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Volume 43 No. 6

JUNE 2021

Drug Store News


June 2021

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CROCUS FULL PAGE SPREAD 2021 DSN 02.indd 1 DSN_Template.indd 1

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Vol. 43 No. 6 DrugStoreNews.com



10 Industry News 20 Products to Watch 32 Focus On: Focus Consumer Healthcare 34 CBD News 38 Cover Story: Multicultural Mindset What role can retailers play in bringing diverseowned brands that meet more consumers’ needs to a mass audience?


76 Focus On: Sky Organics

COLUMNS 8 Editor’s Note 22 One-on-One with CHPA’s Paul Gama and Michelle Goodridge

24 Counter Talk

30 One-on-One with OmniSYS’ John King

46 Going with the Gut

78 Last Word

with Roadie’s Valerie Metzker

26 Counter Talk with Biologics by McKesson’s Pavlos Pavlidis

28 One-on-One with Pain Care Labs’ Dr. Amy Baxter

SOCIAL Facebook.com/ DrugStoreNews Twitter.com/ DrugStoreNews


with David Orgel Consulting’s David Orgel



Digestive aids move beyond acute-focused as the gutbrain connection gains traction among consumers

PHARMACY 56 The Future of Tech and Automation Executives from leading pharmacy automation and technology companies weigh in on post-pandemic trends

INSIDE BEAUTY 70 Plant-Based Beauty Grows From CBD to other trending ingredients, beauty is growing its plant-based bona fides


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. 6, June 2021. Copyright © 2021 by EnsembleIQ. All rights reserved.



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Retailers’ Online Work Pays Off The growth of online among traditional retailers highlights the industry’s ability to adapt and thrive By Seth Mendelson


till don’t think that mass retailers can win the battle for Internet supremacy? Just take one look at the impressive results coming from Target’s first-quarter release, and it is extremely clear that this chain — and several other mass retailers — are doing a fantastic job building their overall operations to compete more successfully with the likes of Amazon while also maintaining a disciplined approach to their brick-and-mortar operations. In mid-May, the Minneapolis-based chain announced Seth Mendelson Editor in Chief/ that overall first-quarter sales grew by nearly 23% and Associate Publisher comparable-store sales rose by a rock solid 18%. Most interesting was that same-day services, including order pickup and drive up, increased by 90% and Target’s own stores fulfilled more than 95% of all sales during the quarter. Frankly, I am not surprised by these numbers. While Amazon had a big head start on Internet shopping and marketing, chains like Target, Walmart and the big three drug stores have always had the business savvy to figure out how to play catch-up. It may not have been pretty at first, but, over time, it has become increasingly clear that the major retailers are using their vast resources to win consumers over to their way of doing things. And it does not hurt that these chains have stores all over the country that allow consumers to quickly and conveniently pick up the products they purchased online at a brick-and-mortar store. What is becoming increasingly clear is that other retailers besides Amazon can make a play for consumers’ hearts and minds by sticking to the tried-and-true marketing methods that got them to their elite positions in the first place. Consumers are pretty simple. They want quality, fair pricing and the ability to purchase the products they are looking for in a convenient manner. Remember, it was only about four years ago that some industry officials had Target written off. After a couple of bad quarterly financial reports, some said the chain simply did not have the wherewithal to compete in the new retail arena, particularly online. Today, Target, as well as these other chains, are showing that they have gained the necessary knowledge to successfully operate a retail business from every type of venue. The key is to stay ahead of the curve in the future and to make sure that whatever their consumers want and need they are there, ready to serve. dsn

Over time it has become clear that major retailers are using their vast resources to win consumers over to their way of doing things.


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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Zhou Nutrition’s 5 New Gummies Hit Target.com

Gillette Debuts Venus for Pubic Hair, Skin Collection The latest product from Gillette’s Venus brand is catering to the needs of the body’s most sensitive skin. The Boston-based company is introducing its new Venus for Pubic Hair & Skin collection, alongside its new #SayPubic campaign to help transform the use of euphemistic or outdated terms for the pubic area. The collection features a razor, exfoliant, shave gel and serum designed to specifically address the distinct needs of the pubic area, the company said. “We’ve found that more women are dissatisfied with caring for the pubic area than anywhere else on the body. In fact, 56% of U.S. women wish there were more accurate descriptions and imagery in society of women grooming their pubic area,” said Kristin Monaco, senior product research engineer at Venus. “It’s not surprising. Pubic hair is coarse and the skin is delicate, so for many women it requires a different approach to help avoid shave bumps, ingrown hairs, redness and itchiness.” With this campaign and product launch, Venus said it is hoping to start a dialogue around normalizing correct anatomical language as a way to destigmatize female pubic grooming, the company said. “With over two decades of research and scientific development in women’s hair and skin under our belt, literally, we know that grooming means something different to every woman,” said MyAnh Nghiem, Gillette Venus communications director. “Our new collection not only offers women more options for pubic grooming than we ever have before, but starts a new conversation about using language that accurately and respectfully represents the female body.” Currently, the Venus for Pubic Hair & Skin collection can be purchased for $45 or individually for $14.99 per item online and at major retailers.


Zhou Nutrition is bringing five new gummy supplements to Target. com. The Salt Lake City-based brand’s latest products are focused on offering clean formulas to support mind and body, Zhou Nutrition said. Joining Zhou Naturals’ Vitamin C+ Gummies and its Elder-Mune Gummies, which previously launched on Target.com, are: • Hairfluence Gummies that contain biotin and vitamins C and E; • Screen Eyes Gummies made with lutein and marigold extract to support retinal health, using the company’s blue light formula; • Collagen Peptides Gummies, meant to support youngerlooking skin and bone health, with 19 essential amino acids; • Apple Cider Vinegar Gummies, which contain healthpromoting probiotics and enzymes that may support digestive health; and • D3 + K2 Gummies for mood regulation support, healthy immune support, and bone and heart health. “We’re committed to making wellness easy to achieve, whether it’s getting focused for work, calm before bedtime or supported during seasonal changes,” said Max Willis, Zhou Nutrition’s chief innovation and science officer. “This super-focused selection at Target.com is designed to make people more confident when they choose to add Zhou to their daily routines.”


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Upsher-Smith, Rafarm Intro Generic Vigamox Upsher-Smith and Rafarm are launching moxifloxacin ophthalmic solution 0.5%, a generic of Novartis’ Vigamox. In 2018, Upsher-Smith and Rafarm entered into a partnership agreement to develop and distribute six ophthalmic and otic ANDA products. Under the agreement, Upsher-Smith is responsible for registering the products with the Food and Drug Administration and marketing and distributing them under its own label in the United States upon FDA approval. Rafarm is responsible for the development and manufacturing of the products exclusively for Upsher-Smith. The moxifloxacin ophthalmic market had a value of approximately $34 million for the 12 months ended March 2021, according to IQVIA. “The launch of moxifloxacin is significant because it represents a series of firsts for Upsher-Smith. It is not only our first ophthalmic product to enter the market, but also the first product resulting from our partnership with Rafarm,” said Rusty Field, president and CEO of Upsher-Smith. “We are very pleased to have partnered with Rafarm and proud of the successful relationship we’ve built together. We look forward to building upon that success as we expand our portfolio to include both ophthalmic and otic agents.” Rafarm’s executive vice president Aris Mitsopoulos said, “The Upsher-Smith and Rafarm teams work extraordinarily well together, and that has allowed us to establish a strong partnership. Our superb manufacturing capabilities, coupled with Upsher-Smith’s rich understanding of the U.S. generics market, will ensure that patients receive quality, affordable medicines.”

New Vitafusion Gummy Supports Brain Health Leading gummy vitamin brand vitafusion is entering the brain health category with its latest product. The Ewing, N.J.-based Church & Dwight brand is introducing Brain Food, a supplement that contains ashwagandha, phosphatidylserine and B vitamins in an effort to support the brain with key nutrients. “Proactive brain nourishment is essential for holistic health and wellness, and that’s why we formulated a gummy supplement that fuses together ingredients to help with both stress and focus,” said Michael Vercelletto, vitafusion’s marketing director. “Believing in ‘delicious nutrition for all,’ we’re thrilled to bring innovation into the brain health category and address unmet consumer needs by providing a gummy supplement with the signature delicious taste and great value of vitafusion.” Brain Food is formulated in a natural blueberry flavor that is free of artificial flavors, high-fructose corn syrup, luten, dairy and synthetic dyes. Each serving delivers 125 mg of ashwagandha, 100 mg of phosphatidylserine, 250 mg of vitamin B-12 and 10 mg of vitamin B-6. The product is sold in 50-count bottles at most retailers for a suggested price of $16.99. Exclusive to Walmart is a 60-count bottle sold for $18.98.



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Dr. Scholl’s Looks After Feet with Foot Care & Grooming Line

Skyn Excitation Joins LifeStyles’ Latex-Free Condom Lineup LifeStyles Healthcare’s Skyn brand is adding to its line of latex-free prophylactics with its latest condom. The Iselin, N.J.-based company is debuting Skyn Excitation, which is made of polyisoprene and features a unique wave design with raised dots in the most sensitive areas. Skyn Excitation also features a long-lasting, ultra-smooth cooling lubricant designed to maximize stimulation, according to the company. The condoms are made with LifeStyles Healthcare’s SkynFeel non-latex material that is used to make all Skyn condoms. “The pursuit of better intimacy is at the core of everything we do,” said M’lou Walker, CEO of LifeStyles Healthcare. “With consumers craving excitement now more than ever, we are thrilled to share an innovation that features unique and pleasurable sensations that we think will help deepen connections and enhance intimate explorations.” The product launched in store and online at Target and on Amazon.com. LifeStyles said Skyn Excitation will see additional distribution at major retailers that will begin in the coming months.


Dr. Scholl’s continues to debut products in 2021. On the heels of introducing Dr. Scholl’s Arthritis Relief Gel, the company is debuting the Dr. Scholl’s Foot Care & Grooming Collection The collection includes: • Ultra Hydrating Foot Cream: designed to repair thick and tough skin, and restore the skin’s natural moisture balance with a blend of peppermint, lavender and eucalyptus oils. It has a suggested retail price of $6.99; • Ultra Exfoliating Foot Lotion: hydrates while safely and gently exfoliating thick and callused foot skin. The lotion, formulated with a proprietary alpha hydroxy complex and peppermint, lavender and eucalyptus oils, has a suggested retail price of $6.99; • Ultra Hydrating Foot Mask: infused with a formula designed to heal and hydrate cracked skin, the pair of disposable, slip-on booties features peppermint and lavender. A pouch with one pair has a suggested retail price of $3; • Ultra Exfoliating Foot Mask: created to soften, exfoliate and hydrate rough, dry and flaky skin, leaving it smooth within days. Each pair has a suggested price of $3; and • Severe Cracked Heel Balm: designed for thick, tough skin or cracked heels, the balm features a blend of lavender and peppermint essential oils, Epsom salt and other natural moisturizers meant to hydrate and fill in the cracks. It retails for $6.99. The products have rolled out to national food, drug, mass and online merchandisers, as well as the Dr. Scholl’s website.

Essentia Adds Multipack Option Essentia Water is making it easier for shoppers to stock up on the brand’s ionized alkaline water with a multipack offering of six 16.9-fl.-oz. bottles. “As consumers reduced the number of trips outside their homes during COVID-19, we saw a surge in multipack purchases, and Essentia’s innovation has been able to respond to this demand,” Scott Miller, CEO of Essentia Water, said. “The launch of our 500 ml six-pack fulfills our customers’ needs while driving the brand’s growth in the category.” The Bothell, Wash.-based company’s high pH water in on-the-go size bottles are available in June at such retailers as Kroger, Target, CVS Pharmacy, Walmart, Albertsons, Safeway and Publix.


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Orbit’s Mega Pack Features Sustainable Package Design

Bacardi Grows Canned Cocktail Selection With temperatures creeping upward, Bacardi is bringing new canned cocktails to market to help beat the heat. The brand is rolling out three new products as part of its Bacardi Real Rum Canned Cocktails line, building on the line’s popularity and consumer demand. “The launch of Bacardi Real Rum Canned Cocktails last year far exceeded our expectations, and with the popularity of the Rum Punch flavor in particular, we wanted to expand our range with more full-flavored options,” said Lisa Pfenning, vice president of Bacardi North America. “We have seen people consistently reach for canned cocktails this past year, whether they are looking for light, crisp serves like the Lime & Soda or something bright and fruity like the Rum Punch. As the world opens up again, we want to continue to enliven the moments where people can come together safely and celebrate with highquality cocktails in a convenient format.” Made with natural, gluten-free flavors, the variety pack includes Bahama Mama, Mojito and Sunset Punch. “We’re confident that our new Bacardi Real Rum Cocktails will continue to appeal to discerning drinkers who are looking for high quality canned cocktails made with natural flavors and real ingredients,” said Maria Galis, marketing director of Bacardi North America. “With the new variety pack offering the special Sunset Punch flavor, we’re especially pleased to offer consumers a range of irresistible flavors in one pack, no additional bar tools required.” The Real Rum Cocktail products contain 5,9% alcohol by volume and are available in four-packs that retail for $12.99, as well as a variety pack that is sold online and at select grocery stores for $16.99.


Orbit Gum is packing more product into its packaging — and making that packaging more eco-friendly. The brand recently rolled out its 30-piece Mega Pack, which features a sustainable plastic design created to be recycled in roughly half of the recycling streams available in the nation, the Newark, N.J.based company said. Through a partnership with How2Recycle, the brand created a stepby-step labeling system that demonstrates how to recycle each part of the pack. “We are delighted to partner with How2Recycle for Orbit Mega Pack as society begins to seek fresh breath on the go once again and celebrate more in-person moments in 2021,” said Ivonne Andreu, senior director of gum and mints at Mars Wrigley U.S. “We’re committed to our Mars Wrigley’s purpose of ‘Better Moments, More Smiles’ and to making a positive societal impact through more sustainability and increased recycling transparency on our Orbit Mega Pack.” Available in peppermint and spearmint flavors, Orbit Mega Pack launched at retailers nationwide.

