in 50% of those people being afraid of needles eight years later and becoming two and a half times more unlikely to get their HPV vaccine.

“I needed to make this device so that we can reduce needle fear because what if there’s a pandemic and people don’t get vaccinated?” she said. “I presented to the Department of Health and Human Services and said, ‘You’ll have 26% of people who won’t get vaccinated because of needle fear. Here’s what we need to do to support getting these people vaccinated.’”

Baxter said she didn’t think she would be an inventor or creator of products when she went to medical school. But things changed.

“I always wanted to be a doctor since I was four,” she explained. “I enjoyed making things, wiring toys with electricity and putting things together. Certainly, what kid my age hasn’t been a huge Lego sculptor? I had no intention of having a business and wouldn’t have if it wasn’t for the NIH SBIR program. I didn’t see myself being an inventor or CEO, and I wouldn’t have quit practicing medicine for the needle pain

issue. The opioid crisis and knowing we had a pain solution that worked gave me reason to research full time. I was happy to be academic and still value it. The things I value most about myself are the scientific contributions I’ve made.”

Going forward, Baxter believes VibraCool can play a huge role in helping to reduce opioid dependency by being a substitute for pills after injury or surgery. She also sees a role for pharmacies and pharmacists to work with patients on developing pain management plans.

“In every pharmacy there are so many things that can be put together to make a pain plan for people,” Baxter concluded. “For example, magnesium is amazing for reducing inflammation and decreasing pain. It even decreases the amount of opioids people need during surgery by a third. From aromatherapy to melatonin to Benadryl, you can reduce pain by giving people the feeling of calmness and control. There are so many different things that come together to make a person feel safe and comfortable. Having a pharmacy put together the greatest hits of everything from teas, to aromatherapy, to supplements, to devices with vibration with cold or heat, can all be part of a pain plan that anyone can use to retrain their brain out of chronic pain.” dsn

80%, and 70% with the vibration alone.
studies which show that Buzzy can reduce needle pain by

OVID-19 wreaked loss and havoc worldwide, but it forever changed how U.S. legislators and consumers view pharmacists. Following passage of the federal Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act in early 2020, pharmacists became temporary, frontline defenders against COVID-19.

Last year, pharmacists’ actions under the PREP Act prompted some states to pass laws expanding their authority and addressing key areas, like insurance reimbursement, for services. With the PREP act set to expire in October 2024, the industry hopes other states will follow suit.

COVID-19 moved the needle on pharmacy reform, but shifting the industry to its ideal model will take more time

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According to the Journal of the American Pharmacy Association, pharmacists (along with interns and assistants in some cases) conducted more than 350 clinical interventions during the pandemic involving more than 150 million individuals. This included testing and administering parenteral antibodies, vaccinations and antiviral therapies. Interventions helped avert an estimated one million plus deaths, eight million hospitalizations and $450 billion in health care costs. The number of lives touched by pharmacists continues to grow.

In 2022, state legislators introduced 178 bills related to pharmacists’ scope of practice, payment for pharmacistprovided care services and/or designation of pharmacists as providers in 38 states. Several bills addressed public health concerns, including immunizations, contraceptives and HIV PrEP and PEP prescribing authority, indicated the National Alliance of State Pharmacy Associations. As of December 2022, 44 bills in 26 states had been signed into law [see box].

The PREP Act (and subsequent amendments), in short, is an emergency measure allowing pharmacists nationwide to perform added functions, including administering COVID-19 tests, vaccines and treatments, while exempting them from liabilities.

“Pharmacies were life-saving players during the pandemic,” said Hannah Fish, PharmD, director of strategic initiatives, National Community Pharmacists Association. “They’re not call centers or mail order. There’s touch points. Pharmacists can move the needle, impacting patient care. COVID shone a light on healthcare, with legislators looking at some cries we’ve heard for years.”

But changes have been limited. “There’s pockets of examples, but they’re not nationwide,” added Fish.

Benefits of expanded access

NACDS continues to pressure the Biden Administration to extend current pharmacy access so pharmacists in more states can perform additional functions, including diagnosing minor ailments, monitoring chronic health conditions and providing other convenient, cost-effective services. It is urging states to update laws permanently and asking Congress to create “reliable billing pathways” for pharmacies, said Chris Krese, SVP Congressional relations and communications, NACDS. “Patients have long trusted pharmacists,” he added. “This view has only increased among patients and policymakers. Why jeopardize pharmacy access?”

According to NACDS, 90% of Americans live within five miles of a pharmacy. Pharmacies are open longer than doctors’ offices and appointments do not take weeks to secure. This was crucial during the pandemic. It remains important moving forward, particularly in states allowing expanded scopes of practice. “Pharmacies can do things

26 States Pass Rx-Related Bills

As of December ‘22, 44 pharmacist-related bills in 26 states had passed their respective legislatures and were signed into law. Below are highlights of laws enacted:

• Granted or expanded authority to pharmacists and/or technicians to administer vaccines, other injectables and/ or emergency medications: Alaska, Arizona, Connecticut, Florida, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Wyoming.

• Implemented, revised and/or expanded collaborative practice authority: Arizona, Alaska, Connecticut, Idaho, New York, New Hampshire, West Virginia.

• Implemented/expanded point-of-care testing and treatment authority: Alaska, Delaware, Kansas, New York.

• Granted pharmacists contraceptive prescribing authority: Massachusetts, South Carolina.

• Expanded scope/further defined pharmacists’ opioid antagonist and OUD authority: California, Delaware, Florida, Missouri.

• Expanded scope of situations in which pharmacists are designated as providers and are paid for services: Alaska, Illinois, Maryland.

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Albertsons Gets Sincere About Customer Health

Albertsons Cos. is linking multiple touch points of consumer well-being with Sincerely Health, a digital wellness platform that allows shoppers at 16 of its grocery banners to track and meet goals involving nutrition, food, pharmacy services and mental health. Consumers receive points redeemable toward groceries for achievements.

First, a customer engages with the platform and answers certain questions, said Omer Gajial, chief digital officer

clinics and physicians can’t,” said Carmen A. Catizone, founding partner, CLM Pharmacy Advisors. “You don’t have to wait three weeks for an appointment. You can walk in and talk to a pharmacist whenever you need to.”

Rural areas often lack doctors and have much to gain from pharmacists’ expanded practice scope. They were also key beneficiaries of pharmacists’ ability to administer COVID19 vaccinations. Many pharmacists traveled to these areas and established mobile vaccination sites. Half of COVID19 vaccines administered by pharmacists involved these populations, said NACDS.

The pandemic also drove public collaborations via the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program (FRPP) for COVID-19 Vaccination, which launched in February 2021. The FRPP relies on collaboration between public health agencies to encourage individuals to visit retail pharmacies for vaccinations. It involves 21 pharmacy partners at 41,000 locations nationwide, said the Centers for Disease Control’s website.

and EVP health. Then, the device produces a health score and the customer enters health goals. Progress is tracked and grocery rewards are provided when earned. Upon joining Sincerely Health, consumers receive up to $25 off an upcoming grocery purchase.

Shoppers can log vitals and medication regimens for improved visibility and control. Sincerely Health also offers an online pharmacy experience, including tools for managing prescriptions, scheduling vaccines and connecting users with general practitioners through telehealth services.

Via fintech collaborations, the platform lets customers utilize supplemental Medicare and Medicaid benefits involving fresh food and OTC products purchased. Users can also link activity trackers like Apple Health, Fitbit and Google Fit. Sincerely Health was developed in collaboration with healthcare providers, insurance and technology companies,

“Well-being can mean many things,” said Gajial. “It’s a balance between a healthy mind and body and taking care of ourselves and loved ones. Sincerely Health offers a connected and personalized view across food, nutrition and activities. It lets you and the customer track progress so they can make better, more informed choices. Motivation and rewards are critical to staying on track. Our purpose is to improve lives. If we can improve one million lives through this process, it’s the right thing to do.”

During the pandemic, certain regulations were relaxed. Telehealth has become a bigger part of health care. It’s cost effective, you can quickly get on a video call, and you’re not surrounded by sick people.

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The FRPP spurned additional community initiatives. Fruth Pharmacy now works with the West Virginia Drug Intervention Institute in its home state. A grant provides Fruth with free naloxone and facilitates a children’s anti-drug program involving free coloring books. An online component features talking pill bottles, said Drew Massey, director of pharmacy operations. And, the grant provides at-home opioid destruction kits to help consumers dispose of unused prescriptions.

