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Volume 43 No. 4

APRIL 2021

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APRIL 2021

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ACTIVE INGREDIENTS Extensive portfolio of more than 250 API products across various categories such as anti-infectives, peptides, biosimilars, vaccines, polymers and more.

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Vol. 43 No. 4 DrugStoreNews.com


FEATURES 10 Industry News 24 Independent Pharmacy Insights Data from HRG illuminates trends in independent pharmacy sales

26 Products to Watch 50 Focus On: Inmar Intelligence 52 CBD News


56 Cover Story: Voices of the Industry Industry leaders discuss the current state and the future of mass retail and pharmacy


92 NACDS Annual Product Preview 74 Focus On: Maesa

COLUMNS 8 Editor’s Note 28 Counter Talk

42 One-on-One with Genomma Lab’s Charisse Winecki

44 One-on-One with Lifestar Pharma’s Vijay Soni

with ECRM’s Greg Farrar

30 Counter Talk with Surescripts’ Ken Whittemore Jr.

32 Counter Talk with Fancy’s Katie Keating

34 Counter Talk with Navitus Health Solutions’ Alan Van Amber and Julie Olson

36 One-on-One with TTEC’s Paul Ignasinski and LivePerson’s Adam Canter

40 One-on-One

46 One-on-One with Cardinal Health’s Victor Crawford

72 One-on-One Alaffia’s Lanaia Edwards

88 Counter Talk with Two Labs’ Michael Rowe

90 Counter Talk with Numerof & Associates’ Rita Numerof

106 Last Word

with eHealth’s Jeffrey Bekos

with David Orgel Consulting’s David Orgel

PHARMACY 76 State of the Industry What are the challenges facing pharmacy as the pandemic begins to subside?

INSIDE BEAUTY 66 Hair Care Ingredients are front and center as hair care consumers take their cues from skin care

HEALTH 102 Sexual Wellness As taboos melt away, retailers have an opportunity to creatively meet shoppers’ needs and expand the category

102 SOCIAL Facebook.com/ DrugStoreNews Twitter.com/ DrugStoreNews

DSN (ISSN 0191-7587) is published monthly 12 times a year by EnsembleIQ, 8550 W. Bryn Mawr Ave, Suite 200, Chicago, IL 60631. Subscription rate in the United States: $125 one year; $230 two year; $14 single issue copy; Canada and Mexico: $150 one year; $270 two year; $16 single issue copy; Foreign: $170 one year; $325 two year; $16 single issue copy. Periodicals postage paid at Chicago, IL, and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Please send address changes to DSN, 8550 W. Bryn Mawr Ave, Suite 200, Chicago, IL 60631. Vol. 43 No. 4, April 2021. Copyright © 2021 by EnsembleIQ. All rights reserved.



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Private Label Potential Often a retailer’s secret weapon, private label plays a key strategic role By Seth Mendelson


hat roles are private label and store brands playing in your merchandising strategy? As the world comes out of the COVID-19 pandemic, the last year has shown that mass retailers need to place a larger emphasis on their store brand and private label strategies, giving these items a more prominent role in the overall marketing plan. Of course, this all needs to be done at the same time they maintain an emphasis on those key national branded products, which Seth Mendelson have helped establish them in consumer eyes. Editor in Chief/ Own brands now make up between 15% and 25% of a Associate Publisher typical mass retailer’s total sales — and a bit more of profit — across a number of key health and food segments. And, as more products become available and the quality of the private label brands increases, retailers need to be more prepared for consumers asking for alternatives to national brands. So where is the perfect balance between a national brand and private label strategy? The answer is that it depends on the retailer, its profit mission and objectives and, most importantly, the type of consumer it is trying to reach. During an extremely interesting virtual panel discussion at the Private Label Manufacturers Association’s Annual Meeting and Leadership Conference in midMarch, several retailers spoke about the need for private label to play a larger role in their merchandising strategies. Yet, they also noted, the suppliers in the category must continue to do a better job with product quality, merchandising and a price differentiation strategy that will encourage consumer trial while still resulting in more profits for the retailer. The good news is that the many private label suppliers got the message, some as long as two decades ago. Gone are the days when lower price points meant a dramatic difference in quality between private label and national brands. Also in the rearview mirror are the times when private label packaging was so awful that consumers only looked to them in only the most dire circumstances. Today, as discussed at the PLMA event, private label has gained so much respect that many retailers now simply view the category as another brand in specific categories. Granted, one that has the ability to make the merchant more money, build strong consumer loyalty, and help the chain develop its own message and image with an increasingly fickle, yet demanding consumer base. It is up to the retailers to figure out where private label and store brands fit into their product mix, how far they go with the categories and how they make sure consumers realize these options are available. Private label is here to stay. Learn how to best use it. dsn

Private label has gained so much respect that many retailers now simply view it as another brand in specific categories.


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

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


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Covid Status Wear Looks to Send the Right Message

Crown Royal Rolls Out Ready-to-Drink Cocktails Crown Royal is launching a new line of ready-to-drink beverages that feature its signature spirit with an added twist. Available in three flavors that contain the brand’s signature whisky, consumers can choose from Washington Apple, Whisky & Cola and Peach Tree. “There’s an increasing interest in ready-to-drink products, and there’s a real desire from our drinkers to enjoy the cocktails they’ve always loved at the bar,” said Nicky Heckles, vice president of Crown Royal. “Whether you’re relaxing in front of the TV or enjoying time in the backyard, Crown Royal ready-to-drink cocktails are perfect for those who want to celebrate with ease, but not compromise on the premium whisky and flavors we all know and love.” All three Crown Royal ready-to-drink cocktails are available in a pack of four single flavors that retail for $14.99 or in single cans that retail for $3.99 nationwide.

Covid Status Wear is introducing a line of strategically designed magnetic wearable pins, cotton masks and other common items that communicate a safer COVID-19 status. Company officials said the product was born from the social media trend of “I’m Vaccinated” postings and the difficulty of explaining in verbal detail one’s COVID-19 status to people nearby. They also said that these items help consumers put others at ease and help break through a wall of fear that has been tough to penetrate for the past year. “We take pride in being part of the next phase of COVID-related products that are helping to ease fear and get people back to living a better life at work and around others,” said Matt Streem, president of Covid Status Wear. “My favorite story is repeated often by consumers, where people say if they had to sit next to a stranger on a plane who was wearing any one of these pins, it would make them feel better and safer.” The product, which comes in five different status types as a single item for $7.99 or as a five-pack for $24.99, is available to ship now. A complementary line of face masks also are offered at the retail price of $3.99 for singles and $11.99 for a five-pack.

Ocean Grown Ventures Breaks into CBD with Tikva In the tough world of CBD, manufacturers are doing all they can to stay ahead of the competition. Officials at Ocean Grown Ventures, based in Simi Valley, Calif., said they think they have a solution for consumers looking for peace of mind when buying CBD products. The company has joined Panaxia, an Israeli pharmaceutical company, to offer Tikva, a line of CBD products made to strict pharmaceutical standards and predetermined specifications to create safe, consistent and efficacious solutions. The products are manufactured to GMP standards set to ensure the quality of pharmaceutical products. Panaxia manufactures Tikva’s full-spectrum, THC-free (less than 0.3%) hemp CBD products at a U.S. facility with the same standards as its Israeli laboratories, according to Natalie Katz, brand manager at Tikva. The line includes nine SKUs, with seven in tablet, creams or oil formats, and two bath balms. “Due to federal restrictions, U.S. cannabis companies are just starting to do high-level research and studies on their products, Katz said. “Tikva’s world-renowned Israeli-based manufacturer, Panaxia Pharmaceuticals, is already a decade ahead, making Tikva products virtually unmatched by anyone in the U.S. market.”



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Schick’s Xtreme 3 Eco Glide Razor Takes Eco-friendly Approach Schick is launching a disposable razor made with 100% recycled post-consumer plastic. Xtreme 3 Eco Glide is a fully recyclable razor with recyclable packaging that is lightweight, portable and affordable. Created after recognizing that some change needed to be made, considering more than 2 billion razors wind up in landfills each year, the personal care brand’s new launch delivers on Edgewell’s sustainable care report that reduces plastic waste across the category, the company said. Featuring three blades that pivot and flex during the shaving process, the Xtreme 3 Eco Glide Razor has strips infused with vitamin E to soothe sensitive skin, as well as lubricants to enhance razor glide and protect skin against nicks and irritation. Schick’s Xtreme 3 Eco Glide Razor, which retails for $8.29, is available online at Schick.com and at CVS Pharmacy and Walgreens stores.


Aurobindo Launches Generic Astelin Aurobindo’s latest generic product is showcasing its versatility of delivery methods. The company is introducing its azelastine hydrochloride nasal spray 0.1%, a generic of Astelin. The generic is Aurobindo’s first product launch in the United States using a pump nasal spray delivery system, highlighting its ongoing strategic push into alternative delivery systems. Besides the pump nasal sprays, these alternative delivery systems include metered-dose inhalers, prefilled syringes and transdermal patches. Azelastine hydrochloride nasal spray 0.1% had a market value of $54.8 million for the year ended January 2021, according to data from IQVIA.


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Mad Tasty, Natreve Impress Buyers at ECRM’s Healthy Living Session Mad Tasty won the Drug Store News/ECRM Buyers’ Choice Award for its Hemp Infused Wellness Boost at ECRM’s Healthy Living, Vitamin & Nutrition Session held in March. Natreve was a finalist for its Immune Strength dietary supplement. The products were selected from dozens of entries submitted by participating suppliers. Buyers were able to evaluate each entry and cast their votes based on product packaging and innovation via the Drug Store News-branded Buyers’ Choice Awards section of the ECRM Connect platform. “Both Buyers’ Choice Award winners focus not only on the health of consumers, but also on the health of the planet,” said “Craig Chmielowicz, senior vice president of health and beauty care at ECRM. “This is important as consumers increasingly seek to support brands with sustainable practices. Healthy people and healthy planet — a winwin for everybody.” Mad Tasty was founded in 2018 by Ryan Tedder, a songwriter, producer and lead singer of OneRepublic, as he was searching for a functional beverage to help him maximize his performance on stage, at the gym and during his long production sessions. The company’s Hemp Infused Wellness Boosts combine 50 mg of broad-spectrum hemp extract and include such premium functional ingredients as curcumin, ginger, vitamin C, elderberry, echinacea and propolis resin. The hemp is sourced from a farm in Oregon that follows organic farming practices, and the company uses SoRSE Technology to take the oil-based hemp extract and turn it into a water-soluble, odorless and tasteless solution that makes equal dosing possible and allows for greater absorption in the intestinal tract, according to Mad Tasty. “Our ECRM experience has been first class,” said Dan Kelly, vice president of national accounts at Mad Tasty. “The ECRM team facilitates communication and networking opportunities with high value chain decision makers that are crucial to our growth strategy. Especially these days, ECRM’s ability to keep us connected is critical to our opportunities being realized.” Natreve seeks to provide wellness inside and out to consumers while cultivating a community that believes in diversity, equality and acceptance. Natreve’s Immune Strength dietary supplement was developed to help consumers maintain and support a healthy immune function. According to the company, it is a source of fungal polysaccharides with immunomodulating properties that activates key immune cells and immune responses that maintain health and wellness. Additionally, it’s clinically proven to help maintain energy and mental clarity during times of stress while reducing the incidence of upper respiratory tract infection. The product is available in single-serve stick packs and can be added to water or any beverage.



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CO. by Colgate Helps Make Brushing ‘Something to Smile About’ Colgate-Palmolive is taking a new approach to the oral care category with CO. by Colgate. The brand features a collection of products focused on making tooth brushing a feel-good activity. “Self-expression is at the core of CO. by Colgate, underscored by our belief in a future where everyone can feel confident to express themselves freely,” said Dana Medema, vice president and general manager of oral care at Colgate North America. “CO. by Colgate is more than a line of transformative oral beauty products that help create brighter smiles. It aspires to celebrate and support those working every day to build a brighter, more inclusive future. We hope to help shape a world where everyone feels safe and encouraged to be who they truly are.” The line’s full lineup includes: • Oh So Dazzling Enzyme-Powered Whitening Toothpaste with hydrogen peroxide that aims to boost the teeth-whitening effect; • Later, Stains! Foaming Anti-Stain Mouth Rinse, a foaming mouth rinse that can be used before eating and drinking to shield against everyday stains; • It’s Lit Overnight Whitening Wand is a click and brush-on serum that helps make teeth three shades whiter within two weeks; • The CO. Worker Rechargeable Electric Toothbrush features four brush modes, various vibration levels and a pressure sensor; • SuperNova Rechargeable At-Home Teeth Whitening Kit includes a whitening wand, as well as an LED device that looks to give teeth a radiant glow and make them six shades whiter in 10 days; • CO. to Go On-The-Go Anticavity Toothpaste Tabs with Fluoride features a waterless formula that protects against cavities while also freshening breath; and • TLC Manual Toothbrush contains soft bristles that clean teeth while also revitalizing gums. The line of products will be available exclusively at Ulta Beauty and on Ulta.com and CO.Colgate.com. “We’re delighted to be the exclusive retail partner for CO. by Colgate and provide a platform for this innovative collection to be discovered and embraced,” said Monica Arnaudo, chief merchandising officer at Ulta Beauty. “As a beauty leader and preferred destination among Gen Z beauty enthusiasts, we know how important daily routines are to our guests’ holistic well-being. CO. by Colgate turns the simple act of brushing one’s teeth into a self-care ritual — and that’s something to smile about.”



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Chris of Hemmingsen Drug Store in Marshall, Michigan

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Arm & Hammer’s Foot Wipes Remove Dirt, Impurities

Hisamitsu America Introduces Salonpas Arthritis Pain Relief Gel

Arm & Hammer is rolling out a new product aimed at shaking up the foot care aisle. The company is introducing its new Cleansing and Refreshing Foot Wipes that help remove dirt, sweat and any other impurities from the feet in one wipe. Featuring its Fresh Guard Technology, the wipes also contain baking soda and a textured design that aim to eliminate and neutralize foot odor, the company said. The wipes, which feature a nongreasy formula and contain such ingredients as tea tree oil, chamomile and menthol, are free of parabens and sulfates. Arm & Hammer Cleansing and Refreshing Foot Wipes retail for $4.99 on Amazon.com and at Target and Walmart.

Hisamitsu America is expanding its Salonpas line of pain relief products. The new Salonpas Arthritis Pain Relief Gel contains prescriptionstrength diclofenac, which was approved for over-the-counter use in 2020 by the Food and Drug Administration. The nongreasy gel is formulated to reduce inflammation and deliver relief at the site of pain. “Salonpas has a long history of driving growth through our scientific approach to pain relief, which includes providing the first FDA-approved OTC topical pain reliever to the public in 2008,” said John Incledon, president and CEO of Hisamitsu America. Hisamitsu said that the Salonpas brand is the top-selling external pain relief brand in the country, according to IRI data for the 52 weeks ended Jan. 24. The product currently is available at retailers nationwide.



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Purina’s Purple Leash Project Help us keep domestic violence victims and their pets together By Joe Toscano

F Joe Toscano, vice president of trade and industry development, Purina


or more than 90 years, Purina has been guided by the belief that pets and people are better together. I can attest that my own dog, Stew, has made my life better, and I cannot imagine having to choose between his safety or my own. Unfortunately, that decision is being made every day by domestic violence victims who want to leave but can’t because there is no safe place to go with their pets. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 71% of pet owners entering domestic violence shelters report that their abuser had threatened, injured or killed family pets. This is why nearly half of survivors will delay leaving abuse if they cannot take their pets with them. As few as 10% of domestic violence shelters in the United States accept pets, and we want to change that. We envision a world where no one is trapped in abuse because they can’t take their whole family with them. The inspiration for what developed into the Purple Leash Project came nearly seven years ago when one of our associates read about the difficult decision that many domestic violence survivors with pets were being forced to make. It didn’t seem fair that pets, who may be the only source of unconditional love and support for a victim, weren’t being considered when it came to sheltering survivors. So, we decided to help.

After working to support New York’s largest domestic violence shelter for many years, in 2019 Purina took the step to make a national impact by creating the Purple Leash Project. In partnership with the national nonprofit RedRover, our goal is to raise awareness of the issue and increase the number of pet-friendly domestic violence shelters in the United States. And we have committed nearly $1,000,000 to support the cause. In addition to offering grant support for shelter upgrades, Purina is donating pet food, supplies and other resources for pet owners escaping abuse. We’re also advocating in D.C. for more federal resources for domestic abuse survivors with pets. Since 2019, Purina and RedRover have gifted 21 grants totaling more than $375,000 to help equip domestic violence shelters to receive and care for pets, leaving survivors with more options when trying to flee a dangerous situation. Now, 48 of the 50 U.S. states have at least one pet-friendly domestic violence shelter. The Purple Leash Project team hopes to work with domestic violence service providers in Hawaii and Rhode Island to close the gap. In the meantime, Purina and its associates are working to bring more awareness to this issue and increase the number of pet-friendly shelters across the country, and I invite you to join us. Here are three ways you can help us raise awareness of the need for more pet-friendly domestic violence shelters across the country: • Use your social media platform to support survivors with pets using #PurpleLeashProject and highlighting one of the many sobering stats I’ve mentioned to start a conversation; • Visit PurpleLeashProject.com to receive updates and learn more ways to get involved with the cause; and • Retailers can make an impact during the month of May and October by carrying special Purple Leash Project merchandising shipper units designed to drive attention and awareness for the cause and sales of Cat Chow, Tidy Cats, Beggin and Beneful for our retail partners. Contact your Purina sales rep to learn more. dsn


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48% of domestic abuse victims delay leaving because they can’t take their pet.


Giving Hope to People & Pets Learn about Purina’s goal of donating more than $1 million to help create more pet-friendly domestic violence shelters with our partner RedRover.

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Nature’s Truth Debuting Three Children’s Gummies Nature’s Truth is set to expand its line of gummy vitamins with three products focused on children’s needs. The brand will launch children’s multivitamin gummies, vitamin C gummies and elderberry gummies this spring to meet retailer and consumer demand. “Parents more than ever are looking for trustworthy vitamins their kids want to take,” said Kimberly Vigliante, senior vice president of sales and marketing at Nature’s Truth. “Many of us on the Nature’s Truth team are parents, too. We give these vitamins to our own kids because they’re made with the best ingredients and they are kid taste tested and approved.” The Ronkonkoma, N.Y.-based company said children’s gummies have been a particularly large area of growth, with Nielsen data showing a 42% year-over-year increase in sales for the year ended Dec. 26, 2020 — outpacing the overall vitamin category growth. “Our children’s gummies taste amazing — they’re made to please even the pickiest palates,” Vigliante said. “All our gummies for kids and adults are taste tested again and again to ensure top-quality flavor and texture.” The new gummies are vegetarian, non-GMO, and free of gluten, dairy and artificial flavor. They are sold in such natural flavors as berry burst and honey lemon

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+15% Dollar Sales* *vs YA SOURCE: Nielsen Answers on Demand, 1/23/20


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Independent Insight Exclusive charts from HRG’s Independent Pharmacy Research Study By David Salazar


t the end of last year, HRG conducted a study looking at independent pharmacies and their shoppers. The report, an update of research the firm conducted in 2012, was published earlier this year in the company’s Independent Pharmacy Research Study. The research contains insights

Merchandising Tools Bolster Front-end Sales HBW, GM, HHC

Percentage Sales Contribution



Planograms or In-store Merchandisers



81% 84%


Average Independent Pharmacy

from interviews with more than 400 independent pharmacies and more than 300 shoppers, as well as point-of-sale data from 126 stores for the year ended July 31, 2020. HRG shared with Drug Store News some exclusive data informed by the research. To download the full study, visit hamacher.com/research-reports/ dsn

82% 11% 11% Rx


Increase in contribution of sales for HBW, GM and HHC

For pharmacies using planograms or relying on in-store merchandisers, a higher percentage of their sales contribution is coming from the front end (HBW, GM and HHC). Based on 394 independent pharmacist respondents

Market Basket

Number of different categories:

3 categories — 4% > 3 categories — 2%

POS scan data, 8/1/2019 - 7/31/2020 from 136 stores






HBW remains at an estimated

11% of overall sales while GM has decreased

2012 data based on 589 independent pharmacist respondents 2020 data based on 401 independent pharmacist respondents

Insights & Actions

Average number of items = 1.94 Average dollar size of basket = $16.82 1 category — 78% 2 categories — 16%


Over three-quarters of front-end purchases contain only one category — a great opportunity to build baskets using these strategies: Cross-merchandise items in different departments; Use shelf signs to cross-promote complementary products in other categories; and Create curated solutions endcaps featuring a variety of products that may help treat seasonal or chronic conditions. Pharmacists also can make an effort to recommend items that may ease symptoms or mitigate prescription side effects.