Kellogg’s, Little Debbie Bring Cosmic Brownies to Breakfast Table Kellogg’s is joining forces with Little Debbie to bring an iconic snack to the breakfast table. The two companies are launching Kellogg’s Little Debbie Cosmic Brownies Cereal. Featuring brownie squares with rainbow pieces, the cereal delivers the fudgy chocolate flavor of brownies in a bite-sized form, the companies said. “We are very excited to see one of our most loved Little Debbie products, Little Debbie Cosmic Brownies, transformed into cereal by Kellogg,” Jeff Badger, vice president of marketing at McKee Foods, said. “The cereal delivers the flavor of Little Debbie Cosmic Brownies in a fun new way. It is delicious in a bowl with milk or straight out of the box as a snack.” Kellogg’s Little Debbie Cosmic Brownies Cereal is available online and at retailers nationwide in an 8.2-oz. box that retails for $3.99 and a 13.2-oz. box that retails for $5.69.


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Alaffia’s Beautiful Care Line Puts Curls in Focus

Pacific Shaving Targets Sensitive Skin Pacific Shaving is catering to the needs of men with sensitive skin, or who prefer grooming products without scent. New from the men’s grooming brand is an unscented line of personal care products that are formulated for everyday use. The products, featuring a three-step grooming regimen, consists of the following: • Unscented Clean Face Wash that aims to remove impurities from the skin while also nourishing without drying, using such minimal and clean ingredients as sea salt, glycerin and aloe vera; • Unscented Clean Shave Cream, which contains such ingredients as shea butter to soothe the skin, sunflower seed oil to reduce redness and roughness, and vitamin E to nourish the skin; and • Unscented Clean Face Lotion instantly hydrates skin. The face lotion is absorbed quickly onto the skin and leaves it looking and feeling healthy. Ingredients include olive fruit oil to help restore skin cells, jojoba oil to provide skin with a protective barrier, avocado oil to maintain hydration and glycerin to lock in moisture. Made with vegan ingredients in the United States and without the use of animal testing, Pacific Shaving’s Unscented Clean line can be found online at PacificShaving.com and on Amazon.com.


Alaffia is putting an emphasis on caring for curls. The company’s new Beautiful Curls collection is designed to help nourish curly hair with a lineup of silicone-free products made with plant-based ingredients. Made with handcrafted and unrefined shea butter and coconut oil from Togo, West Africa, the collection contains cleansing, conditioning and styling solutions for loose waves, big curls, medium spirals and tight coils, the company said. Formulated with aqueous extracts using Alaffia’s reverse osmosis water system, the collection features purified water infused with such botanicals as yarrow, comfrey, arnica, calendula and chamomile. The Beautiful Curls collection includes: • Curl Enhancing, which hydrates, defines and enhances curls. Made for wavy and curly hair types, it consists of the Curl Enhancing Shampoo, Curl Enhancing Leave-In Conditioner and Curl Defining Gel; • Curl Activating, formulated for curly to kinky hair types. Created to activate and moisturize tresses, it features the Curl Activating Shampoo, Curl Activating Leave-In Conditioner and Curl Activating Cream; and • Curl Styling, made for all hair types, is composed of the Curl Control Custard, Curl Hydrating Oil and Curl Reviving Tonic. Made without the use of sulfates, parabens, phthalates, mineral oil, artificial colors or synthetic fragrances, Alaffia’s Beautiful Curls collection is available for purchase at Whole Foods Market, Wegmans, independent health food stores and natural grocers, as well as online at BeautifulCurls. com and Alaffia.com.


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New and Noteworthy HRG’s five picks from May 2021


ay brought with it unseasonably warm weather and new guidance on mask wearing, but even as summer grew tantalizingly close, leading CPG brands managed to bring more than 100 new products to market over the course of the month. As is its wont, the HRG new product team pored over the 127 products — including 44 health items, 63 wellness products and 20 beauty innovations — to choose five that had big potential on the shelf. They were:


AleveX Pain Relieving Lotion

The latest from Bayer’s Aleve brand brings maximum-strength menthol and camphor together with six essential oils to offer dual-action relief in a single pain-relieving topical product. Formulated to offer long-lasting, cooling relief, the lotion’s scent transitions from menthol to herbal, fresh and aromatic notes.


Azo Dual Action Probiotic Capsule

The second gut-focused item garnering attention in May is a probiotic designed to maintain gut and vaginal/urinary health. The product is designed to restore and maintain a healthy vaginal microbiome and maintain healthy pH. The i-Health brand said the prebiotic plus probiotic is designed to begin working in 24 hours.



Zantac 360 Maximum Strength Tablet


Enfamom Prenatal Multivitamin Softgel


Florajen Eczema Packet

Zantac is back with a new active ingredient. The product now uses 20 mg of famotidine as an active ingredient to offer relief for heartburn caused by acid indigestion. The reformulated product is sold in 25-count boxes. Bone health for mom and baby is the focus of Enfamom’s new supplement. The once-daily softgel is designed to support bone health and the baby’s spinal cord and brain development with omega-3 DHA, folate and 250 mg of calcium. It is formulated to support nutritional needs while trying to conceive, during pregnancy and while breastfeeding.

Florajen is bringing its expertise in probiotics to bear on eczema with a multi-culture probiotic blend that is formulated to reduce eczema severity, including spread, intensity and symptoms. The Bridges Consumer brand has conducted recent research into the relationship between the gut microbiota and eczema, offering probiotics as a potential solution. The singleserve packets each contain 1 billion live cultures in a delivery method that can be mixed into a cool or room-temperature food or soft drink. dsn


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i Health, Inc.

Innovation. Science. Wellness.



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

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Passing the Torch CHPA’s outgoing and incoming chairs share how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected consumer health care


s Consumer Healthcare Products Association’s chair Paul Gama prepares to hand over board leadership to CHPA chair-elect Michelle Goodridge at the association’s annual meeting in June, both leaders reflect on a historically tumultuous time for our country, the self-care industry and the association. Gama, president of personal health care at Procter & Gamble, and Goodridge, president of U.S. self-care at Johnson & Johnson Consumer Health, share their insights and perspectives about what companies learned over the last year and how it’s shaping the future of consumer health care.

Self-care in a Pandemic

Paul Gama: As the country shut down, my company — and the entire industry — acted to protect the safety of employees while, at the same time, working hard to keep global supply chains and manufacturing functioning to meet heightened consumer demand for self-care products. With our manufacturing plants deemed essential facilities, we needed to take steps to protect our employees on the manufacturing lines. It was a daunting time, but I’m incredibly proud of how our industry was able to keep products largely on shelf and available to consumers wherever they were purchasing them. As the pandemic overwhelmed healthcare systems, our industry went into overdrive to keep people healthy at home, so doctors’ offices and hospitals were available for patients who needed a higher level of care.

Paul Gama, outgoing CHPA chair and president of personal health care, Procter & Gamble

Michelle Goodridge, CHPA chair-elect and president of U.S. self-care, Johnson & Johnson Consumer Health

headache and sleep disruption. Sleep and immune support skyrocketed as consumers increasingly sought to support their immune systems with dietary supplements. There was also a shift to e-commerce for consumer healthcare products as consumers rushed online to quickly and safely get the healthcare products they needed. The COVID-19 pandemic radically changed the way we live, from our work to our social lives. Practicing self-care has become essential when it comes to taking care of our emotional health and well-being, and has been critical in the prevention, treatment and stabilization of this global public health crisis.

space, are leading to an expansion across supplement product categories that will endure well beyond the pandemic. It’s an important opportunity for our industry to continue to innovate and bring new self-care products to market that will continue to improve health care in America and across the globe.

Michelle Goodridge: As lockdowns became the norm and consumers stayed home and consolidated store and medical visits, selfcare became an even more important part of everyone’s well-being. Over-the-counter medicines helped individuals to safely and effectively treat many of the common symptoms of COVID-19 like fever, nausea,

The Growing Role of Dietary Supplements


PG: Consumers have become more health conscious and are taking a much more proactive approach to wellness, including greater utilization of dietary supplements. The current environment, coupled with advances in nutrition research and innovation in this

MG: COVID-19 accelerated the supplements market as consumers have looked for total wellness solutions. Record numbers of consumers sought immune support and turned to supplements to help with sleep, stress and mood. Increased demand is certainly a positive development, but it has also opened the door for some bad actors, which could, if left unchecked, pose health risks and undermine consumer confidence. CHPA is working with other industry stakeholders to push for modernization of the regulatory framework for supplements to protect consumers, promote innovation, and raise the bar on quality and transparency.


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The Rise of Consumer Medical Devices

PG: From face masks, thermometers, pulse oximeters and more, at-home use of consumer medical devices allowed people to safely prevent and monitor symptoms on their own. OTC at-home testing kits are another important area of innovation accelerated by COVID-19. At-home diagnostic devices like these will empower even more self-care. MG: I agree. Digital technology, like telemedicine and health apps, also made a big leap during COVID-19. Consumers and our healthcare system have embraced the important role that digital health can play to enhance access, promote efficiencies and reduce the costs of health care. Wearable devices, mobile apps and other tools will make healthcare delivery more efficient and personalized. Every business leader is looking at ways to better utilize these technologies

in our product offerings and connection to patients, consumers and healthcare professionals. Retailers also recognize this and are already leading with digital healthcare offerings through a mix of virtual and physical healthcare services.

Adjusting to a PostCOVID-19 “New Normal”

MG: There’s no going back to the old way of doing business, and the role of self-care will only continue to accelerate. I’m delighted that under Paul’s leadership as CHPA chair we were able to secure enactment of legislation in Congress to modernize the regulatory system that oversees OTC drugs, and to restore the ability of consumers to use their HSA and FSA accounts to purchase OTC medicines. Those are huge accomplishments for self-care that I hope to build upon during my upcoming two-year term as CHPA chair. There’s much work to be done, but we have learned

important lessons and secured important wins that will benefit our patients, consumers and the healthcare system in the long-term. PG: While my year as CHPA chair was not a typical one, I’m extremely proud of what the industry was able to collectively achieve on behalf of consumers and health care, broadly. We worked separately within our respective companies and together as an industry to keep supply chains open and products on the shelf. We secured important legislative wins that will enhance the safety, availability and affordability of self-care for decades to come, and we began an important board-level initiative to address diversity, equity and inclusion at CHPA and across our industry to help address the complex and long-standing racial equity issues that were front and center this past year. And, I’m especially delighted that Michelle will take over as chair of CHPA, the first female board chair of CHPA in its 140-year history. dsn


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6/3/21 10:42 AM


Pharmacy Delivery’s New Frontier Why HIPAA-compliant, crowdsourced delivery is the right prescription for pharmacies By Valerie Metzker

W Valerie Metzker, head of partnerships and enterprise sales, Roadie

hen you have a health issue for which you need medication, it’s vital that you’re able to get your prescription filled, no matter where you live. Pharmacies across the country have the same mission — to provide essential, sometimes lifesaving products to their customers, wherever they are. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought rapid changes for many types of businesses, and pharmacies are no exception. Customers increasingly prefer home delivery for a wide range of pharmacy items that they used to pick up in person. And for patients who simply aren’t able to visit a pharmacy on their own, home delivery is a necessity, not just a convenience. But setting up a new delivery offering can be challenging, especially in smaller cities and rural areas, where pharmacies have few options for HIPAA-compliant delivery that’s also cost-effective. Like many other retailers, pharmacies need a delivery solution that’s flexible, affordable and doesn’t significantly add to their organizational workload. However, unlike other businesses, pharmacies also must comply with the additional standards of HIPAA, which among other things mandate certain procedures to ensure patient privacy.

Challenges with Traditional Delivery Options Customers’ changing needs have driven the popularity of mail orders, though that method has its own limitations. Even under ideal conditions, mail orders can take days to arrive, and patients often need their prescriptions right away. Not to mention changes at the post office have slowed delivery times over the past year, increasing the risk for patients with chronic conditions who need medication delivered reliably and without interruption. Some pharmacies have invested in their own delivery processes, using their own vehicles and staff, or have hired medical couriers to make one-off deliveries. Yet those approaches can end up costing more in the long run and come with their own limitations: a limited geographical coverage zone,


high overhead costs and caps on daily deliveries, just to name a few.

The Crowdsourcing Model The limitations of traditional shipping solutions are driving some pharmacies to explore crowdsourced delivery. Crowdsourced providers tap into an on-demand network of independent drivers for same-day, scheduled and urgent delivery. Not only does crowdsourced delivery have broad reach, including in smaller cities and rural areas, the best providers for pharmacies offer backgroundchecked HIPAA-compliant drivers. While pharmacies typically have a steady flow of recurring prescriptions whose delivery can be planned and scheduled well in advance, the on-demand flexibility of crowdsourcing also gives pharmacies the capacity to deliver unexpected orders for new prescriptions.

The ScriptDrop Experience One company that’s been using crowdsourcing successfully is ScriptDrop, a medication access company that connects pharmacies to a network of trained delivery partners. The company initially partnered with various platforms that covered large metropolitan areas but needed a solution that guaranteed the same level of reliability in smaller cities and towns. ScriptDrop found its solution in crowdsourced delivery provider Roadie. Because on-demand drivers live all around the country they were able to reach ScriptDrop’s customers across the nation. In 2020, ScriptDrop used crowdsourced delivery for more than 8,500 deliveries in areas that other delivery solutions weren’t capable of covering. In turn, ScriptDrop was able to make its delivery prices more competitive. Pharmacies need an affordable HIPAA-compliant delivery solution that can effectively reach customers nationwide. By tapping into an on-demand, scalable network of thousands of potential drivers, pharmacies can get medications to customers’ doors anywhere in the country — quickly, securely and right away. dsn


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Ready for Anything Adapting specialty drug distribution to address the challenges of COVID-19 By Pavlos Pavlidis

A Pavlos Pavlidis, vice president and COO, Biologics by McKesson

s an independent specialty pharmacy, Biologics by McKesson prides itself on having a mail-order delivery system that meets patients where they are. Yet like many companies, the COVID19 pandemic was the ultimate pressure test for our operations, highlighting the strengths of our model and quickly showing where we needed to adapt to improve moving forward. It was a challenge that pushed us to think creatively and flexibly about meeting patients’ needs without circumventing quality or compliance. While the country is certainly not out of the woods in terms of COVID-19, I expect the updates we’ve made will remain in place and complement our services well into the future. Here’s a look at how we built upon our model to create one that’s better equipped to evolve with the unique challenges of this time.