“During COVID, we worked with everyone from the governor’s office down to the local health department, including organizations we never worked with before,” added Massey. “It opened new communications.”

Collaborative practice

In 2022, Arizona, Alaska, Connecticut, Idaho, New York, New Hampshire and West Virginia passed bills implementing, revising and/or expanding collaborative practice authority. New York and Alaska, along with Delaware and Kansas, also effected and/or broadened point-of-care testing and treatment authority.

Brigid K. Groves, PharmD, MS and vice president of pharmacy practice at the American Pharmacy Association (APhA), said patients in these states have much to gain. She used the example of HIV PrEP and PEP, where a pharmacist reviews patients’ medical history, starts preventative or post-exposure therapy and refers people to a doctor or nurse practitioner for continued care. She noted that pharmacists can also check blood pressure, review lab results and adjust hypertension medication levels.

“In some states, pharmacists do this under statewide protocols or collaborative practice agreements, letting patients obtain medication more quickly,” she added. “Some states are more advanced; others have opportunities to grow. We think about ways pharmacists can provide care in addition to dispensing medication. We hope this isn’t far off.”

Massey said rural residents could benefit from these types of services, namely elderly people and those lacking transportation. “A few miles in West Virginia are literally the difference between a loyal customer who stays on therapy and patients who end up in the hospital in many cases,” he added. “I’m a proponent of pharmacists as providers and the ability to practice using the full scope of

our training and education.” Fruth has 29 stores in Ohio, West Virginia and Kentucky.

Where permitted, Albertsons Companies lets pharmacists prescribe and refill medications directly. “We’re expanding prescriptive services to provide new access points and more efficient and convenient care for customers,” noted Omer Gajial, chief digital officer and EVP health. Albertsons has also immunized customers in rural and inner-city communities.

Rural communities can also reap gains from telepharmacy, which focuses on medication and chronic disease management, and telehealth, which can involve physicians and a wider range of services. According to healthcare law firm Nixon Gwilt, about half of the states allow telepharmacy. The pharmacy industry hopes to broaden access for both services.

“During the pandemic, certain regulations were relaxed,” said Matthew Hamory, a partner and managing director, food & drug retail practice, Alix

The pandemic also drove public collaborations via the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program for COVID-19 Vaccination, which launched in February 2021. The FRPP relies on collaborations between public health agencies to encourage individuals to visit retail pharmacies for vaccinations. It involves 21 pharmacy partners at 41,000 locations nationwide.

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Partners. “Telehealth has become a bigger part of healthcare. It’s cost effective, you can quickly get on a video call, and you’re not surrounded by sick people.”

Marty Allen, CEO and co-founder of consultancy Real Solutions Group, believes large chains will move further into these areas “if they haven’t already.” He added, “Without COVID, we wouldn’t have advances in telepharmacy.”

Profitability and reimbursement

In states where certain services are permitted, profitability and reimbursement can be challenging. With drug margins often slim, pharmacies need the revenue services can provide. In 2022, just four states passed bills addressing reimbursement.

“Pharmacies often make pennies on every prescription dispensed,” said Mike McBride, VP partner relations, Upsher-Smith Laboratories. “Reimbursement rates are often barely sufficient to cover drugs’ cost. Margins frequently have been squeezed out of reimbursements. While it’s difficult to measure margins on services, whatever they’d [pharmacists] get paid in return would be considered upside margin. Physicians have been reimbursed based on time invested and insurance codes.”

Groves believes medications and pharmacy services should be separated when it comes to reimbursement.

“For years, services haven’t been reimbursed at the

same rate or any rate at all,” she added. “It’s important that patient services be separated from the product.”

Further stressing profits—and driving up costs—are pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs). Three (CVS/Caremark, OptumRx and Express Scripts) control 85% of the market. This near-monopoly allows these “middlemen” to secure large discounts from drug manufacturers.

“They’re taking from both sides, including employers paying for services,” said Ed McKinley, founding partner, Pharmacy Management Consultants. “They’re always figuring out ways to drive up out-ofpocket costs with copayments and deductibles. Initially, PBMs were intended to drive down costs. There’s much to unpack when it comes to [retail pharmacies] negotiating with them. When you look at some of the vertical relationships like those of CVS Health, they have advantages compared to other retailers.”

Rona Hauser, SVP policy and pharmacy affairs, NCPA, cited “patient steering” by PBMs whose parent companies own pharmacies. “PBMs add dollars to health care. We continue wanting government to take a hard look at vertical integration and what it’s doing to consumers and providers,” he said. “We’re happy with the work the FTC is doing here. And many members of Congress are interested in tackling it.”

Also compromising profits are direct and indirect remuneration (DIR) fees. DIRs result from a loophole in Medicare regulations. Often, more than 18 months after a pharmacy fills a Medicare prescription, payers retract money paid to pharmacies. Payers claim they are taking back money due to a pharmacy’s performance on unknown “quality” issues. The federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services said DIR fees increased 107,400% from 2010 and 2020. IQVIA estimates that between December 2017 and December 2020, almost 2,200 pharmacies closed nationwide due to “surprise bills.”

The Biden Administration’s Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) finalized a new rule in April 2022 titled, Medicare Program; Contract Year 2023 Policy and Technical Changes to the Medicare Advantage and Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit Programs. Provisions affect DIR fees and will take effect in January 2024.

In a written statement, NACDS president and CEO Steven Anderson said the rule is not comprehensive enough. “Much work remains to be done,” he said. “The 2022 rule did not eliminate pharmacy DIR clawbacks that plan sponsors and PBMs impose on pharmacies, nor did it eliminate sponsors’ and PBMs’ incentives to continue doing so. PBMs have exploited DIR to create a loophole in the Medicare regulation. In the Part D bidding process, sponsors and PBMs may continue to underestimate DIR fees and over-collect.”

Regardless of the issue, changing the pharmacy model on a large scale is challenging, particularly when it involves discussions with insurance companies, legislators and other influencers. But experts are optimistic. “We’re flipping the pharmacy model on its head,” said Fish. “For years, we’ve relied on product dispensing. Pharmacies will always be tied to medication services. But we’re now looking at the whole model. The ideal future pharmacy will emphasize services as part of the statement rather than everything being tied to product. That’s where the transition is going.” dsn

Pharmacies were life-saving players during the pandemic. They’re not call centers or mail order. There’s touch points. Pharmacists can move the needle, impacting patient care.
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Dove, LinkedIn partner to end race-based hair discrimination

As part of Dove’s ongoing commitment to help pass The CROWN Act and end racebased hair discrimination nationwide, the brand has partnered with LinkedIn on a workplace discrimination study. The study surveyed 2,990 female (Black, Hispanic and White) identifying respondents in the U.S. ages 25-64 between December 2022 and January 2023.

“While progress has been made to end hair discrimination with the passage of The CROWN Act in some states across the U.S., race-based hair discrimination remains a systemic problem in the workplace—from hiring practices to daily workplace interactions—disproportionately impacting Black women’s employment opportunities and professional advancement,” the brand said in a release.

The new CROWN 2023 Workplace Research Study, co-commissioned by Dove and LinkedIn, found that Black women’s hair is 2.5x more likely to be perceived as unprofessional, and details the systemic social and economic impact of hair bias and discrimination against Black women in the workplace. Additional findings from the CROWN 2023 Workplace Research Study include the following:

• Bias against natural hair and protective styles

can impact how Black women navigate the hiring process.

• Hair discrimination has led Black women to have a negative experience or outcomes within the workplace.

• Young Black professionals are feeling the pressure from hair discrimination the most.

• 25% of Black women believe they have been denied a job interview because of their hair, which is even higher for women under 34 (1/3).

“For far too long, Black women and men have been subject to unfair treatment, outright discrimination and a myriad of inequities for simply wearing our natural hair texture and hairstyles that are inherent to our cultural identity.” said Esi Eggleston Bracey, president and CEO of Unilever Personal Care in North America. “This includes being denied employment, being sent home from work, being overlooked for promotions and a range of micro-aggressions.”

In support of The CROWN Act, Dove and LinkedIn have partnered on a series of actions to help end race-based hair discrimination in the workplace nationwide:

Provide free access to 10 LinkedIn Learning courses focused on creating a more equitable

#BlackHairIsProfessional sets goal to help create a more equitable and inclusive work environment by the end of 2023
For far too long, Black women and men have been subject to unfair treatment, outright discrimination and a myriad of inequities for simply wearing our natural hair texture and hairstyles that are inherent to our cultural identity.
—Esi Eggleston Bracey, president and CEO of Unilever Personal Care in North America

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Elevate and celebrate the real stories and voices of Black women professionals across LinkedIn and social media platforms using #BlackHairIsProfessional to help redefine what society deems “professional” at work.

