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REX Awards Beauty Page 57



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A New Look For A Classic Brand

Vitamins & Minerals

Our new product packaging is here! The refresh brings additional consistency to our portfolio and supports a positive experience for customers with a mix of classic Nordic Naturals style and a clean, accessible look-and-feel. These changes provide greater stylistic p consistency across a range of categories—omegas, probiotics, vitamins & minerals, benefit-specific nutrients—helping to define and

Benefit Specific

distinguish Nordic Naturals supplements in the marketplace.

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Vol. 44 No. 6

Facebook.com/DrugStoreNews Twitter.com/DrugStoreNews



The Robots Are Here to Stay How innovative companies will power the future of pharmacy 42



Driving Vaccination Programs Around COVID


Pharmacies find new challenges, and new solutions, related to vaccinations




Gut Check


A variety of products solve the diversity of digestive issues



A Toast to Good Health DEPARTMENTS 8










Quality, simple ingredients continue to lead the drive with new beverage products


GUEST COLUMN By Kinsa’s Brad Pope


ONE-ON-ONE with Garden House’s Ignacio Bentancur


ONE-ON-ONE with Hyland’s Naturals’ Will Righeimer


LAST WORD By David Orgel Consulting’s David Orgel



Sheer Beauty

Who are the standout brands in this growing category?

DSN (ISSN 0191-7587) is published monthly 12 times a year by EnsembleIQ, 8550 W. Bryn Mawr Ave, Suite 200, Chicago, IL 60631. Subscription rate in the United States: $125 one year; $230 two year; $14 single issue copy; Canada and Mexico: $150 one year; $270 two year; $16 single issue copy; Foreign: $170 one year; $325 two year; $16 single issue copy. Periodicals postage paid at Chicago, IL, and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Please send address changes to DSN, 8550 W. Bryn Mawr Ave, Suite 200, Chicago, IL 60631. Vol. 44 No. 6, June 2022. Copyright © 2022 by EnsembleIQ. All rights reserved.



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Front-End Follies Some retail pharmacies are reexamining their SKUs as healthcare services expand and supply chain constraints cause a shortage of new products By Nigel F. Maynard

An EnsembleIQ Publication 8550 W. Bryn Mawr Ave Suite 200 Chicago, IL 60631 Senior Vice President, Publisher John Kenlon (516) 650-2064, jkenlon@ensembleiq.com Editor-in-Chief | Editorial Director Nigel F. Maynard nigelmaynard@ensembleiq.com



My wife and I were in a Manhattan pharmacy last year when one of our old topics of discussion came up: Why are some pharmacies stuffed to the gills with so much stuff? It’s a question that has puzzled me (us) for years. Our position is that pharmacies can be a tad more selective with their front-end inventory. In all fairness to this particular store on the East Side of New York City, the footprint was limited by its urban location. But its square footage aside, the store was packed tight with merchandise and the store was hard to navigate (literally). Of course, not all retail pharmacies are as stuffed as that store in Manhattan, but I’ve seen enough of them to know that many could use some editing. Plus, if retail pharmacies continue to pivot toward increased healthcare services, it’s more than likely that they’ll have to perform SKU rationalization to fit in more waiting room space for patients. This is already happening. At NACDS Annual in Palm Beach, Fla., several retailers told my colleague and me that they are reevaluating the items in their stores, reconsidering front-end space and thinking more about how the retail pharmacy of the future is going to look. These are all important but complex considerations. After all, space is limited, healthcare services are growing and, let’s face it, not all products are going to be a hit with consumers. The decision to keep or ditch them will become even more important in the coming years. It is with this backdrop that we tackled this month’s cover story (page 28): finding new products during a pandemic and supply chain issues. The reality is not that encouraging right now. Our writer found that many retail pharmacies are having a hard time because there is a serious new product shortage, brought on by pandemic-related supply chain constraints, worker shortages and other issues. Moreover, CPG manufacturers are not investing hefty sums in developing and marketing new items. With the slow pace of new products, perhaps now is a good time for retail pharmacies to develop a strategy for dealing with these frontend and store-design issues. It’s something that will play a bigger role in the future, so why not start working on them now? dsn

Managing Editor Hannah Esper (773) 992-4449, hesper@ensembleiq.com Senior Editor Sandra Levy (845) 893-9573, slevy@ensembleiq.com Desk Editor Maria Manliclic (212) 756-5093, mmanliclic@ensembleiq.com Online Editor Gisselle Gaitan (212) 756-5138, ggaitan@ensembleiq.com


Northeast Manager Alex Tomas (212) 756-5155, atomas@ensembleiq.com Regional Manager Steven Werner (312) 961-7162 swerner@ensembleiq.com


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

AUDIENCE LIST RENTAL MeritDirect Marie Briganti 914-309-3378 SUBSCRIBER SERVICES/ CUSTOMER CARE TOLL-FREE: 1-877-687-7321 FAX: 1-888-520-3608 contact@drugstorenews.com REPRINTS & PERMISSIONS Reprints, permissions and licensing, please contact Wright’s Media at ensembleiq@wrightsmedia.com or (877) 652-5295.

EDITORIAL ADVISORY BOARD John Beckner, NCPA Becky Dant, Costco J. Jeremy Faulks, Thrifty White Pharmacy Doug M. Long, IQVIA Nancy Lyons, Health Mart Pharmacy Katie Scanlon, Publix Super Markets Heidi Snyder, Drug World Pharmacies

CORPORATE OFFICERS Chief Executive Officer, Jennifer Litterick Chief Financial Officer, Jane Volland Chief Human Resources Officer, Ann Jadown EVP, Operations, Derek Estey



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EVP, Content and Communications, Joe Territo

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Swiss Miss, Cinnamon Toast Crunch Add a Touch of Sweetness to Hot Drink Mixes

Fans of the cinnamon-flavored milk found at the bottom of cereal bowls will be reaching for a new hot drink mix from Swiss Miss and Cinnamon Toast Crunch. The new Swiss Miss Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cinnamilk is a hot drink mix that contains Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cinnadust, marshmallows and a creamy Swiss Miss base, the Chicago-based company said. “We love creating sweet, warm moments of indulgence,” said Audrey Ingersoll, vice president/ general manager of sweet snacks at Conagra Brands. “Our new Swiss Miss Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cinnamilk hot drink mix is another delicious way for Swiss Miss to deliver happiness in a mug.” To prepare a serving of the Cinnamilk drink mix, consumers simply need to combine hot water with the mix and then stir in the second envelope containing the Cinnadust and marshmallows. Each box of Swiss Miss Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cinnamilk, which includes six pairs of drink mix, will be available at e-commerce outlets, grocery stores and mass retailers for the suggested retail price of $2.99.


P&G Launches Super Nature Hair Care Products Procter & Gamble is debuting a brand-new hair care line for the natural personal care category. Super Nature features products formulated with ingredients sourced from nature, including sustainably sourced potent aloe and craft plant-powered cleansers and conditioners to leave hair and the world better than how they were found, the company said. Made without parabens, sulfates, dyes or mineral oil, the line is PETA-certified cruelty-free, made from 96% naturally derived formulas and is pH balanced. Products that are part of the line include Gentle Moisture Shampoo and Conditioner, which is designed to cleanse hair without stripping and to nourish and infuse moisture, the company said. Safe for color-treated hair, Super Nature products are available exclusively at Costco.

H-E-B Opens Primary Care Clinics in Austin, Texas With the debut of H-E-B Wellness Primary Care in Austin, Texas, H-E-B is continuing its momentum of providing a comprehensive health solution to support Texans who are trying to live healthier lives. H-E-B Wellness are full-service primary care clinics staffed by boardcertified physicians, nurses and other licensed medical professionals. The retailer coordinates with registered dietitians and takes a food-first philosophy rooted in science. In addition to primary care for all individuals ages 12 and up, services include physical therapy, health/nutrition coaching, specialty referrals and labs. H-E-B already operates clinics in Houston and San Antonio, but it plans to rapidly expand throughout Texas with both primary care and nutrition services over the next few years. “In everything we do, our goal at H-E-B is to take care of Texans with a servant heart and a best-in-class experience you can trust,” said Craig Boyan, president of H-E-B. “We believe that food plays an integral role in well-being, and as one of the largest sellers of food in the state of Texas, we’re committed to making it easy for Texans to live better and healthier.” The H-E-B Wellness Primary Care clinic, a 4,000-sq.-ft. facility, is located at 8601 South Congress Ave., #110. It will be led by Dr. Holly Easton, a boardcertified osteopathic family medicine physician who has been in practice for more than 20 years.


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Bring innovation to the enema category! Discover Enemeez®, the smallest enema on the market, only 5mL of fluid, with a unique active ingredient Docusate Sodium. Over 10 years of successful presence in hospitals, with a spotless safety record, now available for sale at shelf.

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Walgreens Makes Key Leadership Appointments

Anita Patel

Rita Shah


Walgreens has appointed two executives. Anita Patel is joining the company in the newly created role of vice president, pharmacy services development. Rina Shah will serve the Walgreens pharmacy team in a newly created role of vice president, pharmacy of the future and healthcare segments. Patel will be responsible for prioritizing improvements and advancements with existing pharmacy services, as well as identifying and prioritizing new opportunities for growth and innovation within health care. She also will take on oversight of the COVID-19 strategy and execution, including vaccines, data and analytics, and testing. Previously, Patel was with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, where she led the COVID-19 response and vaccine

distribution across the country. She has more than 17 years of experience in the healthcare industry and brings a breadth of industry knowledge and insight that will help lead Walgreens into its pharmacy-of-the-future strategy, the company said. In her new position, Shah will drive improved integration of pharmacy and healthcare services, clinical strategy and operations. During her 24-year tenure at Walgreens, Shah has built a reputation as an advocate for Walgreens team members, especially her fellow pharmacists, and always considered how decisions will impact the store teams as well as patients and customers, Walgreens said. Patel and Shah moved into the new roles on June 1.


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Rinus Beintema Teams Up With U.S. Firm For New CBD Delivery Method Hemp Synergistics announced that they have joined forces with Rinus Beintema, a European medical cannabis company, to deliver longsought relief with hemp-infused treatments for thousands of pain and symptom sufferers. “We have joined forces to create and deliver what is likely the most valuable, efficient and costeffective all-natural concept on the CBD market today with a new product that is easier to consume and 10 times more effective and more affordable,” said Hemp Synergistics co-founder Russ Cersosimo. “There’s truly nothing like it in the world.” Over the past year, Hemp Synergistics has been working hand in hand with well-known cannabis legalization advocate Rinus Beintema and his nonprofit group, Suver Nuver, to develop condition-specific, custom cannabinoid treatments. The maximum THC percentage for CBD products is 0.05% in the Netherlands, considerably lower than the 0.2% found in the rest of Europe. Beintema needed an end product guaranteed to maintain legal compliance and set out to find an advanced laboratory and manufacturer to assist. Enter Hemp Synergistics, a Pittsburgh-based biotechnology company that specializes in extracting, isolating and standardizing the active molecules in hemp. The company had already conquered absorption of these substances, referred to as “bioavailability,” by preventing the body from breaking them down in the digestive process. Hemp Synergistics went to work in its laboratory to reproduce the cannabis oil formulas of Suver Nuver as precisely as possible in powder form, using industrial hemp, and created a final product guaranteed to stay within performance metrics specifying no more than 0.05% THC, the company said. Soaring patient-satisfaction rates proved the success of this new powder, the companies said. Clinical trials were conducted with 300 volunteers, with 82% reporting the same or better effects from the new solution over the oil-based product, an amazing result considering the hefty reduction in the amount consumed, according to the brand. Suver Nuver has since expanded its clinical trials to over 30,000 patients. This will be followed by a full-country rollout in the Netherlands in Q3 and an expansion into Germany in Q4. “This is the most effective and efficient product available, significantly better than the oils we have been working with for the last six years,” Beintema said. “We are thrilled to partner with Rinus and we share his passion for patients and their overall wellness,” said Dan Kohler, CEO of Hemp Synergistics. “The synergies are boundless and we embrace our continued collaboration on product development for the good of all his patients, now and in the future.”