Invest in Getting it Right For patients who need specialty drugs, including those living with cancer or rare diseases, getting the right therapy at the right time is everything. The pandemic also highlighted the importance of oral medications, especially for patients who might experience challenges or risks by traveling to receive on-site treatments. Before COVID-19, we offered two shipping options: second-day air, arriving at each destination within two days; or overnight, arriving by the end of the day, usually around 8 p.m. Yet as nationwide shutdowns impacted national shipping infrastructures, it became increasingly difficult — and expensive— to reliably deliver products to patients in the manner they had come to expect. What we didn’t do was cut corners. Instead, we scrapped our previous system and moved to a new model where we shipped everything — from oncology prescriptions to supplemental therapies — overnight to patients, with guaranteed delivery by 10:30 a.m. the next morning. This wasn’t the easiest decision, as the change resulted in new challenges, but it signaled to patients that we were doing everything in our


power to get them the right product at the right time. The result has been so positive that we have no plans to switch back.

Enlist Expert Experience COVID-19’s impact on the national distribution landscape was immediate as the influx of online consumer orders put more strain on mail systems and couriers while making it difficult to anticipate delivery issues or resolve them in real time. As a nimble, highly focused specialty pharmacy, we invest in resources that allow us to ship medications in ways that guarantee quality and safety. This means working with certified vendors that provide temperature mapping and refrigeration according to variances by zones and zip codes and tracking shipments to ensure they are delivered as expected — and intervening whenever necessary. We recognize that a one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work for patients who depend on specialty pharmacies — especially amid a pandemic — so we take the extra step to invest in partnerships that will help us meet their needs every time.

Ground Your Operations in Purpose For people working in health care, the past year reminded us of the impact our work can have. I became a pharmacist to change lives. Having grown up around older people, I know that the drugs we deliver can be the difference in whether a patient gets out of bed each day, and the pandemic raised those stakes even higher. As patients with compromised immune systems faced an increased risk of severe illness from the virus that causes COVID-19, we had to adapt without a blueprint. More than ever, we had to ensure patient access to therapies while delivering personalized clinical care to help them understand how to take their medication, manage potential side effects and achieve the best outcomes possible. As our processes shifted, being cost-effective was never as critical as providing uninterrupted clinical counseling and reassurance to patients. Taking the extra time and investing in resources to impact their care is always worth the effort. dsn


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Portable Power Pain Care Labs’s medical devices provide drug-free pain relief


rost & Sullivan named Pain Care Labs the “Industry Leader in Noninvasive Pain Relief.” Dr. Amy Baxter, CEO and chief medical officer, researches the drug-free mechanical stimulation platform powering its product lines. In a conversation with Drug Store News, Baxter shared how its multimodal approach can empower retail customers to gain power over their pain, and how the company’s products help. Drug Store News: Tell us about Pain Care Labs and its products. Amy Baxter: With a frequency of vibration that overrides pain, our portable medical devices, Buzzy and VibraCool, comfortably give people hospital-grade power over pain at home. Our palm-sized mechanical stimulation platform combines ice and movement to intensely block pain on contact, like rubbing a bumped elbow or running a burn under water. It’s a pretty amazing breakthrough. Buzzy has blocked pain for 37 million needle procedures. With 1 in 4 adults and more than 63% of teens struggling with needle fear, Buzzy is the only solution proven to address needle pain, fear and even fainting. DSN: How can mass retailers benefit from these products? AB: Our products can bring patients in for comfortable vaccinations, provide solutions for noncompliant pharmacy patients and offer new popular drug-free pain relief. Pharmacists let patients hold a Healthcare Buzzy to administer vaccinations, creating a comfort vaccination experience. Patients can purchase personal Buzzy units for home injections, glucose finger sticks or lab draws. Just place Buzzy close to the injection site, and ice and M-stim sensations control needle pain. One study found 44% who got a flu shot with Buzzy would choose that pharmacy the next year. For patients looking for drug-free pain


needle-needing diagnosis but long-standing fear. For VibraCool, we advise that retailers place the product in the hot-cold therapy section. More consumers are seeking Buzzy out, so soon it could go in the cold therapy section as well. DSN: What is Pain Care Labs doing to help sell product through? AB: We are offering Comfort Immunization Techniques training on Buzzy with free Window Clings and Distraction Posters. For VibraCool, our introductory sample case quantities let patients try models for plantar fasciitis, hip and neck pain, knee pain or tennis elbow so you can figure out your demographics and need. Dr. Amy Baxter, CEO and chief medical officer, Pain Care Labs

“Our palm-sized mechanical stimulation platform combines ice and movement to intensely block pain on contact.” relief for joints or muscles, VibraCool is safe with pacemakers, easy to use, reusable and portable. A crossover trial found VibraCool was two times to 3.4 times more effective than TENS units — and all patients preferred VibraCool. DSN: What does the retailer need to do to maximize sales from the category in terms of merchandising and marketing? AB: Ideally, retailers keep Buzzy near the pharmacy counter to offer to patients who miss doses of injectables, or have a new

DSN: How do you educate the retailer about your products and what do they need to do to educate their shoppers? AB: Buzzy uses a specific frequency that cancels the pain signal on contact. Patients can enhance the pain relief at home with unique ice packs. For vaccinations, pharmacists can place our sign instructing patients on Buzzy use near the vaccination station, and offer one or two units next to the location. Patients who want to use Buzzy hold it themselves and can even be instructed to disinfect the units after use. The training for comfort vaccination, distraction, fainting prevention and how Buzzy works is a 15-minute video or selfpaced CME lecture. DSN: Tell us about the future. AB: Pain Care Labs is currently NIH funded to test this mechanical stimulation platform for low back pain. A lot is going to be going on at our company in the future. In fact, in five years, we fully expect our technology to have special packaging and use for cramps, breastfeeding, sports and even kids to teach them to reach for bugs, not drugs for pain. dsn


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6/3/21 10:15 AM


Creating Solutions OmniSYS is helping empower retail pharmacies as providers of care


echnology company OmniSYS is helping retail pharmacists provide convenient, affordable and high-quality care to their communities. John King, the company’s CEO, is focused on achieving the company’s mission of improving the health of health care. Drug Store News spoke with King about how the pandemic has affected the practice of pharmacy and how technology can help the industry keep pace with an ever-changing environment.

Drug Store News: COVID-19 has had a huge impact in the changing role of the pharmacists. How do you see this playing out in the near future? John King: COVID-19 created a surge in demand for clinical and preventative care, and exposed the need for additional providers and more access points to care. And as with public health crises of the past, the government turned to community pharmacies to solve this challenge during COVID-19 as well. But this time, in addition to expanding access to immunizations, the government introduced a new and scalable service when it authorized point-of-care testing (POCT). Patients are now visiting their local pharmacies in record numbers, and regularly interacting with pharmacists for services beyond medication dispensing and even immunizations. This represents a major turning point in the evolution towards the pharmacist as a provider of clinical care. Based on the work we’re doing with pharmacies and payers across the country, we are forecasting significant growth in clinical services as more pharmacies look to expand their business. DSN: What do the pharmacists and retail executives need to do to stay ahead of the curve and remain competitive? JK: To remain competitive, it is essential


business model. Some key elements to consider include capabilities to support patient engagement beyond just the prescription, a longitudinal health record that enables clinical workflow, and a revenue cycle platform that manages the complexities surrounding medical billing and reimbursement.

John King, CEO, OmniSYS

that organizations develop a clear strategy regarding the ‘pharmacist as a provider’ thesis. Within that strategy, there are a few key considerations. Organizations will need to assess the regulatory landscape and align the scope of approved services with payer coverage. Then of course they will need to address credentialing, training and enrollment for all their pharmacists who will be operating as providers of medical services. For chain pharmacies operating in multiple markets, this can be a very complex and timeconsuming process, which will need to be maintained on an ongoing basis. Finally, it’s important to develop a technology road map and begin making investments in the infrastructure you’ll need to support the clinical services

DSN: How can OmniSYS help? JK: OmniSYS can help pharmacies navigate the changing landscape and provide technology solutions that enable their clinical services business. Through our breadth of experience and deep working knowledge of medical benefit plans, we can assist pharmacies in developing their go-tomarket strategies and help them implement their technology road map. DSN: What about the future? What is the pharmacists’ role and what is OmniSYS’ role? JK: COVID-19 accelerated a muchanticipated problem: What happens when there is an imbalance between demand and access to care. And this is a problem that’s not going away any time soon. In less than a decade, there will be a staggering 27 million new Medicare beneficiaries. One in three will have diabetes or prediabetes. And nearly half will have multiple chronic conditions. Take a minute to let that sink in. The next pervasive need for accessible care is just around the corner. The pharmacist of the future will address these challenges and become the preferred provider for low acuity and preventative care. OmniSYS is passionate about improving the health of health care by enabling community pharmacists as providers of care. We’re here to help organizations stay ahead of the evolving scope of pharmacy practice by supporting them with the right solutions to positively impact health outcomes for their patients. dsn


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6/3/21 10:16 AM


Building Brand Momentum Focus Consumer Healthcare’s experienced team and targeted marketing help showcase its portfolio of revived brands BY SETH MENDELSON


fficials at Focus Consumer Healthcare are extremely confident that they have the secret to successfully nursing ailing brands back to health, knowing that these products just need some tender loving care to start gaining traction on retail shelves. Started seven years ago, Chattanooga, Tenn.-based Focus Consumer Healthcare is already making a major dent in the consumer packaged goods industry and creating a lot of buzz in a number of health and beauty care segments. The company, with just nine full-time employees and annual sales reaching around $40 million, offers 30 SKUs across 10 brands. Those include some wellknown brands like Garlique, Herpecin and Pamprin, as well as more specialized lines like Ultra Swim, Sun In, Benzodent and Zapzyt. “Our formula is pretty simple,” said Kevin Menzel, the managing director and COO of the company since its formation. “We acquire brands that have been neglected by larger companies for whatever reason and nurse them back to health with a lot of TLC. The key is it is all about advertising and getting the right consumer group for each product to realize that these products are available to them.” In fact, Menzel is very big on creating what he calls “brand momentum” for each of the company’s product lines. With the help of its broker, The Emerson Group, Focus is able to show its retail partners the benefits of each product and the opportunity for greater sales and profits from brands and categories that had not previously performed well. “We utilized The Emerson Group to close distribution gaps and help get us back on retail shelves,” he said. “We really could not have done this without them. Emerson allows us to grow without scaling up on the number of employees we have.” Yet, in the end, it is all about eyeballs — as in a lot of consumer eyeballs — that is making the biggest difference for the company. Advertising products through the appropriate media and to the right audience is the fuel behind the company’s rapid growth over the last few years and, according to Menzel, the key to future success. “The secret is a blend, actually. First, we have the right and talented team at Focus who can hustle and look for every opportunity for marketing a unique product,” he said. “Then, we develop consumer insights to make sure there is a market for these products. Finally, and most importantly, we have a well-developed plan for buying media at a very efficient rate that will create awareness and give each of our products a great lift in terms of sales at retail outlets.” Many mass retailers said they hope that more suppliers take this


approach. With competition increasing from other brick-andmortar merchants, as well as online companies, many retailers said that they need suppliers to increase their marketing and to be a lot smarter about who they are targeting their products to. This is no easy task for any company. It takes a lot of work to determine where the best fit is for each brand and what percentage of sales should be used for advertising. For example, Focus does most of its advertising for the top-selling Garlique garlic supplement brand, which has a heavy usage among those age 55 years old and older, on TV, with some digital ads thrown in. Menstrual pain relief product Pamprin, with a younger and female audience, and Sun In hair lightener sprays, are mostly advertised online, while Blue Star topical anti-itch ointment ads reach consumers through the radio. “It all depends on the brand and the audience,” Menzel said. “We go with each brand to the place where we think we can be more efficient reaching the core demographic.” After 16 years at Sanofi/Chattem in multiple roles, Menzel founded Focus with a well-known Chattanooga entrepreneur and former Chattem executives he had worked with, all who now serve as board members and advisors. Chattem used a similar marketing and advertising approach to Focus, and it was there that Menzel


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learned that using efficient and effective advertising can do wonders for a brand, even a downtrodden one that is looking to rebound. While Menzel said that acquisitions are essential to future growth, line extensions are also playing a larger role in the company’s fortunes. For example, he said that the Garlique brand was expanded to include a healthy blood pressure item that was released into Walmart and Rite Aid, and is now expanding into CVS, Walgreens and some food chains. “If you look at the population, there are a lot of folks out there wanting help to maintain healthy blood pressure,” he said. “This product will make the size of our original Garlique item without cannibalizing the base.” The company is planning to introduce a Garlique Healthy Immune support product soon, first launching at Walmart and Rite Aid, as well as a line extension of Herpecin-L. “We are very bullish on these products and think they will create a lot of excitement in the marketplace,” Menzel said. With investor money, Focus got its first break in December 2016 when it acquired Zapzyt, an acne medication from Waltman Pharmaceutical. Less than a half year later, the company acquired the well-known and respected Blue Star ointment brand, quickly followed by Pamprin, Garlique, Sun In, Ultra Swim, Premsyn, Benzodent and Herpecin-L. “It all started happening very fast,” Menzel said. “We found brands that we could work with and would provide value to both the retailer and the consumer. The end result is that everyone is happy with the direction of our company. We are honest with our retail partners and do what we say we are going to do. I think they appreciate that.” The future will be more of the same, he said. Focus is constantly on the lookout for brands that will add to its portfolio and may need a little bit of a push to rebound to past performance. “We think that with our strategy, we can double or triple the size of our company in a few short years,” Menzel said. “We are running as a super efficient, high growth Chattanooga success story. We intend to keep doing it this way.” dsn


FOCUS CONSUMER HEALTHCARE Founded: 2014 U.S. Headquarters: Chattanooga, Tenn. Categories: Skin care ointment, skin creams, supplements, feminine relief, hair care, cold sore relief and acne products Number of employees: 9 Website: Focusconsumerhealthcare.com