“While talent is equally distributed, opportunity is not,” said Rosanna Durruthy, global vice president of diversity, inclusion, and belonging at LinkedIn. “Cultural identifiers, like hair, are not determining factors for someone’s skills or experience, and no one should be denied employment opportunities or professional advancement because of their hair.”

La Roche-Posay named fastest growing brand of 2022

La Roche-Posay reached a monumental milestone in 2022, being named the fastest-growing skin care brand of the last year according to NielsenIQ.

Known best for pioneering skin care that is powered by innovation and education, the brand partners with dermatologists to ensure it stays at the forefront of scientific research.

All of La Roche-Posay’s products are formulated with safe and effective ingredients that are dermatologist developed and tested, and undergo a strict formulation charter for efficacy, the company said.

“Thank you to our partners who have helped build and support the La Roche-Posay business. We deeply appreciate your hard work and dedication in helping La Roche-Posay reach this incredible achievement, including dermatologists, nurses, medical staff, pharmacists, editors, retailers, agencies, and of course, the brand team,” said Penelope Giraud, La Roche-Posay USA, general manager. “Our brand has always been confident in the strength and efficacy of our products.”

The brand attributes its success to various key programs and initiatives executed throughout the last year, which included being named the first-ever official sunscreen partner of the US Open, its support of oncology with the American Cancer Society and its sponsorship of fellowship in the Department of Dermatology at Howard University’s College of Medicine for UIM.

Target adds new brands to health, beauty aisles Target is expanding its presence in the self-care and healthand-wellness space with the addition of thousands of new brands and products to its shelves.

A majority of the new items are priced at less than $10. According to Cassandra Jones, senior vice president of merch essentials and beauty at Target, the self-care category is seeing massive growth, and the idea of beauty products is expanding to include those self-care, self-expression and health items.

“Clean beauty is a big deal for our guests and for Target,” Jones said. “Our guests are paying close attention to what they put in and on their bodies, from bath and skin care to vitamins and supplements.”

As such, the retailer is bringing in luxury-inspired perfumes; organic, biodegradable period care; and personalized skincare, with other specialized products on the way. New Black-owned and inclusive brands coming in 2023 include LilyAna Naturals, AfroPick, YGN and Everyday By Unsun, as well as Saltair and Gainful, two Asian American and Pacific Islander-owned brands. Additionally, Target will stock skin care products from Latina-owned Vamigas, which was part of the Target Takeoff accelerator program that supports up-and-coming brands and creators. dsn



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Back-to-Office Means Men’s Grooming Bonanza

Sales of shaving products, hair removal and hair care are getting a boost from men looking to spruce up for work and social activities

Whether they want to or not, men are returning to workplaces. They are shucking their sweatpants, shaving off scruff and looking for products to enhance their grooming routines.

A ResumeBuilder.com survey reveals that 90% of companies will require employees to work from an office (sometimes only a few days a week) in 2023.

Even if not working outside of homes, men are returning to social activities and devoting more attention to their appearance.

The category is showing its resiliency, even as consumers face economic pressures. “We feel like everything in the market has settled into a pre-COVID environment,” said Steven Yde, vice president of marketing for the Wahl Clipper Corp. “Despite the economic pressures of a faltering economy, recession is less of an impact on male

grooming than the high inflation we had in the past year and a half.” Unit velocity is picking up, too, suggesting gains are not just from price hikes.

Searches for men’s products are on the upswing, according to Tara Taylor, global senior vice president of NielsenIQ’s beauty vertical. They are more explorative than ever, even looking into makeup, she said. The hashtag #mensmakeup had 314.7 million searches while #mensmakeup, a tutorial on men’s makeup, netted 15.1 million views.

Men’s makeup might be a few years away for the mass market, Taylor conceded, but there is mounting interest in hair––either taking it off or growing it longer.

Shaving cream sales already reflect higher usage with IRI reporting gains of 6.1% for the 52-week period that ended Jan. 1, 2023.

Beard care is also a buzzy business, according to Calvin Quallis, CEO and founder of Scotch Porter. IRI recently identified Scotch Porter as the fastest-growing male grooming brand in the U.S. Quallis attributes the brand’s 70% increase in sales over the past year to demand for clean and affordable solutions.

“We are witnessing men’s understanding of grooming increasingly broadening from a conventional focus on shaving and hygiene to a more intentional approach to holistic wellness,” Quallis said.

Waterless Beard Launch Gets High Marks for Sustainability

Building upon market demand, The Beard Guyz launched a new item into its lineup, a Rinse Free Refresh Foam. The debut checks off the boxes consumers are looking for, such as a formula that is multifunctional and environmentally friendly.

The waterless beard wash contains a proprietary technology that refreshes and cleanses the beard while removing trapped odors from throughout the day. Formulated with biotin and collagen, it volumizes beard hair for a fuller look and helps maintain hair growth.

Wahl’s Manscaper emerged as a product that helped men stay tidy during the pandemic. Now the company is extending the franchise, carving it out as a sub-brand. Yde said retailers have been enthusiastic about two additions—the Commando and the Toolbox, which retail for $79.99 and $59.00, respectively. The price points, Yde said, demonstrate that men are willing to spend against the category.

“We also added a hair clipper to the Manscaper line up called the ATV. This multipurpose clipper can do it all from head to toe,” Yde said of the tool, which is priced at $59.99. Wahl recently kicked off a multi-million-dollar marketing campaign to introduce the broader Manscaper collection, incorporating influencers across all social channels.

No More Hiding Under a Baseball Cap

Strengthening or growing hair is top of the list for many men. “For all those times you can’t, or shouldn’t, wear a baseball cap or beanie, your hair should look its best,” said

Get the Razors Ready: A survey says
of companies will require employees to work from an office in 2023.

David Horwitz, vice president of retail sales at Pura D’Or.

Horwitz explained that stress caused by school, work, family and finances can impact hair health. “One of the ways to slow the effect is to use a shampoo specifically designed to reduce hair thinning. The Pura D’Or brand has several natural, clinically tested, therapeutic shampoos and conditioners that can be used in place of your everyday shampoo,” he said.

Covering gray is crucial, especially for men in the workplace and social setting. Combe, the market leader in products to help men manage their gray, is reaping the benefits.

“We are seeing continued strong interest in cool new technologies like Just For Men Control GX, which is a shampoo with patented technology that gradually reduces gray while shampooing your hair,” said Stuart Hendrickson, senior marketing director for men’s care at Combe.

The company tapped artificial intelligence tools to drive increased engagement for the brand. “Consumers can now use our AI powered virtual try-on technology to facilitate the selection of products and to choose the right shade for themselves,” he said.

Duke Cannon continues to build traction in the men’s category with its fresh take on marketing to men that relies on humor versus selling sex.

“Year-to-date, we’ve experienced growth rates in all of our core categories on the market in total personal care, [hair, soap, deodorant and shave],” said Devin O’Brien, Duke Cannon’s vice president of marketing. “We are a leading brand in productivity in men’s, turning faster on shelf than much of our competition.”

The brand’s hair care business is up 65%, O’Brien said. A hero collection is News Anchor, which promises thicker, fuller, hair.

OKAY Men has a game plan to build upon its men’s grooming business. Despite the recent growth, retailers are still waiting for the category to hit its full potential, said Christopher Lopez, marketing director for OKAY. “What’s really capturing the imaginations of retailers and buyers—both nationally and internationally—are our unique 2-in-1 and 3-in-1 combination products that “think like a man,’” said Lopez, explaining that marketing to men is different than targeting women.

Within its men’s grooming collection, OKAY has a series of products that combine steps to save men time and money. Lopez highlighted several outperforming the market, including OKAY’s All-Natural Face & Body Wash; Body Wash & Shampoo; 2-in-1 Shampoo + Soap Body Bar; 3-in-1 Shampoo + Conditioner + Scalp Treatment; Growth Oil for Hair & Beard; and OKAY’s Hair Growth Shampoo.

“These products are currently performing the best in men’s grooming. They provide retailers with maximum product velocity, even on limited shelf space,” he said.

New Categories Build Baskets

Outside of traditional men’s fare, a brand addressing men’s earwax is getting attention from Walmart, CVS, Rite Aid and HSN. Wush, an earwax remover from Black Wolf Nation, fills a gap in the market, according to cofounder Sam Lewkowict. Sales are up 300% for the $69 rechargeable cleaner. Following Wush, the company launched a Sonic Scrubber, a $49 pulsating face and body brush.