All Better Plantpowered First Aid Brand Launches All Better is a new plant-powered first aid brand that recently launched with Don’t Scratch That, a line of clean pens and patches designed for itchy and irritating bug bites. Arriving in time for mosquito season, the products feature such ingredients as CBD and tea tree oil. Best of all, they are easy to apply and are safe for daily use by the whole family, the brand said. “All Better Co. is the solution we sought out for our own families and could not find: a gentle, plant-powered, easy-to-use product line that would effectively soothe everyday bites, bumps and burns,” said co-founder Stacy Bernstein. “We are here to disrupt the first aid category, which has been dominated by harsh, unpleasant chemicals that aren’t safe for routine use.” Founded by Bernstein and Merav Goldman, All Better’s Don’t Scratch That Pen fits easily in a user’s pocket or bag for applications on the go. With just a few clicks, the pen delivers a formula of naturally derived ingredients, such as CBD and coconut oil, to help reduce inflammation. For bites or spots that require a little extra TLC, the brand offers Don’t Scratch That Patches, which create an occlusive protective seal, keeping the area clean and covered for a targeted tea tree oil treatment. “No matter where you live, mosquitos and spiders are a year-round nuisance that only get worse in the spring and summer,” Goldman said. “With our Don’t Scratch That pens and patches, we’ve created a natural, effective and portable solution for treating those itchy, unsightly bites so you can enjoy being outside with the ones you love most.” Patches retail for $17 for 12 individually wrapped patches, or $30 for 25 patches. The pen is $15 for 4 ml. The Don’t Scratch That Kit features 12 patches and one pen for $30. dsn


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New & Noteworthy HRG’s top five picks from May 2022

Product introductions picked up pace in May, as suppliers unveiled 203 new items — 98 more than they did in April when the war in Ukraine and inflationary pressures stunted activity. Waukesha, Wis.-based HRG looked at three products in the health category, 65 in the wellness section and 135 in beauty to see which ones stood out as Products to Watch. Here is what they found:

3. Neutrogena Build-A-Glow Gradual Self-Tanning Moisturizing Spray

1. Dulcolax Soft Chews Kids

4. Nature Made Wellblends Sleep & Immune Gummies

Developed by Sanofi, Dulcolax Soft Chews Kids is a stimulantfree laxative that the company claims is safe for children ages 4 and up. The chews were formulated to work naturally with water in the body to provide fast, gentle constipation relief in as little as 30 minutes, the company said. It comes in a 15-count pack.

2. Banana Boat Sport Ultra Sunscreen Edgewell Personal Care’s Banana Boat Sport Ultra Roll-On is made for on-the-go sun protection. Water resistant for 80 minutes, the product offers a convenient application in a TSAfriendly size that’s easy to carry. The high endurance, mild formula is meant to be gentle and is free from oxybenzone, octinoxate, parabens and phthalates, the company said. It comes in a 2.5-oz. bottle.


Neutrogena’s Build-A-Glow Gradual Self-Tanning Moisturizing Spray by Johnson & Johnson is designed to give users a natural glow. Formulated with argan oil, the spray is hypoallergenic, streak and mess free and has a clear, lightweight formula. It comes in a 5-oz. bottle and can be used daily or reapplied for a deep color, the company said.

Developed by Pharmavite, Nature Made Wellblends Sleep & Immune Gummies is a 5-in-1 supplement that is drug free and non-habit-forming. It contains 6 mg of melatonin, vitamins and elderberry and is formulated to help users fall asleep faster and support a healthy immune response, the brand said. It comes in a 40-count bottle.

5. AxSmartMouth Dry Mouth Dual-Action Mints Triumph Pharmaceuticals’ SmartMouth Dry Mouth DualAction Mints are designed to promote improved oral health. The mints include zinc and xylitol to increase saliva production for temporary relief of minor dry mouth, as needed. Each package contains 50 mints. dsn


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Numbers Game One answer to drug stores’ supply chain problems: high-quality data By Brad Pope

Brad Pope, vice president of customer success, Kinsa

According to a recent US Pharmacopeia, or USP, survey, seven of 10 U.S. physicians say that the COVID-19 pandemic has heightened drug supply chain problems, limiting their ability to provide quality patient care. It’s no secret: The pandemic has driven supply chains to their breaking points, causing out-of-stocks and sky high prices. As the pandemic slows in the United States (though cases are currently rising again in Europe and Asia), its lasting impact on supply chains is likely here to stay for months, maybe years, to come. Even before COVID-19 emerged in the United States, managing drug store supply chains has always been challenging. Illness seasons are historically unpredictable, and the pandemic only exacerbated this fact. What if drug stores could know when and where illness is rising, and how quickly it’s spreading? What would it mean to remove some of the unpredictability before, and during, an illness season? Knowing when and where customers will want products begins with high-quality demand-sensing data that is timely, consistent and regional. Drug stores can leverage such data to help prevent out-of-stocks and effectively plan their workforce. Drug stores typically leverage medical claims-based data, like data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which publishes aggregated data with up to a two-week delay. Making supply chain decisions using this lagged data can have serious consequences for retailers because illness patterns and trends typically change quickly. Illness data aggregated at illness onset, before someone enters the healthcare system, can show when and where symptoms are rising and falling in real time, helping drug stores make more nimble decisions about stock, staffing and more. If drug stores have context from past illness seasons, they can compare them to present activity to help identify and predict exceptional illness levels. “Consistent” year-over-year data enables retailers to put upcoming illness levels, including COVID-19 waves, in context, and this more complete picture of any given illness season is key for informed decisionmaking. This is particularly helpful as illness activity (flu, RSV,


etc.) decreased when people employed preventive behaviors in response to COVID-19 (i.e., masking and social distancing). Illness levels vary greatly in different parts of the country. It’s common for one region to experience increasing illness levels while others near or pass seasonal peaks. Local illness trends require different resource strategies, and with high-definition “regional” data, retailers can pivot appropriately to best serve the communities where their stores are located. In the case of Kinsa, an illness insights solutions business working with two of the three largest pharmacy chains in the United States, local illness insights are rooted in high-quality demand-sensing data. These insights begin with aggregated, anonymized realtime illness data (temperature, symptom and demographic) from millions of households across the country using Kinsa’s app-enabled smart thermometers (“timely” data). Kinsa’s aggregated data can also show the rate at which illness is transmitted within a household, and the origin of illness within the household (child versus adult). This information helps understand how illness might spread throughout the larger community and the region.

“Knowing when and where customers will want products begins with high-quality demandsensing data that is timely, consistent and regional.” Kinsa’s real-time data is aggregated with other inputs of publicly available health data, weather data and more (“consistent” data), and the output is an illness data hub with predictive power to forecast when and where illness will rise up to 20 weeks in advance while simultaneously monitoring in real time for symptom spikes at a hyperlocal level (“regional” data). High-quality demand-sensing data has the power to help drug stores optimize their supply chains in anticipation of illness season and throughout. Timely, consistent and regional data can help keep the right products on drug stores’ shelves to help customers and communities feel better faster. dsn


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Brand Leader Hyland’s Naturals CEO Will Righeimer talks branding and a new VMS strategy Hyland’s Naturals is a leading consumer health company with more than a century of history making products to help people live healthier and happier lives. At the core of the company’s business is providing natural wellness products for people and pets, and now the company is set to unveil a lineup of new preventive health gummies in the vitamins, minerals and supplements, or VMS, category. Recently, Drug Store News sat down with CEO Will Righeimer to talk about the company’s expansion and its recent rebranding.

Will Righeimer CEO Hyland’s Naturals

Drug Store News: What inspired the recent logo and brand refresh? Will Righeimer: It’s really driven by consumer insights. By listening to our Hyland’s Naturals consumers and retailers we heard that, while they love our brand, they wanted something that was unique and modern, that would stand out on the shelf and online. It also needed to reflect our dedication to natural ingredients and reinforce our commitment to health and wellness. We took these insights to heart and will be extending the brand refresh across our entire product line this year. DSN: What are you most excited about at this time? WR: Hyland’s Naturals has been a trusted brand for almost 120 years. Our focus has always been to meet the needs of consumers who value using natural ingredients — we were big believers in clean, highquality natural products before that became the movement it is today. That rich history is what we continue to honor, while we shift to a new modern look and accelerate our product innovation efforts. In 2022, we’re very excited to be launching into the broader vitamin, mineral and supplements category. We have 20 new products that are being unveiled in the coming year and we are confident, based on consumer and retailer input, that they will resonate with consumers here in the United States and around the world. DSN: What will differentiate your vitamins, minerals and supplements from what’s already in the market? WR: Not all supplements are created equal. From a quality standpoint, we’ve applied the same strict standards as our FDA-regulated OTC products. In terms of formulation, our brand specializes in unique


blends that use organic and natural ingredients to support preventive health. All our products are made in the USA with ingredients sourced from around the world and tested with third-party labs to ensure safety and quality. For our gummies, we know that taste is an important factor, so we offer delicious flavors that the whole family will love. DSN: Are you doing anything else on the company level to support the launch of the new products? WR: We have an aggressive new product launch schedule focused on the children’s and women’s health categories. As part of that, we are building on the momentum from the brand refresh and investing heavily in digital and traditional media in national campaigns. We’re also partnering with our retailers to provide large-scale in-store activations, custom displays, shelf talkers and expanded offerings on retailer e-commerce sites. Lastly, this fall we will be starting several new influencer campaigns to spread the word about Hyland’s Naturals on a global scale. DSN: What will the company’s rebrand mean for your retail customers? WR: Our retailers appreciate that this rebrand will drive new excitement and energy into our trusted brand. With almost 120 years of history, the Hyland’s Naturals brand has already shown incredible resiliency and an ability to last the test of time; the rebranding and move into supplements are the next evolution of Hyland’s Naturals and will show customers that we’re modern and connecting with more consumers than ever with our expanded product portfolio and marketing reach. They can trust that we will be growing for another 120 years! dsn


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Growing a Garden Garden House, now part of Megalabs Group, poised to expand offerings in North America