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6/2/21 10:32 PM


HempFusion Grows Footprint, Capabilities with 2 Acquisitions

DJ Khaled Debuts CBDEnhanced Men’s Grooming Line

HempFusion Wellness has made two acquisitions in as many weeks, growing its product portfolio and retail footprint. In May, the Denver-based company acquired cannabis body care and topical company Apothecanna and acquired Sagely Enterprises, maker of Sagely Naturals, which has mass distribution in more than 14,000 U.S. retailers. With the $15 million Apothecanna acquisition, HempFusion gains significant CBD topical distribution to 1,800 stores — including CVS Pharmacy and 7th Sense — as well as significant market share in the Canadian marketplace via an existing strategic business relationship. Apothecanna also brings the company significant e-commerce revenues, which comprise roughly 50% of Apothecanna’s revenues. With more than $4 million in sales in 2020, the Apothecanna acquisition immediately will be accretive to HempFusion when it closes. The company also brings with it more distribution channels, a robust e-commerce platform and topical product efficiencies with the nearterm opportunity for expansion into ingestible products. Besides the stock-and-cash consideration, Apothecanna is eligible for as much as a $10 million milestone payment if the company can achieve certain revenue targets within 12 months of closing. HempFusion’s acquisition of Sagely Naturals will see the company paying $25 million upfront, including $2 million in cash and $23 million in HempFusion common shares. Sagely Naturals began in 2015 and is the nation’s largest female-founded CBD wellness brand with distribution at CVS Pharmacy, Rite Aid, Albertsons banners, Sprouts Farmers Market, Nordstrom and several independent regional grocers and natural food stores. The brand has 23% market share in the drug channel and 13.8% share in the U.S. multi-outlet channel, according to IRI data. Besides its sales prowess, Sagely Naturals counts among its consumers and celebrity investors Cameron Diaz, Zoe Saldana and Molly Sims. Sagely Naturals, which had $4.2 million in revenue in 2020, employs a C-suite HempFusion said would bring expertise in marketing, innovation and relationships to the company. HempFusion also said it has potential to expand further into ingestibles, and its suite of complementary products offers significant cross-platform opportunities in their respective distribution channels. “Upon closing, the acquisition of Sagely Naturals immediately adds significant value to shareholders. By more than tripling our 2020 revenue (when combined with the closing of Apothecanna), expanding to over 15,000 stores, expanding our distribution strategy to six channels, combining some of the top executive talent in the industry, and bringing together over 75 incredible and best-selling SKUs, HempFusion is in its strongest position to date,” said Jason Mitchell, co-founder and CEO.

DJ Khaled is expanding his business horizons. The music mogul has partnered with Endexx to create Blesswell, a line of CBD-infused men’s grooming products that the company said is meant to offer an essential toolkit for men’s self-care needs. “Aside from love and family, health and wellness are our greatest blessings. That’s the key,” DJ Khaled said. “Reflecting on my quest to a better mind and body, I found my daily habits to have the most impact on my overall outlook of life. I created Blesswell to provide men with an at-home CBD grooming solution that allows them to put their game face on, build their confidence and get their mind in the right zone.” The Blesswell line includes: • Blue Charcoal Face Mask, a pore-reducing mask that is naturally scented with lavender and mint. Designed for all skin types, the product retails for $23; • Conditioning Beard Oil, a nongreasy blend that combines watermelon seed and argan oil to soften and condition beards, and promote growth while eliminating irritation. It retails for $26; • Daily Moisturizer, a lightweight cream formulated with hyaluronic acid, witch hazel and chamomile to soothe dry skin, keep oiliness in check and tone the appearance of pores. It retails for $20; • Facial Cleaning Scrub, a deep-cleaning formula with calendula and willowbark; • Lathering Body Wash, made with a combination of arnica and green tea to soothe tired muscles while rejuvenating and conditioning skin. It retails for $15; and • Ultimate Shave Cream, a non-lathering shave cream with cloudberry and shea butter to offer a closer, nonirritating shave. It retails for $19. All products are infused with 300 mg of CBD. “We are elated to be partnering with the multi-hyphenate powerhouse that is DJ Khaled,” said Todd Davis, CEO of Endexx. ”Creating these unique premium products with someone of his caliber has been monumental for the Endexx Corporation brand. His passion for the category started with his personal and professional journey in the wellness realm, and he has since become someone people look up to for personal care advice and expertise.” The brand noted that Blesswell products are third-party tested, and each product includes traceable lot codes that allow shoppers to view product certificates of analysis.



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Charlotte’s Web Emphasizes Convenience, Retailer Education As vaccination rates rise and consumers return to brickand-mortar stores, Charlotte’s Web is rolling out new offerings to boost access to CBD and educate consumers and retail staff. The Boulder, Colo.-based company is debuting a first-to-market in-store kiosk that doubles as an educational resource, alongside a virtual Learning Lab for retail employees and managers. “Charlotte’s Web is relentless in our commitment to hemp CBD access and education for everyone, which these innovations ingeniously and conveniently provide,” said Deanie Elsner, president and CEO of Charlotte’s Web. “We will continue to develop innovative ways to support our retail partners as they welcome back shoppers to their stores.” The Limelight Truyu self-service kiosks feature 50-inch video screens, allowing for constant access to CBD products and educational content. Charlotte’s Web said it has approved more than 30 of its namesake brand’s CBD products, all of which come with certificates of analysis and have undergone rigorous testing. Charlotte’s Web said its retailer Learning Lab offers an online education platform for retail employees, buyers and managers aimed at increasing their knowledge of CBD; the endocannabinoid system; and CBD’s science, safety and quality standards. Each of the five learning modules offers a certificate of completion and an opportunity for rewards. “We believe the education provided in our Learning Lab helps retail staff to know the facts and the science of hemp CBD; in so doing, in-store shoppers can make more informed decisions for their wellness needs,” said Jen Palmer, director of education at Charlotte’s Web.


Humble Brings Active-Focused CBD Line to Market Humble Specialty Products, the maker of Humble Hemp Wraps, is expanding its offerings with a new line designed to offer everyday essentials for on-the-go consumers. The company’s new Humble CBD line features various products marketed toward active consumers. “We are excited to introduce our products to surfers, skaters, snowboard enthusiasts and beyond as an option to incorporate into their wellness regimens,” said Daniel Clark, CEO of Humble, based in Thousand Oaks, Calif. “Now more than ever, people are embracing energetic routines that drive them to push further each day. We know sustaining a dynamic life requires dynamic solutions, which is why Humble CBD products are designed to boost focus and help relaxation and recovery.” The Humble CBD line includes five product formats created to make it easy for busy consumers to choose the CBD delivery method that works best for them: • The Humble CBD Balm includes 1,000 mg of CBD in a 1.67-oz. roll-on; • The Humble CBD Chewable features 750 mg of CBD in a 30-count container or 100 mg in a 10-count container in assorted flavors; • The Dropper offers three strengths of CBD — 1,000, 1,500 and 2,000 mg — in a 60-ml dropper in eight flavors; • The Softgel provides 900 mg of CBD in a 30-count bottle or 100 mg in a 10-count pack; and • The Twist, six single-serve oil drops with 33 mg of CBD per serving, is sold in four flavors. “Whether you prefer a topical, a chewable or a single-serving dropper, Humble CBD is dedicated to helping you find the perfect product to fit your needs,” Clark said. The products, which have rolled out online and at select retailers, are lab tested, gluten-free and made from U.S.-grown industrial hemp.


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The masks are coming off, consumers are going

back to stores and optimism about a recovery are everywhere. And, fortunately, it appears that the social conversations, begun during the early months of the pandemic, are continuing. As many know, last year the COVID-19 pandemic and the racial justice protests — taking place amid larger conversations about better meeting the needs of multicultural consumers — affected everything, including how people shop for their health and beauty care products. On the pandemic side, some of the questions had easy answers: DIY hair care at home, skin products to help relieve mask-related rashes or breakouts, and a makeup routine for video calls. The racial issues were much more complicated, but




one positive result was increased awareness of minority-owned businesses, including a number of beauty brands. Now, it appears that while the near future will see fewer Zoom meetings, the interest in multicultural and minority-owned brands will continue and, hopefully, bring more consumers into mass retail outlets and lead to not only more sales and profits for merchants but a feeling of inclusion for all shoppers. And, many in the industry said they hope retailers will pay attention to this growing trend. While some mass retailers have emphasized multicultural products for decades, others have paid little attention to the category, saying that their store demographics did not match. Now, with awareness growing and consumers with greater buying power demanding more



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and more products specific to their needs, many said that it is time for everyone to jump on the bandwagon in this category. According to NielsenIQ, multicultural shoppers are driving growth in beauty sales in the United States. In 2020, while total U.S. shoppers increased spending on personal care by 3.5%, spending on personal care by Black shoppers increased 5.4%. Much of that increase was in hair care, as 41% of Black women said they had to make drastic changes to their hair styling and maintenance regimens when salons closed last year. These consumers discovered a new world of products made specifically for them at retail stores, and 39% of Black consumers said they expect to purchase more products from Black-owned brands. These minority-owned brands are often the products of entrepreneurs who saw an unfilled need in the market that affected them personally. Whether they are products for textured hair, skin items that contain ingredients from Africa or the hottest looks from Korea, many of these minority-owned brands are gaining acceptance and shelf space.

Natural Hair

When Mahisha Dellinger launched Curls in 2002, she was frustrated with the lack of products for natural, curly hair. Dellinger collaborated with cosmetic and wellness experts to develop a natural hair care line for all ages and for all textured hair needs. She soon found that funding would be a challenge. “Nineteen years ago, I couldn’t get a small business loan, even though I had exceptional personal credit and my business plan was sustainable,” she said. Dellinger grew the brand by tapping into her own savings and small local banks for early funding. Over the years, retailers recognized the need for textured hair products, corporations


made pledges related to diversity and minority-owned brands gained support from their communities and from larger partners. “I think it’s cachet to be a Black-owned business and to align with Black-owned businesses,” she said. “I think it’s gotten a little bit easier.” In March, the Dallas-based brand announced a partnership with the hair care products, tools and accessories company Beauty By Imagination to accelerate Curls’ next phase of growth. Curls will soon launch a product line with sea moss, which Dellinger said has amazing benefits for skin and hair. Also coming soon is the Hair Under There collection, which contains nutrients for hair under braids, extensions or a wig. Psyche Terry, founder of UI Global Brands, launched Urban Hydration when she needed a solution for dry skin and hair. Today, the Urban Hydration brand of natural hair, bath and body products are sold in 10,000 retail doors nationwide. “Our products were clean long before ‘clean beauty’ was a trend, and our packaging has been sustainable and good for the environment since day one,” Terry said. “We make it very easy for our customers to see right away what is in our products, what the packaging is made of and the ingredients we leave out of the entire collection.” Recently, the brand relaunched a fan favorite, the Jamaican Castor Oil collection. It had planned to move away from this collection and focus more on styling products, but when Urban Hydration took the Shampoo & Detangler, Co-Wash & Conditioner, and Style, Twist & Curl Cream off shelves, customers asked for the products. The brand brought them back and relaunched with new updated packaging. In addition to its messaging about clean, sustainable beauty, Urban Hydration has a mission of saving the planet through


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clean beauty, and donates clean drinking water through its Giving Well Campaign with WATERisLIFE.

Social Responsibility Resonates

Another factor driving sales growth is consumers wanting to support minority-owned brands. According to NPD Group, Black-owned brands represented 4% of sales in 2020 in prestige makeup and declined at a greater rate than total market until the peak months of the Black Lives Matter movement in May, June and July. During that time, Black-founded brands performed 1.5 to four times better than the rest of the market. While consumers were supporting minority-owned businesses, manufacturers were supporting various initiatives. Olympia, Wash.-based Alaffia uses ingredients indigenous to Togo, West Africa in its skin care and hair care products. The company uses a social enterprise model and funds projects with the goal of alleviating poverty in West Africa. “As a social enterprise, we have a lot of impact projects in West Africa,” said Lanaia Edwards, vice president of global marketing. The efforts support maternal health care, education, bicycles so girls can ride to school, eyeglasses and other programs to empower women. The brand was founded in 2004 by Olowo-n’djo Tchala, who is from Togo, and Prairie Rose Hyde, who was a Peace Corps volunteer when they met in Togo. The couple moved to Washington and launched Alaffia, which handcrafts its clean and plant-based collections with unrefined shea butter, African black soap, coconut oil, neem extract, and baobab and moringa oils from the women-led Alaffia Village Co-op. The products, which are available at Whole Foods Market and mass retailers, had strong sales during the pandemic. People were doing more scalp care at home, Edwards said,


and the brand also saw an uptick in hand soap sales, such as Authentic African Black Soap. “We were in the right business at the right time,” she said. “It really panned out well for us.” New products include Authentic African Hair Care Scalp Care Tea Tree Mint, Authentic African Haircare Extra Moisture Honey Amber and the Alaffia Beautiful Curls collection. “The biggest challenge now is how to maintain and scale the business and take it to the next level,” Edwards said.

Ingredients Matter

For some entrepreneurs, coming up with innovative products was the least of all the barriers to success. “As a minority-owned brand, my biggest challenge has been to get an equal amount of brand awareness as other nonminority brands,” said Janell Stephens, CEO and founder of Macon, Ga.-based Camille Rose. Stephens started the company in 2011, when she mixed food-grade ingredients in her kitchen to develop a solution for her childrens’ eczema. Today, the skin care and natural hair products company makes items that feature blue green algae, mango butter, almond extracts, honey, coconut water and more. Among the newest product lines is the Honey Collection. Camille Rose is growing in all its retailers, as well as overseas. Some stores support the brand by showing the products on the retailers’ social media pages. “We have seen a change in the right direction, which is a positive when doing business with our partners,” Stephens said. “We are also constantly creating new products in our culinary beauty lab, and we’re excited to share them with everyone.” Ingredients also matter in sunscreen. Shontay Lundy, creator and founder of Los Angeles-based Black Girl Sunscreen, did not like the available options of sun protection for women of color.


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In 2016, she set out to develop a sunscreen that dries clear and that does not contain parabens or other harmful ingredients. “As a woman of the sun with a darker complexion, healthy skin has always been a priority for me, and I knew that there had to be a solution to the lack of options,” Lundy said. The solution would not leave white residue on the skin and would make women of color “feel great and look great in the sun.” Black Girl Sunscreen, which does not contain oxybenzone or octinoxate, is cruelty free, fragrance free and vegan. It is also reef safe, which means it does not contain chemicals that have been connected to coral reef deterioration. There is also BGS Kids, which, like the original product, features jojoba, avocado and other ingredients. The brand recently launched Make It Matte SPF 45 just in time for summer. “We are looking forward to this upcoming season as things are slowly starting to open back up and people are getting more comfortable with traveling again,” Lundy said. “You will also find us continuing to engage with our followers on social media and ensuring that Black Girl Sunscreen has a voice when conversations about sunscreen protection occur.”