The brand also sells a face wash and moisturizing gel. Lewkowict attributes the company’s success to addressing specific needs of men rather than adapting products for women. dsn

Product Picks

Pipette Mineral Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF

SRP: $13.50


Men are using Pipette baby sunscreens—on themselves. According to Pipette, the brand is a favorite of dads who like the product’s clean, affordable formulation with squalene. Pipette is available at HEB, Walmart, Wegmans and is coming to Target in March.

“The Pipette Mineral Sunscreen is next level and I’m constantly stealing it from my daughter. It is lightweight and it actually rubs into my skin without feeling greasy or leaving a harsh cast. I’ve tried a lot of mineral sunscreens, and this is easily the best,” said Michael Thompson, Pipette GM (and #girldad of two).

Scotch Porter Hydrating Body Wash and Intense Anti-Dry Body Lotion

SRP: Hydrating Body Wash $7.99 (16-oz), Intense Anti-Dry Body Lotion $7.99 (12-oz).

Scotch Porter is delving into body care with the introduction of Hydrating Body Wash and Intense Anti-Dry Body Lotion. The company said the foray into body care is a continuation of its growth and commitment to increasing men’s accessibility to clean, affordable, non-toxic products that provide solutions to the issues they face daily.

Just for Men 1-Day Beard and Brow Color

SRP: $13.99 and up

The 1-Day Beard and Brow color is a temporary brush -in and wash-out color. The company said it transforms and defines men’s beards and brows and instantly eliminates grays with a natural-looking color that lasts all day until washed out.


Trend Spotters

This young company is using data to predict the next big consumer trends in beauty

Spate is a Brooklyn, N.Y.-based company with a simple mission: finding the next big trends in beauty. The company was founded by two ex-Google analysts—Yarden Horwitz and Olivier Zimmer—who started Google’s Trendspotting division and spotted the shift toward face masks, turmeric and cold brew. Now at Spate, they are using “publicly available consumer data (anonymous and aggregated) to identify exciting shifts in consumer behavior.”

“Understanding shifts in consumer needs is imperative to success in the beauty


wellness industries, especially with new brands launching weekly,” the company said. Recently, Inside Beauty caught up with Horwitz to talk about Spate’s goals and what’s next in the beauty and wellness aisle.

Drug Store News: What is the focus of Spate?

Yarden Horwitz: We analyze over 20 billion search queries to spot the next big trend in beauty and wellness.

DSN: How are you tracking the beauty business?

YH: Spate leverages Google search and TikTok data to provide a comprehensive view of the trends landscape in beauty. This data provides insight into consumer behavior and can help identify new shifts in consumer perspectives.

DSN: How far out are you tracking movement in the sector?

YH: We analyze the last three years of data, and provide predictions for the next 12 months of consumer behavior in the beauty industry.

DSN: What kinds of trends can retailers expect on the horizon?

YH: There are some key themes that retailers should keep an eye on in the year ahead: SPF in convenient formats (sunscreen sticks: 21.1K avg monthly searches, +69.4% YoY); Low maintenance hair trends that support a polished look on the go (air dry cream: 3.9K avg monthly searches, +51.5% YoY); Complexion-focused makeup (462.4K avg monthly searches, +7.9% YoY); Prioritization of affordability with products like body spray. Mini perfumes also help consumers save money by letting them sample before splurging on a full size (body spray: 81.6K avg monthly, +30.5% YoY and mini perfumes: 23.0K avg monthly, +30.1% YoY); and the “skinification” of body care. Though lower volume, the theme of skincare-focused ingredients continues across the body care space and is likely to continue its upward growth (hyaluronic acid body lotion (1.7K avg monthly, +14.3% YoY).

DSN: What do you see on the decline in the market?

YH: Purple shampoo: The proliferation of rich browns and reds over the last year has rendered purple toning shampoos useless for many consumers. Of course, hair color trends are as cyclical as anything else, so consider revisiting this and other blondesupporting products next year.

Flat irons: Super sleek, straight hair is out these days as consumers opt instead for volume and texture enhancement with things like velcro rollers and sea salt spray.

Face masks: Consumers prefer derm-strength treatments and services to masks these days. Consider ways to position masks as complementary to other more clinical treatments.

Face scrubs: In line with the shift towards scienceforward skin care, consumers are shying away from physical exfoliation to focus on chemical exfoliation with ingredients like glycolic acid.

Under-eye concealer: Consumers prefer a multifunctional concealer these days to a dedicated under-eye concealer. Focus on multi-tasking solutions instead. dsn

Spate leverages Google search and TikTok data to provide a comprehensive view of the trends landscape in beauty. This data provides insight into consumer behavior, and can help identify new shifts in consumer perspectives.

Innovations and Unique Opportunities

Regional pharmacy chains are thriving as a result of diversifying their pharmacy offerings

When the going gets tough, the tough get going.

In the face of declining prescription drug reimbursements and changes in the marketplace, many regional pharmacy chains are heeding this maxim, as evidenced by the innovative strategies they have pursued to promote growth, enabling their pharmacists to practice at the top of their licenses.

The retailers that are having success because of their ability to innovate and become healthcare destinations include Fruth Pharmacy, Thrifty White Pharmacy, The Giant Co., Kinney Drugs, Hartig Drug and Lewis Drug.

Fruth Pharmacy serves West Virginia, Ohio and Kentucky with corporate headquarters in Point Pleasant, W. Va. Drew Massey, Fruth’s director of pharmacy, said that among Fruth’s innovations is the partnership of eight retail healthcare clinics opened in conjunction with local providers.

“These clinics are staffed by mid-level providers providing convenient walk-in care to community based primary care patients,” Massey said.

Fruth also has been innovative in forging a partnership with the state of West Virginia and the West Virginia Drug Intervention Institute to provide Naloxone and drug disposal kits to patients, as well as age-appropriate teaching tools for children and parents.

What’s more, during the pandemic, Fruth Pharmacy worked with the Joint Interagency Task Force, local health departments and many other organizations that pharmacy hasn’t traditionally had a close working relationship.

“Through these collaborative efforts, we have forged the basis for ongoing strengthening of these relationships to serve the communities in our footprint and the states where we are located,” said President Lynne Fruth.

Additionally in West Virginia, pharmacists are permitted to work with smoking cessation and

“The spotlight shone on this during the pandemic when pharmacy mobilized Boots on the Ground and took patient care directly to those who needed it most, and showed the true capabilities of local pharmacy.”
—Drew Massey, director of pharmacy, Fruth Pharmacy

birth control as protocol-based dispensing. “While this isn’t something that is a chainwide initiative, it is something that our pharmacists can do to serve their patients on a voluntary basis,” Massey said.

If that weren’t enough, Fruth offers a slew of services including prescription dispensing; vaccinations; COVID-19 testing, counseling and therapeutics; vital monitoring; diabetic/fasting blood glucose readings; and much more.

Maple Grove, Minn.-based Thrifty White Pharmacy also is a frontrunner in pursuing innovation to become a healthcare destination.

“We are a technology-enabled healthcare services company focused on utilizing patient engagement to improve outcomes and reduce the cost of care,” said Jeremy Faulks, vice president of pharmacy operations at Thrifty White. “By leveraging the unique capabilities of pharmacists, combined with focused technology and clinical care plans, Thrifty White Pharmacy creates better patient experiences and improved patient outcomes.”

The Thrifty White Pharmacy “suite of offerings” includes proprietary dispensing, clinical and operations technology. In addition, Thrifty White Pharmacy is licensed in all 50 states and offers retail, alternate care and URAC- and ACHC-accredited specialty pharmacy services across a network of 100 owned community pharmacy locations and 90 independently owned pharmacies throughout the Midwest.

Noting that Thrifty White Pharmacy committed to expanding its pharmacies into clinical destinations more than 10 years ago, Faulks said the company has invested in three strategic areas: physical layout, team member expertise and technology. The retailer has remodeled over 75% of its pharmacies in the last 10 years, transforming them into healthcare destinations, with an accessible pharmacist, professional environment and three medical provider-style clinical suites.

Thrifty White also has provided additional training for its teams around clinical activities, including clinical

techniques, drug injection training, lab draws and immunizations.

“We’ve partnered closely with both national and local health plans to create programs which leverage our patientpharmacist relationship, and help the plan achieve desired outcomes such as increasing adherence, closing gaps-in-care, such as missing A1C values and reducing other medical spending,” Faulks said.