Ignacio Bentancur, general manager for North America, Garden House

Garden House has been the leader in providing natural-based products for the digestive market in Latin America and now in the United States for the past decade. In 2018, the company was acquired by Megalabs Group, a global pharmaceutical giant providing and distributing prescription and OTC products. Megalabs’ experience and success in the pharmaceutical and OTC fields have created the foundation for new initiatives and plans to launch new product categories in the United States. Now, the company is poised to partner with retail and e-commerce channels to expand its offering and provide high-quality supplements for families across North America. Here, Ignacio Bentancur, general manager for North America, explains how he’s aiming to scale-up Garden House’s presence in the northern hemisphere. Drug Store News: What type of innovation does your company bring to the digestive category? Ignacio Bentancur: Our main brand and household name, Prunelax, is an effective laxative made of natural senna extract, an active ingredient with several independent clinical studies confirming its safety and effectiveness. Our innovation lies in our expertise in formulating natural-based but highly effective products. For example, the first product launched was a prune jam with crushed senna leaves and pods. We are bringing products out of the medicine cabinet and to your table. The product now comes in several forms such as tablets, jam, syrup, tea and now great-tasting gummies. While Megalabs’ portfolio has more than 1,800 products covering all therapeutic areas, our strategy in the U.S. focuses on launching and developing the best and most versatile solutions in the supplement and OTC field, where we have plans to expand our business by launching into new product categories. DSN: What goals is your company working toward in 2022? IB: For the past decade, we’ve provided naturalbased products for the digestive market in the U.S., developing close relationships with well-known and qualified leaders that align with our values of highperformance standards. In this new, exciting stage, by being part of a global pharmaceutical company, we’ve developed a growth plan supported by Megalabs’ experience and success in this field, which includes increasing our marketing efforts, launching new products in the U.S., and now


have entered the Canadian market this year. We are leveraging our capabilities and market intelligence to launch and accelerate more brands into the U.S. market, while we continue being a reliable and valuable partner for our customers and promoting our mission of improving people’s health and quality of life with safe and proven solutions. DSN: What else should our readers know about your company? IB: The company has been present in the U.S. market since 2006 and has more than 30 years of experience manufacturing and commercializing OTC pharmaceuticals and nutraceuticals based on extracts from medicinal plants and vitamins and minerals. In 2018, Garden House was acquired by Megalabs Group, a leading branded specialty pharmaceutical company focused on innovation and therapeutic solutions for Latin American markets. Megalabs is present in more than 20 countries and has a network of 17 plants and seven R&D centers that combine cutting-edge technological development with high-quality industrial production. Backed by a trustworthy framework and a strong reputation in the medical community, Megalabs has experienced exponential growth, emerging as the market share leader in its primary markets in Latin America. Maintaining a focus on continuous business development and expansion, we are on a quest to conquer new markets, remaining focused on our mission of improving people’s lives with our healthcare products. dsn


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A Strategic Partner Eagle Labs is on a mission to make consumer products the public can trust Eagle Labs is a fully NSF Certified contract manufacturer of dietary supplements and cosmetics. The company can handle a wide array of product forms and offers collaboration throughout the formulation and product development process. Recently, Michael Law, chief commercial officer, sat down with Drug Store News to talk about the company’s mission and what we can expect from the supplements and cosmetics market in the near future.

Michael Law, chief commercial officer, Eagle Labs

"Our mission is to be an agile, strategic partner with a breadth of collaborative resources."


Drug Store News: What is your company’s history, and what do you see as its mission? Michael Law: Eagle Labs is NSF Certified and FDA registered for dietary supplements, cosmetics and OTCs. We are also Certified Organic and registered with Health Canada. Eagle Labs meets the highest industry standards for manufacturing, testing and process control. Eagle Labs has been a contract manufacturer for over 20 years. Our mission is to be an agile, strategic partner with a breadth of collaborative resources. We bring a strong and experienced management team to help in all areas from R&D and formulation, through packaging design, manufacturing and fulfillment. DSN: Describe your company’s product offerings. What makes the products unique? ML: We manufacture nutritional/dietary supplements (capsules, tablets, powders, gummies and liquids), as well as a wide array of cosmetic skin care products. Eagle Labs has low MOQs for the right strategic partners, so we can grow with them. We spend time to deeply understand the strategies and goals the customer is trying to achieve. Eagle brings leaders from all key functional areas to the earliest stages of a customer engagement to ensure the best solutions are being created. Often this means consulting on ingredient choices, formulations, packaging and claims. Another thing that makes Eagle Labs unique is that we have large e-commerce DTC customers as well as clients with large traditional brick-and-mortar brands. Additionally, we have a strong own brand/private brand business for retail clients.

DSN: What are your thoughts on “what’s next” in supplements and in cosmetic products? ML: There are three key themes: innovation, “natural or free from” and value. Innovation will always have a place for consumers seeking new solutions. This may be in ingredients, product forms, packaging or claims. Within supplements, we are seeing strong growth in powder stick packs and gummies. Traditional capsules and tablets remain strong, but a segment of consumers is looking for new ways to dose themselves to support their healthy lifestyle. Immunity products remain strong, and we expect consumers will continue to seek products that help them reduce the impact of aging and increase wellness. For cosmetics, there have been a lot of disruptive brands entering the category as barriers to entry have fallen. We expect that consumer spending on facial care and hand and body lotions will experience growth postCOVID. Additionally, consumers will continue to seek solutions to help them feel better and look better. Antiaging creams continue to be strong sellers as America ages. DSN: Anything else you’d like our retail readers to know about your company? ML: Eagle Labs can help identify key trends in e-commerce to help support traditional retail clients. Additionally, for e-commerce clients, we can provide support through our high-volume fulfillment center. With a broad array of product forms available and decades of experience on the management team, Eagle can be a strong strategic partner for both large and smaller brands, and also with private label/ own brands. dsn


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Preferring Pharmacy AACP’s Lucinda Maine to retire from 40-plus years in the pharmacy profession By Hannah Esper

Not one to sit still, Lucinda Maine, PhD, RPh, is entering a new phase of life next month that she’s calling “preferment.” The borrowed term more accurately describes how she will spend her time after a nearly five decade-long career in pharmacy. “It is my being able to do what I prefer to do when I’m no longer needing to work full-time,” she said. As she embarks on this new path, Maine concerns herself with those tasked with the responsibility of recruiting students to the pharmacy field — one that she loves but that has seen declining enrollment numbers in college programs in recent years. “It’s two years short of 50 years ago that I began my love affair with the profession of pharmacy, and it has never abated,” she said. As the outgoing CEO and executive vice president of the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy, or AACP, Maine wants students to recognize the exceptional career that pharmacy has been for her. “My bottom line is don’t miss the greatest opportunity of a lifetime,” she said, noting that that’s not what students are hearing from many pharmacists today. She pointed to the COVID-19 pandemic as exacerbating the stress and burnout often experienced in the field, causing the pipeline of pharmacists to dwindle. “I want your readers to understand they play a very, very critical role in addressing this,” Maine said. “And if they don’t, the profession is in peril.” Maine noted the increase in opportunities young people have today just entering the industry — with communications companies, contract research organizations, digital health companies and more. “No one has the knowledge, the expertise, to do what pharmacists do,” she said.


“No one has the knowledge, the expertise, to do what pharmacists do”

Lucinda Maine, PhD, RPh

For the past 20 years, Maine has supported pharmacy students through her work with AACP, which works to develop strong academic scholars and leaders. Maine joined the organization at another time when the profession was facing a national shortage of pharmacists. In 2002, there were 84 schools of pharmacy accredited by the accrediting body. Today, there are 141. The AACP staff increased from 15 to 36, and the top-line revenue is more than $10 million today. “One of the things I’m most proud of, and this was true when I got here and it’s true today: 100% of the eligible institutions are members of AACP,” Maine said. While she said she will be mindful of overcommitting, Maine plans to stay active in the field during her “preferment.” One of her projects will be to write the next portion of the AACP centennial compendium, where she will capture the history of what’s happened during the fifth-quarter century since the association was founded in 1900. Prior to her role at AACP, Maine served as the senior vice president of policy, planning and communications with the American Pharmacists Association, or APhA. dsn


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Throughout its 67-year history, Food City/K-V-A-T Stores has been continuously swamped with new CPG items. At trade shows, executives have navigated seas of seemingly endless display booths. At the retailer’s Abingdon, Va., headquarters, buyers’ calendars have always been full, with product samples festooning offices and conference rooms. Be it snacks, pasta, beer or dog food, the new product pipeline has never slowed — until now. Food City/K-V-A-T is not alone. Like other food, drug and mass retailers, it faces a serious new-product shortage, brought on by pandemic-related supply chain constraints, worker shortages and other issues. Sans guarantees that they can consistently fill orders, many CPG manufacturers are not investing hefty sums in developing and marketing new items. According to Catalina’s Buyer Intelligence Database, 87,149


branded UPCs were unveiled in 2021, compared to 263,436 in pre-pandemic 2019. In private label, new UPCs fell from 63,201 in 2019 to 29,385 two years later. NielsenIQ estimates that CPG shortages and empty shelves cost retailers at least $82 billion in lost sales. Dan Glei, executive vice president of merchandising and marketing at Food City/K-V-A-T, has spent decades in the CPG industry, working for several prominent retailers and suppliers. “This is a different space than I’ve ever seen in my career,” he said. “Newness is a challenge now. It’s been hard to find new suppliers. Vendors can’t meet demand for existing goods, so how do you make more? Consumers see empty shelves everywhere.” Jim Hertell, senior vice president of client development at Winston-Salem, N.C.-based Inmar Intelligence and another industry veteran, said the situation is unprecedented. “Retailers


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An Acronym for F.A.I.L.U.R.E. IRI outlines the “seven deadly sins” of new product innovation Despite the best laid plans of retailers and suppliers — including millions spent on research, pilots and focus groups — 80% to 90% of new CPG items flop after one or two years. There are good reasons. In IRI’s “2020 New Product Pace Setters” report (published in 2021), Larry Levin, executive vice president of market and shopper intelligence, coined the acronym “FAILURE” in outlining seven criteria that can make the difference between high-flying successes and fatal crashes.

F-orecasting: Marketing/advertising

spending should correlate with performance and distribution expectations.

never had to worry about filling holes on shelves,” he said. “For every 10 new items they saw, retailers may have taken one or two. There were always more new products in the pipeline than there was shelf space. They never had to worry about running out.” Some people blame product shortages on COVID-19-related shipping and manufacturing disruptions, labor shortages, and the Russian invasion of Ukraine. But explanations can be murky. “The supply challenge is universal, although there is a lot of ambiguity regarding the underlying issues,” Glei said. Whatever the cause, shortages of new and replenishment products — along with raw materials, ingredients and packaging resources — have made the retail world more challenging. “It’s pretty scary,” said Dave Marcotte, senior vice president of global retail and technology at New York-based Kantar Retail. “There are enormous holes on shelves. The way retail is going isn’t predictable. There are many variables that didn’t exist three years ago.”

“There were always more new products in the pipeline than there was shelf space. They never had to worry about running out.” —JIM HERTELL, SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT OF CLIENT DEVELOPMENT, INMAR INTELLIGENCE

A-ssortment: Flavors/variation

preferences can vary by region or store demographics. Think about localizing assortments.

I-ncrementality: How will the item drive incremental sales and benefit the category and aisle? Does it create competition and keep consumers returning to see what’s new? “This is one of the most important aspects of new product innovation,” Levin said. L-anguish: A steady marketing/ promotional program invigorates introductions and keeps them top of mind. Otherwise, products stagnate. U-nclear positioning: What is the

brand’s purpose? What does it stand for? How is this communicated?

R-etread: Introductions should have unique aspects and not be “retreads” in a competitive category. E-lusivity: When ad campaigns launch, distribution should be broad enough to reach myriad shoppers.