Korean Beauty

According to Mintel, almost half (47%) of beauty consumers said they have looked for or bought from brands with diversity or inclusivity in the last year, and 24% have shopped for beauty brands that are minority owned. Also, 68% of Americans who said they would like to see diversity in beauty advertisements said they feel this way because it “reflects real life.” Real life, as measured by the U.S. Census Bureau, has become more diverse. From 2000 to 2019, the total resident population increased 16.3% in the United States. The Asian population grew at a rate of 82.2%, and the Black or African-American population grew by 23.1%. One of the hottest trends right now is Korean beauty, which uses natural ingredients and involves extensive regimens that consist of multiple cleaning steps, toners, essences, serums, ampoules and more. Peach & Lily offers its own brand as well as Peach Slices and other brands that the company curates from Korea and Japan. “We were one of the pioneers of Korean beauty,” said Alicia Yoon, founder and CEO of New York City-based Peach & Lily. Among the newest products is a serum veil, which has ingredients that sink into the skin and other ingredients that form a protective layer on the skin. Recent innovations include sustainable packaging like aluminum and glass, Yoon said. Other innovations include products that help with hydration and micro niche products, such as serums and ampoules that address targeted skin priorities. “There are so many different innovations coming out of Korea, in an array of categories,” Yoon said.


The Future

Shopper demographics, specifically the diversity of Gen Z, will drive continued growth in the multicultural beauty category. “They have higher expectations of how brands and products, including those in the beauty category, should serve them,” said Kelly Vanasse, chief communications officer for Procter & Gamble beauty and grooming. “They are also information seekers and digital natives, so shopping for them is a mix of education, entertainment and of course, purpose. This creates a lot of opportunity to serve them through meaningful engagement, no matter what or where their shopping touchpoint is.” Vanasse added that beauty, like other categories, benefitted from the racial equality movement. “Shoppers no longer look just for quality products, they expect the brands behind those products to embrace equality, inclusivity and diversity in every way,” she said. For its part P&G beauty, through its Responsible Beauty platform, assesses its brands to ensure that each is connecting with diverse consumers, from products to marketing campaigns to the diversity of the researchers and marketers. To meet consumer needs in hair care, the company offers Pantene’s Gold Series collection, Head & Shoulders Royal Oils, and My Black is Beautiful, a new brand inspired by P&G’s My Black is Beautiful community platform. The product ranges in each of these brands are created by Black scientists and researchers, and are designed to meet the unique needs of natural hair. In skin care, Olay Whips SPF is a lighter, more sheer formula offering the same benefits as a traditional moisturizer. “It’s been inspiring to see multicultural beauty flourish, especially in the past year,” Vanasse said. “We are excited for that growth to continue.” dsn


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Trusting The Gut As consumers grow more aware of the link between gut health and their overall health, digestive aids are becoming part of their daily routine By Carol Radice


iven that stress, poor eating habits, aging and lifestyle changes are the leading causes of mild to moderate gastrointestinal issues, it is no wonder consumers are turning to over-the-counter products in record numbers these days. In the past, digestive troubles were mainly linked to mature adults due to their aging gastrointestinal tract and side effects experienced from medications. Now, the


highest self-reported incidence is mainly among millennials between the ages of 25 and 42 years old. More than three-quarters of these consumers said they experience digestive issues anywhere from daily to three times a week. Medical professionals said considering the events of the past year they are not surprised that the number of people dealing with digestive issues is on the rise. Studies have found that nearly a third of consumers

end up with gastrointestinal issues after dealing with stressful situations. Gender plays a role as well, with women reporting having significantly higher amounts of digestive issues, especially those between the ages of 18 and 34 years old. Children are also prone to experiencing digestive concerns, and studies show gas, indigestion and upset stomach are among the leading conditions kids complain about the most. Antacids still are one of the primary


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products consumers turn to when heartburn strikes, but increasingly, consumers are turning to probiotic and prebiotic products to help relieve their digestive woes. Some are increasing their fiber intake via supplements and drinks, while others look to digestive enzymes for relief. Mordor Intelligence pegged the U.S. digestive aid market size at $2.9 billion in 2020, projecting annual growth of 6.9% through 2026.

Changing Market While digestive issues are nothing new, Barbara Apps, digestive line product manager at Boiron, based in Newtown Square, Pa., said the stress brought about by the pandemic has compounded consumers’ digestive problems in the past year. Apps said prior to the pandemic, most Americans were already experiencing some level of digestive discomfort on a regular basis, but the pandemic took things to a level previously not seen. “Consumers are experiencing a new change in their daily routines and coping with stress by reaching for comfort food, which tends to be high in fat and sugar,” Apps said. “Putting on weight, as many of us have during the quarantine, is a contributing factor to the rise in digestive issues being seen.”


Jason Mitchell, CEO of Topeka, Kan.based Probulin, said that anytime there is a phenomenon that creates a concern for immune health, consumers often look to supplemental tools to support their body and even their immune system. Mitchell said sales of vitamin C, elderberry and probiotics are among the top choices in the arsenal. Consumers are beginning to view probiotics as one of the essential everyday supplements they should take to support and maintain digestive and immune function, he said. That behavior is a departure from the past when most people who took probiotics did so only when their digestive system was out of balance. “Time will tell if the past year alters how people use probiotics in the future and if these events created a desire to be more consistent about taking daily immune support,” Mitchell said. With more people over consuming food and beverages, digestive aids are in higher demand than usual, said Louis Machin, managing director at Lifelab Health located in Coconut Creek, Fla. “At the same time, we are seeing interest in organic products increasing as consumers seek out healthier alternatives that are free of artificial colors, dyes and ingredients,” he said. “This, combined with supply chain challenges, has

opened the door for lesser-known brands to be introduced to consumers.” Andrea Burton, technical advisor at ADM Protexin in Doral, Fla., said the pandemic has served as a catalyst in helping consumers be more aware of the connection between their baseline health and the overall impact of the virus. Burton anticipated digestive health will continue to be a priority for consumers beyond the pandemic as more information becomes available linking gut health to one’s overall physical and mental well-being. “Given the connection between gut health and immunity, there is an expectation that post-COVID consumers will turn their attention to preventative measures they can take to improve their gut health,” Burton said. As new evidence comes to light on the correlation between the balance of bacteria in the gut and mental health conditions, interest in live bacteria supplements is expected to rise even more. ADM Protexin’s Bio-Kult Advanced was recently used in an Oxford study examining low mood. The double-blind placebo-controlled trial showed a 20% improvement in mood for those in the placebo group versus a 50% improvement in mood in those taking BioKult. The probiotic group also reported a 50% improvement in their concentration.


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Purchasing Habits are Changing Officials at Boiron took a close-up look at the digestive aid category to examine the buying habits of consumers and uncovered some interesting results.

Studies examining if live bacteria supplements can improve overall symptom severity in IBS patients also are underway. Along with digestive aides, immune support supplements have begun receiving attention as of late. As people are starting to travel and attend large events again, they are looking to provide their bodies with the essential vitamins it needs to have a strong immune response. According to Mike Frink, vice president of business development at Castle Rock, Colo.-based APAX USA, wellness shots are hot right now. The company currently markets the FeelGood Superfoods brand. “Consumers are not interested in another pill or capsule to take, and shots are a convenient way to add more nutrients to your diet. We are seeing many shoppers pick up wellness shots at the checkout counter because they can be enjoyed immediately for an instant, healthy boost,” Frink said. It is clear that a new shift in buying habits is emerging as consumers’ mindset regarding health care moves from being reactive to proactive, said Chuck Tacl, senior vice president of sales and business development at Mason Vitamins in Miami Lakes, Fla. Tacl said that as consumers continue to be educated about the benefits of preventative care, they are turning to dietary


supplements, as well as food and beverages, to help achieve this. He said product forms such as gummies, stick packs and effervescent products are growing the fastest as consumers focus on addressing multiple aspects of their health, including digestion, immunity, sleep and mental health. “Consumers’ mentality today regarding their health and wellness is all about prevention,” Tacl said.

Not Just for Adults Digestive products often target the needs of adult consumers, but increasingly the market for children-specific remedies has been expanding. Sara Hilliard, senior marketing director of Infirst Healthcare in Westport, Conn., said most products that address digestive symptoms are designed for either adults or infants, leaving a gap in pediatric digestive health care for kids between the ages of 2 to 11 years old. The company created its Mylicon product line to address this gap. “The few children’s stomach remedies that have been on the market are limited to antacids and do not address the discomfort caused by gas and bloating. Many of these options are not all-in-one/multi-ingredient solutions,” Hilliard said. For infants, probiotics have become

Here are some of their top findings: 1. In years past, consumers often waited to purchase digestive products until the issue cropped up; 2. With COVID and the hesitancy to come into stores, consumers began leaning toward stocking up, so a solution is there when they need it; 3. Over-the-counter medications like homeopathic medicines were among the top ways respondents actively managed their digestive health; 4. Millennials prefer to purchase overthe-counter medicines featuring natural ingredients; 5. They are also less likely to give up eating foods that they know may cause digestive discomfort; 6. The top factors influencing the purchase of digestive products include effectiveness, fast acting and safety. For a millennial, natural ingredients replace safety in their top three; 7. Millennials are less brand loyal and are willing to try new brands; 8. Consumers want products that are convenient to take and prefer delivery forms that are smaller in size and easier to take; 9. They want something made with plants or natural substances, particularly colors and flavors, as well as non-GMO and organic ingredients; and 10. The more flavors offered the better chance consumers will buy the product, especially if it features such on-trend flavors as tropical, coconut or mango. —Carol Radice


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one of the fastest-growing segments in digestive health. Hilliard said more people are realizing that probiotics can be safely used in all stages of life to promote overall digestive health, support healthy immune function and replenish beneficial bacteria that can be depleted by antibiotic use. Additionally, Hilliard said there is scientific evidence that certain strains of probiotic bacteria can reduce the symptoms of colic.

Trending Now The microbiota gut-brain axis continues to be a particular area of focus at ADM Protexin, with research ongoing into how the composition of the gut’s bacteria may influence mental health, cognition and neurodegeneration. The company recently introduced Bio-Kult Boosted, a combination of 14 strains of bacteria at a minimum concentration of 8 billion live microorganisms per capsule, plus vitamin B12, which contributes to the normal functioning of the immune system, normal psychological function, and the reduction of tiredness and fatigue. Much of the growth in the digestive aid category is coming from consumers who are adding probiotics to their daily routine and experiencing meaningful benefits, said Probulin’s Mitchell. He said this


interest is fueling researchers to explore additional applications and delivery forms. His company, for instance, has developed a topical probiotic extract that supports skin health. “We are nearing the point that a probiotic could someday become an essential nutrient with an assigned RDA value,” Mitchell said. “Research certainly supports the use of probiotics and how important they are.” “Given that 70% of our immune system resides in our gut, our digestive and immune health are intricately linked,” Mitchell said. Probulin’s newest product, Total Care Immune Probiotic, supercharges that connection by adding 100 mg of Eldermune (equivalent to 4,225 mg of whole elderberry) to a specially formulated blend of 10 probiotic strains. It is all encapsulated, with prebiotics and postbiotics, in Probulin’s MAKTrek 3-D probiotic delivery system. FeelGood Superfoods recently introduced its Immune Support Shot. It is the first all-natural, vitamin-enhanced daily fruit and veggie shot designed specifically to improve and support the immune system. Frink said the FeelGood Immune Support Shot differs from other wellness shots because each ingredient was specifically chosen based on evidence-based medicine

and/or support from clinical data. “It is an easy, convenient way to get more fruits and vegetables daily, plus essential vitamins for immune support,” he said. Bausch Health, based in Laval, Quebec, has introduced Envive, a daily probiotic supplement. Each capsule contains 12 billion CFUs of five clinically studied probiotic strains. In a four-week study, Envive was shown to reduce the frequency and severity of digestive issues, including diarrhea, constipation, gas, bloating and discomfort in as little as two weeks when taken daily. The OTC product can be taken with or without food and does not need to be refrigerated. In a company-issued press release, Joseph Papa, chairman and CEO of Bausch Health, said Envive was introduced in response to an unfulfilled need identified in the market. As company officials noted, stress and diet choices, among other causes, can disrupt the healthy balance of good and bad bacteria. When this imbalance occurs, it can affect overall digestive health. Papa cited research which indicated that most Americans experience one or more digestive symptoms each week. “We specifically developed and clinically tested Envive to offer consumers a preservativefree, multi-strain probiotic designed to


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address the most commonly experienced GI symptoms,” Papa said in a statement. Offering digestive supplements in a variety of formats has been the approach of i-Health, makers of Culturelle. The company’s probiotic products come in various formats, including capsules, chewables, powders, liquid drops and gummies. The Cromwell, Conn.-based company also offers children’s and babyspecific probiotics, as well as a women’sspecific product. Company officials said it was important to offer its probiotic products in varying strengths that range from 10 to as much as 20 billion CFUs, so that consumers could best match their needs to the right product strength. Lifelab Health continues to innovate in the digestive space as well. Its most recent introduction, NuSyllium Ultra USDA certified organic fiber, is free of sugar and contains twice the psyllium fiber husk (7 g) per teaspoon as similar products on the market. Avrio Health, based in Stamford, Conn., recently introduced two dietary supplements addressing digestive issues under their Senokot label. Its Laxative Gummies, which are made from the senna plant, now come in a blueberry pomegranate flavor. Avrio