Yet another Thrifty White innovation, Faulks said, is a proprietary clinical management platform, dubbed Patientricity, that enables its pharmacy teams to operate within workflow and access clinical interventions seamlessly during the course of their day.

“In the background, we partner with our health plans to create custom programs, then develop criteria, program interventions and desired outcomes within the Patientricity platform,” said Faulks. “The custom PharmacistAI solution combs our data warehouse nightly, identifying patients who are eligible for these services and enrolling them in the specific intervention in Patientricity.”

The Giant Co., which operates in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia, supports 193 grocery stores and 132 pharmacies, also has innovated to become a healthcare destination.

“As a grocery retailer and pharmacy provider, Giant is uniquely positioned

to help families live healthy lives. Our pharmacy and wellness teams continue to assist patients manage medical conditions, prevent disease and improve their wellbeing,” said Leigh Shirley, director of pharmacy operations at The Giant Co.

Giant pharmacy offers vaccinations, medication adherence, medication therapy management, health screenings and more. The retailer also has expanded travel health offerings, such as OTC recommendations and travel vaccines, and increased the number of consultation rooms in its stores.

Kinney Drugs, which has 96 pharmacies in upstate New York and Vermont, is focusing on innovating in the area of medication adherence. Shannon Miller, senior director of healthcare operations, pointed out that the evolution of community pharmacy has ushered in new metrics, technologies and platforms that can be challenging for pharmacists to navigate. “Addressing patient adherence required our pharmacists to interface with multiple platforms,” she added.

Miller explained that Kinney wanted a single, user-friendly platform that would allow its pharmacists to identify nonadherent patients and document their interventions in a consistent, searchable manner. The end goal was to streamline processes while enhancing patient service and improving adherence rates.

The Kinney clinical team worked

“We are a technologyenabled healthcare services company focused on utilizing patient engagement to improve outcomes and reduce the cost of care.”
Jeremy Faulks, vice president of pharmacy operations, Thrifty White
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closely with the development team of its long-time partner, Outcomes, to add a variety of filters and functionality tailored to the needs of community pharmacy.

Kinney served as a beta customer for the solutions Outcomes developed. For the first time, the platform enabled one of its pharmacies to create targeted patient interventions based on its own claims data.

“2022 was our first full year in which our own targeted interventions were co-mingled with third-party interventions within the OutcomesOne platform,” said John Marraffa, Jr., president of Kinney Drugs. “We now have a much more holistic view of our overall intervention and adherence performance.”

Hartig Drug Co., which has 24 retail pharmacies throughout Iowa, Illinois and Wisconsin, and three long-term care pharmacy locations, also is taking the lead in innovating new products and services.

Hartig’s patient-facing services include disease management; automatic refills for maintenance prescriptions; blood pressure checks; and hearing checks.

Charlie Hartig, CEO of Hartig Drug, said the company quickly pivoted to delivering COVID tests, sample collection and vaccines during the coronavirus pandemic. In

addition, Hartig Drug continues to provide much-needed regularly scheduled vaccines, from yellow fever to influenza vaccinations.

“With the availability of over-the-counter COVID tests and patient eligibility, Hartig Drug has provided tens of thousands of OTC tests covered under patients’ insurance benefits,” Hartig said.

Another innovative move for Hartig Drug is the expansion of its partnership with InnerScope Hearing Technologies, and the addition of five more kiosks, giving access to free hearing checks and more affordable hearing aid options.

Hartig Drug’s Redi-Refill program also is unique. The program helps ensure maintenance prescriptions are readily available on time and notifies patients that their prescription is ready.

Innovating to become a healthcare destination also is the bailiwick of Lewis Drug, which has 60 locations in South Dakota, Minnesota and Iowa, serving urban and rural areas.

“We currently have six pharmacists embedded in clinics across our footprint, with hopes to continue to expand,” said Bill Ladwig, senior vice president of professional services at Lewis Drug. “They spend their day interacting with patients and providers.

The connections these pharmacists make with patients in the clinic make the transition to our community pharmacy seamless.”

Another important offering is multidose adherence packaging, dubbed Lewis Drug SmartPacks, which sort monthly medications into daily, easy-to-open packs. All SmartPacks are color-coded for the time of day when dosing is needed.

Addressing disparities in health is a major focus of regional pharmacy chains. Fruth is a frontrunner in this area.

“We have a single source discount card for uninsured individuals, offer reasonable cash pricing and offer solutions that put us on even footing with competitors,” Massey said. “We work with our communities, state and local government agencies to provide pharmacy services where needed.”

Fruth also provides services for organizations that serve indigent and homeless individuals. This includes delivering hepatitis C prescriptions to homeless shelters and working with shelters to provide vaccinations to patients who are “hard to capture in the retail space.”

“Both Fruth as a company and myself as both a healthcare provider and resident of West Virginia, recognize the need to serve the disproportionately affected

Regional pharmacies, such as Hartig Drug (top left), Fruth Pharmacy (bottom left) and Kinney Drug (above) are innovating to become health care destinations for customers who may not have easy access to traditional care.

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urban areas and our underserved rural communities,” Massey said. “The spotlight shone on this during the pandemic when pharmacy mobilized Boots on the Ground and took patient care directly to those who needed it most, and showed the true capabilities of local pharmacy.”

Massey said he is very concerned about “the growing shortage of pharmacists, the continued closure of local pharmacies due to inadequate reimbursement and recognition of services and allowing these communities to fall by the wayside with widening pharmacy deserts causing the already disproportionate care to move farther and farther away.”

Thrifty White is not sitting on the sidelines when addressing health disparities.

“One of the largest ways we are able to address disparities is by increasing access and availability of care,” said Faulks, noting that data shows that over 50% of patients don’t have a primary care provider.

“Thrifty White partners with our health plans to identify these members, then supports the health plan in closing gapsin-care, gathering SDOH and HRA data and creating plans to better manage these patients,” Faulks said.

Giant also is no stranger to addressing health disparities.

“The Giant Co. pharmacy teams seek community partnerships to offer clinics and health screenings to underserved populations,” Shirley said.

Over the past two years, the company has partnered with state and federal governments to administer free COVID-19 vaccinations. It also extended its reach beyond its pharmacy walls to provide necessary services in a variety of locations, including schools, churches and even a local zoo to serve underserved populations.

Lastly, Giant offers Guiding Stars, a free, accessible tool for customers to make healthier decisions grocery shopping. “This easy, accessible program helps customers make healthier choices without needing an extensive knowledge of nutritional labels. All items receive a rating

from one to three stars with three being the best nutritional value. Customers can see the rating on the shelf tag or product packaging,” Shirley said.

Hartig Drug also is responding with urgency to health disparities. “Most Hartig Drug pharmacies are located in rural communities,” Hartig said, adding that the retailer will continue to expand testing services and vaccination clinics to ensure rural communities have access to vaccines and testing as quickly as large urban centers.

Addressing health disparities also is on Lewis Drug’s radar.

“Lewis Drug has numerous locations where we are the only pharmacy in the entire county in these rural areas,” Ladwig said. “These locations serve as a healthcare destination in small communities by providing immunizations, adherence packaging and counseling and medication therapy management.”

So what does the future hold for regional chain players?

Fruth plans to expand its health services

to include a point-of-care (test-to-treat) pilot with flu/strep/COVID/rhinovirus.

Faulks said Thrifty White will continue to increase investments in its clinical operations, while Giant’s future entails continuing to explore opportunities to expand health services.

Hartig said the future includes piloting clinical programs through Medicare Demonstration projects, state-sponsored medication management reviews or other clinical programs where pharmacists can impact the community.

Ladwig said Lewis Drug is working on expanding its services to underserved communities by teaming up with a Community Health Clinic to provide medications through the Dispensary of Hope program.

Lastly, Justin Heiser, Thrifty White’s chief operating officer, offered his view of the future: “The ability of the pharmacist to help patients stay-in-home longer and receive appropriate care and interventions will be game-changing in the upcoming several years.” dsn

“As a grocery retailer and pharmacy provider, Giant is uniquely positioned to help families live healthy lives. Our pharmacy and wellness teams continue to assist patients manage medical conditions, prevent disease and improve their well-being.”
— Leigh Shirley, director of pharmacy operations, The Giant Co.

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Vitamin Vitae

Vitamins and nutritional product sales may be correcting, but there’s still innovation across key segments

It is still early in 2023, but there are a few things we already know about how the vitamin and nutrition category is shaping up and what the next handful of months have in store.