INNOVATION DRIVES PERFORMANCE New products are the lifeblood of retail. As the pandemic abates, they are key components in reinvigorating store traffic. They also drive incremental purchasing and overall category sales, particularly in physical stores. “There’s a lot riding on keeping store experiences new and fresh,” said Noor Abdel-Samed, managing director at L.E.K. Consulting in Boston. “Retailers are desperate. They need that treasure hunt of discovery. But suppliers are struggling to keep what they have on shelves. It doesn’t help them to introduce new products.” New items are particularly important in food, beverages and beauty, where consumers constantly seek newness and trends continually change. Ten years ago, for example, who was interested in kombucha, K-Beauty and plant-based foods? “People don’t just go into these departments for replenishment,” Abdel-Samed said. “They seek newness and discovery.” New items are also needed in categories facing severe shortages. This has made in-stock positioning a bigger factor in new product selections. Before, it was usually a given. “In stock went from being a core business fundamental to a strategic driver in new product decisions,” said Don Stuart, managing partner at Cadent Consulting in Wilton, Conn. “It’s a major change.” In canned pet food, for example, “suppliers can’t sustain the demand,” Glei said. “If someone had a new canned food line, we’d look at it tomorrow if it meets our criteria and is consistent and similar to what we’re replacing.” Retailers may temporarily replace or augment out-of-stock products with new items, but they are not forever discontinuing merchandise unless they are poor performers. “Retailers don’t want to reset shelves permanently since they often have no real-time visibility into when products will ship,” said


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Paul Weitzel, vice president of data platform at Inmar. Pasquale Laudiero, president of Ghigi Food Industries, a private-label importer of Italian-made foods based in Manassas, Va., said retailers simply want backup vendors. “There’s a big focus on diversifying suppliers in key categories to avoid out-of-stocks.” Laudiero has received inquiries from retailers seeking opening price point private-label olive oil and tomato sauce. Items could serve as backups to out-of-stock brands or act as lower-priced

alternatives in an inflationary market. “Historically, people have asked for specialty items to make statements,” he said. “Now, there’s demand for high-volume staples. We haven’t seen much from an innovation standpoint.” Glei concedes he is willing to take “more risks” with new vendors to keep stores fresh and replenished. “We tell suppliers there’s an opportunity with out-of-stocks.” One way to mitigate risks while generating impulse sales is to focus more on seasonal merchandise that is not replenished.

Pride of the Pandemic Despite the challenges of the last two years, some companies were brave and confident enough to launch new CPG items. Not only did some of these products make it through the pipeline and onto retailers’ shelves, they were repeatedly chosen by consumers and became extremely profitable. As with all successful launches, items were on trend, met current consumer needs, and were backed by appropriate marketing and promotions. Here is a look at some winners: Tide Hygienic Clean Heavy Duty 10x: Capitalizing on shoppers’ COVID-19-driven mysophobia and their established penchant for Tide, Procter & Gamble was right on the money with a detergent said to clean fabrics down to a microscopic level. The October 2020 launch was backed by social media and 2021 Superbowl ads featuring Jason Alexander. The product now comes in a pod version in multiple scents. “Tide Hygienic Clean has been huge,” said Jim Hertel, senior vice president of client development at Inmar Intelligence. “Everyone is playing on being germ free.” Bud Light Hard Seltzer: This was one of the first major competitors to White Claw in the brand-new category of “lighter” carbonated alcoholic beverages. Unveiled in January 2020, the slightly flavored beverage has just 100 calories. A hedge against declining beer sales, it also benefited from Anheuser-Busch’s massive distribution network. The brand’s one-minute Super Bowl ads starred celebrity restauranter Guy Fieri. Bud Light Hard Seltzer took the leading spot among IRI’s Top 10 Food and Beverage New Product Pacesetters for 2020. Downy Infusions Scents: The fabric softener strengthens fabrics, reduces friction during laundering, helps clothes maintain their shape and reduces pilling. Its scent is subtle and long-lasting. Topping the list of nonfood Pacesetters, the P&G product generated more than $120 million in sales during its first year.


Kroger’s Simple Truth: The private label line underwent a major expansion in 2020. In addition to plant-based meat alternatives, it includes shelf-stable salsas, salad dressings, cookies, crunchy snacks and peanut butter. Success is attributed to the category’s trendiness as well as the careful attention paid to assortment, quality and pricing on the part of Kroger. Simple Truth has been supported by robust marketing involving coupons, sampling and its own website, simpletruth.com. Don Stuart, managing partner at Cadent Consulting Group, said the plant-based food category was one of the few that has seen myriad introductions. “Plant-based foods appeal to consumers who are not primarily vegetarians and want to eat less fat and animal protein,” he said. “They consume them as a meat substitute once or twice a week.” In total, plant-based foods grew 6.2% in 2021, reaching a record $7.4 billion, according to data from the Plant Based Foods Association, The Good Food Institute and SPINS. Seventy-nine percent of shoppers consumed these foods multiple times in 2021. Target’s Favorite Day: The retailer’s owned brand, which hit stores in spring 2021, takes a creative approach to self-rewards by emphasizing indulgence rather than a specific segment. Offerings include sweet/savory flavor combinations in snacks, baked goods, candy, ice cream and cocktail mixes. S’mores chocolate bark with Golden Grahams pieces and orange cream-flavored trail mix are two examples. In April 2022, Target added innovative Easter items such as the Tie Dye Easter Egg Sugar Cookie Kit and Easter Bunny Cookie House Kit (similar to a gingerbread house). Other confections included Bunny Bair Trail Mix, honey roasted peanut and confetti cookie pieces; Bunny Butt Desserts; and marshmallow-flavored Hot Cocoa Bomb Eggs.


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Abdel-Samed pointed to “bigger buys” here. Costs of unsold merchandise can be offset by the segment’s higher margins. Yet retailers must commit 18 months in advance. Regardless of strategy, product introduction guidelines have not changed (see IRI sidebar). The bottom line is that introductions must fill a consumer need. “Products are successful when they’re meaningful, on trend and/or close a gap in a category,” said Amar Singh, senior director at Kantar. But “on trend” can have different meanings. “For example, younger generations want authentic messaging; older ones are more focused on organic. Sustainability means different things to different age groups.” Introductions also require market research, advertising, promotions and appropriate packaging. If they cannot find alternatives for out-of-stocks, retailers may shift existing shelf inventory to improve visual impact. “They spend much time expanding/contracting facings to adjacent, in-stock products to fill holes,” Weitzel said. “This makes shopping harder for consumers, adds labor costs and destroys merchandising best practices like layout and flow principles. Shortages have a huge impact on overall planogram integrity.” This strategy also does not invigorate offerings. In the absence of new items, Glei uses “creative events and promos” to generate excitement and keep things fresh.

SHORTER CYCLES AND TECHNOLOGY Traditionally, assortment planning and new product introductions have been calendar-based, not needs-based. Every six to 12 months, retailers reviewed categories, adding and eliminating items and adjusting prices. But this method did not address market changes, such as sudden out-of-stocks, emerging trends and fluctuations in shopper demand.

In 2021, branded UPCs were unveiled, compared to in pre-pandemic 2019. SOURCE: CATALINA’S BUYER INTELLIGENCE DATABASE

Consequently, assortments were not always up to date. Today, retailers adjust assortments more frequently to meet current conditions. “Demand keeps changing,” said Cheryl Sullivan, chief product officer and general manager of retail/CPG at Dallas-based Symphony Retail AI. “It’s about how do I become more dynamic? When do I need to make a change or seek a substitute? How do I know I have the right distribution level across stores?” With COVID-19 making issues more challenging, more retailers are turning to artificial intelligence and other technology tools. In a survey by Coresight Research and Prevedere, 67% of respondents said their organizations are investing more or much more in technology than they did before COVID-19. About half are currently using AI or are fully ready to use it. “Consumer behavior changed, supply chain costs increased and people are overworked,” said Gary Saarenvirta, CEO of Toronto-based Daisy Intelligence. “They can’t add more people, plus there’s a labor shortage. They need technology to leverage existing teams.” Saarenvirta indicated that Daisy’s sales have “dramatically increased beginning a year ago.” AI can detect out-of-stocks, check inventory and suggest substitutions. It can measure item performance against other products in the total market. “It tells me what I should keep, remove or add,” Sullivan said. “And which products must be carried in all stores or some stores and which are mandatory. There’s constant ins and outs, with new products carrying more risk.” Using complex algorithms and Halo Forecasting, Daisy’s tools compare market baskets and usage patterns. If shampoo is on sale, for example, retailers can forecast what items will frequently be purchased with it and how many, Saarenvirta said. “There’s a constant ratio between items and their halo.” Technology can predict new products’ impact on the total store based on the halo’s size. “Without a large halo, there isn’t a big effect,” he said. “Halo thinking permeates everything we do.” For out-of-stocks, the tool can suggest alternatives with similar halo patterns. It also can help retailers expand private label in categories with the largest halo effects. Even with technology, developing, testing, introducing and marketing new products is expensive and risky. With failure rates already as high as 70% to 90% (depending on the category), many suppliers do not want the added risk of being unable to secure materials or ingredients and be out of stock. While this situation has dragged on for more than two long years, Stuart predicts that, over the next few months, the pipeline will again be full with more merchandise than anyone truly needs. “New products will continue to be the industry’s lifeblood,” he said. dsn


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The Robots Are Here to Stay How innovative companies will power the future of pharmacy By Sandra Levy

Picture this: A patient who has been newly diagnosed with diabetes visits a community pharmacy. The pharmacist provides counseling on monitoring glucose levels and how to manage outof-range levels, and develops a plan for the patient if sugar levels go too low. The pharmacist also recommends an appropriate diet and exercise routine to complement medication management. This scenario and similar situations, in which pharmacists help patients manage their chronic disease, is being played out in pharmacies nationwide. But how can pharmacists perform vital clinical services, and provide COVID-19 testing, immunizations and point-of-care testing, while meeting the requirement to fill a high volume of prescriptions? Enter pharmacy technology and automation companies, which are amplifying their products and services. Many technology companies are offering products that help pharmacies more efficiently handle a higher volume of prescriptions, which has become even more challenging as COVID-19 ebbs and flows. Crocus Medical, based in Minneapolis, is a case in point. John Webster, Crocus Medical vice president of innovation and product development, said the company’s range of pill

counters, including countertop and larger stand-alone robots, can help pharmacies and pharmacists deal with higher dispensing demands as they grow their businesses, and also maintain their volumes if faced with staff shortages. For pharmacies involved in long-term care or assisted living, Crocus Medical’s multidose cellophane packaging machines and blister-filling robots can help package high-volume clients’ medications quickly and accurately. Moreover, the company’s inventory software management informs pharmacists about products that are running low, those that are in excess and “how they can better utilize these high-cost items without hours of human oversight,” Webster said. Lastly, Crocus Medical’s Self-Collect Rx lockers, which enable patients to “click and collect” their refills at their pharmacy, enable pharmacies to compete against mail order dispensaries that offer contactless delivery. iA, based in Indianapolis, is on a mission to reduce pharmacists’ heavy workload by streamlining the prescription-filling process through off-site automation, giving time back to pharmacists as they seek to focus on clinical work.

Indianapolis-based iA aims to reduce pharmacists’ heavy workload by streamlining the prescription-filling process through off-site automation, freeing up pharmacists’ time as they seek to focus on clinical work.