Health also launched Senokot Dietary Supplement Laxative Tea, made from organic senna and chamomile that offers overnight relief of occasional constipation. Boiron’s homeopathic solutions, Acidil and Gasalia, meet a wide range of digestive health needs, including acid indigestion, gas, bloating and upset stomach. The convenient meltaway tablets are unflavored and require no food or water to take. “The tablets easily and discreetly melt in the mouth for digestive symptom relief whenever symptoms strike. They may also be taken before a meal containing a known trigger food,” Apps said. The newest member of the Boiron digestive line, Diaralia, is free of aspirin and can be used for both adults and children over 6 years old. “It is palatable for a child to take and there is no swallowing involved. For travelers, the hygienic packaging of the meltaway tablets in blister sleeves and portability is appealing,” Apps said. Infirst Healthcare recently expanded its Mylicon line with an all-in-one antacid/antigas product for children as well as new probiotic drops for infants. Children’s Mylicon is the only pediatric tummy relief product that contains both calcium carbonate and simethicone for

more complete all-in-one relief for kids. Available in a cherry-flavored chewable tablet, “Children’s Mylicon Tummy Relief for Kids works quickly to relieve upset tummies due to bloating, gas, discomfort from acid indigestion and overeating,” Hilliard said. Infants’ Mylicon Daily Probiotic Drops include one of the most researched strains of probiotics. In addition to promoting overall digestive health and supporting a healthy immune system, recent studies the company said recent studies show that daily supplementation with Infants’ Mylicon Probiotic Drops is effective over time in managing colic and reducing daily average crying/fussiness time by at least 50%. Mason Vitamins supplies more than 19 different digestive health aid supplements in tablets, capsules, gummy and softgel forms. Most recently, the company introduced two digestive products, including Advanced Probiotic XI, which supports digestive and immune health with 30 billion CFUs from 11 probiotic strains. Mason also released an Ultra Plant Based Digestive Enzyme formula, featuring bromelain, lactase, papain and other enzymes that promote healthy, comfortable digestion by breaking down protein, starch and fats. dsn


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Future of the Pharmacy Pharmacy tech and automation experts share their insights on the industry as it emerges from the pandemic By Sandra Levy


ho helps the helpers? As the end of the COVID19 pandemic is beginning to come into view, pharmacists are among the healthcare providers — alongside doctors, nurses and first responders — who have played a critical role in the country’s response. Despite a health crisis of epic proportion, pharmacists met their clinical responsibilities and quickly pivoted to adopt new roles — all while filling a deluge of prescriptions, testing patients for COVID-19 and, ultimately, vaccinating people against the virus. One of the key ways pharmacies met the demands of the new environment was by relying more heavily on automation and technology. Within the pharmacy tech and automation sector, companies have continued to crank out new products and services to enable pharmacies to maintain their focus on patient care. Drug Store News spoke with executives from leading pharmacy technology and automation companies to discuss how they are helping their partners achieve their business goals and how they view the future of the industry. Here’s what they had to say.

Adheris Health

“We can ensure that important resources are making it into the hands of patients, even in chaotic times, to ensure patients have the stability and support they need to stay with their treatment plan.” — Jim Rotsart, executive vice president, client services, Adheris Health Jim Rotsart: Adheris Health evolved to address this new reality by transforming and individualizing patient health-and-wellness engagement for our partners. We collaborated with our partners to provide patients with important information about public services and health information, strengthening the connection between pharmacy and the patient, and enabling pharmacists to have more time to focus on providing quality, individualized patient care.

DSN: Why are your offerings beneficial to your customers and their patients? JR: Our offerings are multimodal, enabling us to deliver critical patient support communications, such as medication education, financial savings and reminders, regardless of how patients prefer to receive their prescription or which intersection of care they are currently navigating. We can ensure that important resources are making it into the hands of patients, even in chaotic times, to ensure patients have the stability and support they need to stay with their treatment plan, which is a challenge even in the best of times.

Jim Rotsart, executive vice president, client services

DSN: How do you view the future of pharmacy? JR: In the near future, we expect a significant

Drug Store News: How are you helping customers/pharmacy retailers as they seek to move forward amid the pandemic and post pandemic?

deepening of technology that connects all market participants. There is a huge untapped potential in the pharmacy sector to close the gap and connect all necessary stakeholders, including prescribers, pharma,


health plans, labs, suppliers, delivery services and the list goes on. Adheris Health’s comprehensive patient management solution helps to close this gap. Our complementary and flexible platform for stakeholders in the intersection of pharmacy, pharmaceutical, medical, payer and other related sectors connects directly to the patient and simplifies the flow.

Bavis Drive-Thru

Charles Brown, president and CEO DSN: How are you helping customers/pharmacy retailers as they seek to move forward amid the pandemic and post pandemic? Charles Bowen: At Bavis Drive-Thru, we are in a continual process of helping pharmacies — established and new — update and expand their drive-thru capabilities. Indeed, the surge in demand shows quite clearly that customers are depending heavily on their local pharmacies to supply necessary medications, comfort and consulting, which is vitally important to patient well-being. We are helping to strengthen the bond between pharmacy retailers and their


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McKesson Pharmacy Systems

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“In addition to providing access to much-needed medications, part of the future of pharmacy will undoubtedly be education and awareness.” — Charles Brown, president and CEO, Bavis Drive-Thru customers by providing all the tools necessary to ensure that drive-thru interactions are efficient, the experience is positive and vital communications are clearly understood. This bond is happening currently and will continue post-pandemic as customers’ health concerns will retain a position at the forefront.

DSN: Why are your offerings beneficial to your customers and their patients? CB: Using Bavis equipment ensures that all the drive-thru delivery methods are pharmacy-specific, including well-made, powered, dual-sealed and optionally heated high-capacity transaction drawers, and roomy remote-lane carriers, such as the Captive Carrier TransTrax, where multiple prescriptions can be sent directly to the patient in all drive-thru lanes. This makes the visit easy and pleasant. Pneumatic tube systems cannot do this, many times causing the patient to have to abandon the drive-thru lanes and walk into the store. This causes severe frustration and a negative experience. Bavis Drive-Thru has equipment that is designed specifically for pharmacies with both pharmacists and patients in mind. This ensures that patients can get everything they need, right away, without having to leave their car, and that audio/video communications are clear and free of interruptions.

DSN: How do you view the future of pharmacy? CB: In addition to providing access to much needed medications, part of the future of pharmacy will undoubtedly be education and awareness. This passing of information will be built upon the trust that has been earned from interactions between the patient and pharmacist. As things progress, we see pharmacists taking a growing role in these areas.


extending the pharmacy hours without adding to the workload.

DSN: How do you view the future of pharmacy? GV: Pharmacies are a critical component

Bell and Howell

Grace Vanier, director of product management, QuickCollect Solutions, powered by Bell and Howell DSN: How are you helping customers/pharmacy retailers as they seek to move forward amid the pandemic and post pandemic? Grace Vanier: COVID-19 has dramatically changed consumer behavior, and Bell and Howell’s QuickCollect Solutions enable pharmacies to provide their patients with the convenience and self-service they desire without sacrificing safety and security. The QuickCollect Rx automated prescription kiosk can serve multiple patients at the same time, providing contactless prescription pickup without the wait, when and where it is most convenient for the patient. In addition, the QuickCollect Rx serves to free up the pharmacy staff, enabling them to focus on COVID-19 testing and vaccinations.

DSN: Why are your offerings beneficial to your customers and their patients? GV: By automating the prescription storage and pickup process, the QuickCollect Rx can drive a multitude of benefits for both the pharmacy and the patients. The kiosk can free up pharmacy staff by handling the pickup of routine or maintenance medications, allowing pharmacists to spend more time on more clinical activities, such as first-time fill counseling, medication management and vaccinations. The QuickCollect Rx also expands the pharmacy’s pickup options by adding lanes and

of the healthcare continuum, and pharmacists will continue to rise to the challenge of addressing gaps in care for their patients. As pharmacists are further authorized to operate at the top of their license, they will play a key role in the management of chronic conditions, treatment of minor ailments and delivery of preventative care, improving patient outcomes and driving down healthcare costs.

Crocus Medical

John Webster, vice president of innovation and product development DSN: How are you helping customers/pharmacy retailers as they seek to move forward amid the pandemic and post pandemic? John Webster: Clearly, the biggest challenge for pharmacists during the pandemic was trying to balance the difficulties of running a business while also trying to fulfill their role as a critical healthcare provider. People were desperate for information and trying to maintain their health, so turning to their trusted pharmacists for advice was their first inclination. Their clinical knowledge and patient relationships certainly raised their profile in the patients’ minds, and their newly expanding role providing vaccines is only enhancing the perceived

“Pharmacies are a critical component of the healthcare continuum, and pharmacists will continue to rise to the challenge of addressing gaps in care for their patients.” — Grace Vanier, director of product management, QuickCollect Solutions, powered by Bell and Howell


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PHARMACY | TECHNOLOGY & AUTOMATION value of pharmacy, but it has taken a toll mentally and financially in some cases.

DSN: Why are your offerings beneficial to your customers and their patients? JW: Our pharmacy automation offerings can help alleviate some of the pressures related to the “logistics” of filling and dispensing prescriptions. From our simple countertop pill counters to our automated multidose strip packagers for adherence packaging, or going one step further, Rx self retrieval cabinets, which eliminate the need for patients to “line up” to pick up prescriptions, all help to automate some of the functions that don’t require human oversight. All of our products help provide more time for patient care, patient counseling and a better customer experience, which of course builds customer loyalty.

DSN: How do you view the future of pharmacy? JW: Although the funding models are only now starting to evolve, being paid for clinical services and counseling is the direction we feel pharmacy has to move towards. Being paid for the “logistics” of handling/dispensing pills is only going to continue to decrease in value, whereas healthcare knowledge will increasingly become more valuable.

EnlivenHealth, a division of Omnicell

Danny Sanchez, vice president and general manager DSN: How are you helping customers/pharmacy retailers as they seek to move forward amid the pandemic and post pandemic? Danny Sanchez: Our mission at EnlivenHealth is to build and orchestrate advanced digital technology solutions that enable retail pharmacies to keep their patients and staff healthy and safe — before, during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. Equally important, our solutions help pharmacies streamline



“Although the funding models are only now starting to evolve, being paid for clinical services and counseling is the direction we feel pharmacy has to move towards.” — John Webster, vice president of innovation and product development, Crocus Medical inefficient workflows and drive measurably better economic results. For example, just as the pandemic hit its peak last year, we launched CareScheduler. This solution enables pharmacies to automate the scheduling, patient communications and registry reporting for the administration of the COVID-19 vaccine. Helping our retail partners achieve their own critical mission during the pandemic has inspired EnlivenHealth to contin-uously innovate new patient engagement and communications technology solutions like CareScheduler.

DSN: Why are your offerings beneficial to your customers and their patients? DS: Our technology solutions are built to opti-

that transforms the pharmacy practice into one that is more proactive and efficient. A great example of this transformative pharmacy workflow model is EnlivenHealth’s industry-leading medication synchronization solution. Med Sync is a proven, appointment-based solution that not only makes the pharmacy workflow dramatically more efficient, it also improves medication adherence by as much as three times, according to research recently published in the Journal of the American Pharmacists Association. In addition, our Med Sync platform increases pharmacy retention by 14% while also driving script growth.

DSN: How do you view the future of pharmacy? DS: COVID-19 has highlighted the unique attributes of retail pharmacy, underscoring its vital role in health care. Most notably, this includes the unparalleled accessibility of retail pharmacy and the high level of trust that pharmacists have with their patients. We envision the retail pharmacy industry to continue expanding its role and influence in the healthcare continuum. Of course, this will require sophisticated digital technologies and, increasingly, predictive analytics.

mize and streamline traditionally manual and inefficient pharmacy processes and workflows. This frees up pharmacists’ time so they can practice at the top of their license and focus on providing higher value clinical services that benefit patients and the pharmacy’s bottom line. In fact, our solutions enable pharmacies to increase script volume by an average of iA 2.3% over their current growth performance. Marvin Richardson, CEO Additionally, our solutions are built on a game-changing appointment-based model DSN: How are you helping customers/phar-

“COVID-19 has highlighted the unique attributes of retail pharmacy, underscoring its vital role in health care.” — Danny Sanchez, vice president and general manager, EnlivenHealth, a division of Omnicell

macy retailers as they seek to move forward amid the pandemic and post pandemic? Marvin Richardson: Our vision is to unleash

the full potential of pharmacy, and this year pharmacists have played a critical role in helping test and now vaccinate our communities. We know that pharmacists are motivated to practice at the top of their profession now and post pandemic. We are motivated to help pharmacy providers understand how our prescription

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PHARMACY | TECHNOLOGY & AUTOMATION fulfillment and automation technologies help take the dispensing work off their plates, so that pharmacists can spend more time with patients and fulfill their primary roles as community healthcare providers.

DSN: Why are your offerings beneficial to your customers and their patients? MR: Pharmacy providers that work with iA are shifting dispensing work from the store locations to a centralized fulfillment location. Within the centralized fulfillment location, our software enabled prescription fulfillment and automation technologies will run the prescription fulfillment process from end to end while delivering immediate business results, simplifying your operational needs and relentlessly focusing on patient safety. Prescriptions that are filled centrally will then be routed back to stores for patient pickup or shipped directly to the patient, allowing pharmacists to focus on value-added services and patient care, which is something their pharmacists want to do.

DSN: Why are your offerings beneficial to your customers and their patients? MR: At iA, we’re implementing our prescription fulfillment and automation solutions at an increasingly rapid pace. And customer interest in iA is growing because the pandemic has served as a catalyst for pharmacy providers to examine how they can help free up pharmacists’ time, with one near-term opportunity being to shift tasks related to dispensing out of the store.

Inmar Intelligence

Chris Smith, director of product strategy for provider solutions

“Customer interest in iA is growing because the pandemic has served as a catalyst for pharmacy providers to examine how they can help free up pharmacists’ time.” — Marvin Richardson, CEO, iA were on the front lines of COVID-19 testing and then for vaccination distribution efforts. But while some of the billing that pharmacies are using follows the traditional pharmacy billing pathways, some do not. As vaccine eligibility expands to younger age groups, pharmacists will continue to spend hours trying to get payment for delivering the service that takes minutes. We’re helping customers understand the nuances of the revenue cycle and to know if they’re being accurately reimbursed. There are a ton of moving targets as it relates to claims and payment data, and we’re helping our clients to understand the full picture. Pharmacists are now conducting diabetes management, smoking cessation and lipid management programs that used to happen in a physician practice, and we’re enhancing our systems to help them navigate the new landscape. Our customers are hungry for the supply chain data of the movement of drugs — how they’re ordered, analyzed, inventoried, end connection — because they want to better understand the entire journey. They’re also interested in the payment cycles and to know if they received reimbursement according to a contract, and to understand which drugs may have payment activity that was unexpected and what can be done to fix it, both from a care management perspective and a data perspective.