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Our customers lean on us for excellent service. POWERED. BY PARTNERSHIP. As a trusted partner and dependable source of high-quality medicines, with more than 750 products, our dedicated team at Hikma is always in reach when you need us. Our excellent U.S. manufacturing capabilities and record of quality are backed by our 7 R&D centers and 8,500+ employees worldwide. We are deeply committed to providing our customers with a broad range of essential medicines that physicians and pharmacists need to treat their patients. Because for us, it’s not just business, it’s personal. Reach us at hikma.com/US

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New and Noteworthy HRG’s five picks from March 2021

RG’s new product team is always busy, and March was no exception. CPG companies rolled out 267 products last month, including 53 OTC products, 154 wellness products and 60 beauty items. The Waukesha, Wis.-based company’s reviewers sifted through all of the innovations and chose five that stood out. They were:



OcuSoft Lid Scrub Allergy Pads


Envive Probiotic Capsules


Flintstones Superbeans


Preparation H Soothing Relief Cooling Spray


Vanicream Daily Facial Moisturizer



The latest supplement from Bausch Health is focused on gut health. The company’s Envive Probiotic Capsules use five bacteria strains and 12 billion colony-forming units to help reduce the severity of five common GI afflictions — diarrhea, constipation, abdominal discomfort, gas and bloating. The product is sold in 30-count packages. GSK Consumer’s flagship hemorrhoid brand is adding a new way to help quickly soothe irritated and inflamed skin. Preparation H Soothing Relief Cooling Spray is formulated to refresh, cool and gently care for problem areas, offering a no-touch application to help relieve the burning and itching caused by hemorrhoids.

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Designed to provide allergy relief by removing oil, debris, pollen and other contaminants from the eyelids, OcuSoft Lid Scrub Allergy Pads are made with green tea extract and tea tree oil, as well as PSG-2. The product, sold in packages of 30, can help reduce redness, inflammation and itching.

Flintstones Superbeans are putting a twist on multivitamins. The product is a jelly bean vitamin that includes vitamins C and E for immunity support. The Superbeans, sold in 90-count bottles, are free of artificial sweeteners and flavors, synthetic colors, high fructose corn syrup, and gelatin. Designed to leave skin feeling soft and deeply moisturized, Vanicream’s Daily Facial Moisturizer contains five key ceramides, as well as hyaluronic acid and squalene to help hydrate skin and retain moisture. The product is free of dyes, fragrances, masking fragrance, lanolin, parabens, formaldehyde and other preservatives. It also is comedogenic and gluten-free. dsn

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Business at a Distance One hundred thousand meetings in, here’s what ECRM has learned about virtual By Greg Farrar

I Greg Farrar, CEO, ECRM

t’s hard to believe that it was just over a year ago when pandemic-related travel restrictions put a halt to any in-person interactions between buyers and suppliers, and remote meetings became a mainstay for everyone conducting business worldwide. ECRM quickly pivoted from its time-tested, in-person category program model by developing and launching its own virtual technology platform, ECRM Connect, in May of 2020. Since then, we surpassed the milestone of 100,000 curated meetings on ECRM Connect. During that time, our team has had countless conversations with customers, retailers and brands, learning a great deal about the role they envision for virtual in CPG retail as we move out of the pandemic. The following are four key takeaways from these discussions:

colleagues from marketing or logistics into select meetings with brands, and brands can bring in product specialists or R&D scientists who normally would never attend an in-person meeting.

1. Virtual has increased buyer engagement

As we approach the one-year anniversary of the ECRM Connect virtual platform next month, we’ve been able to reflect upon the key factors driving its success. First, our platform has been specifically tailored to the precise needs of retailers and brands engaged in product discovery and category planning. We knew that something off the shelf wouldn’t provide easy access to RangeMe’s rich data, tools or utilities for customizing engagements, nor would it include resources that would help prepare for and follow up on meetings, which is why we felt the need to create our own. Second, while our platform is incredibly intuitive, it’s the people behind it that really make the virtual experience seamless. ECRM’s serviceoriented Client Success Team guides customers throughout the entire category program process, and we have a rapid response team on standby to assist customers whenever needed. Finally, ECRM continues to curate and facilitate interaction and commerce between retailers and brands by matching suppliers’ products and capabilities to buyers’ specific requirements and buying process objectives. That’s what makes our category programs so valuable to our customers, regardless of whether meetings occur in person or virtually, and that’s what differentiates us from everyone else. dsn

One thing that has been made very clear to us is that virtual is here to stay. Buyers have developed a strong preference for virtual interactions that will persist post-COVID. They contend that the convenience, effectiveness, efficiency and cost savings are just too great to ignore. Corroborating this is the fact that last year we saw a 23% increase in buyer participation from leading retailers over 2019 when our programs were in person.

2. More targeted sourcing opportunities are available The fact that our retailers are no longer constrained by time and location has enabled them to launch customized programs to address specific sourcing strategies. For example, Schnucks and Meijer have each worked with ECRM and RangeMe to launch their first supplier diversity programs last year, and Staples worked with us to launch its Staples Connect Breakthrough Project to source products specifically aimed at the remote working and learning consumer.

3. More parties can be brought to the virtual table The elimination of travel time and expense also enables more retail and supplier staff to participate in meetings. If needed, buyers can easily include


4. Virtual enables greater focus on what counts During in-person meetings, sometimes the product becomes the sole focus of discussion between buyers and suppliers. However, in a virtual setting, where the buyer usually doesn’t have a product sample, buyers and suppliers are finding that their conversations are often higher quality, wider ranging and with a greater focus on how suppliers can help buyers meaningfully grow their category.

People, Process and Platform Drive Success


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Helping the Helpers Why pharmacists need health IT to support the COVID-19 vaccination response By Ken Whittemore Jr.

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


n early March, President Joe Biden announced that the United States would have enough COVID-19 vaccines for every adult in America by the end of May. Yet this celebratory news underscored a logistical challenge: How can we speed up the process of getting millions of shots in Americans’ arms? The Biden administration has quickly recognized pharmacies’ ability to play an essential role in these efforts. The federal government is directly distributing vaccines to pharmacies as part of its Federal Retail Pharmacy Program. Involving pharmacies early in the process works. The state of West Virginia clearly demonstrated this when it supplied independent pharmacies with vaccines at the beginning of its COVID-19 vaccination effort, which has helped the state rank among the world’s highest inoculation rates. Pharmacists are rising to the occasion, but the time involved in administering vaccinations to millions of Americans will be immense and straining. While most already have the skills, some pharmacists will need training to administer shots, plus they will need support filling syringes, tracking appointments, managing waitlists, documenting doses, counseling patients and monitoring patients for side effects. These expanded duties are on top of other COVID19-related tasks like administering COVID-19 tests and conducting additional childhood vaccines. This added new workstream is a concern because pharmacists have been plagued for years by high work volume and endless paperwork. One 2020 survey found that 73% of pharmacists said their workload had increased, up slightly from 2019, and just 20% reported that their workload remained the same. Stress and burnout also are on the rise, with pharmacists citing higher work volume (79%), COVID-19 (67%) and more pressure from management (65%) as the most significant stressors. A third of respondents in a separate poll said they felt “a lot” or “totally” exhausted emotionally and physically. For these reasons, there is a need to help clear the COVID-19 vaccination path for pharmacists.

The urgency around inoculation efforts should be coupled with an urgency to adopt tools that streamline pharmacists’ administrative burdens. Seamless access to patient information and tools that improve communication between pharmacies, broader patient care teams and payers are available and can significantly contribute as pharmacists answer the nation’s call for help. Access to and use of these tools will be paramount to ensuring pharmacy staff remain successful by allowing them the time and resources to support patients holistically — from medication dispensing and vaccinations to patient counseling and more. These include prescription benefit tools that allow pharmacists to identify on-formulary medications, accurate benefits-based prescription costs and coverage details in their existing workflow. Other tools such as RxChange, reduce faxes and time spent on the phone trying to clarify a prescription’s content or to facilitate prior authorizations. And the need for standards-based interoperability tools has shone brighter than ever as healthcare organizations and public health agencies strove to share information and coordinate responses to the pandemic. Communications tools have been helpful in managing both treatment and vaccinations. For instance, pharmacies can use such tools as Clinical Direct Messaging to alert prescribers about services rendered such as clinical testing and immunizations, including the flu and COVID-19. These tools also offer a better experience for patients. Customer service doesn’t have to be impacted by pharmacists’ growing COVID-19 responsibilities. Patients can arrive at the pharmacy feeling confident that they will leave with their prescription in a timely fashion. Pharmacists’ role during COVID-19 shows that innovation and growth can come from challenging times. COVID-19 has cemented our reliance on pharmacists and pharmacy technicians for more direct patient care, making them no longer an under-recognized resource. The broader healthcare industry must support pharmacists in this role by standardizing, adopting and using the digital tools that are already available today. dsn


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What Women Want Five ways retailers can continue to attract female shoppers today and tomorrow By Katie Keating

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

omen drive 70% to 80% of household spending. Forty percent of women are the primary earners in their households. They control 60% of the wealth in America. Blah, blah, blah. We know all this. Women have money. Women spend money. What’s interesting is, how do we get them to spend it with us? Well, here’s the thing. You’re not just selling products, you’re selling an experience. She’s got a lot of choice. A lot of convenience. A lot of places pulling, luring and dangling shiny things to get her in the door. And she’s got Amazon with two-day, next-day and (depending on where you live) same-day delivery. She doesn’t have to go anywhere she doesn’t want to. So, make her want to. Make her want to spend time with you. Invite her to view your store as an opportunity to do something for herself. To make her life easier, better — more interesting.

1. Don’t leave her on her own, wandering up and down the aisles, overwhelmed with choices. Help her make a decision she’ll feel good about. Train and empower your sales associates to listen to your customers, understand what they’re looking for and offer opinions and options. Not simply “oral care is in aisle eight,” but rather, “this race car toothbrush actually got a customer’s son to brush for the full two minutes.”

2. Celebrate your community. Let women know that you are really there for them. Host events that will bring your local shoppers together over a shared interest or experience. Think about a “mom’s night out” for new moms when they can ask questions, check out products and learn from local and brand experts. Or a partnership with the local area Council on Aging for an event about what to expect as your parents begin to need more help. Bringing women together, in judgment-free settings, will help them build support networks during what can be very lonely times in life.


3. Make your policies public. Women support women. And they also support companies that support women. Today’s shoppers are doubleclicking, digging deep and using their wallets to make a statement about who and what deserves a share of their dollars. So, consider your C-suite, your board of directors, and your upper and middle management. What is your family leave policy? Do you offer your employees health benefits? When a company employs members of its target market within its own ranks and leadership, decisions that benefit the group are automatically made.

4. Highlight products that are made by womenowned companies. Call them out on the shelf. Give them an endcap. In fact, why not dedicate an entire aisle? Give her the opportunity to choose women-made products. My company recently conducted a survey of 500 women over 40 years old, which revealed some interesting insights. Seven out of 10 survey participants said brands should play a stronger role in advancing women’s issues and 9 out of 10 said they felt brands should play a positive role in debunking gender stereotypes. Promoting women-owned brands gives you an opportunity to do both.

5. Offer her opportunities for discovery. It’s clear women want more than a purely transactional relationship. Make it easy for her to find something new and something unique that isn’t available everywhere. Something that’s going to make a difference in her life. Something to tell her friends about. Make your store a delight to return to again and again. What do women want in the retail experience? They want to be recognized for who they are, the burdens they carry, the love they share, the difference they make, the fun they have and the dreams they realize. They are building lives they value — for their families and for themselves. If you can see that, if you can help them on that path, they will reward you for it. dsn


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4/5/21 10:10 PM


Building Relationships, Improving Health Three patient-centered interventions to improve medication adherence By Alan Van Amber and Julie Olson

T Alan Van Amber, senior vice president of provider services, Navitus Health Solutions

he financial and health implications of medication nonadherence are staggering — costing the U.S. healthcare system between $100 and $290 billion annually and taking the lives of 125,000 people each year. When patients fail to take their medications as directed, they are at risk of disrupted treatment, disease progression, increased hospitalizations and unnecessary medical costs. While patients navigate new challenges to adherence brought on by the pandemic, such as fear of in-person visits to hospitals, pharmacists are ideally positioned to promote the value of adherence through a patientcentered approach to pharmacotherapy. Pharmacists can work directly with patients to improve their adherence and, ultimately, their quality of life. Here are three patient-centered interventions that pharmacists can leverage to improve medication adherence:

Identify Causes of Medication Nonadherence

Julie Olson, senior director of population health, Navitus Health Solutions

A multitude of factors can lead to a patient failing to take prescriptions as directed, including time management (i.e., forgetfulness), poor health literacy and lack of motivation. Social determinants, such as a patient’s income or access to transportation, also can put patients at risk if they are unable to afford prescriptions or travel to see a doctor. One method for identifying at-risk patients is to work with pharmacy benefit managers who offer resources for assessing individuals who are at risk of future nonadherence. For example, PBMs can identify gaps in medication therapy by tracking drug utilization, formulary structure and benefit plan design. These programs can proactively help retail pharmacists identify at-risk patients and provide a more accurate estimate of patients’ adherence.

Accessible Patient Communication Patients are at risk of nonadherence if they do not understand their medical conditions or prescriptions, or why or how they should take medications or what side effects they may experience. Enhanced pharmacist and patient communication via consultations and education can improve patients’ understanding of their


pharmacotherapy treatment and increase pharmacist understanding of patients’ barriers to adherence. To optimize patient education, pharmacists can improve access to medication information by simplifying instructions and providing verbal and print communication in multiple languages. Additionally, ongoing counseling, outside of initial consultations, can provide an opportunity to check in with patients along their medication journey to identify any new nonadherence risks, ultimately strengthening the patient-pharmacist relationship and improving overall health outcomes.

Offer Personalized Resources and Solutions There is no one-size-fits-all solution to ensureing medication adherence. That said, retail pharmacists are well positioned within their communities to improve adherence by working directly with their patients to offer tailored solutions. Pharmacists can serve as a bridge between patients and a wealth of resources aimed at preventing and treating nonadherence. For example, patients transitioning to a new pharmacy benefits plan may become at risk of nonadherence due to potential changes in prescription costs or formularies. Pharmacists can educate patients on programs offered by their PBMs that address these changes. Navitus Health Solutions’ Clinical Engagement Center is specifically designed to facilitate that transition and prevent or treat nonadherence. Similar PBM programs targeting the root causes of nonadherence, such as co-pay assistance programs for those experiencing financial barriers, can help pharmacists develop a tailored solution to address specific cost challenges to adherence. The causes of medication nonadherence are manifold, and through a patient-centered approach, pharmacists can improve adherence by working directly with their community to overcome barriers and implement effective interventions. Pharmacists who engage patients in their pharmacotherapy treatment and connect them with resources, such as their PBM, to alleviate their barriers to adherence will empower them to self-manage their medication regimen and improve their quality of life. dsn


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Do More Good

Upsher-Smith Laboratories, LLC is a U.S. pharmaceutical company that strives to improve the health and lives of patients through an unwavering commitment to high-quality products and sustainable growth. With a heritage in generic medications dating back to 1919, we bring specialty generics as well as branded prescription migraine and seizure medications to a wide array of customers, backed by our award-winning attentive service, strong relationships, and consistent supply. As we begin our second century in business, Upsher-Smith continues to experience an era of accelerated growth, propelled in part by our 2017 acquisition by Osaka, Japan-based Sawai Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. Together we seek to deliver the best value for our stakeholders, employees and partners. Most importantly, we aspire to Do More GoodTM for the patients we serve.

Visit us at upsher-smith.com to learn more.

Do More GoodTM means that, together, we seek to deliver the best value for our stakeholders, and most importantly, do more to improve the lives of the patients we serve. Do More Good is a trademark of Upsher-Smith Laboratories, LLC. © 2020 Upsher-Smith Laboratories, LLC, 6701 Evenstad Drive, Maple Grove, MN 55369 1-800-654-2299 PM-000738.02

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Improving the Customer Experience TTEC and LivePerson execs discuss how they help retailers avoid consumer experience hurdles


aul Ignasinski, senior vice president of customer experience design and value engineering at TTEC, and Adam Canter, senior vice president of Americas for LivePerson, spoke with Drug Store News about their technology and how it can help retail pharmacies.

Drug Store News: Tell us about both TTEC and LivePerson. Paul Ignasinski and Adam Canter: TTEC is a leading global customer experience, or CX, technology and services innovator for end-to-end, digital CX solutions. Serving iconic and disruptive brands, TTEC’s outcome-based solutions span the entire enterprise, touch every interaction channel and improve each step of the customer journey. Founded in 1982, the company’s singular obsession with CX excellence has earned it leading client NPS scores across the globe. The company’s nearly 61,000 employees operate on six continents and bring technology and humanity together to deliver happy customers and differentiated business results. LivePerson is the world’s leading conversational AI and messaging platform trusted by more than 18,000 brands globally. LivePerson’s Conversational Cloud allows brands to orchestrate humans and AI at scale, creating a convenient and personal relationship with their consumers in the world’s most popular messaging channels. LivePerson was named to Fast Company’s “World’s Most Innovative Companies” list in 2020 and is a founding member of EqualAI. DSN: Why are your companies focusing on the retail pharmacy? PI and AC: For millions in the United States, pharmacy retailers are the face of neighborhood health care. And in the upcoming months, these organizations will be at the forefront of the effort to vaccinate millions of people and


Paul Ignasinski, senior vice president of customer experience design and value engineering, TTEC

Adam Canter, senior vice president of Americas, LivePerson

“Customer experience best practices can be applied to alleviate stress on retail pharmacies responsible for the vaccine rollout and set them up for strong long-term relationships with this new influx of customers.” provide related services. The challenges will be immense as patients look for information and want the vaccine process to be done quickly and safely. In order to accommodate this massive undertaking, customer experience must be a priority. Customer experience best practices can be applied to alleviate stress on retail pharmacies responsible for the vaccine rollout and set them up for strong long-term relationships with this new influx of customers. DSN: How are you both helping retailers and retail pharmacists? PI and AC: There are five key challenges facing the industry that we help leading

brands tackle that balance efficiency and empathy in the experience. We address the following issues with a blend of human operational talent and a modern digital ecosystem to move quickly: Build public trust: Concerns about the safety and distribution of the coronavirus vaccine has left people confused and skeptical about the process of immunization. Pharmacies need to be transparent in guiding the public through the steps of vaccine development, distribution, administration and tracking. Proactively explaining vaccine efficacy and safety, along with clear instructions about how to receive the vaccine and how much it will cost, will be critical;


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ONE-ON-ONE Handle call volume surges: Flexibility, and a focus on meeting customers in their preferred channels, will be key to managing surge in customer contacts. The ability to ramp up or down quickly is paramount as organizations enter unchartered territory. An omnichannel, cloud-based CX infrastructure must enable and integrate critical digital tools like asynchronous text messaging and automation to drive up to four times more support volume and scale quickly. This digitally enabled approach, in parallel to a traditional voice call infrastructure, is the ideal solution to drive both efficiency and customer satisfaction. Well trained remote contact center agents and smart automation are great resources to support unplanned volume and flex the solution as needed; Schedule millions of doses: Getting the vaccine administered quickly is a massive undertaking. One essential step in the process is scheduling vaccine appointments. Without demand-based, organized, assembly-line-like scheduling, there will be long lines, unsafe vaccination conditions and inaccurate supply allocations. Real-time information and speed are key to this important part of the patient journey. Understanding points in the patient journey will help define the best resources at critical moments; Enable proactive outreach at scale: Pharmacy employees also play a critical role in actively helping the larger community understand the importance of vaccination. They are encouraged to use all available tools to reach out to customers, including text messages, emails, phone calls and mailings. Besides awareness, proactive outreach will be necessary for tasks, such as appointment setting, second dose planning and post-inoculation follow-up. These tasks will need to be conducted on a massive scale; and Effectively manage data and security: As one of the front-line suppliers of the vaccine, pharmacies must coordinate and collaborate with healthcare and government agencies during distribution, which includes a lot of data management and sharing. Gaining public trust around that use of data requires effective communication, as well as strict adherence to security and compliance