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Alecia Lashier, chief automation officer at iA, pointed out that clinical services can result in new revenue sources. “It’s a win-win for the pharmacist and pharmacy,” she said, while noting that automating the work of low-reimbursement tasks to increase overall quality of care and efficiency “trickles down to patient satisfaction.” “Human error during repetitive tasks, such as manually filling prescriptions, is inevitable, but by automating the prescription-filling process, we can leverage robotics for tasks that are prone to human error,” she said. “As our solutions become more intelligent, we can expand tracking updates for both pharmacists and patients, creating more ease, convenience and flexibility.” Centralizing inventory also helps pharmacies mitigate holding costs.“Additionally, enterprise remote verification and analytics aid in the optimization for each patient’s prescription fulfillment,” Lashier said. EnlivenHealth, the Raleigh, N.C.-based division of Omnicell, also is a leader in providing automation that frees up pharmacists to pursue clinical opportunities. Danny Sanchez, senior vice president and general manager of EnlivenHealth, described the company’s latest release, Personalized IVR, as a game-changer for pharmacies, based on its beta partner, which experienced a 15% reduction in transfer time from the phone system to the pharmacy. Personalized IVR can identify a patient, look at their profile, tell them what medications they are taking, suggest a refill or offer to text a link to schedule a vaccine or other clinical services via the company’s CareScheduler. “We’re bringing intelligence and automation into the pharmacy,” Sanchez said. “The patient is calling in and having a personalized discussion with our technology. Personalization can include giving patients the opportunity to pick up prescriptions curbside or even have them delivered.” In the future, if patients have questions about the medications they are taking for their disease states, the IVR will connect them to educational materials or send a link to schedule a meeting with a pharmacist. Pharmacy technology companies also are focusing on reducing the inefficiencies of current prescription pickup methods, which improves medication adherence. Durham, N.C.-based Bell and Howell’s Pharmacy Solutions is a front-runner in this area. The company’s advanced QuickCollect Rx kiosk system improves workflows by automating the prescription pickup process with a multi-portal design, allowing simultaneous prescription


Bell and Howell’s QuickCollect Rx kiosk system automates the prescription pickup process, allowing simultaneous prescription pickups and a reduction of staff workload.

of patients are more likely to take their medications on time each day when enrolled in an adherence packaging program. Source: Parata Systems

pickups and reducing staff workload. James Hermanowski, vice president of BH QuickCollect Solutions, said the kiosk allows secure unattended pickup of prescriptions and other items. “The solution also reduces wait times, which is a major source of customer frustration and prescription abandonment,” he said. “It also improves patient compliance and satisfaction.” Additionally, the QuickCollect Rx is integrated with McKesson’s EnterpriseRx, which allows secure communication with the pharmacy for prescription validation and assurance that a prescription’s chain of custody is maintained. “Pharmacy staff can load prescriptions into the QuickCollect Rx in seconds, freeing up time to focus on patient wellness programs and pharmacy services,” Hermanowski said. “Our solution allows pharmacies to expand their pickup hours and provide contactless pickup experiences at a time that is most convenient for the patient. Patients are notified that their prescriptions are ready using the current pharmacy process, and they can quickly pick them up via an intuitive display on the kiosk.” Parata Systems, based in Durham, N.C., also is focused on improving medication adherence with an automated adherence packaging solution. “Parata Systems offers solutions that provide exponential benefits whether pharmacies are just getting started or are scaling for growth,” said Elleny Johnson, associate segment marketing manager at


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What it feels like to not have to count to 30 all day iA’s pharmacy fulfillment solutions help to free up pharmacists’ time to focus on enhancing the patient experience, providing vaccines, and consulting with patients on their prescriptions and other health concerns. Contact iA to learn how pharmacy fulfillment can help you lower your cost to fill, save on labor & inventory costs, and allow your pharmacists to work to the full extent of their license.

Unleash the full potential of pharmacy with iA www.iARx.com / sales@iARx.com / (607) 352-2146

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(Left) Durham, N.C.’s Parata Systems provides an automated adherence packaging solution. (Right) Knapp, based in Kennesaw, Ga., offers fully automated, patient-centric solutions that help prevent medication errors while accelerating prescription fulfillment.

Parata Systems. “Beyond creating time for pharmacies to do more value-based care, our solutions increase medication adherence and provide a convenient and reliable patient experience. Seventy one percent of patients are more likely to take their medications on time each day when enrolled in an adherence packaging program, and 86% are more confident with managing their medications.” Pointing out that Parata Systems offers solutions to support better health outcomes, safety, efficiency and business growth, Johnson said, “This new normal requires pharmacies to be seen as part of the overall healthcare landscape and offer the clinically focused care that patients demand and deserve. To do that, pharmacies need to free up time to devote to point-of-care testing, immunizations, medication therapy management, patient counseling and more. Automation creates that time.” With only so many hours in a day, pharmacists also are looking for ways to handle time-consuming responsibilities, such as dealing with discontinued medications, prior authorizations and some of the tasks associated with administering vaccines. For example, Arlington, Va.-based Surescripts offers several solutions to meet these challenges, including CancelRx, which prescribers use to alert pharmacists to discontinued prescriptions without taking them out of their workflow. Surescripts’ RxChange enables pharmacists to reach out to prescribers electronically to initiate prior authorizations, to suggest more affordable


therapeutic alternatives, request clarifications on prescriptions and receive replies in the same workflow. Additionally, Surescripts Real-Time Prescription Benefit gives pharmacists the power to address cost concerns by helping to identify lowercost alternatives and facilitating changes to cost-effective therapeutic alternatives within their workflows. “This helps to avoid costly issues such as prescription abandonment and restocking that often result from prescription processing delays,” said Ken Whittemore Jr., Surescripts vice president of pharmacy and regulatory affairs. If that weren’t enough, Clinical Direct Messaging provides pharmacists with an automated way to report vaccination administrations to patients’ primary care providers. Preventing medication errors while accelerating prescription fulfillment is yet another major challenge for pharmacies. Kennesaw, Ga.-based Knapp is a leader in providing automated solutions that tackle these two concerns. Brian Sullivan, senior systems sales manager for healthcare solutions at Kapp USA and Canada, said the company offers fully automated, patient-centric solutions that are risk ready, auto compliant and error free. “Knapp’s smart pharmacy system provides real-time visibility from the central pharmacy to the last mile,” he said. “From dispensing to order sorting, deeply integrated intelligence and analytics guide inventory management, staffing and maintenance to assure on-time, same-day fulfillment across the network. Our software-driven system is integrated, interconnected and intelligent, and can handle fulfillment for prescriptions, OTCs and e-commerce orders.” Sullivan also noted that micro-fulfillment centers deployed today can become regional hubs that support up to 200 retail, specialty and long-term care pharmacies tomorrow. Additionally, in-store automated storage and retrieval systems can accelerate fulfillment and provide 24/7 dispensing of prescription and OTC medications. “This transformation is happening now,” Sullivan said. “Our customers have redefined the expectations of a typical pharmacy with new business models and new revenue-generating services.” Moorestown, N.J.-based Tabula Rasa Health-Care’s MedWise Science


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analyzes a patient’s risk of medication-related harm and helps pharmacists make recommendations to reduce patient risk. Michael Awadalla, executive vice president, office of applied pharmacotherapy at Tabula Rasa HealthCare, said that MedWise Science analyzes all of an individual’s medications at once, helping pharmacists to identify simultaneous, multi-drug interactions and determine a patient’s specific risk of medication-related harm, or their MedWise Risk Score.

“Human error during repetitive tasks is inevitable, but by automating the prescription-filling process, we can leverage robotics for tasks that are prone to human error.” — Alecia Lashier, chief automation officer, iA

“Research has highlighted the association between MedWise Risk Score and various outcomes, including medical costs, adverse drug events, falls, mortality, emergency department visits, hospital admissions and hospital length of stay,” Awadalla said. MedWise Science also supports pharmacists by conveying a patient’s risk through visualizations rather than alerts. These visualizations enable pharmacists to evaluate various areas of risk at once. “With MedWise Science, pharmacists avoid alert fatigue, which is especially critical as they take on greater workloads,” he said. Pharmacy tech companies also are assisting pharmacies in meeting consumers’ heightened demands for a safe and convenient shopping experience. For instance, Toronto, Canada-based Magstar provides an all-in-one ERP solution that is catered to help small- and medium-sized retailers grow and unify their online and offline shopping experiences. Among the company’s solutions are mobile devices that allow clerks to process orders for a safe, touchless experience. Magstar also provides retailers with the ability to vary their payment methods for customers by supporting other types of payments, such as PayPal and Venmo.


Magstar also is helping pharmacies keep up with increasingly complex supply chains. “Our auto replenishment system was designed to ensure that small- and medium-sized pharmacies have the right product mix, based on the activity at the location level, to meet changing customer demands,” said Magstar president Steven Greenwood. Additionally, Magstar’s direct integrations with a variety of pharmacy systems, such as PDX, Pioneer Rx, McKesson and Enterprise Rx, reduce complexities for retailers, Greenwood noted. “On the front end, things like internal gift card programs benefit retailers by fostering loyalty. We also interface with BlackHawk and Incomm to support retailers selling third-party gift cards.” Moreover, Magstar helps pharmacists meet their requirements involving dispensing transactions, including signature capture for HIPPA, easy-off caps and Rx pickup for acknowledgement. Helping pharmacists handle the administrative tasks that are crucial to providing immunizations and point-of-care testing is the bailiwick of STChealth. The Phoenix-based company’s immunization and COVID-19 testing data exchange network connects retail pharmacies across the country to public health agencies and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 2021, this network handled more than 1 billion patient events. “As pharmacy continues to play a bigger role in clinical services, the new normal will be providing a greater percentage of immunizations and increasing patient point-of-care test options for disease prevention and awareness,” said Mike Popovich, CEO of STChealth. “This expanding capability requires real-time data reporting and patient data record access, which is the core of STChealth’s business. Our goal is to ensure every pharmacist and pharmacy technician has the information they need to engage their patients as they provide clinical services and comply with requests for information,” he said. STChealth’s vaccine intelligence allows pharmacies to identify populations at risk of vaccine-preventable diseases in the region they serve and provide specific recommendations to individual patients based on their immunization history. “Integrating STChealth vaccine intelligence with a pharmacy management system creates opportunities in point-of-care testing for early warning disease detection and public health reporting,” Popovich said. Lastly, as pharmacists expand their clinical roles beyond vaccinations, automated drug pricing and patient-engagement solutions become even more critical. Dallas-based OmniSYS is offering solutions in each of these areas. “At OmniSYS, empowering pharmacists to practice at the top of their license is the core of what we do through data, workflow and interoperability solutions,” said David Pope, executive vice president of innovation and industry solutions at OmniSYS. “Pharmacy retailers are using OmniSYS’ billing-enabled EHR, intelligent patient-engagement solutions and suite of callable services to expand their clinical practices beyond vaccinations,” he said. “We take the back-end stress off pharmacists and the pharmacy, enabling the provision of care in the pharmacy environment.” While it’s difficult to predict what the next innovation will be, perhaps Pope summed up what lies ahead best with this sentiment: “The future of pharmacy is value-based clinical care deeply focused on patient outcomes and equitable access. The solutions to power that future must be interoperable, integrated and sustainable for pharmacy organizations, granting pharmacists a realistic pathway for clinical practice.” dsn


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Driving Vaccination Programs Around COVID Pharmacies find new challenges, and new solutions, related to vaccinations By Nora Caley

The COVID-19 vaccination rollout enabled retail pharmacies to take a closer look at their immunization programs. To improve operations, many sought new certifications, updated technology and purchased equipment. Among the results were improved workflow, better customer service and, importantly, increased traffic and revenues. As the pandemic wanes and demand for vaccines decreases, retailers are leveraging what they learned to prepare for the future, which could present anything from another pandemic to a routine flu season. Major retailers acknowledge that COVID-19 vaccines and testing drove traffic and sales. In March, Walgreens Boots Alliance reported that in the second quarter of fiscal 2022, U.S. retail comparable sales were up 14.7% compared with the yearago period, led by COVID vaccinations and testing. The chain reported that it had administered 62.8 million vaccines to date. CVS announced that in fiscal 2021 it administered 59 million vaccines, and that fourth quarter revenues (ending Dec. 31, 2021) increased 10.1% compared with the prior year. In April, Kroger reported strong fiscal year 2021 sales, and that it had administered 11 million vaccines to date. Now that pharmacies have moved beyond just trying to keep


up with demand for COVID-19 vaccines, they are realizing that there are opportunities to help boost their immunization programs to help drive traffic and sales.