“Our customers are hungry for the supply chain data of the movement of drugs — how they’re ordered, analyzed, inventoried, end connection — because they want to better understand the entire journey.”

DSN: How are you helping customers/pharmacy retailers as they seek to move forward amid the pandemic and post pandemic? — Chris Smith, director of product strategy Chris Smith: Amid the pandemic, pharmacies for provider solutions, Inmar Intelligence 62


DSN: Why are your offerings beneficial to your customers and their patients? CS: Regardless of the pandemic, the economic headwinds of pharmacy management haven’t changed, and we’re helping pharmacies ensure that their financial houses are in order, so they can continue to provide critical patient care. An example of this is that in Medicare Part D, since the start of 2019, our overall client average brand effective rate has decreased over 1.2% of AWP and our overall client average generic effective rate has decreased over 3% of AWP — and that’s before one dollar of DIR is charged. Commercial impacts to reimbursement are even deeper. Additionally, Inmar Intelligence is building technological solutions to ensure that it’s easier for a patient to pay the pharmacy.

DSN: How do you view the future of the pharmacy industry? CS: The future of the pharmacy leverages the pharmacist as an integral part of every patients’ care team and is considered an adjunct to their primary care physician. This way, revenue streams can be bifurcated, and we can move from so much focus on being paid for “putting pills in a bottle” and being compensated for the care that pharmacists provide as the last line of defense for their patients.


Brian Sullivan, senior systems sales manager healthcare solutions USA and Canada DSN: How are you helping customers/pharmacy retailers as they seek to move forward amid the pandemic and post pandemic?

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“For centralized solutions, our pharmacy customers are broadening their approaches to include micro-fulfillment and nano-fulfillment systems that can service several stores in smaller geographic areas more efficiently.”

fees, our centralized pharmacies significantly drive down costs for prescription fulfillment. Reduced staffing requirements per prescription also ease the challenge that pharmacies are having with technician shortages. Also, as we continue to address the upcoming DSCSA requirements at the retail pharmacy level, KNAPP is using our learnings from the last eight years of working with pharma manufacturers and wholesalers to help our retail pharmacy customers to meet these requirements more cost effectively.

— Brian Sullivan, senior systems sales manager healthcare solutions USA and Canada, KNAPP

DSN: How do you view the future of pharmacy? BS: At KNAPP, we are seeing some overlapping

Brian Sullivan: We have been working with our customers to accelerate their entry into more automated solutions, both in store and centralized. In store, retail pharmacies have fast-tracked their entry into digital, touchless prescription and OTC fulfillment. These allow the pharmacy’s patients to pick up their orders when they want and where they want. Our Apostore robotic storage systems, along with 24/7 terminals, are central to these solutions. For centralized solutions, our pharmacy customers are broadening their approaches to include micro-fulfillment and nano-fulfillment systems that can service several stores in smaller geographic areas more efficiently. These approaches are driven by the need for expanded health services in the pharmacy, more options for prescription delivery and cost reductions to offset the various regulatory fees that our customers are challenged with. DSN: Why are your offerings beneficial to your customers and their patients? BS: When our customers install an Apostore system into their pharmacy, a number of positive things happen: The automated “chaotic” storage system requires approximately 60% less space for medication storage behind the counter and also allows the pharmacy to store their OTC meds into the same system. This opens space for a whole range of expanded medical offerings and helps fulfill the pharmacy’s role as the first point of contact for patient health. To counter the effects of DIR and GER


trends that cross the vertical markets that we serve. Health care, our retail and grocery customers are all driving to push costs out of the supply chain through automation and expand their offerings of services to meet higher consumer expectations.

LexisNexis Risk Solutions

Craig Ford, vice president of sales for pharmacy and enterprise strategic markets DSN: How are you helping customers/pharmacy retailers as they seek to move forward amid the pandemic and post pandemic? Craig Ford: LexisNexis Risk Solutions is a highly innovative company, delivering risk management and decision support tools. We are grateful to partner with all of the leading pharmacy chains and most PBMs. These partnerships are vital to the collective success that will emerge on the other side of this pandemic. Much collaboration has happened in the last 12 to 13 months between LexisNexis and our business partners. Regardless if they already had systems in place or uncovered the need for a new solution to address testing, patient identity authentication, safety or billing — the lines have been and continue to be open. Our business, from day one, has been built

around compliance, identity management and risk mitigation. We feel fortunate to be able to respond, support and truly make a difference when our customers needed it the most. At the same time, we also know that retail pharmacies operate on thin margins and that they are constantly managing operational and compliance risks. So, we continue to be committed to having the most current data in real time that will empower pharmacies to have greater efficiencies as we all move forward together.

DSN: Why are your offerings beneficial to your customers and their patients? CF: We are passionate about leveraging data and analytics to connect patients, providers and healthcare technology systems in meaningful ways. By applying proprietary linking technology and advanced analytics to rich data, we deliver actionable insights to pharmacy and other healthcare clients, so that they can make informed decisions to ensure compliance, improve financial results and support better health outcomes for the patients they serve.

DSN: How do you view the future of pharmacy? CF: LexisNexis Risk Solutions is extremely optimistic about the pharmacy of tomorrow. Critical events like this pandemic quickly highlight risks and challenges within any industry, but these events also bring about new opportunity. Communication is key, and it needs to continue regardless if it’s in person or virtual. We are confident that through our ongoing, collaborative relationships, we are positioned to help meet and exceed the needs of pharmacy.

“We are passionate about leveraging data and analytics to connect patients, providers and healthcare technology systems in meaningful ways.” —Craig Ford, vice president of sales - pharmacy and enterprise strategic markets, LexisNexis Risk Solutions


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PHARMACY | TECHNOLOGY & AUTOMATION We’re also investing in data and analytics to provide best in class access across our solutions. We see this as foundational to our product development lifecycle and integral to our holistic approach, so that our customers can better connect the dots across our platforms.


Erin Rebholz, vice president of business development, innovation and data programs DSN: How are you helping customers/pharmacy retailers as they seek to move forward amid the pandemic and post pandemic? Erin Rebholz: Throughout the last year, we’ve seen increased adoption of technology solutions to help with flexible payment options, improved patient communications and delivery methods, as well as a renewed interest in central fill automation and mail services to support more flexible patient delivery. With vaccine distribution becoming such a focus for many pharmacies, we’ve also helped them adopt new technologies to streamline workflow and clinical engagement to better manage data and reimbursement.

DSN: Why are your offerings beneficial to your customers and their patients? ER: At McKesson, we take a holistic view to assess their operations and help provide customer value by better connecting the technology assets and distribution services across our businesses. One of our focus areas is a more integrated ordering, inventory and forecasting platform. From a more data-driven ordering process and an increasingly feature-rich pharmacy management system to a seamless connection to the payment services and even an interconnected central fill solution, we’re able to identify and help maximize efficiencies across the value chain.

DSN: How do you view the future of the pharmacy industry? ER: The future of pharmacy is an inter-

— Mark Longley, chief strategy officer, Parata

connected network of care delivery systems, using technology to create a higher throughput, lowering the cost of dispensing and enabling a more patient-focused model. Doing this will allow pharmacists to spend less time on manual tasks and more time on clinical care, or as we like to say, operating at the top of their license.

Historically, pharmacies would look for automation solutions only after they had achieved very high business volumes, but already, our retailer partners are proactively investing in solutions that enable their stores to maintain high customer service levels and to be best prepared for the next storm.


Mark Longley, chief strategy officer DSN: How are you helping customers/pharmacy retailers as they seek to move forward amid the pandemic and post pandemic? Mark Longley: Without a doubt, the COVID19 pandemic has created a greater awareness of the need for automation solutions to enable pharmacists and staff to maintain their service levels while dealing with drastically shifting patient volumes and staffing availability. Parata is helping retailers address the patient and labor challenges with our automation solutions both in the pharmacy and in the fast-growing central fill segment.

“The future of pharmacy is an interconnected network of care delivery systems, using technology to create a higher throughput, lowering the cost of dispensing and enabling a more patient-focused model.” — Erin Rebholz, vice president of business development, innovation and data programs, McKesson 66


“Compliance packaging solutions enable pharmacies to provide an organized process for managing medications for those patients who need it the most.”

DSN: Why are your offerings beneficial to your customers and their patients? ML: Parata’s purpose is to power pharmacies to help people live healthier lives. Our extensive portfolio of automation solutions can power the smallest retail setting or drive efficiency in the largest of fully integrated closeddoor pharmacies. Our technology aids customers by driving labor and cost efficiencies for their business while also maximizing safety and accuracy for the patient. Parata’s compliance packaging solutions enable pharmacies to provide an organized process for managing medications for those patients who need it the most, such as those dealing with chronic conditions. Additionally, it can help ensure patients are taking the right medication at the right time, which is essential for true medication adherence, and, combined, work to improve overall patient outcomes.

DSN: How do you view the future of pharmacy? ML: Today, pharmacy is a combination of not only clinical operations, but a manufacturing center as well. The process of receiving, filling and verifying prescription orders is time consuming and somewhat distracting from the true value-added clinical services that make pharmacies unique healthcare hubs in communities. The future of how pharmacy looks and acts will be molded both by economics and by the broader healthcare shift towards personalization of care. This equates into highly

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PHARMACY | TECHNOLOGY & AUTOMATION automated production environments with most of the focus shifting toward appointment-based clinical engagements with patients, both in the pharmacy and their homes.

to increase medication adherence rates. With clearly printed labels that give patients a stronger grip on what they need to take and when, an empty hole punch offers tangible, immutable proof that a drug has been taken.

DSN: How do you view the future of the pharmacy industry? SC: Over time, as the country fully emerges


Samantha Cockburn, vice president of marketing and corporate development DSN: How are you helping customers/pharmacy retailers as they seek to move forward amid the pandemic and post pandemic? Samantha Cockburn: While the fight against COVID-19 has been a work in progress for well over a year, there is a strong sense that we’re finally turning a long-awaited corner. The spread in optimism has been undeniable. Vaccine numbers are encouraging and chances of reaching herd immunity are increasing, but perhaps even more important is the fact that many have begun to adopt habits that have become the cornerstones of a more hopeful “future normal.”

DSN: Why are your offerings beneficial to your customers and their patients? SC: We’re helping pharmacy leaders through the push with automated products and systems that make hands-free, multidose blister card medication packaging possible. In essence, we give safety a boost using robotic functions that perform prescription refill operations in place of a human technician. As a result, our retail partners get a system that is 99.98% accurate and their customers get the peace of mind that comes from knowing any risk of inadvertent transmission has been kept to a minimum. Multidose blister cards have been proven

from the dark clouds of COVID-19, local independent pharmacies will have the opportunity to offer a significant number of silver linings in the form of “touchless” packaging for medications, but also for nonprescription dietary supplements, daily vitamins and other untouched “immunity” boosters. SynMed automation for multidose blister packaging doesn’t tire, make mistakes in concentration or run up labor costs.

Temptime, a Zebra Technologies Company Katie Kraverath, senior business development manager

DSN: How are you helping customers/pharmacy retailers as they seek to move forward amid the pandemic and post pandemic? Katie Kraverath: Amid the pandemic, many people opted to receive their medications via delivery rather than visiting a pharmacy in person. As a result, specialty and mailorder pharmacies have all seen a significant increase in business. Many of the medications being shipped directly to patients’ homes are temperature sensitive and are required to be kept within specific temperature ranges during storage and transit in order to preserve their efficacy.

“In essence, we give safety a boost using robotic functions that perform prescription refill operations in place of a human technician.” — Samantha Cockburn, vice president of marketing and corporate development, SynMed 68

“Our products provide critical insights to medication temperature exposure that remove subjectivity in temperature concern for both the patient and the pharmacy.” — Katie Kraverath, senior business development manager, Temptime Our TransTracker visual temperature indicators are used to monitor medication shipments and provide a clear visual alert, if a specific temperature threshold was exceeded for a period of time. They take the guesswork out of temperature concern and give the patients peace of mind that their medication was not compromised by unsafe temperature exposure during transit. They also help to eliminate costly unnecessary reships due to suspected temperature concern. Temptime also offers a line of electronics, including our EDGE W200 facility monitoring system, which monitors both temperature and humidity, and provides near-real time alerts should any areas exceed the customers’ desired limits.

DSN: Why are your offerings beneficial to your customers and their patients? KK: Temptime helps pharmacies by providing them with simple, easy to use temperature monitoring solutions to ensure regulatory compliance and streamline cold chain operations. Our products provide critical insights to medication temperature exposure that remove subjectivity in temperature concern for both the patient and the pharmacy.

DSN: How do you view the future of the pharmacy industry? KK: We will continue to see an uptick in medication delivery as well as significant growth in home-based health care overall. The industry will see continued strengthening of regulations, particularly with regards to temperature monitoring of controlled room temperature medications in addition to refrigerated medications, which have had the regulatory focus thus far. dsn


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Beauty from the Earth A host of plant-based offerings — from CBD to vegan formulations — are hitting the beauty aisle and driving innovation By Seth Mendelson


s plant based the next big thing in the beauty category? Many industry officials believe that it could be, especially since beauty trends frequently mirror the food industry. In fact, plant-based food sales soared 27% during the pandemic as consumers purchased products they considered healthier, according to SPINS data. More than 57% of households bought plant-based foods. Now that is spilling over into beauty and could supplant the current move to “clean” formulas, an enigmatic term with no regulations from the Food and Drug Administration. As the beauty category looks to rebuild from its 16-month hiatus caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, many in the industry are looking to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to consumer demands. Some are willing to bet that plant-based products could catch on with shoppers and lead to a big uptick in sales at mass-retail outlets that get involved with the segment. Industry officials said that plant based is more transparent and gaining momentum from some beauty companies. A quarter of consumers report they are buying plant-based skin care already, according to Linkage research, while 39% indicate they would like to buy products with plantbased ingredients. Although sometimes used interchangeably with vegan, plant based has its own


nuances. Plant-based entails that no ingredients are derived from animals, minerals or petroleum, while vegan means there are no animal-derived ingredients. Vegan can also include synthetics. Some beauty experts said they feel the term “plant-based” is more approachable and can appeal to a larger audience than vegan. Perhaps the best example of plant-based products are those from the cannabis sativa plant — CBD and hemp seed oil. Both ingredients are making moves in beauty

and personal care. With shoppers scampering for toilet paper and protective masks, CBD and hemp seed oil were not always at the top of conversations last year. That led some industry pundits to mistakenly assume the buzz was gone. Stressed-out consumers studied up on ingredients like CBD and hemp seed oil to help them sleep or relax. With skin irritated by constant washing and protective mask wearing, people looked for the antiinflammatory properties of cannabinoids.