“As much as possible, the burden should be taken off the customer with pre-populated information and proactive outreach, so they can just follow simple steps to complete a positive experience.” regarding privacy and health information. Tools like Robotic Process Automation help reduce human error and improve compliance in the back-office and with data sharing across the vaccine ecosystem. DSN: How do you educate these retailers about potential consumer experience challenges and solutions? PI and AC: Everyone is touched by the pandemic and the vaccine process in some way, so the issue is already top of mind for many business leaders. The big question we see the industry facing is how to solve these challenges quickly. Programs need to be launched in days. There is no time to lose. We educate retailers by illustrating the outcomes that can be achieved for both the business and consumers with a CX approach to provide a faster, safer, more efficient end-to-end vaccination experience. For example, we worked with one retail pharmacy to quickly recruit and deploy 650 customer service agents on-site and at-home to answer questions from callers about the COVID-19 vaccine, where to get it, what to expect and more. Based on our experience handling surge volume in other industries, we knew that it was crucial for associates to convey confidence and reassurance. We also knew that a combined digital and human solution was critical. Associates were provided with extensive and accessible training materials about the vaccine, and supervisors were on hand to provide additional assistance immediately if needed. Associates were recruited, trained and began interacting with customers in less than two weeks. This reduced wait times for consumers and provided efficient and effective support to the business. DSN: How are you helping consumers? PI and AC: Consumers want to feel confident that vaccines are safe and effective, and that

they won’t waste too much time. They want their experiences to be frictionless, quick and organized. They ultimately want to feel supported and valued in their experience. To that end, our focus is to use technology like automation, AI, text messaging, omnichannel and our award-winning contact center expertise to support pharmacies and retailers in delivering a great experience that includes fast, proactive citizen vaccine education and awareness, simple registration, appointment scheduling, vaccination, and reporting for a faster, safer, more efficient end-to-end vaccination experience. DSN: Tell us about the implementation process. PI and AC: Our fast-track implementation process moves from design to launch in days, not months. We design a strategy that supports the highest volume of calls in the most productive and effective way, with a focus on mobile messaging. We develop simple FAQ AI to automate responses on website chatbots or call IVR systems to deflect from primary web and IVR channels to messaging. DSN: What should the vaccination process look like? PI and AC: The typical customer journey is comprised of education and awareness, scheduling, appointment setting, and followups. At each step in that process, digital solutions and automation can be leveraged to move customers through faster and with less effort. Lean into the channels that consumers prefer — like mobile messaging — that also can be automated and scaled to support millions of customers. As much as possible, the burden should be taken off the customer with pre-populated information and proactive outreach, so they can just follow simple steps to complete a positive experience. dsn


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Easing the Medicare Enrollment Process How eHealth can help pharmacies’ patients navigate Medicare and Medicaid enrollment


effrey Bekos, vice president of business development for pharmacy and provider channels at eHealth, said that his Santa Clara, Calif.based company can help retail pharmacies retain Medicare customers and provide Medicare savings. He talked with Drug Store News about how eHealth can provide services to retail pharmacists.

provide retailers with Medicare educational content — articles, videos and graphics — that they can brand and use on their website that provides helpful information regarding aging into Medicare. We also provide support for patients who are shopping so they understand key considerations while looking at plans. Our goal is to make the enrollment process as easy as possible.

Drug Store News: Tell us about eHealth. Jeffrey Bekos: eHealth created the nation’s first online marketplace for health insurance in 1997. The technology we provide directly to consumers through eHealth.com, eHealthInsurance.com and eHealthMedicare. com, makes it easy for people to compare health insurance plans and to enroll in the plan of their choice. At eHealth, consumers can enroll in the plan of their choice online or with the aid of a licensed insurance agent over the phone. eHealth has connected more than 8 million people with quality, affordable health insurance. Our proprietary marketplace offers Medicare Advantage, Medicare Supplement, Medicare Part D prescription drug, individual, family, small business and other plans from over 200-plus health insurance carriers in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

DSN: Where is Medicare going in the future? What is your role? JB: We believe the future of Medicare will be driven in large measure by continued public/private partnership. Medicare Advantage, for example, is one of the very best examples of successful, innovative public/private partnerships in health care today, and increasing numbers of Medicare beneficiaries are signing up. In 2008, 9.7 million beneficiaries were enrolled in Medicare Advantage, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. By 2020 that figure had grown to 24.1 million. Medicare Advantage plans are offered through private insurers that essentially manage enrollees’ Original Medicare Parts A and B benefits. These plans also typically fill in some of the coverage gaps of Original Medicare, most of which include prescription drug coverage, and many offer additional benefits that beneficiaries value. There’s a lot of competition in the Medicare Advantage market. Costs have been driven down as a result, with many Medicare Advantage plans available at no cost (beyond the Part B premiums that are already typically taken from their Social Security check). At eHealth, we’ve been charting the increasing popularity of Medicare Advantage and reporting on costs and plan selection trends among enrollees for several years (see our latest report here: https://news.ehealthinsurance.com/_ ir/68/20211/Medicare_Index_Report_ AEP_2021_Coverage.pdf). dsn

DSN: How does your company help the mass retail community? JB: We help pharmacies in three key areas: The first is Medicare customer retention: We help pharmacies keep their Medicare customers filling scripts at their pharmacy because those customers are overwhelmed by competing offers to switch plans and pharmacies. The second is Medicare customer savings: We help pharmacy customers review their coverage each year so that, when necessary, they can move into plans that save them money when they fill scripts at the pharmacy — on average, our customers


Jeffrey Bekos, vice president of business development for pharmacy and provider channels, eHealth

save more than $700 per year. The third way we help pharmacies is to grow their Medicare customer base: We provide programs and resources to help pharmacies attract new Medicare customers who shop at their pharmacy today, but do not yet fill prescriptions. DSN: How does the retailer educate the consumer in store and digitally? JB: COVID-19 has changed consumer shopping behavior. NACDS and WSL Strategic Retail research indicates that 83% of seniors are going online to research and shop for Medicare coverage. eHealth’s playbook helps our retail partners retain, acquire and improve patient loyalty. We use omnichannel marketing to help retailers ensure the highest conversion rates, along with high patient satisfaction. Tactics include in-store media, direct mail, email and text campaigns. Every tactic is tracked independently with unique phone numbers and websites so we can effectively measure performance. We


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11,000 seniors age into Medicare every day. If you don’t help them navigate Medicare’s complexity, your competition will. Last year 44% of seniors shopped for new Medicare coverage*, putting them at risk of switching pharmacies to save on copays and premiums. Partner with eHealth today to retain your Medicare customers with our best-in-class turnkey solutions for pharmacies.

Co-branded quoting and enrollment website highlighting Medicare plans where your pharmacy is preferred.

In-store collateral ll to support Medicare customer retention.

Direct marketing campaigns targeted at your patients to reach them at home.

Visit www.ehealth.how/dsn to get started or learn more. *Deft Research, 2021 Medicare Shopping and Switching Study eHealthMedicare.com is a non-government website operated by eHealthInsurance Services, Inc., a licensed health insurance agency that sells Medicare products and does business as eHealth. In NY and OK, we do business as eHealthInsurance Agency. eHealthMedicare.com and eHealth are not affiliated or connected with Medicare or any other government program or agency. eHealth offers plans from a number of insurance companies. This ad solicits insurance prospects for eHealth.

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Reviving a Known Name in Pain Genomma Lab is relying on nostalgia and efficacy to drive adoption as it relaunches Bufferin


harisse Winecki, head of the U.S. general market at Genomma Lab, sees an opportunity for Bufferin to gain market share among consumers. She talked about the reintroduction of the brand into the marketplace with Drug Store News. Drug Store News: Tell us about Genomma Lab. Charisse Winecki: Genomma Lab USA is based in Houston and is a division of Genomma Lab International, headquartered in Mexico. We are an innovative and dynamic company focused on improving and protecting the health and welfare of families through innovative, safe and effective products. Genomma Lab’s mission is to be a leader in our categories of over-the-counter medicines and personal care products for U.S. consumers, and to be recognized and valued for our positive impact on the health and wellness of the people, community and environment. When Genomma Lab first expanded into the United States in 2011, the goal was to bring Latin heritage brands to the millions of Hispanic consumers located in the United States. These consumers found comfort in finding the brands they know and trust in mainstream retailers. Genomma Lab’s expertise with Latin consumers and entrepreneurial spirit led us to pioneer Hispanic-oriented displays in key retailers, helping to increase retail traffic for these accounts with this important and growing demographic. DSN: Why did Genomma Lab decide to bring Bufferin back, and how will this be achieved? CW: Much like our Hispanic brands, Bufferin also has a strong connection and heritage with its consumers. Research showed that consumers not only remembered Bufferin, but also considered it a trusted and effective brand. The nostalgia and efficacy equity


consumers and partner with retailers to ensure Bufferin Pain Relief is available and highly visible when they are shopping for safe and effective pain relief.

Charisse Winecki, head of the U.S. general market, Genomma Lab

are amazing strengths of the brand, but what makes Bufferin even more powerful is its unique triple-buffered formulation. Consumers who grew up with Bufferin know and trust the brand for effective pain relief while reducing the risk of upset stomach. Our job now is to bring Bufferin back into the marketplace, making it more widely available to the generations that grew up with it, and introducing it to new generations. A new advertising and communication strategy was born from multiple rounds of consumer research that proved the messaging to be highly motivating, and the Bufferin formula uniquely differentiated from our marketplace competitors. The advertising campaign brings to life “Modern Pain,” making Bufferin relevant to pain sufferers in today’s modern world. This year, our focus is to reach and educate

DSN: What makes Bufferin Pain Relief unique from other pain relievers? CW: Aspirin has been around for over 100 years, giving consumers the confidence of safe and effective OTC pain relief. However, Bufferin Pain Relief is a unique triple-buffered aspirin, meaning that it is a combination of pain-relieving aspirin plus three buffering agents — calcium carbonate, magnesium carbonate and magnesium oxide — to help neutralize stomach acid irritation to help avoid upset stomach. Plus, Bufferin works two ways to relieve pain fast and effectively. First, it is an analgesic, so it blocks the production of prostaglandins, thereby helping to block pain messages to the brain. Second, it is also an anti-inflammatory and blocks the production of certain chemicals that increase blood flow and cause inflammation. With Bufferin you can relieve many types of pain, from headaches, backaches and even minor arthritis pain, without the concern of an upset stomach. DSN: Isn’t aspirin only relevant for low-dose heart health use? CW: Bufferin is as equally effective for pain relief as acetaminophen and other NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen. Despite being more widely known by today’s consumers as a low-dose heart health solution, aspirin was the leading general pain reliever for much of the 20th century. It was not until the 1980s when acetaminophen brands began marketing directly to consumers that aspirin lost its category leadership. However, we want consumers to know that Bufferin Pain Relief — with buffered aspirin — is effective in relieving seven types of pain plus reducing fever, making it a go-to choice for everyday aches and pains. dsn


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Rising Star Lifestar Pharma looks to be a leader in U.S. multisource specialty generics


relative newcomer to the U.S. pharmaceutical market, Lifestar Pharma is looking to make inroads in the industry through a combination of a robust supply chain and a solid pipeline of generics. Vijay Soni, CEO of Lifestar Pharma, spoke to Drug Store News about what sets the company apart.

Drug Store News: Tell us about Lifestar Pharma. What makes this company unique? Vijay Soni: Lifestar Pharma was formed in 2016 to build and grow a pharmaceutical front-end business in the United States by its parent company, Mankind Pharma. Mankind, established in 1995, is a top-five pharma company in India with a deep history in pharma in over 30 countries. You can walk into any of our offices worldwide to a friendly environment right from day one. We are working with a team of self-motivated people with a collaborative approach. A cohesive work environment gives you space for free thinking, expression of ideas and liberty to explore new possibilities without fear of failure. Teamwork is always encouraged. This teamwork allows all the team members to feel empowered and inspire people on different projects to learn various skills and valuable insights into the industry. We at Lifestar Pharma firmly believe in developing the right skill sets with behavioral and leadership attributes to ensure that our future leaders reflect the utmost standard of excellence in every activity they undertake. With a stimulating, friendly work environment, innovation comes naturally. It has allowed us to be an emerging leader in U.S. multisource specialty generics, focusing on developing and marketing affordable, high quality, multisource specialty generics for the U.S. market. Lifestar has the R&D and manufacturing capabilities for both formulations and active pharma ingredients at scale, and the insight


chain is solid, even with a global pandemic. We are committed to having a robust safety stock to minimize any potential disruptions. Secondly, Lifestar has a strong pipeline of new products that will provide patients with more affordable options. In our business, constant and transparent communication with buyers is a critical component of customer satisfaction. Within a relatively short time in the United States, Lifestar has established itself as a reliable and responsible supplier. While engaging with Lifestar, customers and consumers can come to expect a high level of responsiveness and professionalism. At Lifestar, we believe that customers’ satisfaction is a result of high quality service. Vijay Soni, CEO of Lifestar Pharma

“Lifestar’s portfolio is a blend of first-to-file, first-to-market, highvolume OSDs, and complex sterile products. In the coming few years, Lifestar will be launching 80-plus products.” to be in the generic market without undercutting established prices. DSN: Why should American pharmacies and pharmacists get involved with your operation? VS: While Lifestar is comparatively young in the United States, it has developed close and long-lasting relationships with our customers. We share with our customers Lifestar’s vision as a company, “Serving life.” Doing this starts with assuring our supply

DSN: What therapeutic categories are you involved with? Vs: Lifestar is fully integrated with in-house development and manufacturing capabilities for various orals solids, nebulizers, complex ophthalmic/otic solution/ suspensions, and injectable formulations. Apart from formulations, Lifestar will be integrated with its own active pharma ingredients’ development and manufacturing for several products. Lifestar’s portfolio is a blend of first-to-file, first-tomarket, high-volume OSDs, and complex sterile products. In the coming few years, Lifestar will be launching 80-plus products DSN: What are the latest product launches and products approved by the Food and Drug Administration? VS: Lifestar has launched numerous generic products in the past six months. They include olmesartan medoxomil/hydrochlorothiazide (Benicar HCT), fenofibrate (Tricor), and amitriptyline HCl (Elavil). In addition to several internal filings, Mankind and Lifestar continue to explore partnering opportunities for distribution of partners’ products in the United States. dsn


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Vaccine Partnership Cardinal Health’s trusted partnership is helping get the country immunized against COVID-19


long-term care pharmacies that serve older Americans in skilled nursing and assisted living facilities; and strong ties in rural, minority and hard-to-reach communities, including tribal areas, via our service to the largest share of retail independent pharmacies of any distributor and a majority of Federally Qualified Health Centers.

ardinal Health is playing a pivotal role in getting the COVID-19 vaccine to communities via its participation in the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program for COVID-19 Vaccination. Victor Crawford, pharmaceutical segment CEO at Cardinal Health, spoke to Drug Store News about how the company is helping its customers get shots in patients’ arms in the communities they serve. Drug Store News: How is Cardinal Health helping its independent pharmacy partners bring COVID-19 vaccines to their communities? Victor Crawford: We’ve seen our retail independent pharmacy partners committed more now than ever as they work to administer COVID-19 vaccines. To support our customers and the greater need for vaccine distribution, we have proudly partnered with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This partnership provides the opportunity for eligible pharmacy customers to enroll in the Cardinal Health COVID-19 Vaccination Network, through the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program for COVID-19 Vaccination, to enable access to COVID-19 vaccines once they become available. DSN: Tell us about the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program for COVID-19 Vaccination. VC: The CDC asked Pharmacy Services Administrative Organizations and other participants across the pharmaceutical industry to partner with them to enable eligible pharmacies to administer COVID-19 vaccines. Cardinal Health serves as an administrator of the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program for COVID-19 Vaccination, which enables our enrolled pharmacy customers access to COVID-19 vaccines and to become COVID19 immunizers. An administrator is required to collect information from pharmacies, train pharmacies and collect vaccine orders, as well as a number of other administrative responsibilities for the CDC.


Victor Crawford, pharmaceutical segment CEO, Cardinal Health

DSN: How is Cardinal Health playing a role in the rollout of this vaccination program? VC: The distribution and administration of COVID-19 vaccines will be the most complex and massive public health effort in U.S. history. Our capabilities as one of the largest pharmaceutical distributors in America; a longtime, trusted contracting relationship with the U.S. government; 40 years’ experience in pharmaceutical distribution; and our extensive reach with partners has put us in a natural position to do our part and support the vaccine effort. As a result, we have been able to successfully contract with the CDC as a network administrator to enable more than 3,500 retail independent, small chains and long-term care pharmacy customers to participate in the vaccine effort. We also continue to partner with the CDC by enrolling our customers in their program and by aggregating orders for future vaccine product. Some other key reasons we have been able to join in the vaccine effort include our trusted relationships with customers, including major retail pharmacy chains, such as CVS and Kroger; the majority of the independent

DSN: Tell us about the roadblocks and opportunities for retail pharmacies. VC: COVID-19 vaccine quantities have been limited across the nation. In addition, the COVID-19 vaccines have different storage and handling requirements and restrictions. Pharmacies are being tasked with numerous reporting requirements to both state governments and the federal government. Our PSAO is working to alleviate as much of the administrative burden as possible so that our retail independent pharmacy customers can use their time to administer vaccines to their patients. DSN: What do you suggest pharmacies do to maximize this rollout? VC: The fact that the U.S. federal government has put its trust in retail independent pharmacies across the country is a testament to the caliber of our customers and partners. It has been a privilege to work alongside them as we all work to vaccinate our nation and ultimately get back to a semblance of normalcy and herd immunity. In addition to helping patients access the vaccine, pharmacies can leverage their capabilities (and have) by offering COVID-19 testing, increasing their medication delivery capabilities and engaging in telehealth capabilities. The pandemic has reinforced the importance of pharmacists as a critical member of the healthcare team. We strongly believe that as pharmacists ’ scope of practice and provider status expands, we will see pharmacists increasing their roles as providers for their patients. dsn


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Now more than ever, you need a distribution partner you can rely on to navigate a rapidly changing healthcare environment — a partner who understands how to solve extraordinary problems, remain agile in the midst of unprecedented disruption and stay focused on what really matters: improving patients’ lives and well-being. At Cardinal Health, this mindset is what fuels our industry-leading supply chain and suite of customizable solutions, and it’s why we start every day focused on how to reach even better. Count on us for reliable access to product, order consistency and delivery efficiency, because the stakes are too high to accept anything less.