Gaining Trust Consumers have been increasingly seeking vaccines from retail pharmacies. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2020-2021 Flu Season Summary, 53.8% of people reported getting a flu vaccination at a store, which was significantly higher than the 34.9% for the 2019-2020 season. As retailers prepared to offer COVID-19 vaccines through the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program, many already had vaccination programs in place because they offered flu shots. One challenge was the increased volume. “In a pandemic, when you go from several thousand vaccines to tens of thousands, you have to scale up,” said Sandra Canally, founder and CEO of The Compliance Team, which provides a variety of accreditation services. “That takes a lot of operational excellence to do that.” The Philadelphia-based organization added immunization certification, including COVID-19, to its offerings during the


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The Compliance Team’s Immunization Certification program reviews your facility for quality, safety, and efficiency, enabling you to meet CDC requirements as well as build trust in the safety and quality of your vaccine administration.

Our department has been providing “ immunization services for decades and as the new manager, I wanted to find areas that could use improvement. After going through the certification process, we standardized our day to day operations for consistency and increased efficiency. I believe our patients and our staff are now much safer and we’ve ensured our readiness to meet the continuing pandemic response.

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pandemic. “We created the certification program for those providers that really wanted to make sure their processes were where they needed to be,” Canally said. “It’s all about gaining the trust of the community.” The program covers, among other topics, proper patient intake, safe vaccine storage and handling, and awareness of adverse events such as allergic reactions. “It’s not just ‘Did you have any adverse events and how is it documented?’” Canally said. “Was the handling of it the same across the board? Did Mary the pharmacist handle this the same as Joe the pharmacist?” She recommended having quality improvement meetings every quarter to discuss incidents and areas of improvement. Many retailers looked at their flu vaccination program as a blueprint for their COVID-19 vaccine programs, said Dave Ross, vice president of North America commercial operations at Seqirus. “This includes their expertise in how to engage and educate their customers about the importance of immunization, how to manage vaccine inventories to ensure doses are where they are needed, and how to conduct effective and convenient mass-immunization clinics,” he said. The 2021-2022 season presented the influenza vaccine company’s retail partners with a unique challenge: the need to conduct two massimmunization campaigns, flu and COVID-19, simultaneously. As retailers approach the upcoming flu season, they face vaccine apathy among consumers and hesitation to get flu and COVID-19 vaccines in the same visit, even though CDC guidance indicated that co-administration is safe and recommended. Also, retailers will have to contend with continued resource constraints. The good news, Ross noted, is that this year retailers and manufacturers have more time to plan for concurrent immunization programs. There is also an opportunity to extend the time flu shots are available. “We should make sure immunization programs continue throughout the influenza season, which doesn’t typically peak until February or March,” he said. “Too often, we see flu immunization efforts come to an early end in November, which leads to millions of missed opportunities to protect the public from influenza and its complications.”

Leveraging Technology Unlike flu shots, COVID-19 vaccines had eligibility requirements initially. “Not just anyone could walk in,” said David Kirkus, director of pharmacy consulting at Raleigh, N.C.-based EnlivenHealth. “You had to be 65 or older or have


According to the CDC’s 2020-2021 Flu Season Summary, of people reported getting a flu vaccination at a store, which was significantly higher than the for the 20192020 season.

health conditions.” Then, when the COVID-19 vaccine became available to the general public, pharmacies had to handle the massive demand, and workflow and scheduling issues, while trying to fill prescriptions and counsel patients. EnlivenHealth offers CareScheduler pharmacy scheduling and reporting software. “Most pharmacies prior to the pandemic were not scheduling appointments for services in general,” Kirkus said. “Most flu shots were walk-up.” Scheduling COVID-19 vaccines helped retailers with crowd control, but it also improved the customer experience. Scheduling appointments also changed the patient-pharmacist dynamic. People now see the pharmacy as a place to meet with a pharmacist for diabetes management, smoking cessation and other programs. “If you can provide immunizations and more advanced clinical services in an accessible and convenient way, and make that an enjoyable experience for patients, that’s the framework the industry needs to move toward,” Kirkus said. “There is a lot to be said for what that type of interaction does for brand loyalty.” In addition to online scheduling, pharmacies also implemented technology to report data to public health agencies. “One of the things this pandemic validated was the importance of data and technology,” said Michael Popovich, CEO of Phoenix-based STC Health. “The gap was how to make it smoother and capture it at the front end.” The vaccine intelligence provider works with pharmacies to capture patient immunization data. When a patient gets an immunization, the pharmacy


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electronically sends the patient data directly to the state public health agency. The state collects and shares immunization records with federal agencies so that they could determine, among other details, where people were not getting the vaccine. “There was a lot of data floating around, and it wasn’t well used,” Popovich said. “On the federal level, they didn’t have systems that could answer the rapid fire questions that were coming from [the] government.” As more chain and independent pharmacies adopt systems to make reporting easier, that will help health agencies make sense of the data and make rapid assessments of the situation, and answer questions from consumers, governments and others. “The government will always ask for information,” Popovich said. “Pharmacies now have networks in play.”

“If you can provide immunizations and more advanced clinical services in an accessible and convenient way, and make that an enjoyable experience for patients, that’s the framework the industry needs to move toward.” — David Kirkus, director of pharmacy consulting, EnlivenHealth

Equipment One of the details about the COVID-19 vaccines that captured media attention was that the vaccines had to be stored at extremely cold temperatures. “In the U.S., we didn’t see that many frozen vaccines before COVID-19,” said Joe LaPorte, director, products and projects at Wood Dale, Ill.-based PHC of North America. “That wasn’t something retail was set up for.” PHC’s offerings included several ultra-low temperature freezers. Retailers are purchasing them and performing necessary tasks such as checking the temperature twice a day. Also, staff must be trained on how to handle the cold vaccines, as the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine has to be stored at minus 90 degrees Celsius to below 60 degrees Celsius. “That is colder than anything on the planet,” LaPorte said.


If the vaccines are not properly stored, they could be less efficacious, which could raise the question of whether a breakthrough case of COVID-19 is due to a vaccine not being properly stored. LaPorte pointed to a 2012 study by the Department of Health and Human Services that found that among a sample of 45 of the CDC’s Vaccines For Children program providers, 76% had vaccines that were stored at inappropriate temperatures for five hours during a two-week sample period. Going forward, proper refrigeration will be crucial. “If you are administering mRNA vaccines and therapeutics, you need to make sure your refrigerators are up to the challenge,” LaPorte said. Just as refrigeration became an issue during the vaccine rollout, so did disposal of needles and syringes. While this was already a process, the added volume created a need for extra containers. “OSHA’s Bloodborne Pathogens Standard prohibits overfilling sharps containers,” said Kathryn KaneNeilson, clinical specialist, regulatory compliance at Houston-based Sharps Compliance. “It’s generally recommended that providers have one container per person performing the vaccination to prevent any incidental needlesticks.” The medical waste disposal company’s retail pharmacy accounts secured large-scale orders of its FDA-cleared sharps disposal containers and sent a voluminous amount of sharps waste to Sharps Compliance’s treatment facilities. Now, as retailers plan for the future, they will determine their needs based on what public health surveillance experts say. “If boosters are warranted for the general population concurrently with the flu shot season, say in September and October, then that would present a different obstacle compared to a booster regimen spaced out during a different time of the year,” Kane-Neilson said. For safety, pharmacies should have a backup supply of the appropriate disposal containers, and staff should be assigned to periodically check the fill level of the sharps containers. “Otherwise, overfilled containers can present an exposure risk due to protruding needles,” Kane-Neilson said. “The combination of these two simple strategies can be easily incorporated into their safety plan and thus be implemented as routine.” Retail pharmacies are preparing for the next flu season, the expansion of COVID-19 vaccines for children and boosters for adults and for other consumer health needs. “You steadily move forward and make improvements,” STChealth’s Popovich said. “For pharmacy, there is a significant revenue upside.” dsn


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Gut Check A variety of products solve the diversity of digestive issues By Taffel Sturgeon

When shoppers enter pharmacies looking to quell digestive health issues, it can be helpful to think of three-dimensional chess. First, divide concerns into two areas: the upper gastrointestinal tract and the lower GI tract. In the upper GI tract, conditions are usually centered around heartburn, indigestion and nausea. Further down the tract, customers suffer from gas and bloating, constipation or diarrhea. After the possibility of making dietary changes to influence digestive operations and quell disorders, next is to look at two types of products: dietary supplements and OTC drugs. “You can play around with medications according to what patients with symptoms need,” said Matthew Karowe, MD, a gastroenterologist practicing in Boulder, Colo., with Gastroenterology of the Rockies. More than six out of every 10 people worldwide say they suffer from digestive complaints like indigestion, constipation or diarrhea at least once a year, according to a scientifically representative sample of more than 18,000 adults in nine countries commissioned by Canofil Consumer Healthcare. A third of people say they suffer from these three conditions at least once a month.


More than

six out of every 10

people worldwide say they suffer from digestive complaints like indigestion, constipation or diarrhea at least once a year.

Source: Canofil Consumer Healthcare


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Supplement Ingredients The allure of supplements is a general lack of side effects, but, because they are more gentle-acting, they might not offer immediate relief. Supplement ingredients — fiber, magnesium, enzymes, probiotics — typically offer support for the proper function of organs and systems along the GI tract. Psyllium fiber comes from the outer coating or “husk” of the Plantago ovata seeds, not from wheat, which also makes it naturally gluten free. Psyllium is a soluble form of fiber known to promote regularity and act as a laxative. “As a laxative, psyllium is considered bulk-forming, meaning it soaks up water in your gut, making bowel movements easier,” said Louis M. Machin, managing director at Lifelab Health, which makes psyllium fiber supplements. “However, while it helps with regularity, it doesn’t cause flatulence and can help with occasional constipation.”

GSK Tums Naturals

SRP: $7.99 for 56 tablets The classic calcium carbonate antacid tablet is used for fast relief of acid indigestion, heartburn and gastric discomfort. The calcium smothers acid that backs up in the stomach and flows up into the esophagus, causing heartburn. Tums Naturals differentiates itself by containing no artificial flavors or dyes. It comes in two varieties of black cherry and watermelon, as well as coconut pineapple flavors.

LifeLab NuSyllium

“Not all probiotics are the same. Well-documented, specific bacterial strains matter.”

SRP: $19.99 for 72 doses Fiber is a key ingredient in keeping the body regular. According to the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans Recommendations, 50% of people are consuming only about half the recommended daily intake of fiber, with a paltry 5% of men and 9% of women getting the full RDA. Psyllium fiber not only keeps a body regular, but also has beneficial effects on heart health, bloodsugar regulation and weight management.

— Brian Terry, director of sales, FDM and specialty, Nordic Naturals

Magnesium can improve constipation, whether it’s supplemental magnesium or an OTC like Milk of Magnesia. Magnesium helps muscles relax, and it has similar properties with the peristaltic, wave-like muscle contractions that move food through the digestive tract. Magnesium also plays a role in numerous enzyme systems throughout the body. Digestive enzymes are proteins the body uses to break down food and help with digestion. If the body does not make enough digestive enzymes to handle the food intake, it can mean stomach aches, flatulence and diarrhea. Different types of enzymes break down different types of foods. Protease, as its name suggests, works on proteins. Lipase breaks down fats. Amylase helps digest carbohydrates and starches. Probiotic bacteria are wildly popular, found in foods like yogurt, beverages like kombucha and supplements, which may be the most efficacious of all product formats because they can house larger doses. Probiotics have come a long way, aided by research and development into specific probiotic strains that target specific health states. One emblematic human clinical trial, conducted at a research clinic in Houston, tested the Bifidobacteria lactis HN019 strain. Researchers used about 17 billion CFUs, 2 billion CFUs and placebo in 100 subjects for 14 days. The HN109 strain cut time to excretion in a dose-dependent manner. Of particular interest in the study were the changes in constipation, irregular bowel movements and flatulence because these symptoms



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Mason Vitamins Ultra Digestive Enzymes Plant Based SRP: $8.49 for 60 tablets Digestive enzymes have specific tasks of finding and severing chains of carbohydrates, proteins, fats, fibers, starches, sugars and other substances within foods. This product contains enzymes that break down all macronutrients — protein, fats, carbohydrates. This can help with gas, bloating, cramping, heartburn and sometimes diarrhea.