Market research shows the vitamins, minerals and supplements segment is expected to see a respectable 5% lift in sales this year, which would bring the market to $37.44 billion. Growth beyond this period looks optimistic as well. Category insight information shows the sector growing at a 7.5% CAGR through 2028.

The mindset shift that we witnessed toward health and wellness during the pandemic will continue to be seen this year, albeit at a much slower pace. But as most agree, pace can be relative, considering the comparative backdrop for sales movement is a record-setting year fueled by a global health crisis. So while data may show subcategories, such as immunity (vitamins C, D, and zinc), are experiencing a decline in sales, it does not mean consumers are

no longer interested in these products; it simply indicates sales are settling back to normal levels.

A recent Mintel report exploring trends in vitamins, minerals and supplements noted brands that focus on emerging health issues and innovation would be among those that stand out in 2023.

The report also indicated that as consumers have become savvier about the role VMS products can play in their overall physical and mental health they are more apt to customize a daily regimen to best suit their personal needs. These findings represent a swing from past buying trends, in which consumers leaned toward a onepill-addresses-most-concerns approach.

As a result, interest in magnesium, beetroot, amino acids, St. Johns Wort, mushrooms, lecithin and green tea is on the rise.

“Gummies are now the number one delivery form in dietary supplements and we are seeing strong growth in effervescent, powder sticks, liquids and other alternate forms as well.”
— Chuck Tacl, senior vice president of sales and business development, Mason Vitamins
More Science, More Expertise, More Innovation.^ VITAMINS^ F M GET MORE *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. †For occasional sleeplessness 702423NB-KA © 2023 Nature’s Bounty, Inc. ^Get more with Nature’s Bounty® than ever before. **Compared to Nature's Bounty Hair, Skin & Nails gummies. ††Nature’s Bounty® Advanced Triple Absorb Co Q-10 features Aquacelle® technology that is clinically shown to provide 3x better absorption as compared to standard Co Q-10. Aquacelle® is a trademark of Pharmako Biotechnologies Pty Ltd. ‡Compared to single strain probiotics 702423NB KA I o Nature's Optimal Solutions Skin & Nai ◊Source: IRI Total US - Multi Outlet: Latest 52 weeks ending 8/21/22.

innovation aside, the challenging economy combined with lower consumer disposable income will likely be influential factors affecting sales this year.

“Normally, our industry is largely insulated from market instability, but I think we are going to see uncharted waters this year,” Frankel said. “With each crisis comes opportunity for those who can pivot and provide needed goods and services to the various retail channels.”

Omnichannel strength is going to be more important than ever before, Frankel noted. “There will be several bright spots emerging this year, especially in beauty nutrition, targeted superfoods and higher-end nutrigenomics,” he said. “We are preparing to access these opportunities as they emerge.”

Even with the challenging year-over-year growth comparisons arising from the sales spike of January 2022, the year has started off well, noted Kara Siak, vice president of sales strategy and operations for Pharmavite in West Hills, Calif. Siak expects continued growth through 2023 without the sharp, unpredictable responses to acute events that we’ve seen the last three years. “This should lead to more consistent and predictable performance in the VMS category,” Siak said.

Rebound predicted

Raza Bashir, vice president of scientific affairs and product innovation for Iovate in Oakville, Ontario, Canada, noted that despite the current economic challenges, his company anticipates a year of growth for the nutritional supplement industry. “Consumers view nutritional supplements as a non-negotiable essential—even in challenging economic times,”




SRP: $49.99.

EUPHORiQ is one of the newest additions to Iovate’s pre workout lineup of products. Featuring enfinity paraxanthine, a metabolite that is formed when the body breaks down caffeine, the product was created to offer increased focus and energy during workouts.

Mason Vitamins

Mushroom Power

60 tablets

SRP: $23.99

Mushroom Power from Mason Vitamins contains EGCG (green tea), matcha powder, shiitake extract, maitake extract and reishi extract. Its ingredients support an array of functions, including brain and immunity health as well as inflammation and stress. Combined, these ingredients are also said to improve sleep, lessen fatigue and normalize body functions.

Liquid I.V.

Hydration Multiplier, Seaberry

6 count and 10 count

SRP: $11.99 and $19.00

Originally launched in 2020 as a limited-time flavor, Liquid I.V. is now offering its Hydration Multiplier Seaberry flavor as part of its permanent lineup. The Seaberry superfruit hails from the Himalayas with notes of orange, nectarine pineapple and passionfruit. It’s available in two sizes.

Windmill Health Products

Her Own

30 servings

SRP: $14.99

Her Own is a new multi-SKU line of women’s wellness products from Windmill Health Products. The line includes products that address UTIs, gut health, PMS, sexual health, energy, bloating and detoxing. The products are offered in a variety of formats including gummies, tablets and capsules.


Bashir said. “Our company is primarily focused on sports nutrition, energy and weight management, which are in high demand and continue to evolve in the post-pandemic world.”

Iovate is expanding its product lineup to offer alternative sources for energy enhancement. “People process caffeine differently and our goal is minimizing these genetic differences and elevating the standards for energy, cognition and thermogenesis (calorie burning),” Bashir said.

It may take the better part of the year, but all signs point to sales returning to pre-pandemic growth rates, said Kimberly Vigliante, senior vice president of wholesale sales and marketing for Piping Rock Health Products in Bohemia, N.Y. Vigliante anticipates products focused on proactive wellness, active nutrition and well-being will drive growth—especially protein, beauty, gut health, mental health, sexual wellness and green foods. “These types of products afford consumers the opportunity to proactively preserve and/or better their health,” he said.

She and others noted that living a healthy lifestyle is becoming more important to consumers today—and the increased stresses of the economy have led to people seeking proactive health management. New users, Vigliante added, seem to be focused on specific, unique needs, from vitamin and mineral deficiencies to particular health concerns. “Consumers are now prioritizing their own targeted wellness needs over general wellness, and there has been an increase of sports enthusiasts in the category as well,” she said.

People are becoming more directed by their own personal health and seeking greater control


Piping Rock Health

Nature’s Truth

Beet Root Gummies

Each bottle contains 60 gummies or 30 servings

SRP: $15.99

Nature’s Truth Beet Root Gummies from Piping Rock Health Products is among the company’s newest additions. The strawberry-flavored gummies put a fun and flavorful spin on a classic superfood aimed at adults.



Magnesium Complex

60 Capsules

SRP: $19.99

NatureMade’s Magnesium Complex features four types of magnesium plus vitamin D3 and zinc. It supports muscle relaxation, heart, nerve and bone health as well as a healthy immune system.

Nestlé Health Science

Nature’s Bounty Optimal Solutions

Hair Growth

30 capsules

Nestlé Health Science is expanding its Nature’s Bounty Optimal Solutions line with the addition of a new hair growth product. The once-a-day complex was created to address thinning hair issues many women experience as they age.

The non-GMO, gelatinfree formula contains arginine silicate and magnesium biotinate.


Atkins Root Beer Float Protein Shake


SRP: $8.49

This spring Atkins is releasing its Root Beer Float Protein Shake. The 1-oz. shake is made with real cream and features 15 g of protein, 2 g of net carbs, 1 g of sugar and 5 g of fiber.


over their VMS regimens, Vigliante added, noting that consumers want to customize what they take and when they take it. She said consumers are increasingly and steadily gravitating toward active wellness, key minerals, herbs, single-letter vitamins and beauty as they gain increased awareness in the category. Vigliante expects magnesium, collagen, beetroot and iron to be key growth segments this year.

While the intensity for immune health purchasing has softened somewhat recently, Aileen Stocks, president of wellness brands at Nestlé Health Science in Hoboken, N.J., said consumers overall are still focusing on self-care and wellness, and supplements remain a large part of their focus.

“Beauty, for example, is less impacted by inflationary pressures and segments such as collagen, hydration and active nutrition are continuing to see strong growth,” said Stocks. She added that within VMHS (vitamins, minerals, herbals and supplements), digestive and mood/stress are outpacing the category as consumers try to manage stress.

One thing is for certain— consumer behavior is changing, Siak said. She is seeing a shift from people fighting compartmentalized symptoms to taking a more holistic prevention approach. “Connection between the mind and body, along with community wellness are now more emphasized coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Siak said. “Immune supplements are continuing to perform but we are also seeing strong growth in proactive health segments such as stress and energy.”

Offering products in a variety of formats also will be front and center this year, as consumers

continue to look for the delivery that best fits their lifestyles.