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According to the New York-based NielsenIQ data, CBD beauty sales increased 21% in 2020 over the year before. The biggest gains were produced in hand and body care, bath and shower, and facial skin. In what she called an “unforgettable” year, NielsenIQ’s Tara Taylor, senior vice president of the company’s personal care vertical, said CBD/hemp products were among only a small group of categories that expanded. CBD and hemp seed oil, along with vegan certified, organic and cruelty-free, will be growth drivers this year, she said. Expectations remain high for CBD. Euromonitor projects the global market for legal cannabis-related products will soar 77% to $166 billion in 2025. In the United States, Brightfield Group predicts sales will hit $16.8 billion by 2025. Last year not only boosted usage from existing consumers for Denver-based HempFusion, but also enticed new users, said Ola Lessard, chief marketing officer. Buoyed by demand, the company increased the amount of CBD in its sleep and support products. The industry entered 2021 in a better position to flourish. Industry consolidation, such as Cronos’ purchase of Lord Jones, Canopy Growth’s acquisition spree that includes This Works and Charlotte’s Web’s buy of Abacus Health, resulted in bigger and stronger players. There also was a shakeout of brands that merely jumped on the bandwagon without either expertise in beauty brands or growing



crops. Consumers also have more faith in products thanks to certificates of analysis that can be accessed through QR codes. “There is more acceptance of CBD products and especially companies that have highly efficacious products on the market,” said Nancy Duitch, CEO and founder of Sherman Oaks, Calif.-based Sera Labs and chief strategy officer of Cure Pharmaceutical. Her brand received a boost when actress Nicole Kidman signed on as brand ambassador. Duitch said that Kidman became a fan of CBD and Sera when she hurt her ankle and used the products to quell her pain. “We are very fortunate to have Nicole Kidman as our strategic business partner and global brand ambassador for our Seratopical by Sera Labs topical products,” Duitch said. “Every time Nicole speaks to an outlet like Vogue, InStyle or People magazine, or posts a video on social media about one of her favorite products like Overnight Hand Therapy, Cracked Heel Souffle or Radiant Glow, our sales explode. Consumers are excited to learn about CBD products they can trust.” In addition to CBD-based products, the company recently launched Seratopical Revolution, a skin care wellness range that does not contain CBD, but offers natural, plant-based ingredients. A proprietary Triple Peptide Complex ensures that the ingredients penetrate the skin for maximum results. Other celebrities are bringing attention to CBD — Jane Fonda, Earvin “Magic”

Johnson (who is also an investor) and Toni Braxton are all spokespeople for Manhattan Beach, Calif.-based Uncle Bud’s. The company offers both CBD and hemp products that are sold at major retailers like Kroger, Walmart and CVS Pharmacy. Co-founder Bruno Schiavi said he is confident cannabis will continue to rise. “CBD is not going away. It is getting stabilized. Retailers are creating space and planograms,” he said. He pointed to The Vitamin Shoppe as a prime example and a retailer that can serve as a model for mass marketers. The Vitamin Shoppe opened CBD HQ, an online and in-store destination for brands, including Uncle Bud’s, Garden of Life, Charlotte’s Web, Irwin Naturals and SoulSpring among others. Some retailers and consumers prefer hemp seed oil as an ingredient, Schiavi said. In fact, Uncle Bud’s launched with both CBD and hemp seed oil, with the goal of converting consumers to CBD as legal pathways opened (as long as products contain below 0.3% THC or no THC, they can be sold online and in stores). Along the way, Schiavi saw sales breaking out almost evenly. He compared it with wine preferences: “Some people like red wine, some white wine,” he said. The company’s sales break out 55% hemp and 45% CBD. The beauty range includes anti-wrinkle creams, cleansers, eye serums, moisturizers and acne treatment. Venus Williams is an investor and chief brand officer in Asutra, which bills itself as


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“active self care.” Chicago-based Asutra’s lineup includes plant-based products meant to help with pain, stress, sleep, energy, focus and other goals, and spans aromatherapy mists, bath salts and skin care. CBD is an ingredient in one of its items, the Chill Pain Away Magnesium Hemp Cream. Tarang Amin, chairman and CEO of e.l.f. Cosmetics in San Francisco, credited the brand’s Cannabis Sativa and full spectrum CBD ranges as producing strong results, especially during the stressful times of quarantine. “These collections support our consumer’s desire for wellness and self-care at an incredible value,” he said. The lineup includes a 100-mg CBD facial oil, a 50-mg CBD moisturizer, a 50-mg CBD eye cream, a 50-mg CBD body cream and a 5-mg CBD lip oil. In keeping with the brand’s largely accessible price points, the products range from $13 to $18, with a bundle of all the products priced at $79. With the benefits of CBD in topicals, it was a logical leap to add to other categories. Cannuka, sold at Ulta Beauty, expanded beyond skin balms and masks into a CBD and manuka honey Cleansing Body Bar. Columbus, Ohio-based Cannuka was Ulta Beauty’s first foray into CBD beauty two years ago. CBD helped consumers transform rough skin last year — a trend expected to carry through this year. One of the benefactors was the Hempz Lavender Oil CBD Body Moisturizer. The product offers a balance of hydration, antioxidants, vitamins and key amino acids to transform tired, rough skin to velvety-smooth healthy skin, according to a representative of the Dallasheadquartered brand. Last year, Palmer’s launched its Cocoa Butter Formula Calming Relief Hemp Oil body collection, which taps the power of hemp oil. According to the company. Palmer’s Hemp Oil produces a 92% reduction in irritation. CBD is also making a splash in bath. SaltWorks’ Saltology division recently introduced a line of bath salts, featuring nanoemulsified full spectrum CBD. The Woodinville, Wash.-based company’s Relief Rx line features formulations that put CBD to work with Antarctic sea salt and essential oils.



Plant-based formulas are gaining attention in several makeup categories. Pacifica Beauty, a trailblazer in vegan and plant-based products, added Shoppers Drug Mart to its distribution, which also includes Ulta Beauty and Target. The Portland, Ore.-based brand updated its nail polish, replacing up to 80% of its formula with ingredients that are biosourced, originating from vegetable biomass. Nail polishes traditionally have been among the most chemical-laden products. Over the past few years, the nail industry has cleaned up, removing chemicals including formaldehyde, toluene, DBP, formaldehyde resin, camphor, triphenyl phosphate and xylene. Plant-based polishes take the lacquers to the next level. The move has paid off, especially for Sally Hansen, which, according to its New Yorkbased parent company Coty, is returning to growth on the tailwinds of its new Good. Kind.Pure nail polish. Hauppauge, N.Y.-based Beauty Partners’ Nailtopia also checks off the plant-based box. Its sustainable formulas are made with plant-based bio-sourced fruit and vegetables. Ingredients like potato, corn, wheat and manioc partially replace petrochemical

solvents, plasticizers and nitrocellulose, said Barry Shields, the company’s managing partner. Dove also is positioning its new Men + Care Eucalyptus Oil and Cedar Body Wash as plant based. A new plant is sprouting on the radar for use in beauty — mushrooms. Inspired by traditional Chinese medicine, beauty experts predict mushrooms will be used more in formulas and even in packaging. As part of its zero-waste goal, New York-based Loli Beauty used mushrooms and upcycled hemp fiber for packaging for the brand, which recently added its first retail account — Ulta Beauty. Although CBD and other plant-based products gained traction last year, a great deal of that was online. With shoppers returning to stores, the challenge will be to build departments that are compelling and inspire in-store purchasing, said Uncle Bud’s Schiavi. As retailers search for the right merchandising strategy, he recommended placing all CBD procurement under one buyer and building out a central home. “Instead of pain relief or sun care in separate departments, create one destination,” he said. dsn


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Growing with Purpose Sky Organics maintains its conscious approach to product formulation even as it garners attention from consumers and investors By Seth Mendelson


fficials at Sky Organics are showing the self-care industry that beauty products and the well-being of the planet can go hand in hand. In just six short years, the Miami Beach, Fla.-based beauty brand has gone from selling single-ingredient solutions on Amazon.com to distributing curly hair care and multi-benefit skin care regimens at mass retail locations across the country. And now, with new funding from Los Angeles-based Nexus Capital Management, which also has investments in such operations as Tom’s, FTD and Natural Balance, company officials are confident that they can take Sky Organics to the next level. At the same time, the company said it wants to help its retail partners offer their shoppers a varied assortment of merchandise that will satisfy their changing demands and needs — as well as build sales and profit for the merchants. The company has its roots in a deep interest in healthy living and nature. Co-founders and brothers, Steven Neiger, CEO, and Dean Neiger, chief strategy officer, opened what they said was Florida’s first completely green dry cleaners where they learned about soaps, cleaners and the benefits of clean living in 2000. This outlook was only accelerated when Steven had children and concerns over processed baby foods led his wife, Sarah Jade, to make their own. “Before we knew it, our kitchen wasn’t just for cooking anymore,” Steven Neiger said, adding that from using sugar, vinegar and oils to create their own personal cleaners to adding botanicals like rosehips and chamomile, the family concluded that what they were doing had to be shared. In 2015, they founded Sky Organics, launching with just a handful of products: Organic Castor Oil, Organic Sweet Almond Oil, Organic Shea Butter and Cocoa Butter. Since then, it has quickly evolved into a complete beauty care company with about 80 SKUs and products in the natural face, body, hair, personal care and aromatherapy categories. “At Sky Organics, we believe that everyone should have access to healthy and affordable good-for-you products,” said Tal Shemesh, COO. “We make it clear




SKY ORGANICS Founded: 2015 U.S. Headquarters: Miami Beach, Fla. Categories: Face, body, men’s grooming, hair and personal care, and household products Website: Skyorganics.com to our retail partners that the belief that natural products cannot be efficacious is simply not true. We also make them affordable. It’s what the consumer is clamoring for.” The company’s top officials said that they are focusing on meeting the needs of a diverse consumer group that includes younger consumers, especially millennials, who are more sensitive to organic products since becoming parents, as well as Gen Z who looks for brands that share their values. Retailers who understand this are reaping the benefits. “Organic products are the future; more consumers are looking for these items and more retailers are starting to carry them,” Dean said. “A big part of our job is also education. There are so many green aspirers who want to do what is best for themselves, their families and the planet, and we are here to help make that journey easier.” They stressed that most Sky Organics products are USDA Certified Organic, which guarantees that they are formulated under the specific standards set by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. “We are taking the guesswork out of the purchase decision,” Dean said. “And research shows that consumers trust the organic certification.” They are also excited about their new partnership with Nexus and the help of retailers who are building a narrative to educate consumers about wellness and selfcare — Sky Organics has an expectation that the sky’s the limit. “Tom’s is a mission-driven brand,” said Dean Neiger. “What we liked about Nexus is that they understand brands with purpose and how to build them.” dsn

Organic Isn’t Just Skin Deep

*Statista. 2020. Dean Neiger | dean@skyorganics.com | (305) 562 - 8402

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Kroger’s Retail School Is Now in Session The giant retailer understands that educating all stakeholders — even competitors — ultimately benefits its own business By David Orgel

L 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.

ongtime observers know that leading retail companies tend to keep things close to the vest. This business is ultra-competitive and food and drug retailers generally avoid publicly sharing too much strategic information. That’s why it’s stunning that Kroger recently has been sharing so many best practices with the rest of the industry. From a manual on key pandemic lessons to resources for small businesses, Kroger has put a premium on education. Has Kroger somehow lost its senses with all this sharing? Hardly. The giant chain retailer understands that lifting all stakeholders — including suppliers, employees, customers and even competitors — benefits the industry and solidifies its own leadership position. That’s a good lesson for other retailers to take in. And it doesn’t mean you need to give away all your proprietary information — sharing can be selective. Let’s take a look at some of what Kroger has been sharing.

Guidance for the Pandemic Kroger unveiled a remarkable report last year called “Sharing What We’ve Learned: A Blueprint for Businesses.” This eye-popping 79-page document amounts to a complete playbook for how to respond to the pandemic, with useful information even for companies outside of the food industry. Topics covered included response teams and decision-making, leveraging data, educating employees and customers, and communications best practices — with a list of suggested tools. In an introduction to the report, Rodney McMullen, Kroger’s chairman and CEO, explained the goal. “We want to share what we’ve learned and best practices with other businesses, so they can take steps now to develop protocols and procedures to reopen safely and continue to flatten the curve.”


Guide for Small Businesses Kroger launched a “Small Business Resource Guide” in May of 2021 that outlined how entrepreneurial suppliers can get their start in retail. Kroger’s guidance in the small business report covers such topics as product development, pricing, partnership development and promotion. “This guide focuses on best practices to land retail product placement and is intended to offer helpful insights to small brands that are looking to pitch Kroger — or any other retailer,” according to the report’s introduction.

Food Trends and Predictions Retailers are known for sharing food trends with suppliers and partners, but not necessarily for widely disseminating trends and forecasts. After all, this can be viewed as releasing competitive information. Nevertheless, Kroger puts a priority on this type of transparency. In December of last year, it released its “Top 10 Trending Foods of 2020,” based on yearover-year sales growth across Kroger’s business, including nearly 2,800 retail stores and pickup, delivery and ship. Topping the list were zerocalorie soft drinks, shredded cheese, flavored potato chips and sauvignon blanc wine. It also disclosed food trend predictions for 2021 — even spotlighting Kroger items that line up with each trend as a bit of an advertisement. The focus on Kroger isn’t meant to take anything away from other leading retailers. Most have handled themselves exceptionally well during the pandemic and launched highly commendable initiatives for sustainability, diversity and inclusion, feeding assistance, health and well-being, and, of course, administering COVID-19 vaccines. However, it’s important to call out Kroger’s approaches as unique, both in direction and scale. The retailer has become a sort of university for the industry — a stance that ultimately benefits everyone. There’s additional room for other retailers to put their own novel spins on this concept. dsn


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