Nature Made Digestive Probiotics Advanced Dual Action Capsules

SRP: $26.29 for 30 capsules This probiotic product uses clinically validated doses that act in both the small and large intestines. LGG is the most-studied probiotic strain of all time, having been patented in 1989. It works in the small intestine to help relieve occasional gas, bloating and abdominal discomfort. B. lactis HN019 works in the large intestine to help relieve occasional constipation and irregularity.

Avrio Health Senokot Laxative Gummies

SRP:$19.99 for 60 gummies Senna is an herb that encourages peristalsis and helps support a bowel movement within six to 12 hours. It is generally beneficial to take it before bedtime for overnight relief and is meant to be used for less than a week at a time. With a mixed berry-flavored gummy format, this is tasty and easy to use.

were reported with the highest frequency at baseline. The HN109 groups had two-fold greater decreases in symptom frequency compared to placebo. This strain pulls its weight. “Not all probiotics are the same,” said Brian Terry, director of sales, FDM and specialty, at supplement company Nordic Naturals. “Well-documented, specific bacterial strains matter. That’s why our Maximum Care SKU uses 11 strains that alleviate intestinal bloating and promote regularity, and these are different from the seven probiotic strains used in the Probiotic Woman SKU that balances vaginal flora and supports urinary tract health.” Prebiotic fibers are also routinely used in conjunction with probiotics. These fibers are a food source for probiotic cultures.

OTC Solutions Heartburn occurs near the top of both the GI tract and consumer complaints. Relief from heartburn, indigestion and upset stomach starts with over-the-counter tummy tablets made of calcium carbonate — Rolaids, Tums and the like. It’s a billion-dollar category with household penetration for the antacid category reaching 42.5%, according to IRI data. “Tums starts to neutralize the heartburn-causing acid in your esophagus and stomach on contact, which provides fast relief,” said Amy Sharon, brand director of the Tums heartburn portfolio.


The next stronger class of acid-reducing medications is histamine H2 blockers like Pepcid and Zantac, which decrease acid production in the acid-producing parietal cell in the stomach. Finally, proton pump inhibitors shut down acid production in the stomach, which is effective for people with bad reflux and prevents complications that herald worse disease progression. “All antacids will bind to anything in the stomach, so don’t take it with other medications,” Karowe advised. “It will decrease the action of those other medications.” Constipation is solved via various laxatives. Osmotic laxatives like polyethylene glycol (MiraLAX) and magnesium hydroxide (Milk of Magnesia) are stool softeners that bring fluid from the wall of the colon to the inside of the colon. “These are safe, long-term laxatives people can use forever,” Karowe said. “Titrate up or down to your level.” Stimulant laxatives like senna supplements are effective for occasional constipation, but Karowe cautioned against chronic use because they increase peristalsis contractions to the point where the body will rely on them instead of acting naturally on its own. Diarrhea has a number of potential causes, from antibiotics to lactose intolerance, bacteria and viruses. Short-term relief can be found with common OTC agents like Pepto Bismol and Kaopectate, which contain the active ingredient bismuth subsalicylate (also useful for upset stomachs) that balances the way fluid moves through intestines and reduces inflammation. Imodium contains loperamide, which slows down transit time and allows more fluid to be absorbed into the body, thus making stools better formed. Diarrhea that lasts longer than two days is grounds for calling a doctor. The digestive system is the center of activity in the body, responsible not just for moving food and nutrients through the system but is also home to about 70% of the body’s innate immune activity. New research is showing a connection between the gut and the brain. This makes keeping the GI tract running smoothly central to overall systemic health. dsn


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A Toast to Good Health Quality, simple ingredients continue to lead the drive with new beverage products By Carol Radice

During the past two years, after consumers reconnected with their health, and it left many wondering if this renewed interest in living “one’s best life” would extend beyond quarantine. Halfway into 2022, the answer seems to be a resounding “yes.” In a recently published “State of the Industry” report, New York City-based Beverage Marketing noted that the U.S. beverage market has quickly rebounded after a period of relatively soft performance, largely a byproduct of the pandemic. Among other things, the report found that carbonated soft drinks returned to growth after several years of decline. It also found that bottled water hit a milestone by becoming the largest beverage category in the United States. By most indicators, interest in functional and healthy beverages remains high as consumers continue to seek out sustainable, cleaner, healthier and more socially responsible options. CBD-infused drinks, functional waters, bubble teas, organic beverages and fermented drinks are all poised to see substantial growth for the next several years. On a broader basis, energy drinks, sports drinks and ready-to-drink coffees are some of the products positioned to see the largest growth. Within RTD coffee, the demand for low sugar and sugar-free alternatives, coupled with a host of innovative new products, are two of the biggest factors behind this growth. Another rising star in the beverage category is tea. Nitro offerings, cold brews and plant-based milk blends are attracting new consumers to the cold-tea category. At the same time, growth is also being seen in bottled herbal teas, driven by the

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Bottled water hit a milestone by becoming the largest beverage category in the United States. Source: “State of the Industry” report, Beverage Marketing


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increasing number of health-conscious consumers looking for a caffeine-free energy boost. “We expect RTD coffee, enhanced waters and energy drinks to be the star performers in refreshment beverages this year,” said Gary Hemphill, managing director of research at Beverage Marketing. “Additionally, bottled water is projected to continue to widen its gap as the largest beverage category on a volume basis.” One of the latest segments to show promise are mood enhancement beverages. Bill Sipper, managing partner with Cascadia Managing Brands in Ramsey, N.J., said brands such as Body IQ and The Cure are doing surprisingly well as they pioneer the new category. “Ever since the pandemic started, people are looking toward food and beverages to make them feel better,” Sipper said. “Some consumers even look to beverages as a type of medicine.” The other high-growth area Sipper sees is canned bottled water, replacing the non-environmentally friendly plastic options with brands like Rain, Chiki Chiki Boom Boom and Liquid Death leading the pack, he said.


Founded in 2018, Rain Water is on a mission to end dependency on single-use plastics. Rain’s packaging is 100% aluminum, which makes it 100% recyclable. Its single-sourced, alkaline-balanced pure mountain spring water comes from a federally protected spring in Georgia. The bottles feature a BPA-free liner and because they are aluminum, they get colder faster. Currently available in 16-oz. aluminum bottles, the company will be launching 750-ml aluminum bottles, as well as 12-oz. aluminum singles and multipacks in June.

Growth Predictions Given the health kick consumers have been on for the past several years, it is no surprise that growth across the category is being credited to products that provide perceived or actual health benefits. This continued trend is expected to spur more better-foryou beverage innovation well beyond this year. Ryan O’Connor, senior category manager at Coca-Cola North America, said health and wellness, hydration, and convenience are the largest purchasing drivers for beverages within the drug channel this year. “We are seeing expansion in functional beverages and premiumization, which aligns with drug channel shoppers’ need states and desires,” he said.

“Ever since the pandemic started, people are looking toward food and beverages to make them feel better.” — Bill Sipper, managing partner, Cascadia Managing Brands

Some leading companies, including Coca-Cola, are finding success with the introduction of short runs. According to O’Connor, the company’s new platform, Coca-Cola Creations, is designed to “quench Gen Z’s thirst for discovery through a series of unexpected beverages and packaging designs, culturally relevant expressions, and creative collaborations.” In February, the company dropped its first innovation from Coca-Cola Creations: Coca-Cola Starlight, which O’Connor noted was inspired by the infinite possibilities of space, “fusing signature Coca-Cola taste with unexpected touches.”


The company followed this up in April with Coca-Cola Zero Sugar Byte, the first-ever Coca-Cola flavor born in the metaverse. “Gaming-inspired Coca-Cola Zero Sugar Byte brings the flavor of pixels to life in a limited-edition beverage that transcends the digital and physical worlds, ” O’Connor said,

Value-added Beverages Shine The continued attention on premium beverage offerings has been a benefit to several niche categories including coconut water and kombucha. “Continuing in line with trends we started to see emerge last year, hydration will continue to be a top beverage need consumers are looking to meet in the coming months,” said Savita Kharbas, senior director of category and consumer insights at The Vita Coco Company, based in New York City. “Looking at recent sales data, the fastest growing beverage categories have been very hydration-forward, including premium water, isotonics and coconut water, with top-growing brands offering hydration that is a step above mainstream water.” Another trend continuing to see traction is an environmental one. With pressure to minimize the amount of single-use plastic, beverage companies are continuing to investigate more environmentally friendly options. Companies such as Rain Water for instance, have launched a line of waters in recyclable aluminum bottles. As for the remainder of this year, Beverage Marketing’s Hemphill said that while growth is expected across many categories, unprecedented cost increases in ingredients, packaging, labor and fuel have the potential to impact the category’s realized volume growth. “The cost of virtually everything has increased relatively dramatically, and this will likely trickle down to what we pay for goods such as beverages beginning this summer,” he said. dsn


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Sheer Beauty Who are the standout brands in this growing category? By Gisselle Gaitan

The beauty category is one of the most innovative spaces that continues to attract consumers. Whether shoppers are on the hunt for new skin care products, cosmetics, personal care/grooming items or products that have gone viral on social media, there’s something out there for everyone. Drug Store News is recognizing some of the most notable names in the beauty and personal care space that are continuing to innovate and change the category in various ways. Without much further ado, here are this year’s Retail Excellence Awards — Beauty.

Urban Hydration Known for its clean and plant-based skin, hair, and bath and body products, Urban Hydration began as a natural sugar scrub brand with a charitable arm. The certified women- and minorityowned company, co-founded by Psyche Terry, donates 1 gallon of water to a community without access. The company also formulated an aloe glycerin bar soap that is designed to help conserve water. This year, the brand is working to launch a collection of products focused on scalp care and “backne” care to round out its

head-to-toe personal care offerings that are powerful yet gentle for every hair, skin and body. It also debuted products with an array of fragrances including mango, lime, peach, papaya and vanilla.

TruSkin Offering a wide range of affordable, clean skin care products that help nourish, TruSkin’s portfolio of products includes cleansers, toners, moisturizers, serums and eye creams. In 2021, the brand added a Vitamin C Night Cream, as well as expanded online and in-store locations.


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In 2022, TruSkin is growing its Tea Tree family line by launching a Tea Tree Super Cleanser, which compliments its Tea Tree Serum as a gentle solution for acne-prone and oily skin. The product helps cleanse and clarify skin without stripping. TruSkin also is working to build on the previously mentioned Vitamin C collection in the second quarter of this year.

community, a TikTok movie to celebrate the holiday season and the launch of Keys Soulcare with nearly 20 product offerings. This year, the company launched Power Grip Primer, Camo Powder Foundation in 30 shades, Brow Lift and an accompanying Brow Lift Applicator, Glossy lip stains, the Pure Skin line and the Well People skin care collection.