“Gummies are now the number one delivery form in dietary supplements and we are seeing strong growth in effervescent, powder sticks, liquids and other alternate forms as well,” said Chuck Tacl, senior vice president of sales and business development for Mason Vitamins in Miami Lakes, Fla. Tacl said new users that have come into the category are driving the alternate form and delivery system growth.

Not just a pill

When it comes to taking a holistic approach to health, Americans of all ages continue to look at a broad scope of solutions, and this often begins with what they eat and drink. Consumers that fall in this group are looking to limit or avoid sugars and seek out products packed with protein, while older consumers are more likely to target vitamin D and fiber, said Colette Heimowitz, vice president of nutrition and education at Simply Good Foods Company in Denver.

Heimowitz said that with the exceptions of vitamin D, probiotics and zinc, consumers most often seek nutrients from foods, rather than beverages or supplements. The Simply Good Foods Company makes a wide variety of nutritional foods and beverages sold under the Atkins and Quest brands, she said.

Reflecting on expected consumer behavior this year, Heimowitz anticipates consumers will return to an on-the-go lifestyle, which means we are likely to see an increase in individualized eating occasions. As they do, protein bars, ready-to-drink beverages and snack sales should benefit. “Snacking remains a highly individualized behavior; retailers should anticipate snacking occasions to again rise and on-the-go needs for portability to remain high. Additionally, consumers are looking for innovative and new flavors in the ready-to-drink category, and protein shakes are a great option to fuel busy lifestyles,” Heimowitz said.

Functional benefits remain a key driver fueling interest, noted Helen Guo, director of consumer insights for Los Angeles-based Liquid I.V. Guo said VMS and beauty have set the standard and now consumers expect similar functional benefits in their food and beverages. Beverages that provide functional benefits beyond taste, she added, are highly sought after right now.

“The functional hydration space—including sports drinks for added hydration, energy drinks for added physical and mental performance, kombucha for added gut health, and collagen waters for added beauty and skin benefits—has grown significantly in the past few years due to exploding consumer demand,” Guo said. dsn

— Kara Siak, vice president of sales strategy and operations, Pharmavite
“Connection between the mind and body, along with community wellness are now more emphasized coming out of the COVID19 pandemic. Immune supplements are continuing to perform but we are also seeing strong growth in proactive health segments such as stress and energy.”
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REX Awards 2023 - OTC

DSN’s Retail Excellence Awards spotlight companies that help consumers treat minor maladies with over-the-counter solutions

Since 1976, more than 120 medications have switched from prescription to over-the-counter availability. According to the Consumer Healthcare Products Association, these ingredients, indications and dosages in the Rx-to-OTC pathway include antihistamines, nasal decon- gestants, analgesics and much more.

In addition to these switches, there have been many product developments over the years that were launched as OTC products. The CHPA, citing its study with Nielsen, reported sales of OTC medicines at retail totaled nearly $37.7 billion in 2021. The sales drove considerable health care savings. In its 2022 Over-The-Counter Value Study, the CHPA reported that 82% of consumers who treat their symptoms with OTC medicines would have sought professional medical treatment if the OTC item had not been available. The study noted that OTC drove $56.8 billion in drug cost savings and $110.3 billion in cost savings from unneeded doctor’s visits.

This year’s winners of REX Awards – OTC are companies that are developing innovative products that help consumers self-treat a variety of issues.

Bausch + Lomb

Global eye health company Bausch + Lomb offers more than 400 products including contact lenses, lens care products, eye care products, ophthalmic pharmaceuticals, over-the-counter products and ophthalmic surgical devices and instruments. Its OTC product portfolio includes the categories of ocular nutritional supplements, eye drops and lens care solutions.

In 2022, the Bridgewater, N.J.-based

brand launched several products. Biotrue Hydration Plus MultiPurpose Solution provides more moisture to contact lenses for those patients who depend on their contact lenses for most of the day and may experience lens dryness and discomfort. The company also introduced an enhanced Ocuvite Adult 50+ eye vitamin with Vitamin D to help support healthy cell function, which is key to protecting eye health.

This year the company is celebrating its 170th anniversary and plans to launch several OTC products in the U.S. to address dry eyes and contact lens dryness. The new products will include line extensions to the Biotrue brand, including Biotrue Hydration Boost Contact Lens Rehydrating drops and PreserVision AREDS 2 Formula eye vitamins.

Doctor Easy

The mission of Doctor Easy Medical Products is to bring clinically proven, effective ear wax removal to the consumer. “From the start, our driving motivation has been to help consumers avoid costly doctor visits,” said Marsha Garcia, president. “Our secondary goal has been to protect the unsuspecting from gimmicky ear wax products that crop up year after year but don’t actually work.”

WaxRx is based on the brand’s professional ear washers, which have been used over 50 million times in the medical setting. “Our innovation is offering consumers and retailers a real OTC solution, for even the most stubborn ear wax impaction, something that was not available in the pharmacy until WaxRx came along,” Garcia said.


The Orange Park, Fla.-based company’s current products include the WaxRx Ear Wash System, WaxRx Refill Kit, Earvana Ear Rinse for itchy ears, and WaxRx Carbamide Peroxide Ear Wax Drops. The focus now is to raise brand awareness of the WaxRx Ear Wash System through national cable TV advertising, pharmacist education and in-store promotions. WaxRx has had tremendous success with current retail partners, Garcia said, and the goal is to reach retailers that do not offer the products and demonstrate how they can boost their ear category sales.

Focus Consumer Healthcare

The driving force for Focus Consumer Healthcare is typically a consumer need that is not being met in the current marketplace. In the cold sore category, the Chattanooga, Tenn.-based company found an unmet need for pain and itch relief. It launched another product in the Herpecin L line, Herpecin L Pain Relief with Lidocaine. The company is working to make Herpecin L Pain Relief more accessible to cold sore sufferers who need the immediate pain and itch relief of a lidocaine item for their cold sores.

Focus Consumer Healthcare also repositioned and repackaged its base item, now Herpecin L Everyday Protection. “We listened to consumers, learned more about

how they are using the product, and ended up really leaning into the heritage of the brand, which was always intended to be a proactive step against cold sore flare up triggers like sun damage and skin damage,” said Kevin Menzel, managing director and chief operating officer. “Herpecin L is now helping cold sore sufferers through all the various stages of their cold sore episodes.”

In addition to Herpecin L, Focus Consumer Healthcare’s brands include Pamprin, Garlique, Blue Star, Zapzyt, Sun In, UltraSwim, and Benzodent. For 2023 the company will continue in launch mode and distribution expansion for Garlique Healthy Blood Pressure and Herpecin Pain Relief with Lidocaine.


A pharmaceutical, clinical nutrition and dietary supplement company, Megalabs USA offers therapeutic solutions for a healthier life. The Miami-based company has two divisions that it highlights in the U.S. Dietary Supplements, including digestive products such as probiotics and laxatives as well as items in the cough and cold category. It also has Specialty Nutrition that includes drinks for wound healing and diabetic nutritional drinks.

In 2022 Megalabs acquired Victus and plans to offer its line of nutritional products

across the region. It also will continue to focus on the wellness and natural market, strategic segments Megalabs hopes to grow in the coming years.

This year the company plans to focus on Prunelax, its heritage laxative brand, which has several different formulations including traditional tablets and capsules, syrups, jams, gummies and tea. Also being highlighted is Prospan, a natural and effective brand for those suffering from cough and cold. Prospan is formulated with special ivy extract EA575, which the company said has been clinically proven, with 11 studies and 65,000 patients, to support the respiratory system to relieve cough, open airways and reduce phlegm and inflammation.


Nufabrx sells medicine infused compression sleeves that treat pain. The portfolio consists of six products: Knee, Leg, Ankle, Arm, Shin and Wrist, and the products can be found at retailers in the braces and compression sleeve section. The pain relief ingredient, capsaicin, is in the yarn of the fabric, and the products provide contact-activated medicine.

“We sit at the intersection of pharmaceuticals and apparel,” said Jason Andree, chief marketing officer. The compression sleeves can deliver a controlled dose of

WE KNOW besmartgetprepared.com | sales@trikits.com | 1.888.771.7824

medications for all day pain relief. The embedded medicine releases into the skin on contact, providing targeted pain relief. Meanwhile, the compressive fabric provides pressure to support circulation and help eliminate fluid buildup and inflammation. The products are reusable, and the medicine lasts for 15-plus washes.

In 2023 Nufabrx will add Neck and Back SKUs, as working from home has driven an uptick in neck and back pain. The company is based in North Carolina, where it manufactures in the historic mill towns of Asheboro and Conover. The company began in 2011, when founder Jordan Schindler developed a bamboo pillowcase embedded with tea tree oil and lavender for people with acne.