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


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


Trygve Anderson, vice president of commercial and pharmacy, Elsevier

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

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


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Building stronger relationships

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

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

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

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Staying Competitive Intelligently Forty-one years in, Inmar Intelligence remains an innovative partner to pharmacies and retailers BY SANDRA LEVY


ake a virtual bow for a job well done. While COVID-19 may have ruined the physical celebration of Inmar Intelligence’s 40th anniversary last April, it took nothing away from what the company has accomplished over these four decades, as well as where the data and tech-enabled services company is headed in the future. In fact, only three months before its milestone anniversary, to reflect its evolution and growth, the Winston-Salem, N.C.-based company completed a rebranding effort, which culminated in transforming its name from Inmar to Inmar Intelligence. Robert Zomok, Inmar Intelligence’s executive vice president and president of SupplyTech, reflected on the company’s origins in helping retailers handle complex transactions at scale. He said that early on, the focus was on promotions and returns, but the company’s healthcare focus came into play shortly after. “For the last 30 years, we’ve provided services that help retail pharmacies. Today, over 80% of customers and pharmacy retailers have implemented at least one of our services,” he said. “The decision to add ‘Intelligence’ to our name was to represent our mantra to make our clients smarter and help them make decisions faster. The need and the drive for the name change had to be around data, how we use data and how we help our clients use data.” To that end, one of the company’s premier products, Rx Return Services, helps retailers remove expired, nearly expired, damaged and recalled products. The data from returned units that come back to Inmar Intelligence is precious in that it can assist with financial transactions, satisfy recall requirements or help educate retailers about opportunities within their supply chain to reduce waste and improve availability of pharmaceuticals to patients. When it comes to helping retailers ensure the safety of patients in their communities and the environment, company officials said that no one has to look further than Inmar Drug Take Back service for unused or expired medicines. “Inmar already has the needed infrastructure in place and was offering these services to pharmaceutical companies,” Zomok said. “It is a great opportunity for retail pharmacies to provide receptacles at no cost. We partnered with Google to make it easy for


consumers to find our receptacles and used our media capabilities to educate consumers.”

DATA GOES BEYOND THE PHARMACY Inmar Intelligence’s financial management suite is yet another shining example of how retailers can reap benefits from data. “We help settle the transaction between the payer, the pharmacy and ultimately the patient,” Zomok said. “As we are settling that transaction, we collect a significant amount of data. We provide those insights, along with additional technology tools, back to our clients to help them work through a variety of audit, revenue and cost management processes.” Inmar Intelligence also assists retailers with identifying and understanding the benefits of sending certain products to them for handling. “We’ll help them recover the value, settle the transaction and gather data. For example, if a health and beauty aid product is leaking from a package, they will see in our software that the item is hazardous, and they need to put it in a bin at their store, have it picked up and handled appropriately,” Zomok said. “When an item is scanned, whether it’s in the pharmacy or back of store, the pharmacy staff knows exactly what they can and can’t do with that item to reach the optimal disposition.” If that were not enough, Inmar Intelligence’s compliance software also helps pharmacies comply with regulations, such as the Drug Supply Chain Security Act and USP <800>, a regulation that ensures safe handling of hazardous drugs to minimize the risk of exposure to healthcare personal, patients and the environment. “We provide as many as those technology solutions to make sure the pharmacist has as much time with the patient and spends little time administering or making sure they are reducing risk,” Zomok said.

HOW INTELLIGENT SOLUTIONS HELP THE ENTIRE RETAIL PHARMACY BUSINESS Coupon fraud, which costs the industry nearly $1 billion annually, is yet another big and costly problem that Inmar Intelligence is tackling for retailers. The company, which already was involved in coupon processing, took this service to the next level. “We can identify fraud and educate retailers and manufacturers on fraudulent practices, including how to avoid them, identify them and what to do about them,” he said. “In the last decade, we’ve also put in technology to help retailers and manufacturers identify fraud at point of sale.” Beyond help with mitigation, InmarPay assists with the handling


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INMAR INTELLIGENCE Founded: 1980 U.S. Headquarters: Winston-Salem, N.C. Categories: Rx returns management, financial services, compliance solutions, workflow solutions, healthcare intelligence Number of Employees: 5,000-plus Phone Number: (800) 765-1277 Email: solutions@inmar.com

of the vast and growing array of payment services — including Venmo, credit cards and Bitcoin — while also keeping retailers’ payment gateway costs at bay. “It’s all about efficiency and the ability to use one platform for all those services. You also can connect those platforms to help market to your customers and patients,” Zomok said. “Not only do you do that at a lower cost, but you do it at a higher value of services because as retailers use that gateway, they learn more about their consumers.” Inmar Intelligence also is active on the COVID-19 vaccine front, offering services and technologies that help with the settlement process that has to occur for the number of vaccines that pharmacies receive and the reimbursement they receive for administering them. The company also can pull vaccines out of the supply chain when they may be unusable for a variety of reasons, or if eventually there is an oversupply. “We help with the financial reconciliation as well as a reverse logistics piece,” he said.

ENVISIONING THE FUTURE Artificial intelligence and machine learning to improve patient safety and improve costs will be very much a part of Inmar Intelligence’s vocabulary, Zomok said. “There’s tremendous opportunities to find data that tells a story, whether that story is how to improve a patient’s care or how to avoid an unsafe environment. For example, using AI to identify drug diversion in health systems,” he said. “We’re going to continue to invest in AI to help streamline processes and make better decisions at retail. We’re building AI into several of our existing products as we work to build on other products and technologies into our ecosystem. It

makes things easier and safer for the patient and the retailer.” Beyond AI, Inmar Intelligence said that with consumers opting for in-store shopping, curbside pickup and delivery services, it is increasing its focus on helping retailers meet their consumer or patient where they are on any given day. “We’re offering e-commerce platforms,” he said. “We can connect into delivery services, package drop-off and pickup services to increase the value of consumers walking through the doors.” Supporting retailers as they expand into in-person health care also is on Inmar Intelligence’s radar. “As pharmacies continue to expand into clinic and medical services and chronic care, such as diabetes care, Inmar Intelligence plans to broaden its platforms that historically helped pharmacies handle pharmaceuticals to provide access and care for patients,” Zomok said. Finally, as Inmar embarks on a new decade in business, Zomok said he envisions a connection between in-store shopping and a virtual experience. With the digital transformation accelerating, he also insisted that digital must be a significant component of retail pharmacy’s future strategy. “It is not just an app, but a connected experience in store and virtually. Some healthcare services require physical locations and in-person experiences. In-store signage, e-commerce experiences and social media rhetoric all influence how the consumer feels about their retail pharmacy,” he said. “Partnering with trading partners to share data and empowering CPG brands to amplify the pharmacy’s omnichannel approach will yield results. Inmar offers retailers capabilities in all of these areas. Our future is very much about connecting our core tech-enabled services with this digital transformation to better serve our clients.” dsn


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LeafLine Wellness Grows Happy Place Product Line LeafLine Wellness is expanding its offerings under its Happy Place brand of CBD products. The line now includes a range of extra-strength CBD topicals aimed at meeting demand at convenience and retail stores. “We successfully rolled out Happy Place CBD gummies in convenience stores in 2020. Since then, our retail partners have experienced increased consumer demand for a broader array of CBD products, especially topicals,” said Sarah Lynch, chief revenue officer at LeafLine Wellness. “Our expanded line offers a myriad of topicals

for every type of consumer, including those trying out CBD for the first time, all affordably priced under $15.” New products include CBD Muscle and Joint Patch with 50 mg of CBD isolate; CBD Cooling Relief Roll-On with 250 mg of CBD isolate; CBD Healing Balm, which features 500 mg of broad-spectrum CBD; and CBD Hydrating Cream, which contains 500 mg of CBD isolate. The company said that data shows particularly strong growth among CBD topicals in the convenience channel. Minneapolis-based LeafLine Wellness said that Happy Place was designed as a retailerfriendly CBD brand, particularly c-stores. Besides the new products, Happy Place will continue to sell its fruit-flavored CBD gummies in single-serve pouches priced at less than $10. “Happy Place brings high-quality CBD products to consumers everywhere through convenience store channels, which are increasingly becoming a hot spot for daily CBD users as well as the CBD-curious,” said Colin Kelley, president of LeafLine Wellness. “Powered by the top cannabis and hemp experts at Minnesota’s leading physicianfounded medical cannabis manufacturer, LeafLine Labs, we take pride in making science-backed wellness accessible to as many people as possible.” The company said that Happy Place products will be available online, as well as in retailers and convenience stores in nine states, including Florida, Indiana, Kentucky, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin.

CbdMD Introduces Sour Gummies The latest product from cbdMD is putting a twist on the standard gummy. The company is introducing Sour CBD Gummies, designed to give an extra tang to its existing gummy offering while still delivering broad-spectrum CBD. The product is sold in three strengths in a mix of sour orange, strawberry, raspberry and tropical flavors. The sour gummies are vegan, gluten-free and third-party tested for purity and safety to ensure that they are free of THC. The gummies are meant to be taken once in the morning and once in the evening, with each bottle containing 30 gummies. Currently, the 300-mg bottle of Sour CBD Gummies is sold for $29.99, the 750-mg bottle retails for $59.99 and the 1,500-mg bottle sells for $89.99.



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Lygos Reaches Commercial-Scale Cannabinoid Production Platform Capabilities

Saltology Looks to Make a Splash with CBD Bath Salts SaltWorks’ Saltology division is introducing a line of bath salts with nanoemulsified full-spectrum CBD. The Woodinville, Wash.-based company’s Relief Rx line features formulations that combine CBD with Antarctic sea salt and organic essential oils. “The Relief Rx therapeutic bath salt collection is a result of our continual drive for quality improvement and a commitment to producing a superior, healing bath salt experience,” said Mark Zoske, SaltWorks’ founder and CEO. “We have spent the last 18 months and millions of dollars developing this technologically innovative therapeutic bath salt that has remarkable efficacy and consistency while remaining 100% natural.” The product is available in four scents — lavender, eucalyptus, grapefruit and original — and three sizes. The 250-g bag contains 250 mg of CBD, the 1-kg bag has 1,000 mg of CBD and the 2-kg bag features 2,000 mg of CBD. The company said that the nano-emulsified CBD is designed to optimize absorption to enable faster relief. The Relief Rx line aims to promote deep relaxation, improve joint and pain relief, and reduce everyday stress. Saltology said that Brightfield Group research found an 80% increase in the use of CBD skin care from January to September 2020, with more than a third of CBD consumers using CBD skin care products.


Vertically integrated ingredients provider Lygos has launched a commercial-scale production campaign for its cannabinoid business, Lygos CBX. Kicking off in April with the goal of producing more than 100 kg of cannabinoids, the production campaign will be the first of several that the Berkeley, Calif.-based company carries out this year to meet customer demand. “We have completed this important milestone on our way to providing high-quality, traceable and natural cannabinoids at a scale relevant to the consumer-packaged goods sector,” said CEO Eric Steen. “Our depth of expertise in developing novel technology and proven ability to produce sustainable ingredients enables us to commercialize new products faster than ever before. Importantly, the modularity we have designed into our cannabinoid platform allows us to quickly adapt to the evolving market and react to the developing demand for our products, starting with CBG (cannabigerol) and CBC (cannabichromene), and extending to a broader range of cannabinoids.” The company said the Lygos CBx production platform features quality control measures meant to help ensure that its products meet high-quality standards with each batch and production sites. The upcoming fermentations will yield CBG, CBC, CBD and CBDA, or cannabidiolic acid — all meant to support new and existing commercial relationships. As the year progresses, Lygos said it expects larger production campaigns. “Over the past year, Lygos developed and scaled the CBx technology at an incredibly rapid pace,” said chief technology officer Nick Ohler. “Despite the enormous challenges of COVID preventing travel and requiring an entirely remote process transfer to the new site, the scale-up has been smooth and almost entirely as expected, which speaks to the skill of our technical team and the robustness of our process.” Lygos said it will continue to expand its cannabinoid product portfolio and plans to launch a suite of cannabinoid-based consumer products within the year. It also is working to co-develop cannabinoid-based products with such companies as High Beauty, Open Book Extracts and MetaLabs.


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he past year has proven to be a once-in-a-generation transformational,

event for the food and drug industry, as retailers had to rethink nearly every aspect of their operations and consumers embraced new shopping behaviors. Now that the pandemic appears to be subsiding — thanks in large part to effective vaccine administration on the part of pharmacy operators — a new landscape is emerging in which consumers are expected to gradually resume their pre-COVID shopping patterns. How quickly those behaviors return and which, if any, of consumers’ newly adopted behaviors are retained remains to be seen.


The pandemic also forced many retailers to sharpen their skills in key areas, including e-commerce, curbside pickup and drive-thru operations. Going forward, retailers will seek to convert their learnings into enhanced shopping experiences that meet the evolving expectations of their customers. Opportunities await the players who get it right in such health-and-wellness product categories as personal and beauty care, eye care, and others, as well as in other nonfood areas, including cleaning products and personal protective equipment. The following are insights from industry thought leaders that outline where the ongoing challenges and opportunities may lie for an industry that remains very much in transition.


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Retailers also have the opportunity to better leverage technology to their advantage going forward, and create better shopping experiences for their customers based on data, Whitman said. The supply chain and related operational issues that retailers had to resolve during the past year, as they implemented various forms of e-commerce, has made them stronger, better retailers, he said. “I think if retailers go back to their old ways, whatever the old way was, I think they’ll potentially lose some opportunities,” Whitman said.

Jim Whitman

senior vice president of member programs and services, and Steve Perlowski, vice president of industry affairs, NACDS “The health and safety of employees and customers will remain job one for the foreseeable future,” Perlowski said. “If customers don’t feel safe in your store, if employees don’t feel safe in your store, they’re not going to come in. That’s the base that everyone has to start with.” While retailers continue to adjust their operations to provide safe environments for their shoppers and workers, they also are rethinking the role e-commerce will play in their future, he said. Consumers gravitated to digital ordering in record numbers in 2020, with many opting for home delivery through such services as Instacart and Shipt. Now more than ever, food and drug retailers need to think holistically about how their consumers may want to shop with them at any given time. “There is no such thing as brick-and-mortar and ecommerce,” Perlowski said. “If you don’t have a solution for both, you have a challenge.” Another trend that has emerged in the past year that retailers will need to grapple with is the tendency for consumers to shop at fewer retail stores and fill bigger baskets on each visit. “Retailers need to be top of mind with consumers in order to drive trips,” Perlowski said. “In the near term, people are not going to go back to their old shopping habits.” He also cautioned that many consumers lack the spending power they once had, and retailers need to be aware of this in their marketing and merchandising based on the shoppers in each store’s market. “That could mean that in certain areas, private label will be a big winner and, in other areas, it’s the prestige brands that are going to do well,” he said. “That could become a big opportunity for smaller manufacturers to create and carve out that niche.”


David Bishop

partner, Brick Meets Click Food and drug retailers need to have a comprehensive omnichannel strategy based on a sound understanding of their customers’ preferences, Bishop said. For drug retailers, leveraging drive-thru windows to offer more products for click-and-collect purchases represents a potentially significant opportunity, he said. Customers have demonstrated that they enjoy the click-and-collect model, and they have become accustomed to using it to pick up prescriptions, he said. “Right now, it’s simply a single-purpose window, but as we go forward in the next several years, drug stores should be evolving the role and utility of that drive-up window,” Bishop said. If retailers can encourage the purchase of health and beauty care products or other items that also can be picked up through the window, it could become a point of differentiation from other retailers that may require consumers to leave their car to pick up an order placed online, or to wait in their car for a worker to bring out their click-and-collect merchandise, for example. “It seems a little unnecessary, or frankly silly, from a customer standpoint to require someone to pull up front and wait in the car for someone to come out with a single bag or two, as opposed to simply driving around the building where the drive-thru is and have it passed through the window, just like they have done with prescriptions,” he said. Bishop cautioned that retailers will have to think this opportunity through carefully from a store design and operations standpoint to ensure they have an adequate staging area for these orders, and they are providing an optimal experience for customers in the drive-thru.


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owned subsidiary of Rite Aid — giving both payers and patients access to the best products and services from across the portfolio. The increased integration allows us to collectively hyper focus on consumer engagement and coordinated care.”

Bethany Gomez managing director, Brightfield Group

Erik Keptner

chief marketing and merchandising officer, Rite Aid Rite Aid said it sees opportunities to position itself as a whole health destination for customers, a process that encompasses both the product assortment and expanded access through digital channels. Pharmacy will play a critical role in Rite Aid’s future as the company reimagines its entire business through the lens of an elevated role of the pharmacist, according to Keptner. “However, there are a number of areas beyond pharmacy where we see significant opportunity and are laying the groundwork to leverage those opportunities as part of our ongoing RxEvolution strategy,” he said. “We know that we have a chance to reimagine how we engage customers, both digitally and in store, as we seek to reposition Rite Aid as a whole health destination. That means going beyond pharmacy to seamlessly integrate alternative remedies that elevate whole health — treating mind, body and spirit,” he said. As part of this whole health push, Rite Aid is in the midst of a significant merchandise transformation that supports an increased customer focus on self-care. By expanding core categories, including health, wellness and beauty, the chain is enhancing its traditional assortment, expanding “better for you products” focusing on clean ingredients, as well as products that are free from harmful chemicals. “We also believe there is an opportunity for retail pharmacies to enhance their digital offerings,” Keptner said. “For our part, we’re investing in technology to improve Rite Aid’s online and mobile experiences, with modern web and mobile design, delivery options, and technology partnerships that help us provide more relevant offers and value to our customers.” In addition, Rite Aid sees pharmacy benefit managers as another area of opportunity, he said. “Rite Aid’s PBM, Elixir, is about creating connection points and supporting the healthcare ecosystem in ways that we don’t even see yet today,” Keptner said. “Elixir, a national PBM, is a fully


The fast-growing CBD category has been significantly impacted by the pandemic and will continue to evolve throughout 2021 and beyond, said Gomez of Brightfield Group, which specializes in CBD and cannabis research and consulting. Retailers are waiting for the Food and Drug Administration to provide regulatory guidance, which could open up a variety of additional product types that they can carry beyond topical items, including ingestible CBD products, tinctures, capsules, and potentially CBD-infused food and beverages. “That is definitely something I would encourage retailers to keep an eye out for, and start planning and preparing for,” Gomez said, noting that it could happen by the end of this year. “Once retailers do start carrying that wider variety of products, that really unlocks very significant growth and revenue potential.” Much innovation in the category also has occurred, particularly with such other “minor” cannabinoids as cannabigerol, or CBG, and cannabinol, or CBN, she said, noting that consumers have embraced as potential treatments for glaucoma and insomnia, respectively. “We’ve also seen a lot of growth and opportunity in the beauty and skin care categories with innovations that are topically topical based,” Gomez said. These include face masks, bath bombs and other products that often also contain other such functional ingredients as ashwagandha and turmeric. “There’s a new generation of products that are becoming increasingly sophisticated and can compete more effectively on quality with other products that you would find on shelves,” she said. Gomez cautioned that retailers should be aware that consumers have become highly price sensitive when it comes to CBD products, and often look for deal opportunities to buy these types of items. “A culture of discounts has really emerged in the industry,” she said. “CBD has become in many ways like the apparel industry, in that you almost never pay full price for anything, at least through e-commerce channels.” In the fourth quarter of 2020, more than half of CBD


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Mark Panzer

consultant, The BGJ Group

consumers were purchasing at least some of their products online, she said. “That competition from the digital channel is something that retailers should keep in mind as they are thinking about their strategy,” she said. “How can they themselves either think about an omnichannel strategy, or be able to ensure that they have an effective method to differentiate or compete with those online channels.”

Patrick Spear

president and CEO, GMDC|Retail Tomorrow Food and drug retailers will need to focus on opportunities in the year ahead to retain customers who were acquired during the pandemic, according to Spear. “The key thing on everybody’s mind is how to lock in those gains — the foot traffic increases that everybody who was considered essential retail has seen in the last 12 months,” he said. In the drug channel, Spear said he sees the opportunity for retailers to leverage the relationship that customers have with their pharmacist to provide education and inspire product discovery, particularly in categories adjacent to the pharmacy. “How are you going to transform that shopping trip into something beyond just a script pickup, and perhaps something more than just a convenience play with all the front-ofthe-store items?” he said. “I think there’s a wonderful opportunity there, where you can now start a new conversation with your customer, perhaps in ways you may not have been able to do before.” He also cited the ability to leverage what he predicted will be ongoing demand for personal protective equipment that was in high demand during the last year and that could have staying power, including immune system boosters and cleaning products. “Our behaviors have been transformed,” Spear said. “We think differently now about what products or practices we deploy to preserve or enhance our immunity. I think there’s a huge opportunity there for retailers to think differently about consumer engagement.”