E.l.f. Beauty


Featuring brands designed to disrupt industry norms, shape culture and connect communities through positivity, inclusivity and accessibility, E.l.f. Beauty launched its flagship brand E.l.f. Cosmetics in 2004. Since then, the company has expanded its roster to include E.l.f. Skin, pioneering clean-beauty brand Well People and Keys Soulcare, a lifestyle beauty brand created with Alicia Keys. E.l.f.’s brand mission is to make the best beauty products and make them accessible to every eye, lip, face and skin type. It accomplishes this with natural, plantpowered, high-performance clean ingredients and modern skin science. In 2021, E.l.f. teamed up with Chipotle on a collection that sold out of its first product in 44 minutes and the entire line in just three days. Other ventures include entering the gaming world with a channel on Twitch named elfYou to empower the diverse

CoverGirl is continuing to innovate in the beauty space with a wide range of cosmetics, including its Clean Fresh line, designed to help users achieve a natural look and glow with products containing a clean formula; Simply Ageless, a line of skin-caremeets-makeup items that help treat the signs of aging; Exhibitionist collection, featuring bold and pigmented hues; and Lash Blast mascaras that provide length and volume to lashes. In 2018, CoverGirl became Leaping Bunny approved by Cruelty Free International, or CFI, and the brand has continued to create products that are cruelty free. Last year, the brand launched its first clean, 100% vegan and cruelty-free mascara, Lash Blast Clean Volume, as well as Clean Fresh Skincare. In 2022, the brand is rolling out its Stretch & Strengthen Mascara product,


which is part of the Exhibitionist line and is infused with biotin, peptides and provitamin B5 to strengthen and protect lashes against breakage. Other product launches on the horizon include the Exhibitionist Eyeliner, which features a vegan and waterproof formula.

Sally Hansen A leader in affordable nail care and nail color, Sally Hansen’s best-known collections include the Good. Kind. Pure line, which consists of clean, vegan and 16-free formulated polishes that offer users up to seven days of color and shine. The Miracle Gel collection, an ultimate chip-resistant nail polish that is one of the best-selling gel-hybrid polishes in the United States, provides up to eight days of color and shine in just two steps, according to the brand and Nielsen. Other notable lines from the brand include the Insta-Dri line, which features a built-in base and topcoat that dries in 60 seconds, and the Color Therapy collection, infused with argan oil to provide intense hydration and nourishment, the company said. In the spring of 2021, the brand relaunched its Good. Kind. Pure line with a new and improved long-wear formula, which offers up to seven days of color


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Reserveage Beauty (Twinlab) Originally hitting shelves in the supplement space with products to support collagen, keratin and resveratrol, Reserveage Beauty continues to expand its retail footprint and grow its offerings. Over the last six months, the brand has expanded into the skin care market, establishing its inner and outer beauty portfolio. Last year, Reserveage Beauty launched its Pro-Collagen Boosting skin care line, which features a proprietary technology targeted and designed for the whole body. The products offer an exclusive technology incorporating microencapsulated copper peptides, which are absorbed into the skin more effectively and without oxidation. In addition, the company created specialized formulas to address the most visible areas, including face, eyes, neck, décolleté, hands and feet, the brand said. This year, Reserveage Beauty has plans to debut its Resveratrol, Collagen & Keratin Gummies. This new product contains a new source of collagen, as well as a new trending ingredient in one supplement — eggshell membrane and collagen plus astaxanthin.

and shine. Since its relaunch, the product has seen a sales increase of 15%, according to Sally Hansen. For 2022, the brand is working on several notable collaborations with major brands: a spring-inspired line with Peeps, a special-edition PRIDE collection with GLAAD and an activation for Spirit Day to show visible support for LGBTQ+ youth and a stand against bullying.

Kaleidoscope Hair Products

Rimmel London Building on its color cosmetics, Rimmel London kicked off the year with its new Kind & Free mascara, which is its first clean, vegan and cruelty-free line. Although the line launched with mascara, the brand has plans to continue to expand its Kind & Free product line with new additions to release later this year. Another notable line from the beauty brand is its Lasting Finish 25-Hour Foundation with Comfort Serum, which helps users obtain a perfect complexion that feels great and stays put from morning to night. The foundation blends seamlessly and instantly into skin to


conceal dark circles and imperfections while delivering hydration and vitamin E for additional skin protection. Lastly, its Wonder’Serum, which is now part of the Wonder family, is a revitalizing lash and brow treatment that is ideal for beauty mavens looking to lengthen, strengthen and thicken their natural lashes and brows with a gentle and nutrient-rich formula.

Founder and CEO Jesseca Dupart initially launched Kaleidoscope Hair Products with four products via a series of viral social campaigns. Today, the company is quickly growing its reach within the hair care industry, touching categories from washing to styling and everything in between. In 2021, the brand saw growth from expanding its mass distribution channels into Walmart as well as from the debut of its limited-edition SoulFed Collection, which sold out within a week of launch. In addition, the company was able to exceed its Q1 sales goal by more than 62% despite many production challenges from the pandemic, Dupart said. This year, the company released its Miracle Drops Collection, a multiproduct offering that includes shampoo, conditioner, styling and more. Containing a formula designed to nourish and protect strands while promoting healthy hair growth, all products are infused with the


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original Miracle Drops hair growth oil, as well as coconut milk, aloe vera and castor oil. The company is also relaunching its Therapeutic Collection, which focuses on restorative hair and scalp therapy with relaxation-boosting ingredients such as tea tree oil and peppermint.

Firstline Known for its range of brushes, combs, satin sleep caps, fashionable accessories and other styling tools, Firstline’s full portfolio of brands includes Evolve, WavEnforcer, Camryn’s BFF, DriSweat and Sleek. Continuing its efforts to innovate and set trends in the multicultural hair accessory category, the company continues to work on creating high-quality hair care and fashion items that enhance the image, appearance and experience of consumers. This includes working with its Camryn’s BFF line on a licensing agreement with “Karma’s World,” a new animated Netflix series produced by Chris Bridges, otherwise known as the musician Ludacris. The collaboration includes


a collection of hair accessories targeted at young girls. In 2022, the company plans to highlight its newly launched daytime and nighttime protection products, including Evolve Satin Jumbo Bonnets, Satin Braid Bonnets, Satin Wide Edge Scarves, Wide Edge Stylers, Evolve Satin-Lined Turbans and Loc & Twist Starter Kit.

Hello Products A natural personal care brand, Hello Products offer consumers a curated line of oral care (paste, brushes, rinse and floss) and personal care (deodorants, lip balms and hand soap) products. Showcasing its innovative spirit and ethos, the brand stands out as an innovator through its “seriously friendly” line of products, which brings a fun twist to key toothpaste benefits supported by ingredients such as tea tree oil, coconut oil and hyaluronic acid. New launches from Hello Products included broadening its toothpaste tablet line with kids watermelon tablets, a fun unicorn-themed deodorant inspired by its

unicorn toothpaste and a TikTok account that gained 25,000 followers in less than two weeks. In 2022, the brand will continue to highlight its “seriously friendly” line and focus on its mission of believing that all brushers should be given opportunities to find fun, thoughtfully crafted, beautifully designed, carefully formulated products, said CEO Rekha Rao.

Global Beauty Care Focused on offering high-quality, luxurious products with trending ingredients at an affordable price, Global Beauty Care’s SpaScriptions is an inclusive brand that offers skin care products ranging from facial serums, oils, capsules, moisturizers, cleansers, scrubs, cleansing wipes, undereye pads, nose peels, anti-wrinkle silicone masks and personalized masks. Bath and body care offerings also are available. Throughout 2022, Global Beauty Care is focusing on the launch of its Clinicals by SpaScriptions skin care range, which features products formulated to help


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moisturize, tighten, smooth and recharge skin. In addition, the company has plans to prominently feature its bath and body care products, including its Hyaluronic Acid Exfoliating Body Scrub with sea salt and cucumber to polish, soften and re-energize skin, and Collagen Detoxifying Body Scrub with charcoal and tea tree to purify, exfoliate and restore.

Billie A body care brand built for women, Billie launched in 2017 with a signature razor designed specifically for the way women shave. Since then, the brand has expanded its portfolio to include body care products that are clean, unfussy and thoughtfully designed. In 2021, the brand focused on three key areas — distribution, product and brand — according to co-founder Georgina Gooley. The company formed its first retail partnership with Walmart, which began in January of this year, and introduced updates to some of its most loved products, such as its body wash and shave cream. A newly launched handle, Malibu, has become a favorite among customers. In addition, Billie worked on a number of campaigns that tackled some of the societal pressures women face beyond body hair, including a “Think of a Woman” campaign for International Women’s Day, which challenged viewers to re-examine their own unconscious biases and consider an expanded definition of what it means to be a woman. For what’s to come in 2022, Billie is focused on continuing to deliver best-in-class shaving products through exciting limited-edition launches, such as its Astrology Shave Kit and new products that will round out the full shave routine.


Garcoa Garcoa manufactures hand and body lotion, hair care, skin and complexion, acne, body wash, foot care, feminine hygiene, and pain relief products. In 2021, the brand worked to leverage its experience in trendspotting to study the lifestyle changes that were born out of the pandemic. The end result was introducing items in all of the aforementioned categories that were timely and on trend. In 2022, the brand is working on developing items in face and complexion, hair care, feminine hygiene and home care categories that will revolutionize their respective spaces, according to the company. dsn


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Talking to Consumers About Price and Availability Retailers need to communicate with empathy in the face of ongoing inflation and supply chain challenges By David Orgel

At first blush, the recent CEO letter to customers from discount retailer Aldi may not seem so extraordinary. “Saving you money is what we do best,” it begins. “And in times like these, I’m incredibly proud to underscore this commitment to you.” But in reading more of the “Our Price Promise” message from Jason Hart, it becomes clear the retailer is reasserting its low-price-leader promise for this extraordinary period of rising prices driven by global circumstances. “No matter what happens in the world around us, Aldi will always be the low-price leader in every community we serve,” it reads. “Whether you’re feeling the pinch at the gas pump or on your home energy bills, you can count on Aldi as a bright spot in your weekly budget.”

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

Clarity in the Face of Complexity This simple but effective letter shows empathy in communicating with shoppers and asks for continued trust. It’s a type of messaging that can be adapted by other retailers, even if they aren’t the low-price leaders. They just need to be able to show understanding about what customers are facing. The messaging opportunities go beyond price. Shoppers are encountering out-of-stocks on a range of items across retail channels. Retailers need to provide updates on what shoppers should expect.

Purchase Limits on Items A number of major retailers have been putting limits on purchases of certain items impacted by out-of-stocks, in categories ranging from baby formula to pet food. Moreover, some retailers and brands are adjusting product and recipe formulations in reaction to supply challenges. Shoppers will appreciate knowing about these situations as they develop.

Depths of Shopper Concerns Dealing with price and assortment challenges isn’t a new development for consumers, who have experienced just about everything during the pandemic. However, this is an especially difficult period as

“Retailers need to provide updates on what shoppers should expect.”

lingering supply-chain bottlenecks from the pandemic combine with new ones from the war in Ukraine to create extreme hurdles. Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve’s efforts to battle inflation through higher interest rates have created concerns about slowing economic growth. Kantar reports an increase in the share of shoppers extremely or very concerned about rising costs due to inflation — up from 38% in January to 43% in March, according to the organization’s ShopperScape data. Inflation anxieties are growing or consistent among nearly all shopper groups, with millennials and households with children relaying the most concern, Kantar found.

Keys to Consumer Messaging Effective and empathetic communications from retailers can help overcome anxieties and even boost customer loyalty. Retailers need to relay they are on the side of shoppers. Here are examples of messaging that would likely resonate with shoppers. • We are doing everything possible to stay competitive on price and in stock; • We are limiting purchases on some items to make sure our shopper base can get what it needs at a time of shortages; • We just held off on price increases on many items, despite higher costs; • Here are some alternative products you might consider until we can get your regular ones back in stock; • Heads up that prices are going up. We are actually not passing along all of our higher costs; • Our private label is a great value to consider at this time; and • We will continue to keep you updated and in the loop. Retailers need to figure out which types of messaging work best for their customer bases and push these out across communications channels — from in-store to online. Focusing on communication and compassion will go a long way. The impact will be cumulative over time as shoppers view their retailers as allies. dsn


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