Pharmacare US

Black elderberries help support the immune system because they are a natural source of vitamins C, E, and A, and contain more free-radical-fighting antioxidants than cranberries, blueberries, and pomegranates. Pharmacare US makes Sambucol Black Elderberry products using premium Haschberg berries that are grown in Central

Europe. Among the newest products is 5-in-1 Intense Defense, which contains echinacea, zinc, vitamin C and white willow, a natural source of salicin, a pain reliever. The Liquid Action Softgels are free from gluten and artificial flavors.

The San Diego-based company is working on other new products for launch this year.

ProBiora Health

The oral health category has many products that focus on removing the mouth’s bad, harmful bacteria that cause cavities, gum disease and bad breath. ProBiora Health offers a different approach, based on the concept that a healthy mouth needs good (probiotic) bacteria too. The good bacteria in ProBiora oral care probiotics help to crowd out the bad bacteria to maintain a healthy mouth and tooth and gum biome.

Sarasota, Fla.-based ProBiora offers a line of oral care probiotics for adults, kids and pets. For adults, ProBiora oral care probiotics come in Hint of Mint, Extra Minty and new Orange flavor. For kids, ProBiora is available in Orange Creamsicle flavor. For cats and dogs, ProBiora comes in a dry, odorless and flavorless daily

probiotic powder that can be sprinkled on their food. All ProBiora oral care probiotics are gluten-free, vegetarianfriendly, with no artificial flavors or colors. Additionally, they are safe to use with dental and orthodontic appliances.

For 2023, ProBiora is evolving its packaging, adding new flavors to the adult and kid lineups and introducing single-serve packets in the pet items.

Quest Products

Quest Products creates healthcare OTC solutions with brands that include OraCoat oral care, Clinere ear care, Alocane and ProVent first aid, Enemeez digestive health, SunBurnt after-sun skin recovery and SleepWell sleep products.

In 2022, in response to pandemic and inflation-related challenges, Quest


Products looked at innovating to reinvigorate more stagnant categories. It expanded the Alocane brand beyond the gel form into a spray form, as company research indicated that 41% of shoppers in the burn segment said they preferred a spray format, which allows them to treat their burn without touching it. In the Clinere brand, Quest added a Carbamide Peroxide Earwax Removal Kit to the line, as consumers indicated they wanted a medicated solution in addition to the Natural Oil Earwax Removal Kit.

This year Quest plans to highlight SunBurnt Plus, the after-sun skin recovery gel that combines the efficacy of lidocaine with botanical ingredients. The relaunch of Enemeez mini-enema brand will continue to be a focus, and the Provent Skin Tag Band Kit is bringing a popular solution from online to brick-and-mortar shelves.

Total Resources International

Known for its first aid kits and wound care products, Total Resources International launched a Diabetic Wound Care line in 2022. “We noticed for those living with diabetes, there are solutions

for their health, diet and management, but nothing in the market for diabetic wound care,” said Geolyn Gonzalez, vice president of sales and marketing. The line focuses on infection prevention and the company plans to launch more products in the line this year.

TRI’s flagship brand is Be Smart Get Prepared (BSGP), which are First Aid Kits and Emergency Preparedness solutions that cover multiple retail categories, including HBC, outdoors and emergency survival. In addition to BSGP, in 2018 TRI launched SILVEX brand, a silver first aid and wound care solution, in the HBC category. SILVEX Nano Silver Wound Gel is in 7,000+ major retail stores nationwide and SILVEX Nano Silver Antibacterial Wound Wash will launch in Walmart and Walgreens in March 2023.

The Walnut, Calif.-based company has a social impact program, Every Kit Cares. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of all TRI products funds projects to enrich children and families with life-changing opportunities, empower them with the knowledge to build strong foundations and shape impactful leaders.


Xlear manufactures and sells nasal and oral hygiene products. In the nasal category, the addition of xylitol to a saline nasal spray can more effectively wash the upper airway where most infections in the human body begin. Xylitol has been shown to block the adhesion of many bacteria and viruses, and the company has scientific studies showing these results on its website.

In oral hygiene, the Spry brand is a complete line of dental care products utilizing xylitol to improve oral health. Xylitol works differently than fluoride by changing the oral microbiome to bacteria that does not create acid that results in cavities. The brand recently improved the formulation with the new EnamelMax formula, which includes STMP to help in strengthening the enamel and helps with sensitivity.

In 2023 the American Fork, Utah-based company will continue to focus on these products and cough drops, as the main entry point for bacteria and viruses is still in the upper airway, including the nose and mouth. dsn


Retail Marketing That Drives Education and Trust

Spotlighting key trends and solutions improves a retailer’s chances of building shopper engagement and loyalty

Marketing is a complex topic in retail. Amid this inflationary environment, many drug store and food store shoppers just want to hear about a price cut or a BOGO.

But marketing isn’t just about relaying price promotions. What often catches my attention is marketing that educates about trends and solutions and helps to drive trust in a retailer and its products. A number of retailers emphasized this approach during the holidays and around the new year. They educated customers about new directions and often identified products that fell into those trends. This type of marketing is platform-agnostic because the messaging can be pushed out through blogs, social media, print circulars and other outlets. Here are a few good examples:

Walgreens Spotlights Wellness

In forecasting 10 health and wellness trends for 2023, Walgreens underscored that it aims to help customers and patients “pursue joyful, healthy lives.” It did the homework for shoppers by studying both internal and external market data to develop its forecasts. The retailer relayed trends such as relieving mental stress, keeping immune systems boosted and embracing sustainable products. Just as important, it positioned its own brand commercialization managers as experts who drive innovation and value. Walgreens sprinkled its content with links to products that support the key trends, such as bamboo toothbrushes that tie into “sustainable products.”

Kroger Profiles Meal Planning

Kroger produced a 2023 outlook piece that predicted key food trends, with an emphasis on cooking and eating-at-home habits and celebrations with friends and family. The retailer emphasized foods and flavors that can please a wide range of cohorts, from grandparents to Gen Z; strategies that make the work of hosts easier; approaches to making meals special; and food

and flavors that celebrate heritages. Customers were offered examples of products that tie into each trend, such as a Private Selection Hass Avocado Ranch Dip that makes the preparation easier on hosts.

Whole Foods Puts Trends in Context

Whole Foods offered 2023 food trend predictions called “The Next Big Things,” which were filled with details to put each trend into context. In describing the emerging trend called “New Brew: Yaupon,” it explained that yaupon is North America’s only known native caffeinated plant and was used by Indigenous Americans for brewing tea. Providing deeper stories about trends adds credibility and appeal. Other trends highlighted include Pulp with Purpose; The Great Date; and Only the Finest for Fido. Whole Foods even offered an option for customers to purchase a “trends box” featuring 10 items, each of which reflect one of its trends.

Wegmans Lets Employees Shine

Associates are the faces of retail to customers, so why not make them part of retail marketing? That’s exactly the approach taken by Wegmans as it spotlighted “Feel Your Best” healthy strategies for the holidays. Associates explained how they use healthy eating habits that include Be Mindful, Stock for Success (have healthy foods on hand) and Eat Plant Foods. One associate discussing Be Mindful said, “utilizing the concepts learned directly from our Wegmans Nutrition team, I have been able to maintain my desired weight.”

Succeeding With Education and Trust

I applaud the sophisticated marketing efforts of the retailers cited above. These examples centered on the holidays and the new year, but retail marketing can drive education and trust all year long. In fact, that is by far the best way to build and maintain ongoing engagement with customers. dsn

Orgel is an award-winning business journalist, industry expert and speaker. He is the principal of David Orgel Consulting.
”What often catches my attention is marketing that educates about trends and solutions and helps to drive trust in a retailer and its products.”

Count on generics. Now more than ever.

Dr. Reddy’s generic medications have been making life more affordable for patients for over 40 years. Today, our commitment to providing access to high quality, more affordable medications that patients and their doctors can count on remains unchanged. Why? Just ask the more than 23,000 committed employees at Dr. Reddy’s who know that Good Health Can’t Wait.


Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories, Inc. | 107 College Road East, Princeton, NJ 08540 | Tel: 866-733-3952 ©2022 Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories, Inc. All rights reserved. RDY-0921-370

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Retail Marketing That Drives Education and Trust article cover image

Retail Marketing That Drives Education and Trust

page 66
REX Awards 2023 - OTC article cover image

REX Awards 2023 - OTC

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NEW PRODUCTS article cover image


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