“Several trends that were started or accelerated by the pandemic, like hygiene and sanitization products, fresh foods and local items, will continue to thrive well into post-COVID life,” said Panzer, a past chairman of NACDS who recently joined management consulting firm BGJ Group as an associate. “Nutrition and personal health products, including vitamins, immune support, sleep assistance and stress prevention, will retain their higher-volume levels for the foreseeable future, which makes for a great promotional opportunity for retailers,” he said. “Focusing on wellness in ads, online outreach and in store will resonate with shoppers for a very long time.” He also predicted that once the vaccine has been widely rolled out, sales in the skin care and cosmetics categories, which took a big hit due to people not working in offices or traveling on business, will return quickly — “but the rebound will not be 100%,” he said. “The opportunity here is for retailers to market to the new lifestyle of gradually more social interaction, but also a different approach to both work and travel by curating the assortment and personalizing the offers to shoppers.” The transition to a post-pandemic world requires marketers to better analyze and understand new trends before they act on any shift in consumer behavior. “Retailers need to run to where there is daylight, so they avoid being caught without the latest bright, shiny item and category, or with a warehouse of unsellable product,” Panzer said. “It’s really just Retailing 101.” “Of course, retailers must be omnichannel, accentuate ecommerce and use third-party services when they can’t immediately meet customer expectations,” he said. “In the long-term, however, to successfully manage their [profitability] for both ecommerce and in store, they will need to invest in technology that will help them capture, retain and reward their best customers.”

Nicole Stump

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have taken five to 10 years to evolve, we — like other traditional retailers — have been challenged to meet consumer demand beyond the traditional brick-and-mortar experience,” Stump said. “Time will tell where the consumer lands relative to their overall shopping experience, but we believe the e-commerce evolution is paramount for retail pharmacies.” Critical to this success will be gleaning the learnings from the past year and looking to new ways of doing business, she said. “At Health Mart, we believe the pharmacist and patient relationship will continue to evolve,” she said. “Patient trust has only been enhanced in these seemingly uncertain times.” She pointed to a December 2020 Gallup poll finding that pharmacists’ honesty and ethics rating are up seven points to 71%. Pharmacists have played an important role over the last year, especially within the independent pharmacy space, Stump said. “Health Mart independent pharmacies are positioned to support consumers through uncertain times and serve as a critical resource for both preventative and reactive care,” she said. “In leveraging our foundation of trust, serving consumers through both traditional and e-commerce channels is our No. 1 priority.” Consumers are being thoughtful with their purchases and placing more emphasis on self-care, personalization and sustainability, Stump said. “Products that speak to preventative self-care while focusing on sustainability are well positioned to win both at shelf and through e-commerce,” she said. “With consumers using multiple inputs in making product decisions, those who are able to clearly communicate product benefits to both themselves and their broader community will emerge as category leaders.”

This is especially true for older patients, who are the most vulnerable and have been the most isolated over the past year. Although telehealth has had its benefits throughout the pandemic, there are certain conditions, such as agerelated macular degeneration, or AMD, that are best detected through in-office visits with a dilated eye exam, Gordon said. Bausch + Lomb’s over-the-counter PreserVision AREDS 2 Formula eye vitamins contain the exact nutrient formula recommended by the National Eye Institute to help reduce the risk of progression in people with moderate to advanced AMD, he said. “Many consumers have also developed more than a year’s worth of digital-first habits, which may make it difficult for retailers to attract customers as the economy reopens, Gordon said. “Safety permitting, retailers will need to remind and, in some cases, reintroduce consumers to the benefits of in-person care that goes beyond our phones and laptops.” He cited data from IRI showing that U.S. vitamin sales rose 19.5% in 2020, which reflects the increased adoption of selfcare during the pandemic, which he said analysts believe will be an enduring trend. “Pair consumer interest in vitamins with greater exposure to blue light from screen time, and you can see why people are reaching for vitamins that help support their eye health,” Gordon said. “As we anticipate many people will continue to work from home for the foreseeable future, we look to support our customers with products like Ocuvite Blue Light eye vitamins, which are formulated with high levels of lutein and zeaxanthin to help replenish the macular pigment layer that helps eyes shield and filter blue light.” The eye care industry overall is seeking to meet the increasing demand for products that fill the unmet needs of patients, he said, which is resulting in increased research and development to identify and introduce ocular pharmaceuticals and OTC products with significant benefits. In 2021, Bausch + Lomb will bring several new over-the-counter eye care products to market, Gordon said. “In addition to Alaway Preservative Free antihistamine eye drops, which were launched in February 2021, we look forward to launching other new over-the-counter products this summer,” he said.

Joe Gordon

U.S. president, Bausch + Lomb After a year during which many consumers have avoided in-person doctor visits for routine medical care, the U.S. is now heading into a “catch-up phase,” Gordon said. “We’re already seeing eye health issues that have gone untreated for far too long,” he said.


U.S. Consumer and Market Insights team Unilever

Consumers consolidated their shopping trips for beauty and personal care in channels other than drug stores in


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2020, according to Unilever’s CMI team. The share of consumer dollars for beauty and personal care (in Unilever categories) going to the drug channel in 2020 decreased from 20.2% to 17.8%, according to data from Numerator. However, the drug channel continues to transform into a more health-oriented channel, they said, citing Kantar data. This may mean a shift toward health-oriented options, both for physical and mental health, which can range from vitamins to healthy snacks and drinks to more pampering products within personal care. For example, in 2020, the growth in the vitamin sector in the drug channel was 17%, which was significantly higher versus 2019, according to IRI data. As 42% of people indicated to Numerator that their health behaviors have shifted since COVID-19 started and the drug channel is one of the key channels for vaccinations, this could be an opportunity to capitalize on renewed foot traffic to promote products geared toward mental and physical well-being. About 49% of people indicated they will do some shopping while they are at the drug store to get their vaccine, according to Numerator. In addition to the above, IRI data showed the drug channel increasing partnerships with third-party delivery services, and their online sales of beauty and personal care grew 109% in 2020. As more prescriptions are delivered through online, there is opportunity for beauty and personal care products to become a bigger part of that online shop. This is particularly true if the online experience and apps are improved to easily connect to loyalty cards and promotions. The food channel historically has had a hard time getting shoppers to put beauty and personal care items in their basket, with about 13% of their beauty and personal care dollars going to the grocery channel compared with about 38% of their dollars going to mass channels. During the pandemic, Numerator data showed household penetration of beauty and personal care increased by 6.5 million households, as people sought one-stop shopping in grocery. Moving forward, some grocers are seeking to reinvent the beauty and personal care parts of their store to try and keep the newfound traffic. For example, Kroger is revamping some of its beauty sections to be more experientially oriented.

Elizabeth Anderson managing director, Evercore ISI

Drug store operators have been on the front lines of the vaccine rollout and will continue

to play an important role in that effort through the second quarter of this year and beyond, said Anderson, an equity analyst who follows the healthcare sector, including the drug store channel. In addition, they likely will continue to be involved as COVID-19 vaccines become available for children, and if booster vaccines may be required for new coronavirus variants. She estimated that most of the U.S. adult population will be vaccinated by the end of the summer. At Walgreens, Anderson said the biggest question mark is around what direction the company will take under the new leadership of Rosalind Brewer, the former Walmart and Starbucks executive recently named CEO of the Deerfield, Ill.-based drug store chain. “What is she most excited about? What is she most interested in? What can she do to help fix the gross margin degradation?” Anderson said. For CVS, the challenges and opportunities revolve around how the company’s HealthHUB store strategy unfolds, and how it will leverage the Aetna acquisition to help drive the business. For the front-end categories, retailers will continue to deploy strategies to drive sales in those categories as consumers have shifted to e-commerce. The traditional challenges that drug store retailers have faced around prescription reimbursement also remain in place, Anderson said. “Those are going to be some of the broader industry challenges, and those are not going away,” she said. Drug retailers also should see some benefits from increasing healthcare visits by consumers who have been avoiding medical care during the pandemic out of fear of catching the virus. Another consideration is that because consumers have been wearing masks and social distancing throughout the pandemic, the cough-cold and flu season “has been nonexistent,” Anderson said. “That’s something all of the drug stores have pointed to as impacting their pharmacy programs, as well as the OTC portion of their sales,” she said. “I would assume that as things continue to open up, we could see a resumption of [demand for] cough-cold and flu [remedies].” dsn


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Clean Formulas, Clean Hair As hair care takes its cues from skin care trends, ingredients are front and center By Seth Mendelson


he mass market hair care aisle is getting a makeover — thanks in large part to COVID-19, which accelerated the introduction of new trends over the last year. Specifically, the always-changing industry is undergoing a metamorphosis where clean formulas are a must, sustainable packaging is on the rise, merchandising will be driven by texture, men will make a bigger impact and celebrities are entering the fray. Additionally, the “skinification” of hair — where hair is treated more like skin with regimens starting with a healthy scalp — continues to gain steam. Online sales of hair products skyrocketed during the pandemic — a pivot for a category that had previously skewed heavily in physical doors. “Last year was tough for every category except hair, which grew 7% in a market down 19%,” said Larissa Jensen of New York-based NPD Group. She acknowledged that homebound consumers washed their tresses less often, but they colored, styled, masked and experimented with hair at new highs. The pandemic gave consumers more reason to experiment with their hair, a factor that helped many smaller companies gain traction at retail and online. “Overall, COVID has had a positive effect on Mane ‘n Tail sales for 2020. When the lockdown hit America in mid-March, the Mane ‘n Tail brand experienced double-digit growth as people were doing more hair maintenance at home, as well as washing their own pets,” said


Devon B. Katzev, president of Straight Arrow in Bethlehem, Pa. Mane ‘n Tail established a cult following for its formula, which was found to not only help manage horse’s manes, but humans, too. “Through the spring and summer, Mane ‘n Tail had double-digit growth, according to IRI, and finished the year ahead 4.4% in units. For an established brand, this is excellent growth for 2020,” Katzev said, noting that the brand saw online sales grow that year. “We believe this change will continue into 2021 and well into the future as the retail landscape is changing. Mane ‘n Tail sales to brick-and-mortar retail will always be a prime focus, but for those consumers

who want to order online, we are ready and will support our retailers who do this.” According to dollar volume produced during the 52-week period ended Feb. 21, most hair care categories in mass doors tracked by IRI posted gains at a time when many beauty categories were flat. Shampoo sales rose 1.1%, conditioners 8%, hair color 7% and hair accessories 3.2%. The surge in hair color is notable because before the pandemic, the category had been in the red for several years. What made hair color particularly interesting, according to sales reports, was the spike in bold shades from brands like Splat and No Fade Fresh.


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“We saw customers rely on our products as they were unable to get to the salon. More consumers have been playing with vibrant shades while stuck at home, and used the opportunity to color their hair vibrant colors as they were unsure of when schools and offices would open back up,” said Leland Hirsch, CEO of No Fade Fresh, a line of vivid and pastel shampoos and conditioners meant to be used as at-home color refreshers or for extending bold color. The Davie, Fla.-based brand’s best sellers underscore the trend with silver platinum, light pink and purple bordeaux leading the pack. The brand, sold at such retailers as CVS Pharmacy, Target, Wakefern/ShopRite, Wegmans, Harris Teeter, H-E-B and Rite Aid, was launched in early 2020 at the request of retailers who wanted a mass version of parent company Celeb Luxury’s professional range. As an added benefit, the formulas are cleaner than traditional box options. According to Hirsch, No Fade Fresh has embarked on an education program to alert the beauty industry to the rise of consumers using products from e-commerce or direct to consumer that have “Dirty Dyes,” which are used in textiles and are not acceptable for hair. No Fade Fresh is 100% crueltyfree and contains no sulfates, parabens, peroxide, PPD, ammonia or gluten.

Clean Ingredients Become Must-haves No Fade Fresh is far from the only brand breaking into hair care while touting what



is — and isn’t — on its ingredients label. Emboldened by success in its deodorants, San Francisco-based Native expanded into hair care, and the formulas reflect what consumers, especially younger shoppers, desire. That includes eliminating sulfates, parabens and dye. The lineup also is cruelty-free and vegan. L’Oréal’s Garnier is a trendsetter of natural formulations. Its latest is a new Sulfate-Free Remedy collection. Beyond being sulfate-free, ingredients include floral extracts, beeswax, coconut oil, cocoa butter and shea butter. Just as important as what is not in formulas is what is in, observed Yarden Horowitz, co-founder of New York-based Spate, which tracks beauty trends. The top searched ingredients last year, she said, were coconut oil, olive oil, aloe vera, rice water and amla oil. Brands created for textured tresses traditionally have been ahead of the general market in ingredient advances. Lines marketed to consumers with curly, coily and wavy hair have posted some of the biggest gains in hair care. It is estimated that more than 60% of Americans have some form of textured strands. While multicultural shoppers account for a larger portion of sales, the tide is turning, and many Black-founded brands are reaching a larger audience. That’s prompting big changes on shelves, with some chains now merchandising by hair type. Consumers are starting to understand different hair types, which can be classified from 1A (stick straight) to 4C (tight coils). The industry is reacting with a slew of new

offerings. Sky Organics, based in Miami, is going full throttle to grow its business with its Curl Care Collection, a bio-based hair care system checking off all the consumer wish list boxes. The collection fuses plantbased ingredients with formulas to combat breakage, yet still produces a healthy shine. Key ingredients include castor oil, apple cider vinegar, aloe vera gel and coconut oil. Palmer’s has two new ranges in hair care for all curl patterns and textures — the Cocoa Butter Formula Length Retention range and the Coconut Oil Formula Moisture Boost.

Multicultural Consumers Fueled Pandemic Sales Growth With salons and professional beauty supply stores shuttered for much of 2020, essential retailers garnered a larger portion of sales. Much of that was sparked by multicultural shoppers, according to Tara James Taylor, senior vice president of the beauty personal care vertical at NielsenIQ in New York. “Multicultural consumers drove personal care during the pandemic,” she said. What was crucial is that these consumers purchased more than just shampoo, but full regimens. For example, she said 17% planned to deep condition their hair. That helped push hair treatments, with African Americans 2.4 times more likely to buy hair treatments, she said. Emboldened by that growth, Curls just inked a deal with Beauty By Imagination that will help propel the next level of growth for the company, founded by Mahisha Dellinger. She retains majority ownership of her


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Richardson, Texas-based company, but the partnership will help her raise her brand’s awareness, speed up innovation and afford her the chance to expand her community give-back programs. BBI, based in New York, is the parent company to stand out hair brands, including WetBrush, Goody, Ouidad and Bio Ionic.

Chains Carve Out Space for Men Men represent budding potential in mass hair care, too. Calvin Quallis, founder of Scotch Porter, based in Newark, N.J., said his brand has secured distribution to about half of Target’s doors and 1,900 Walmart stores. Even during the pandemic, his brand’s sales soared more than 80% — partially because of its ability to offer men’s products that meet textured hair care needs. “Textured hair care products have been responsible for the largest share of growth in the hair care space over the past year, representing about 80% of the growth, and the multicultural hair care category is up 16% at retail,” Quallis said. “Men are now more style conscious and discerning; he takes care of himself and his hair, but he still has limited access to an assortment of enhanced products and a shopping experience that addresses his needs,” Quallis said. “Products that were created with him in mind, that speak to him in a language that he understands. We believe it’s an area where he can be served better, and we are well positioned to be the go-to brand for boys’ to men’s textured hair care needs.”

Hair Care Borrows from Skin Care Marketing The move to better-for-you ingredients in hair mirrors what has been happening in skin care. Since the scalp is skin, many hair care brands are releasing products that benefit the scalp. Scalp care is crucial for those who wear such protective styles as weaves, locs and braids. That was the driving factor behind recent line extensions from Revlon-owned Crème of Nature. The company is building out its Pure Honey franchise with the launch of Pure Honey Scalp Refresh Collection.


The range is formulated with the brand’s signature blend of pure honey, natural coconut oil and shea butter infused with aloe and mint to refresh and restore moisture balance to a dry scalp. The lineup includes Cleansing Scalp Treatment, Invigorating Leave-In, Invigorating Scalp Oil and Restorative Daily Scalp Cream. Scalp care is a hallmark of TPH by Taraji P. Henson, which the actress said is created for all users. “My scalp wasn’t being cared for,” said Henson at the brand’s launch in early 2020. “No one was paying attention to it and that was what led me to develop products for the scalp,” she said of the line currently exclusive at Target. Leveraging its strength in skin care, Los Angeles-based Neutrogena recently introduced a new line called Healthy Scalp, which it markets as the No. 1 dermatologistrecommended brand. Just as moisturization was crucial during the frequent mask wearing in facial care, moisturization moved to the forefront in hair, too. Fastest-growing brands for the 52-week period ended Feb. 21 in mass doors included Maui Moisture, Dove Nutritive Solutions, and Tresemme Moisture-Rich shampoo and conditioner combo pack.

The Fun Factor While ingredients and sustainability are on the front burner, another category leader is putting some zest back into the category. As part of its 25th anniversary, the Marc Anthony brand is refreshing with a new visual identity designed to separate it from the pack. “As a growing brand that is rooted in innovation, it is important that we continue to evolve with our consumers. With our new packaging design and positioning, we aim to energize our current brand loyalists while also attracting new consumers into the franchise,” said Tim Bunch, president and CEO of MAV Beauty brands. With the new positioning, the brand has shortened its name to Marc Anthony from Marc Anthony True Professional. The thought was most consumers already knew the brand was professional — wording that also has been replaced on packages with such verbiage as “Long Hair Don’t Care.” Celebrities and influencers also are behind products garnering more shelf space. A notable figure can help build immediate traction for a brand, experts said. The list includes Tracee Ellis Ross with Pattern, Taraji P. Henson with TPH, Gabrielle Union, celebrity hairstylist Kristin Ess and influencer/hair expert Mindy McKnight. dsn


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Innovating and Giving Back, Naturally Alaffia executive discusses the brand’s focus on clean ingredients and social enterprise


anaia Edwards is the vice president of global marketing at Alaffia, a clean, plant-based and fair trade beauty and personal care brand on a mission to help alleviate poverty and advance gender equality in West Africa. She spoke with Drug Store News about the company and its goals. Drug Store News: Tell us about Alaffia. How did the brand get its start and what does it mean to be a social enterprise? Lanaia Edwards: Alaffia is much more than just a personal care brand. Everything we do is to empower communities in West Africa and around the globe. Growing up, our founder and CEO, Olowo-n’djo Tchala, witnessed women around him face injustices when trading valuable resources like shea nuts. Years later, he met Prairie Rose Hyde, a Peace Corps volunteer. Together, they established women-led cooperatives in Togo to ensure fair wages for handcrafted ingredients like unrefined shea butter, African black soap and baobab oil. From there, they created Alaffia as it is today. The social enterprise aspect of our business is fueled by the Global Alliance for Community Empowerment, also known as the Alaffia Foundation. Our projects provide immediate, sustainable support in the areas of maternal care, job creation, education, reforestation and regenerative agriculture — funded by the sale of our products. DSN: Alaffia is known for spanning categories with a breadth of products to address the needs of the entire family. How do the indigenous ingredients play a role in elevating your innovation? LE: Alaffia curates our unique indigenous natural ingredients to address the spectrum of hair and skin care needs. We believe in these ingredients unapologetically. Our award-winning, comprehensive portfolio


Lanaia Edwards, vice president of global marketing, Alaffia

proves just how dynamic they are — we have successfully innovated in hair care, body care, bubble baths, facial skin care, and babies and kids’ care, without having to compromise results and values. And, we have avoided common synthetic ingredients for over 18 years — way before it was trendy.

to aqueous extracts, you can think of it like soaking a teabag in hot water — after tea is absorbed, the water contains beneficial antioxidants it did not have before. By infusing our hair care in this way, it enhances the already nourishing and nutrient-rich formulations.

DSN: The company has been at the forefront of textured hair for the last decade. How is Alaffia standing out in this space? LE: Alaffia is answering the call for what is important to the textured hair consumer — clean products made for the individual needs of her curls by a Black-owned company. Our Beautiful Curls collection started out as Olowo-n’djo’s passion project to create products that would work beautifully for his daughters’ curls. It has since evolved into an inclusive assortment for all textures to naturally nourish, style and maintain. Of course, we leave out her non-negotiables — sulfates, silicones, parabens and phthalates. Unrefined shea butter is our key ingredient, but we take our product efficacy up a notch with aqueous extracts, which is another way of saying water infused with botanicals. I know — water has a bad reputation with naturalistas. But, when it comes

DSN: What is important to consumers when they are considering a new brand? How do you work with your retailers to drive this type of conversion? LE: The last year has proven that consumers’ core beliefs are paramount to their identity as shoppers. If your values do not align with theirs, they will not consider purchasing. In my experience, it starts and ends with transparency. Alaffia drives that visibility right on our labels: ingredients, benefits and the direct impact of our Empowerment Projects. We work with our retailers on signage to drive the messaging further in a way that resonates. Education does not stop at shelf — our robust social and paid media strategies capture the vibrancy of our mission and product to organically amplify emotional investment in the brand, drive retail awareness and, ultimately, conversion. dsn


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Keeping a Finger on the Pulse Maesa’s ability to deliver what beauty shoppers want at a value makes it an attractive partner for retailers By Seth Mendelson


onsumer trends, especially in the frantic beauty world, change on a dime. Retailers and suppliers better be able to change with them. Officials at Maesa said their entire marketing strategy is designed to help retailers stay ahead of the curve across seven key beauty segments. In fact, officials at the New York-based company, which bills itself as an incubator that grows “meaningful” beauty brands globally, said that if they do not stay nimble, they risk falling far behind consumer needs and demands. Letting the grass grow under their feet is definitely not something that is part of the culture at Maesa. With a well-heeled marketing department, plus an aggressive research and development team, the company is well known and respected in the mass retail world for its ability to develop the exclusive products — both brands and private label — for specific retailers, getting them to market and backing them up with the right support to get shoppers to notice. As many in the industry know only too well, the beauty category now is driven by the Internet and a group of influencers whose comments can make or break a brand, product or even a category in a matter of minutes. Many shoppers, particularly younger and Internet-savvy ones, are quick to react to news about product introductions or new technologies when it comes to their beauty needs. “In today’s world, where everything changes so quickly, retailers do not have the luxury of waiting years and years for a trend to develop,” said Scott Oshry, chief marketing officer and partner at the 27-year-old company. “Popular brands can be created in a day and that means to remain relevant, we also have to be flexible and quick to address the fast-changing purchasing patterns of consumers.” Founded in France, the company made its presence felt in the United States by offering exclusive deals to retailers in overlooked segments, white spaces or with underutilized brands. For example, Maesa created the Kristin Ess hair brand exclusively for Target, positioning the brand as an affordable collection of luxury hair care and styling products, according to Oshry. “We saw a white space there in the segment and we went to Target with the concept,” he said. “It became the fastest-growing brand and the No. 1 in productivity in the hair care segment for them.” After a period of exclusivity at Target, the brand is now offered at Ulta. Another hair care brand, Hairitage by influencer Mindy McKnight, is now being offered exclusively at Walmart while the color cosmetic line Flower Beauty by Drew Barrymore, which started at Walmart, is now also available at CVS. In addition to those brands, Measa offers the Believe Beauty, TPH, Anomaly and Hey Humans brands. The company, with about 350 employees scattered in offices in seven countries around the world, offers products in the hair care, skin care, color cosmetics, bath and body, and fragrance categories. “We excelled during the pandemic,” Oshry said. “We attribute that to offering our retail partners great products rooted in value. We can be aggressive with our pricing. We are very confident that approach will continue to work for us in the future, benefitting both our company and our retail partners.” dsn



MAESA Founded: 1994 U.S. Headquarters: New York City Categories: Hair care skin care, color cosmetics, bath/body, fragrances Number of Employees: 350 Phone Number: (212) 674-5555 Website: Maesa.com


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The State of the Industry Executives from pharma, technology and automation companies weigh in on the challenges in the pharmacy space and what can be done to confront them By Sandra Levy


t was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” Charles Dickens’ opening line in A Tale of Two Cities could not be more apt to describe the state of pharmacy, as the industry stepped up amid the pandemic to play, perhaps, its most vital role yet to retail and consumers. Pharmacies sprang into action amid the pandemic, filling a high volume of 30- and 90-day prescriptions, providing home delivery and curbside pickup of essential items like hand sanitizer, masks and toilet paper. Then came their involvement in COVID-19 testing and, more recently, they’ve taken on a huge role in the administration of COVID vaccines. Indeed, as we enter the second year of the pandemic, there is light starting to emerge at the end of the tunnel. The role of the pharmacist and pharmacies is soaring to new heights, and pharmacy has become a destination for hope and survival. DSN asked several company executives to weigh in on the state of the pharmacy business, how they are helping pharmacies and pharmacists during these turbulent times and what is needed in today’s environment to stay competitive, as well as how they view the future. Their answers shine a light on the optimism in the industry and its ability to respond to customers and patients.



vice president of sales and marketing, Alembic Drug Store News: How does your company help to meet the challenges of pharmacy?

Eric Purcell: Alembic is focused on providing pharmacies with excellent supply service levels. Alembic supply is built on a foundation of vertical integration, and strong and flexible manufacturing capabilities. Adequate inventory levels and strong planning have been key pillars to its ability to meet ever-changing market conditions. Alembic has invested significantly in pipeline and manufacturing capabilities, and now has dedicated facilities for solid oral dose, dermatology, ophthalmic, injectables and oncology injectables, as well as facilities for API.

DSN: How has COVID-19 impacted the way you helped your customers?

EP: COVID impacted many pharmaceutical supply chains and, as a result, many patients in the United States found it more challenging to access and afford medications. Alembic worked diligently to ensure a good supply of products during this challenging period. In addition, Alembic has worked with entities who provide assistance to patients to access more affordable medications.


executive vice president, Ascend Labs DSN: What is needed in today’s environment to stay competitive?

John Dillaway: With the advent of COVID, much has changed in today’s market, most notably within the area of customer interaction. With no direct customer visits for over a year, along with no in-person trade events, the industry has fast-tracked to a virtual environment, and the speed to which things revert to what we used to call “normal” remains to be seen. Companies that nimbly react to what will almost certainly be a slow to back to normal process — and even a hybrid of what was — going forward will find the most success. Companies will need to find ways to engage customers safely, productively and in a manner that holds their interest. This will be especially important for interaction with customers that retain some of the current COVID environment workplace changes.

DSN: How is your company improving patient care and pharmacy efficiency?

JD: Ascend is always considering the patient experience and what it can do to improve things that contribute to that, including safety and compliance. Being part of a global company, Ascend has the benefit of its parent Alkem Laboratories’ experience and standing in other parts of the globe. Part of this experience includes the packaging and stability of many items in blister-pack format. Blisters


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PHARMACY | STATE OF THE INDUSTRY offer many advantages, notably keeping each dose safe and, in many cases, numbered to remind patients when to take. There can also be downsides in that the blisters can be hard to open for some seniors, so consultation with pharmacies and the benefit of global experience is important. The companies that have an open attitude toward change and innovation in order to help patients will certainly have an upper hand in the market.


pool of customers in our industry. Using operations experience in retail, wholesale and commercialization, Camber designs capabilities to dovetail with our customers’ operations that will minimize labor impact, reduce expense, eliminate cost, expedite processes, improve efficiencies and help them achieve their corporate goals.

president, Bavis Drive-Thru DSN: How is your company improving patient care and pharmacy efficiency?

William Sieber: Bavis Drive-Thru specializes in ways of supporting patient care. To help customer care, we are putting a great deal of emphasis on audio communications quality at the drive-thru. Our latest audio system provides the highest-quality communications between pharmacy staff and patients, reducing frustration from misunderstandings. Our drive-thru delivery equipment provides the appropriate large capacity and easy access to prescriptions.

DSN: Reducing costs is crucial in today’s competitive environment. What is your company doing to reduce costs for retailers/pharmacies?

WS: Bavis Drive-Thru continues the development of new equipment to meet the needs of the industry. We focus on providing the best experience for the drive-thru customer, the efficiency of pharmacy personnel and lowering costs. Because the first two of these occur with each transaction, making improvements in the everyday transaction offers a significant multiplier and yields the highest savings. We always want to reduce first costs where possible and do so at every turn. Our goal, however, is to provide the best overall cost reduction in every change we make.


director of commercial strategy and operations, Camber Pharmaceuticals DSN: How would you describe the current state of pharmacy?

RC: Heroic! The profession of pharmacy, as well as many other healthcare professions, has evolved in the past year at a previously unimagined rate. In support of all healthcare providers to fulfill their mission in the “new normal,” Camber Pharmaceuticals rapidly developed innovative protocols to keep essential distribution employees safe and ensure continuous distribution of our pharmaceutical products required to maintain quality of life for patients.

DSN: What is needed in today’s environment to stay competitive?

RC: I believe competitive success is the product of doing more than your average competitor believes is necessary. While the base requirements for competing pharmaceutical companies are offering high-quality products, consistent supply and competitive pricing, there is so much more that a pharmaceutical company can do in the strategic and operational implementation of sound supply chain fulfillment to provide value to the limited


SANDRA CANALLY founder and CEO, The Compliance Team

DSN: What is needed in today’s environment to stay competitive?

Sandra Canally: The most important way you stay competitive is to assess what your customer needs within the market and factoring in what impacts the services you offer, how you offer them and the environment you offer them. The best example is the pandemic and how we all have had to alter our business models to continue to deliver our services. Change also then acts as a catalyst to generate new ways of getting the job done. In doing so, getting feedback from your customer on your “new model” is key.

DSN: How does your program offering for accreditation impact patient safety and pharmacy efficiency?

SC: The Compliance Team’s accreditation programs look at the pharmacy’s processes and standard operating procedures from the front door to the back door. Our team focuses in on utilizing operations-driven quality standards to identify, benchmark and improve day-to-day practices, with a


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net goal of increased efficiency. Whether on site or virtually, we verify and validate how they meet the standards by review of patient and personnel records, observation of actual process and interview of staff, and identifying if the organizational process matches the written policies. In evaluating a chain, it is even more important to look at how those practices align across all locations, establishing a pattern of areas in need of improvement.

DSN: How does your company help to meet the challenges of pharmacy?

JW: It’s not realistic that a pharmacist can have a personal relationship with each and every client in a busy pharmacy, but pharmacists still have to be accessible and available to meet with clients if they have questions or concerns. Anyone can get medications quickly and easily from a mail order provider, but developing the trust to share your personal health issues with a healthcare professional is not the task of the moment To address this, we believe pharmacists should automate what dispensing functions they can, designate more responsibility to their support staff and use that “newly found” time to provide the listening, education and support their clients want from them. That establishes a relationship with the client that is more difficult to dislodge. Our Crocus Medical product portfolio allows the pharmacy to streamline the preparation of the prescriptions so they can be delivered faster, more efficiently and, in some cases, more conveniently, which benefits both the pharmacist and their customers.


CEO of North America generics, Dr. Reddy’s Labs DSN: How has COVID-19 impacted the way your company helps your customers?


co-owner and principal, Crocus Medical DSN: What is the greatest challenge for pharmacies and pharmacists?

John Webster: We have a major disconnect in the funding system. Pharmacists are currently paid to process a prescription or, more accurately, for the logistics of filling and delivering a prescription to the client. What we should be paying them for is health counselling to that client with respect to medication usage. So, unfortunately, we pay them to deliver product, but what we want as clients — and in most cases the healthcare funding bodies as well — is personal consultation to ensure proper medication usage. The end result is the pharmacist, under the current business model, is driven to increase their Rx volume because that is what we pay them to do. Until we start funding the service and consultation model, we will never reap the benefits of their clinical expertise or enjoy the significant cost savings they can provide to the health system.


Marc Kikuchi: The pharma industry in general, and generics manufacturers in particular, face an array of unprecedented challenges in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the most problematic is the push by governments throughout the world to onshore API production and finished-goods manufacturing. This global phenomenon, fueled by the rise of nationalism, will present unique challenges that generic pharma manufacturers — due to the sheer volume of product we produce — will be grappling with for many years to come. Maintaining high quality standards for API and finished drug forms in an ever-evolving supply chain landscape is underpinned by the requirement for environmental preservation, resource availability and urgent need to deliver sustainable manufacturing. Because of this, I predict that sustaining the environment will become the No. 1 challenge for manufacturers and supply chain participants in the pharma industry over the next 10 to 20 years and beyond.

DSN: How are you helping to meet the challenges of the pharmacies?

MK: Additionally, there are two important ways that Dr. Reddy’s can best help pharmacies in 2021. First, maintaining a strong pipeline to facilitate the launch of new products will continue to be important to all Dr. Reddy’s stakeholders. A continuous stream of new product launches will provide customers and patients with more affordable options and enhance access to products and services that they need. Secondly, Dr. Reddy’s is focused and committed to ensuring adequate supply by increasing the safety stock levels in the U.S. to minimize any potential disruptions. During the pandemic, Dr. Reddy’s doubled down on its commitment to customers and patients to deliver affordable medicines when they needed it most. Going forward, we will continue to be guided by our deep-rooted philosophy that “Good Health Can’t Wait.” As a leader in the pharmaceutical industry, Dr. Reddy’s believes it now has the ethical and moral imperative to accelerate access to much needed medicines for people around the world. Our philosophy of “Good Health Can’t Wait” is guidance for our current behavior and inspiration for our future actions.


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Camber is rising to the challenges facing today’s marketplace with continuous supply, excellent customer service and an unwavering commitment to our partners and patients.


camberpharma.com Be sure to check out Camber’s growing line of high-quality OTC products. CamberConsumerCare.com

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our customers to ensure they have evidence-based content and solutions needed to be confident, informed medication advisors. To support and provide critical information to healthcare workers, pharmacists and other stakeholders, we launched the COVID-19 Healthcare Hub, the Pharmacy Toolkit and have expanded the hubs into obesity and cancer. Elsevier’s solutions help retail pharmacists build stronger relationships with patients while helping pharmacists maximize products and encourage discussions regarding their patients’ medication therapy.



vice president of commercial –pharmacy, Elsevier

vice president and general manager, EnlivenHealth, a division of Omnicell

DSN: How would you describe the current state of pharmacy?

DSN: How does your company help to meet the challenges of pharmacy?

Trygve Anderson: Certainly, it is no secret that the pharmacy industry is experiencing a significant amount of change. The typical mom-and-pop pharmacy has gone by the wayside, giving rise to an enhanced pharmacy model that focuses on the total care of a patient through drug therapy management, active patient engagement and the ability to expand clinical services like administering vaccines, including the COVID-19 vaccine. Enhanced pharmacy services play an important role in connecting patients to affordable and accessible services and resources to help them on their path to better health. They are paving the way for “clinical pharmacy” to be accepted as a key service provided to patients in pharmacies by providers to ensure that the patient’s chronic conditions are managed appropriately.

Danny Sanchez: EnlivenHealth’s proven digital solutions help pharmacies streamline traditionally inefficient and manual workflow processes, allowing pharmacists to save time and focus more on providing revenue-generating, value-based services, such as vaccinations and point-of-care testing. EnlivenHealth’s solutions enable pharmacies to increase script volume by an average of 2.3% over their current growth performance. EnlivenHealth builds the industry’s most proven and trusted patient engagement and omnichannel communications solutions, which enable pharmacies to deliver the right therapy to the right patient, at the right time. Crucially, our solutions have proven to strengthen patient retention by an average of 14%. The EnlivenHealth Patient Engagement Platform — deployed at more than 30,000 pharmacies nationwide — is the only comprehensive, fully integrated patient engagement solution in the industry. EnlivenHealth’s pioneering medication synchronization solution is deployed at 23,000 pharmacies nationwide. This appointment-based solution has been proven to measurably improve patient adherence. The Journal of the American Pharmacists Association recently published a study which found that patients are three times as likely to be adherent if they are enrolled in appointment-based med sync programs like those powered by EnlivenHealth’s med sync solution.

DSN: How have your customers’ expectations changed?

DS: Some must-haves include: • Providing value-based services that allow pharmacists to practice at the top of their license, drive script growth and improve patient retention; • Transforming the practice and business of pharmacy with an appointment-based workflow model that frees up the pharmacists’ time to focus on patients and enable the vital shift to value-based services; • Deploying digital, omnichannel communications technologies and tools that will help pharmacies to create a truly personalized and differentiated patient experience; and • Leveraging advanced clinical care and decision support technologies that strengthen patient engagement and retention, and measurably improve PDC scores and, ultimately, patient health outcomes.

TA: Our customers are voicing an everincreasing demand for timely, evidencebased drug information to enable pharmacists to make important drug therapy decisions and keep the patient informed and engaged in their treatment plan. Elsevier partners with customers to help pharmacists serve the needs of their patients throughout their health-andwellness journey. We work closely with


DSN: What is needed in today’s environment to stay competitive?


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director of marketing, Follett Products DSN: How does your company help to meet the challenges of pharmacy?

Cindy Fitton: Follett, the market leader in high-performance pharmacy refrigeration and known for precise temperature control, has a full range of refrigerators and freezers available in the sizes and configurations to meet all medication and vaccine cold storage needs. Engineered with forced-air refrigeration and microprocessor controls for use in real-world healthcare applications, Follett purpose-built, medical-grade refrigerators and freezers feature quick recovery after door openings and uniform cabinet-wide temperatures. Heavy-duty components and full stainless steel construction provide exceptional reliability while continuous monitoring and a full suite of alarming features safeguard critical products.

the retail environment and transferring them to central fill, this helps create time for pharmacies to engage in other activities, such as administering vaccinations, providing consultations and participating in medication therapy management. Providing additional services beyond filling prescriptions allows for pharmacy providers to offer a more holistic care experience for the patient, which can help pharmacies gain a competitive edge.

DSN: How has COVID-19 impacted the way you help your customers?

CF: The safe storage of vaccines is a crucial component of protecting patients against this virus. Vaccines require storage within a defined temperature range, and even slight departures from recommended storage temperatures will reduce potency, which could result in inadequate immune response. Each time a vaccine is exposed to excessive heat or cold, the potency deteriorates; and once potency is lost, it can never be restored. The worst case is that patients unknowingly receive a vaccine that provides no protection at all. Follett has just completed the redesign and expansion of its upright refrigerator and freezer manufacturing to increase production of high-performance medical-grade refrigerators and freezers. This increase in supply allows us to support the surge in demand for refrigeration that delivers against the demanding criteria required to maximize the efficacy of the vaccines needed to conquer this pandemic


DSN: What do you see is the greatest challenge for pharmacies and pharmacists?

Marvin Richardson: Near-term, we think the well-being of pharmacists is our collective greatest challenge. As a pharmacistled organization, we understand the immense stress that is put on the pharmacist and pharmacy staff largely due to time constraints from filling redundant prescriptions. We believe through centralized fulfillment and fulfillment automation that iA can help pharmacists get the time they need to focus on value-add work and their patients, helping alleviate the undue stresses they face daily. We know pharmacists want to provide quality patient care. The challenge is being able to support them with the time needed to take care of the patient and themselves.

DSN: What is needed in today’s environment to stay competitive?

MR: Pharmacy fulfillment solutions from iA empower our pharmacy providers to not only stay competitive with their offerings, but to transform their pharmacy. By removing tasks from


LUIS RODRIGUEZ president, Keycentrix

DSN: Reducing costs is crucial in today’s competitive environment. What is your company doing to reduce costs for retailers/pharmacies?

Luis Rodriguez: Keycentrix products reduce costs for pharmacies because they are built to increase efficiency. Our Newleaf pharmacymanagement software is a highly configurable solution that can adapt to fit each pharmacy’s unique processes, in a way that is intuitive and easy to learn. The ability to effectively communicate with prescribers and patients, incorporate business rule triggers, and have everything be easily accessible in one place means scripts can be filled faster with a high degree of accuracy. That translates into both operating costs savings, as well as the ability to recognize income sooner.

DSN: Do you think e-commerce is here to stay or do you think pent-up demand will drive customers back to stores? LR: Online options such as direct-to-consumer pharmacy and telehealth are absolutely here


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to stay. The pandemic has certainly accelerated these industry segments as patients have looked for alternatives to in-person care, but the reality is that online options have been around for many years, and consumers in all industries will continue to look for online options. Post-pandemic, we will see the ways in which these segments continue to evolve as patients show how they want to use them going forward. In-person care will never go away, since its benefits remain the same. The real key — and the developments we look forward to seeing — are the ways in which in person and online can increasingly work together or alongside each other to meet the needs of patients.


senior systems sales manager of healthcare solutions for USA and Canada, KNAPP DSN: What technological innovations have had the greatest impact on your business and your customers’ businesses?

Brian Sullivan: The use of microfulfillment and nano-fulfillment solutions have rapidly emerged as top line considerations, delivering both strategic and tactical advantages, and complementing KNAPP’s larger central-fill pharmacy technology that has delivered supply chain efficiencies for the last 15-plus years. Central-fill solutions continue to play a significant role in our customers’ goals of achieving cost reduction; right-sizing staffing; achieving track, trace and serialization compliance; and improvement of accuracy through automation. Our KiSoft One Pharmacy Suite is delivering actionable insights through the recent addition of KiSoft Analytics and KiSoft redPILOT, which helps companies leverage the benefits of predictive filling. By filling prescriptions based on real-time data, ahead of the actual Rx drop, KNAPP customers are able to further optimize the use of automation, thereby reducing costs and increasing the bottom line. Now, micro- and nano-fulfillment solutions — similar to our offerings in grocery and retail that utilize hub and spoke solutions — are expanding operations capabilities to 24/7 operation and are meeting the emerging needs of pharmacy customers looking for same-day delivery at a lower overall cost, and with touchless service.

DSN: What is needed in today’s environment to stay competitive?

BS: Today, more than ever, our customers realize the need to stay ahead of the curve, leveraging the latest approaches to automation and reducing the challenges of staffing shortages while providing the flexibility to serve their customers and patients’ various and differing needs. Emphasis is now moving toward a more comprehensive suite of needs that address the complete value chain and retail


operations. Same-day delivery to the home, after hours pickup of prescriptions and OTC items, and digital ordering of both prescription and nonprescription products are now top of mind.


DSN: How has COVID-19 impacted the way you help your customers?

Mehdi Maghsoodnia: The pandemic introduced a whole new set of challenges for 1health customers, particularly in terms of testing for COVID-19 and, now that vaccines have been created, for the administration, reporting and verification of those immunized. When COVID-19 arrived, 1health was the first organization to develop an FDA emergency use authorized RT-PCR saliva test that could be self-administered anywhere. We continue to support new types of testing from antibody to fast PCR as our partners need to keep up with the challenges of bringing their members and customers back to work safely. Throughout the pandemic, 1health was and continues to be focused on providing testing as a service to organizations to help empower people to live healthier, longer lives by providing efficient precision testing at scale.

DSN: What advice do you have to offer for retailers and customers going forward?

MM: It is important for retailers to have a comprehensive pandemic program available to their customers. Therefore, it’s critical for those businesses to have a trusted platform partner who can provide not only multiple types of testing, but also information systems around vaccination. We encourage retailers to talk to testing companies and ask the following questions: • Do you have a broad national network of labs you work with? • Is your platform a simple API that can be integrated into existing systems? • Can you support my brand to provide a seamless customer experience? • Can you provide a list of companies you work with that use your system? • Can you provide us with multiple types of tests, including fast PCR, antibody and more? • Can all the information be uploaded to a single system, including vaccination, test results and more? • Is the customer info available through API to integrate to my existing marketing systems?


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DSN: How has COVID-19 impacted your company and the way your company operates now?

Mike Popovich: As a software vendor supporting pharmacies, we’ve invested in new tools and resources that help us better serve our pharmacy clients, including additional technology and staff to ensure immunization and disease surveillance data gets reported to the correct public health authorities without impacting the pharmacist’s workflow.

CHRIS FITZMAURICE director of Industry data resources, ScriptPro

DSN: What technological innovations have had the greatest impact on your business and your customers’ business?

Chris Fitzmaurice: As patients become more technologically savvy, they are also becoming more educated about their health. And while there are myriad sources of information available, pharmacists are becoming increasingly important as filters for verifiable facts about health care. Giving these pharmacists evidence-based tools to understand all the data and formulate reasonable recommendations will continue to be a focus for the industry. ScriptPro’s clinical documentation software, APCS, offers this evidence-based approach in a streamlined fashion to help pharmacists quickly gather information about their patients, then tailor their recommendations to the individual. As automation continues to help the profession evolve, pharmacies will look for ways to leverage the pharmacist’s role as an educator and, eventually, a provider. Patients are also expecting a more tailored experience for the way they take their medication. Medication regimens are only growing more complex. The lives of patients are no different. This means that the old concept of one-size-fits-all no longer applies. Simplifying the basic conceit of taking medications is not only helping improve adherence but is also finally matching the flexibility of taking medications with the variances of everyday life. ScriptPro’s line of automated Medication Packaging machines are helping to provide this flexibility.

DSN: How has COVID-19 impacted the way you help your customers?

MP: Sometimes tragedy has a way of facilitating change, and that’s certainly been true for the COVID pandemic. Prior to COVID, bidirectional immunization reporting was thought of as a luxury; the ability to query your state immunization information system, or IIS, for patient history was helpful, but not always required. Because of the pandemic, we’re now seeing requirements for bidirectional immunization reporting in all 50 states. This has pushed our pharmacy clients to establish electronic reporting connections with a state’s IIS and allows us to continue bridging the gap between public health and our pharmacy clients.


vice president of partner relations, Upsher-Smith Labs DSN: How do you view the state of pharmacy going forward?

Mike McBride: Pharmacists are among the most accessible healthcare professionals in the country and, as such, they are in a great position to expand their scope of practice. Thanks to technological innovations, pharmacists can now provide patients with care that goes beyond dispensing and adjudicating prescriptions to include services that help patients prevent disease, improve health and enhance well-being. This expanding capacity has never been more apparent than during the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to offering home delivery and telepharmacy options, pharmacists also provided access to vaccinations — and local health expertise. We believe that the pandemic has reinforced and expanded pharmacy’s place at the wheel of new healthcare delivery models,and that this will continue once the pandemic has ended. Upsher-Smith is exploring ways to expand our relationship with pharmacists to include more collaborative interactions where pharmacy, prescribers and patients enjoy a more connected and patient-centric experience.

DSN: Reducing costs is crucial in today’s competitive environment. What is your company doing to reduce costs for retailers/pharmacies?

MM: Upsher-Smith is committed to providing affordable medications to patients, and we continue to focus on controlling costs for both our generic and branded products. For example, we have invested in an optimized, state-of-the-art manufacturing facility at our headquarters in Maple Grove, Minn. This 300,000-sq.-ft. facility will enable us to consolidate our production into one location, even as we expand our capacity to produce additional dosage forms, as well as complex generics. dsn


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Preparing for DSCSA Requirements How pharmacies and manufacturers should be preparing for the November 2023 changes By Michael Rowe

T Michael Rowe, serialization services manager, Two Labs


he Drug Supply Chain Security Act, or DSCSA, passed in November 2013 with the mission of creating an electronic, interoperable data system for the tracking and tracing of pharmaceuticals, has become a buzzword in the pharma industry in the past few years. Because of the staggered rollout, varied enforcement dates and multiple moving pieces, DSCSA can create some confusion about what different industry partners need to do to be compliant, and when. The looming 2023 regulations will migrate the enhanced drug distribution requirements from a lot-level tracing system to a serialized/unit-level system comprised of three elements: 1. Exchange of transaction information (at a serialized unit level): This will require pharmacies to be prepared to receive and store many more lines of data; 2. Promptly facilitate the gathering of transaction information to produce transaction history: and 3. Interoperable verification: This will allow a trading partner to authenticate that the serialized information on the product matches the manufacturer’s records. To address the challenge of the current infrastructure not being prepared for the substantially increased amount of data exchange and querying, manufacturers and wholesalers have been investing in Electronic Product Code Information Services, or EPCIS, transmission, which is the most prudent method of data exchange that also meets the requirements of the DSCSA regulation. Manufacturers already use EPCIS to transmit data during the manufacturing process, but these networks now need to be extended to include the pharmacies’ receipt of product in real time. Currently, most dispensers do not have the appropriate master data involved in these transmissions, which requires them to have something called the Global Location Number. Further complicating things is the Food and Drug Administration’s pushing back enforcement of November 2020 requirements to 2023. Because of this, all at once, saleable returns will have to be

verified by wholesalers, and dispensers will have the obligation to initiate serialized unit verifications when conducting a suspect product investigation. So, a lot more will need to be done for 2023, and it all needs to be implemented several months prior to November 2023 to ensure any issues are rectified. What should manufacturers, wholesalers and dispensers be doing now to prepare?

Get Engaged Work with your partners to understand their proposed timelines, what solutions are available and when testing/onboarding will start. Also, reach out to your solution providers. Anyone with a stake in DSCSA implementation should participate in industry groups like the Partnership for DSCSA Governance or the GS1 US Rx Secure Supply Chain Workgroup. At this time, the industry desperately needs more input from dispensers and pharmacies. As you’re joining groups to provide feedback, look for opportunities to participate in pilots of data exchange.

Get Ready for EPCIS Manufacturers and wholesalers are already assessing how EPCIS exchanges can be extended to include the greater pharmaceutical supply chain. If you’re a pharmacist who is working towards these requirements, start the process of obtaining your Global Location Number so that you’re up to speed when the data is ready for you.

Take Stock of Receipt Process Ensure that you have the capability to safely store the large amount of data you will be required to maintain. Plan for a reconciliation process so that you can guarantee accuracy. Identify the technology needed to remain compliant and interoperable. You should also be planning how to detect and investigate any suspect products using the serialization data or resolving issues with the serialized data. November 2023 can feel like a long way away. But to meet the requirements, heavy planning and preparation need to begin now. dsn


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Getting the Right Information Changes to manufacturers’ commercial model will require changes from retail pharmacists By Rita Numerof

O Rita Numerof, president, Numerof & Associates


ver the years, changes in the healthcare market have increasingly threatened the effectiveness of drug manufacturers’ commercial model. Where previously there was an abundance of hospitals and physicians’ offices for sales representatives to sell into, years of mergers and acquisitions have left them with fewer, larger potential customers. Decision-making at each has gradually shifted, too. Originally, physicians were the only people sales representatives needed to win over. But as time has gone on, decision-making has become increasingly shared by key individuals on an organization’s pharmacy and therapeutics committee. COVID-19 has only added additional complexity. In the current environment, representatives’ already limited access to physicians is even more significantly restricted, forcing many manufacturers to finally acknowledge the undeniable truth: There’s no going back to normal, and now is the time for fundamental change. Indeed, 90% of commercial executives and decision-makers for pharmaceutical and medical device organizations said in a recent survey, “The Impact of Covid-19 on Manufacturers’ Commercial Model,” that they recognize the need to change their commercial approach. Some (60%) even said they were already acting on that realization. The changes that manufacturers are most likely to make will have a definite impact on retail pharmacies and, more specifically, retail pharmacists. For example, during the public health crisis, many manufacturers had their representatives adopt a hybrid model of in-person and virtual detailing — reserving in-person meetings only for high-stakes sales and relying on video conferencing whenever otherwise possible. Virtual detailing has the potential to help pharmacists in that they can schedule their interactions with representatives at the most convenient, opportune and distraction-free time. This would allow them to have a deeper discussion about the product in question, which, as the next closest person to the patient after their physician, could have a positive impact on consumers from a

cost and quality standpoint. The problem, however, is that not all retail pharmacists will be on representatives’ “must-call” lists. We’ve already seen manufacturers working to reduce the size of their field forces, which makes it likely we’ll similarly see a reduction in the number of sales representatives visiting local pharmacies, as manufacturers will want them to only reach out and visit those locations where they will get the most bang for their buck. It’s common knowledge that retail pharmacies (and the pharmacists in them) encourage patients to fill scripts with generic medications wherever possible, and that incentives are aligned for pharmacists to encourage the use of “house” brands wherever they can. As big-box stores like CVS or Walgreens will be a target of focus for manufacturers at a corporate level, pharmacists in smaller retail settings will have fewer opportunities to learn about new products straight from their manufacturer. These pharmacists will need to seek out their own information on new drug costs and quality, turning to trade journals, conferences and manufacturers’ websites to learn more about products before advising physicians on which drugs to prescribe, or avoid prescribing to reduce the risk of adverse interactions. Without due diligence, this could be problematic. Information pharmacists may be receiving from key opinion leaders could keep them from knowing what other options are out there. And in the absence of a representative to answer direct and immediate questions, some pharmacist questions could go without being answered. This could lead pharmacists to feel uncomfortable recommending to physicians a drug that could actually be the best fit for their patient in terms of cost and quality. In sum, changes to manufacturers’ commercial model are imminent and stand ready to have an impact on the nation’s smaller retail pharmacies. As that happens, conducting thorough research and finding a new way to get their questions answered quickly will become key for pharmacists and, more importantly, the people at their pharmacy counter. dsn


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New Products at NACDS Annual A look at the innovative and hot products manufacturers will have at the virtual show By Nora Caley


ACDS is pivoting. The trade association, officially known as the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, has gone virtual with its annual show. NACDS Annual Virtual will take place from April 26 to 28 and will feature presentations by association leadership, top-level meetings, member recognition and other programs. As always, opportunities for manufacturers and retailers to participate in Strategic Exchange meetings will exist. Those will be virtual this year, but otherwise similar to previous years’ meetings. “Retailers and suppliers can contact each other, work on an agenda, set up a date and time, and confirm everything,” said Jim Whitman, senior vice president of member programs and services at the Arlington, Va.-based trade association. “We’re trying to make it the same as in person, and obviously meet over electronic format.” Participants can use Microsoft Teams, Webex or Zoom, as NACDS is not requiring them to use a specific platform. By now retailers and suppliers are used to the technology, so the experience should be seamless and easy. “We’re looking forward to everyone participating,” Whitman said. “The response has been gratifying, not only for the appointment process but for the great business program that’s being provided to all attendees.” Here are some of the participating companies and the hot new products they plan to present.

Amneal Pharmaceuticals

Generic prescription medications play a crucial role in health care as they increase access to it. Amneal Pharmaceuticals recently announced it had received Abbreviated New Drug Application approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for


150 mcg/day norelgestromin and 35 mcg/ day ethinyl estradiol transdermal system. Also, Amneal received a competitive generic therapy designation from the FDA and was granted 180 days of exclusivity for the generic version of the contraceptive Ortho Evra, which will be marketed under the proprietary name Zafemy. As the Bridgewater, N.J.-based company’s fifth transdermal product approval, Zafemy provides an alternative to the one equivalent product, Xulane, which is manufactured by Mylan and had U.S. annual sales of approximately $332 million for the 12 months ended December 2020. Xulane is the reference drug, as Ortho Evra was discontinued. Amneal also announced that it received approval of an additional strength of 500 mg to its ANDA from the FDA for abiraterone acetate tablets. This ANDA is approved for its use in combination with prednisone. Abiraterone acetate tablets are the generic version of Zytiga for treatment of metastatic prostate cancer. U.S. annual sales of the 500-mg dosage strength tablets for the 12 months ended November 2020 were approximately $413 million. The company also will present emtricitabine and tenofovir disoproxil fumarate tablets, AB-rated generic for Truvada, which is used with other HIV medications to help control HIV infection.

Bausch + Lomb

Bausch + Lomb recently announced the U.S. launch of Alaway Preservative Free antihistamine eye drops, the first and only FDAapproved over-the-counter preservative-free antihistamine eye itch relief drop. The Bridgewater, N.J.-based eye health business said that 80% of people with eye allergies experience itchy eyes as one of the symptoms. The product, available in time for allergy season, provides consumers with

a new OTC prescription-strength formula option that provides fast, lasting eye itch relief. The new option has less risk of irritation associated with preservatives to help relieve eye itch symptoms. Alaway Preservative Free is formulated to block the release of histamines and reduce allergic inflammation. Alaway provides relief within minutes and lasts up to 12 hours with one dose.

The Bountiful Company

Formerly Nature’s Bounty, The Bountiful Company offers wellness brands and products. The Ronkonkoma, N.Y.-based company’s brands include Nature’s Bounty, Solgar, Pure Protein, Osteo Bi-Flex, Puritan’s Pride, Sundown, Body Fortress, MET-Rx, Ester-C and others. The Bountiful Company’s recent focus has been on immunity, sleep and brain health. Nature’s Bounty Immune 24 Hour+ is a non-GMO product meant to provide 24-hour immune support with ester-C. This clinically studied ingredient also works to


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STRESS segment grew

SLEEP segment grew

37.5% 46.6% in dollar sales and increased buyer count by 19.5% in 2020*

in dollars sales and 58% of purchasing households repeated 2 or more times in 2020*

Your customer’s health journey. Our science backed solutions. OVER




*Source: IRI: Total US - All Outlets Time: 52 Weeks Ending Dec-27-2020 Based on a survey of pharmacists who recommend branded vitamins and supplements.

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help support upper respiratory health. The softgels include vitamin D and zinc for added immune plus antioxidant support, as well as herbal ingredients like elderberry and echinacea. Nature’s Bounty Sleep3+ Stress Support is a maximum strength tri-layer sleep and stress aid. Using innovative time-release technology, each layer is dissolved at different times throughout the night to help one relax, de-stress and get long-lasting sleep, while ashwagandha helps support a healthy response to occasional stress and anxiety. The brain platform has three new products: Nature’s Bounty Brain, Nature’s Bounty Brain Superfood and Nature’s Bounty Brain Focus. Also new are Nature’s Bounty Optimal Solutions Advanced Hair, Skin & Nails Jelly Beans with biotin, keratin, and vitamins A, C and E, as well as Nature’s Bounty Stress Comfort Fast Acting Calm dissolving tablets in Watermelon Chili flavor Coolmelts.

Cardinal Health

Cardinal Health, an integrated healthcare services and products company, has developed three new solutions. The enhanced Connect+ platform will provide pharmacies a single solution for digital patient engagement, clinical care, workflow management and finances. The convenient, user-friendly Connect+ platform will help pharmacies reach patients through their preferred method of communication, send them medication reminders and offer


telepharmacy services where permitted. “Pharmacists are among the most trusted and accessible healthcare providers for many communities,” said Victor Crawford, Cardinal Health’s pharmaceutical segment CEO. “With the right technology solutions, they can play a valuable role in optimizing medication therapy for their patients, which will result in better overall outcomes.” Also new is MyScheduling, which allows pharmacies to set up multiple appointment types, schedule appointments, send reminders and view their pharmacy calendar. The scheduling tool, developed to help manage COVID-19 vaccine demand, can help pharmacies manage their administrative workload as patients can schedule, change or cancel their own appointments without calling the pharmacy. The HIPAAcompliant tool can help pharmacies forecast staffing demands, gather screening and demographic information from patients in advance, and manage their supply of vaccines according to demand. NavixRx, available in the coming months, is a prescription packaging as a service model. It will allow pharmacies to transmit prescriptions electronically to NavixRx for packaging. NavixRx will then send a packaged 30-day supply of the prescription back to the pharmacy for pickup or delivery, allowing pharmacies to offer compliance packaging to their patients while taking care of the most time-consuming and expensive aspects of this process.


HempFusion has several immunity-focused innovations coming to market this year, both from its flagship eponymous CBD brand, as well as its wholly owned probiotics subsidiary Probulin. In May, the Denver-based company will launch CBD Immune Support Gummies, made with 100 mg Eldermune elderberry complex and 10 mg of CBD. Each gummy contains 100 mg of organic Eldermune immune complex, the equivalent of 4,225 mg of whole elderberries. They are flavored naturally with elderberry. To stand out in the crowded CBD arena, HempFusion said it uses a slower lowerheat version of CO2 extraction to get the same amount of CBD and more of other beneficial compounds. The result is a less purified, less processed hemp extract. The newest product from Probulin is Total Care Immune, which adds the immune-boosting power of elderberry to a specially-formulated blend of 10 probiotic strains. Each easy-to-swallow capsule includes 100 mg of Eldermune (equivalent to 4,225 mg of whole elderberry), 10 distinct probiotic strains for broad spectrum digestive and immune support, prebiotic fiber as food for probiotic cultures, postbiotic compounds to help support a healthy digestive microbiome, and 20 billion colonyforming units of live active probiotic cultures, including 8 billion CFUs from fermented fruits and vegetables. Probulin’s


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proprietary MAKTrek 3-D delivery system helps the probiotics survive the journey to the gut, the company said.


Hyland’s is introducing an all-in-one formula via Hyland’s Cold Tablets with Zinc, meant to help shorten colds and provide multisymptom cold relief. Made with natural active ingredients, Hyland’s Cold Tablets with Zinc are safe and gentle for adults and children age 6 years old and older. In addition to helping reduce the duration and severity of common cold symptoms, the product provides natural relief for sneezing, runny nose, congestion, cough, sore throat, headache, watery eyes, fever and chills. This formula is nondrowsy and non-habit forming, has no side effects, and can safely complement other medication the consumer may be taking. It also is free of dyes, preservatives and refined sugar. Los Angeles-based Hyland’s is a division of Standard Homeopathic, the largest homeopathic medicine manufacturer in North America. For more than a century, Hyland’s has worked to provide families with comfort and care, and it offers a wide range of safe homeopathic remedies from infants to adults, using the highest quality natural active ingredients while following the strictest standards of preparation.



Founded in 1995, Iovate Health Sciences International offers quality supplements made with scientifically-backed ingredients. The Oakville, Ontario-based company began as a direct-to-consumer mail-order business that launched its wholesale retail division a year later. Now, Iovate offers weightmanagement products via the Hydroxycut and Purely Inspired brands, and the active nutrition brands MuscleTech and Six Star. Purely Inspired has a new look, with refreshed packaging and revamped formulas. Among the newest Hydroxycut products is the Cut Energy line of canned sparkling beverages designed to burn calories, boost metabolism and increase energy. The beverages are available in three flavors: berry lemonade, watermelon pomegranate and orange mango pineapple. They contain such ingredients as B vitamins, vitamin D, niacin, taurine and caffeine, and are free of sugar and calories.

Mars Wrigley

Mars Wrigley will present new items from M&M’S, Orbit and Skittles. M&M’S Mix brings the classic M&M’S flavors all together in one convenient package. Highly requested by fans for years, M&M’S Mix creates a new snacking

experience in Classic and Peanut varieties. Classic includes three traditional flavors: M&M’S Milk Chocolate, M&M’S Peanut and M&M’S Peanut Butter. Peanut includes three flavors: M&M’S Peanut, M&M’S White Chocolate Peanut and M&M’S Dark Chocolate Peanut. In spring 2021, Orbit will be bigger and bolder with the launch of Orbit Mega Packs, an upsize pack containing 30 pieces that is designed to be portable and keep gum fresh, offering shelf longevity. They are available in peppermint and spearmint flavors. New Skittles Gummies are a pop-able gummy candy with a burst of fruit flavor. Available in the original five fruity flavors and wild berry varieties, Skittles Gummies offer the same intense fruit flavors consumers are familiar with, in a delicious and innovative gummy form.

Mason Vitamins

Immunity, sleep, brain health and beauty are the growth categories in vitamins, minerals and supplements, and Mason Vitamins has new products that fill consumer demands for all of these areas. “We put investment aside for innovation,” said Chuck Tacl, senior vice president of sales and business development. “We try to innovate as fast as we can, and we try to stay ahead of the trends.”


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New products in the Miami Lakes, Fla.based company’s lineup include Vitamin C 1,000 mg with Rose Hips and Zinc caplets. Rosehips contain antioxidants to help shield immune cells and zinc has exploded in popularity over the past year due to its role in immune function. Also new from Mason Vitamins is Eazzzy Sleep with Magnesium and Chamomile tablets. Magnesium provides a wide range of benefits, including calming the body and mind, and chamomile promotes sleepiness and relaxed mood. Mental health currently also is a growing category, and Brain Power with Sage Extract may support mental focus, memory and positive mood. Mason Vitamins’ value line, Healthy Sense, is launching four new gummies in the immunity area. The lineup consists of Multivitamin & Zinc, C Vitamin with Beta Carotene and Rose Hips, Immune Support with Elderberry, Echinacea & Propulis, and Vitamin D3. The pectin-based gummies contain no artificial colors or added preservatives. The value segment is gaining momentum as consumers look for convenience and smaller packages, and shop at a variety of retailers. With that in mind, Mason Vitamins also is launching sachets with two tablets or caplets for travel, convenience stores and alternate channels.


No Fade Fresh

Whether from a professional colorist or from a box, hair color can fade. Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based No Fade Fresh offers a line of lathering, color-depositing shampoos and conditioners that deposit high quality, semipermanent hair color directly to the hair while in the shower. The company said the salonquality products, suitable for all hair types, feature a built-in bond rebuilder that counteracts the effects of bleach and permanent hair color. No Fade Fresh products are vegan and free of gluten, sulfates, PPD, parabens, formaldehyde, phthalates and mineral oil. All products feature color swatches showing hair colors and results, as well as QR codes that link the consumer to online product videos and demonstrations. The Color Depositing ShampooConditioner Duos are available in natural brown, natural blonde, silver platinum (which reduces yellow), light pink, lavender, bright red and purple bordeaux. The newest colors are copper, blue blast, raspberry rush, hot pink and sunflower bright blonde. There also is the BondHeal Clear Conditioning Mask, which can be used with all colors.

Women’s health, mood and sleep are three categories Olly is focusing on. The Future is Female Collection offers such benefits as support for libido, mood, bloating, urinary tract health and vaginal health in easy to swallow capsules. The San Francisco-based company said there is strong consumer interest for women’s health supplements. “We wanted to create a line of supplements that addresses the unique physiological needs of women that is both efficacious and fun/ approachable,” said Dorothy Huynh, associate brand manager at Olly. “We’re achieving this via clinically studied ingredients; approachable, humorous, easy to understand benefit names; and counter-worthy packaging.” Olly also is expanding its mood portfolio with Hello Happy, a gummy worm supplement that includes 30 mg of saffron to boost serotonin and 2,000 IU of vitamin D to support a positive mood. The company said that demand for mood supplements increased by double digits in the past year. “We really wanted to bring Hello Happy to life, so we packed two powerful mood-supporting ingredients into a delightful gummy worm format for grown-ups,” Huynh said. “Kids aren’t the only ones that get to have all the fun.” In its sleep portfolio, OLLY is launching Muscle Recovery Sleep, a dual-benefit gummy supplement that supports both restful sleep and sore muscle relief. It includes 3 mg of melatonin, as well as vitamin D and tart cherry, which support muscle recovery after physical activity. The product is designed with active millennials in mind. “Since sleep is integral to muscle recovery and healing, we decided to launch a dual-benefit supplement that supports both restful sleep and sore muscle relief,” said brand manager Michelle Yoon.


Pharmavite is expanding its Nature Made’s line of need-focused sleep solutions and launching a stress solutions line under the brand. The West Hills, Calif.-based company’s innovation efforts are focused on supporting specific areas of health that have become top of mind for consumers. “Over the last 50 years, Nature Made has become synonymous with supplements grounded in scientific evidence that are


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High-quality nutrition, everyday value Purely Inspired® has an exciting new look, but one thing remains the same, our commitment to Well-Being For All™. By providing clean, simple, affordable formulas to support busy and active lifestyles, high-quality nutrition can be accessible to all. Refreshed packaging, revamped formulas plus exceptional taste makes Purely Inspired® the perfect source for pure nutrition.


Learn more at PurelyInspired.com ©2021

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NACDS PREVIEW women, added two new gummies to its dedicated line of women’s supplements. Stress Less Gummies have a strawberry lemon flavor and a blend of GABA, L-theanine and lemon balm. Tropical fruit-flavored Girl Boss Teen Multivitamin Gummies deliver the essential vitamins teenage girls need most.


routinely tested for purity and potency,” said Bryan Donaldson, chief sales officer. “Pharmavite’s vision for the future is using that foundation of science and quality to build new solutions that meet consumer’s specific needs.” Nature Made Sleep Longer Triple Action time-release tablets are a new maximumstrength supplement to help calm the mind, fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. Nature Made Stress Relief Gummies are a new fast-acting supplement that features a proprietary blend of L-theanine and chamomile to help manage feelings of stress in the moment. Pharmavite also created new items that bolster Nature Made’s extensive offering of immune support products.

Purina has several new products, including two that the St. Louis-based pet food company plans to highlight at the show. Fancy Feast Petites are single-serve entrees. The single-serve trays break into two compartments, meaning no mess and no leftovers for easy cleanup. Fancy Feast Petites, crafted without artificial colors or preservatives, provide 100% complete and balanced nutrition for adult cats. The two 1.4-oz. servings are available in Seared Salmon & Spinach in Gravy, Grilled Chicken Entrée with Rice in Gravy and Ocean Whitefish with Tomato in Gravy. Beyond Organic is a line of USDA Certified Organic dog and cat food that features organic free-range chicken raised with no antibiotics as the first ingredient. Purina said its farmers are dedicated to protecting natural resources and biodiversity when growing the brand’s organic ingredients that are naturally rich in antioxidants, minerals and vitamins that the pet needs for a healthy life. Beyond Organic dog and cat food, available in both wet and dry food varieties, contain no prohibited synthetic pesticides or fertilizers, antibiotics or growth hormones, artificial colors, flavors, preservatives, corn, wheat or soy.

Piping Rock


Piping Rock is focusing on immune support, health and wellness with new products in its Nature’s Truth and Pink brands. Nature’s Truth Zinc Softgels is the brand’s latest immune formula, delivering 50 mg of zinc per serving. One rapid-release liquid softgel a day provides both zinc and vitamin C. Also from Nature’s Truth, new Vitamin D3 Gummies provide the most popular potency among users — 2,000 IU per serving. The gummies have a natural pineapple flavor and are suitable for vegetarians. The company, citing Nielsen data, said that vitamin D continues to grow by triple digits. Pink, which the company calls the purpose -driven wellness brand created by women, for


The Swiss homeopathic remedies company Similasan will feature two products. Pink Eye Nighttime Gel provides nighttime relief for pink eye symptoms, including redness, burning, watery discharge and sensation of grittiness. Pink Eye Nighttime Gel is made with natural active ingredients like eyebright — the plant euphrasia — and no harsh chemicals. The gel provides a thicker drop for overnight relief. Officials said the product meets several key consumer demands. “Pink eye tends to keep parents away from work and kids away from schooling,” said Makenzie Geist, senior product manager at Highlands Ranch, Colo.-based Similasan. “This natural alternative nighttime

option will give people flexibility for treatment of that condition, help them treat these symptoms at nighttime and have relief when they are sleeping instead of only during the day.” Similasan also will feature Swimmer’s Ear Relief, an ear-drying aid with natural active ingredients like the plant pulsatilla and no harsh chemicals. The product, which dries water-clogged ears and relieves discomfort from trapped water, is glycerin based so there is no stinging or burning. There is a need for an ear-drying aid with natural ingredients because alcohol-based products sting, which can make treating children very difficult, Geist said. The product is launching in time for such outdoor summer activities as going to beaches or lakes, and people are likely to continue going outside. “We saw the same trends last year with allergy eye drops, that people are spending time outside,” she said. “We believe that will be the case this year too.”


Westrock helps retailers and manufacturers respond to consumer demands during this era of COVID-accelerated innovation, including an explosion in e-commerce. “We want our customers to be thinking about Westrock as a provider of end-to-end solutions,” said Leon Nicholas, vice president of retail insights and solutions at the Atlantabased company. “We help them address sustainability, merchandising and e-fulfillment, all of which involves packaging.” Stores are reimagining merchandising, and they are also rethinking fulfillment. Nicholas said that the right package impacts sustainability not only in materials, but also in reducing waste. Companies use automation and robotics to select boxes that are the right size, so they don’t end up shipping more air than products. “Paradoxically, we are trying to get people to use less packaging,” he said. Also, companies must make sure the packaging is robust enough to withstand robotics. Online shopping and click and collect have increased dramatically during the pandemic, and will likely continue. “That has implications for how you think about packaging,” Nicholas said. “It’s all been designed to see off a shelf. More and more of these products aren’t going to be sold on shelves.” dsn


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Good Vibrations As the sexual health category expands, retailers embracing new areas are seeing results By Seth Mendelson


ow can retailers tell that carrying sexual wellness products have been accepted by most of their consumers? The answer, of course, is that shoppers are no longer talking about whether the category is making an impression on them during their shopping experience, but rather they are more concerned that the products do the job they are intended to do. In fact, in a quite unscientific survey of consumers at several New York-area mass retailers, no shoppers voiced any concern about having any type of sexual wellness products available on store shelves. However, a number questioned the quality of the products available and asked which ones did the best job. A large percentage of consumers are making it perfectly clear that they want a


selection of sexual wellness items, ranging from the traditional items like condoms and lubricants to more risqué sex toys at the stores they most frequent. That trend is great news for a growing number of suppliers trying to offer such merchandise through traditional mass retail outlets. “We have shattered the glass ceiling,” said Stephanie Trachtenberg, director of marketing and public relations at New York-based Satisfyer. “The industry has created a situation where consumers no longer are afraid to buy these products at retail stores. Sexual wellness products are now part of the mainstream and, as the last year has shown, have played a big role in providing relief for many consumers who are really trying to get in touch with their bodies.”

While sales in the category have grown at a modest rate, many suppliers and retailers said that segment has added a bit of luster and intrigue to their shelves, getting consumers to be more open about their personal needs and desires. The result, some said, is a willingness among shoppers to purchase these types of items in the open, as opposed to relying on mail order or digital to acquire these items. “The year-ending 2020 Nielsen data revealed that the overall category was flat, but that performance varied widely by each individual retailer,” said Michael Trigg, CEO of Trigg Labs, which manufactures a wide range of personal lubricants. “The more progressive merchants diversified their assortment to include innovative personal lubricants that were silicone based,


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flavored or that provided an added sensation. Those who added variety saw growing sales and benefitted at the expense of their competitors, which tried to live the past by offering only basic water-based products.” Other suppliers agreed that the time is right for retailers to get more involved with the category. “People are getting more comfortable with their bodies and are more willing to go to stores and buy these items,” said Toni Day, a marketing specialist for Newton, Mass.-based Clio, which has placed a huge emphasis on its packaging and the role it plays in making consumers feel good about buying sexual wellness devices in stores. “I think suppliers have helped, too. For example, we have created packaging that is more discreet than in the past, which makes it easier for the consumer to purchase and the retailer to display on store shelves,” Day said. “We are also using the packaging to explain to consumers about the health benefits of our products, as well as the pleasure aspects of them. We want the user to feel comfortable.” Trigg also said that with COVID-19 bringing increased online competition, it is critical that store planograms include the actual market leaders in each product niche and not just similar products from older brands. “With an intimate product like personal lubricant, consumers have proven that they will make the effort required to find and


purchase their preferred product,” he said. “Evidence of consumer loyalty is the market for silicone-based lubricants. Wet Platinum introduced the industry to the health and performance benefits of a pure silicone personal lubricant over a decade ago.” Trachtenberg said that the onus really is on the retailer to react to the category. Noting that mass retailers have long made a big point of providing their shoppers with the best health-and-wellness products available, she said that offering the best items in the sexual wellness category can only help also develop that reputation. “Why not carry these products?” she asked. “Consumers want them and they work.” Now, officials at all these companies are turning up the heat on retailers. With the blessing of many consumers, especially women, they want retailers to stock a larger assortment of sexual wellness items across the entire spectrum of the category. And, they think retailers should start promoting the items a lot more too, as well as looking for hot new items. Even more traditional sexual wellness segments, such as condoms, are putting pressure on retailers to get more serious with their brands. Ken DeBaene, vice president of sales for the Americas at Lifestyles, a leading manufacturer of condoms and other items in the category, said education is vital to the success of his category.

“There is opportunity to improve the experience at shelf while also understanding that well over half of consumers research products online before purchasing,” he said. “Linking the online experience and associated education with the retail experience is a good start. Beyond that, recognizing that the shopper is showing up with different emotional needs, not just functional needs while being able to help them more easily find the fit for that need. Those needs absolutely extend beyond the condom sector, and we at Lifestyles pride ourselves on providing our customers with the resources they need for every facet of the intimate experience, from devices to personal lubricants and beyond.” Trigg said that his company spends a lot of time on research and development to ensure they offer the best products. “After observing a consumer preference shift towards lubricants, which provide sensations and that blend together water and silicone, Trigg Labs recently launched Wet Cool Tingle and Wet Gold Hybrid,” he said. “These two products represent a huge leap forward from the outdated sticky basic water-based lubes of the past by blending in silky silicone while avoiding glycerin and all parabens. Both formulas are safe with condoms and adult wellness devices. Consumers love their superior feel and longevity.” dsn


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Retailers Aim for ‘Pitch-Perfect’ Sourcing New supplier recruitment efforts underscore the importance of bringing innovation to retail By David Orgel

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

etailers have had enough of the status quo when it comes to choices of products and suppliers — and they are seeking new pitches. Call it pitch-perfect sourcing? Retailers are holding events — ranging from pitch competitions to recruitment forums — to find innovative new suppliers. In many cases, these are small or early-stage vendors that may be hard to find through other means. Maybe retailers are being influenced by a wave of TV shows catering to entrepreneurs — from “Shark Tank” to “Dragons’ Den.” Fortunately, the pandemic hasn’t hindered retailers’ efforts to cast their nets wider, as more companies and executives are comfortable making use of virtual events. Sourcing forums by retailers are both entrepreneurial and smart, as they indicate a drive to differentiate for increasingly demanding consumer bases — and to make progress before competitors do.

Retailers are signaling a willingness to pursue nontraditional strategies in the face of rising competition and consumer expectations. The same old products and strategies aren’t going to be enough anymore. Some of the activity has been directed at finding local suppliers. Meijer and Hy-Vee are two retailers with locally focused events, both supported by RangeMe, a product discovery and sourcing platform, and its parent company ECRM. Hy-Vee has set a series of quarterly dates for “Best of Local Brands” virtual presentation summits from local suppliers across its eight-state operating area. Meijer was set to hold a virtual “Localization Summit” on April 1, centering on its six-state market area. The event focuses on finding local suppliers for such categories as center store and fresh grocery, beauty and personal care, OTC and wellness products, and baby items.


Meanwhile, Walmart and Sam’s Club used a virtual “open call” format to identify U.S.-made products to consider carrying. The joint event last fall led to identifying more than 175 small businesses to move to the next level of consideration. Walmart saluted the “entrepreneurial spirit” of the vendors competing in the program. Some retailers are leveraging events to find diverse suppliers — at a time when consumers increasingly are valuing diversity and inclusion efforts. One of these retailers is Meijer, which will host its second supplier diversity recruitment event in May in partnership with RangeMe. The goal is to find relevant businesses in certain minority ownership categories, such as certified minority, LGBTQ, woman, veteran and disability. Taking a slightly broader approach, Ahold Delhaize’s Retail Business Services unit held a supply chain innovation pitch competition last year to identify companies that can help overcome challenges. The winner, which beat out a number of finalists, was vertical-farming technology start-up Evergreens Farms. I see a number of reasons why events to identify new suppliers are valuable. First and most obvious, retailers can’t expect to be aware of the entire landscape of suppliers and products, so this is an avenue for discovery. Likewise, these are opportunities for new suppliers to learn what it’s like to work with big retailers. Also important, retailers can position themselves as mentors for smaller and innovative vendors that are early in their journeys, a move that may lead to enduring alliances. There are other ways to mentor and accelerate suppliers as well. In a unique approach, Raley’s is operating a food development and testing lab to support entrepreneurs at The Lab@AgStart incubator in Woodland, Calif. Retailers are signaling a willingness to pursue nontraditional strategies in the face of rising competition and higher consumer expectations. The same old products and strategies aren’t going to be enough anymore. In fact, supplier pitches don’t have to be perfect, as long as they bring new and innovative thinking. dsn


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