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HELPING HANDS We’re extremely grateful to the pharmacists who hold our care in their hands on a daily basis. We also want to remind those dedicated individuals that self-care is just as important. If our soothing products can help make your day that much easier, we’ll be proud to say that it’s all in a day’s work.

For all that you do, #ThankYouPharmacists

*U.S. News & World Report, Pharmacy Times, 2020-2021. CeraVe is a registered trademark. All other product/brand names and/or logos are trademarks of the respective owners. ©2021 CeraVe LLC CVE.G.P.0536.12

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Vol. 43 No. 9 DrugStoreNews.com

FEATURES 8 Industry News 20 Products to Watch 28 CBD News 34 Cover Story: Retailers Cope with a Tight Labor Market As companies raise wages, workers are increasingly focused on benefits beyond their paycheck

44 A Family Affair Profiling multigenerational pharmacists and pharmacy owners who share what sparked their interest in the family business


COLUMNS 6 Editor’s Note


22 Counter Talk By LogiNext CEO Dhruvil Sanghvi By Dynamsoft’s Chloe Hahn

26 One-on-One with Walgreens Boots Alliance’s Giovanni Monti


78 Last Word

Twitter.com/ DrugStoreNews


68 Sports Nutrition and Weight Management

By David Orgel Consulting’s David Orgel

Facebook.com/ DrugStoreNews

58 Specialty Pharmacy How retailers are building out comprehensive specialty offerings focused on coordinated care and providing a resource to patients

24 Counter Talk



Suppliers look to deliver on consumer demands and new attitudes toward fitness shaped by the pandemic

INSIDE BEAUTY 52 Beauty Disruptors Taking a look at newcomers to the category making waves with their products and ethos

CONSUMABLES 74 Beverage Report Shoppers focus on function, health benefits and sustainability when looking for something to drink


DSN (ISSN 0191-7587) is published monthly 12 times a year by EnsembleIQ, 8550 W. Bryn Mawr Ave, Suite 200, Chicago, IL 60631. Subscription rate in the United States: $125 one year; $230 two year; $14 single issue copy; Canada and Mexico: $150 one year; $270 two year; $16 single issue copy; Foreign: $170 one year; $325 two year; $16 single issue copy. Periodicals postage paid at Chicago, IL, and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Please send address changes to DSN, 8550 W. Bryn Mawr Ave, Suite 200, Chicago, IL 60631. Vol. 43 No. 9, September 2021. Copyright © 2021 by EnsembleIQ. All rights reserved.



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What does the future hold for pharmacy? With the pharmacist at its center, the pharmacy is on the cusp of big changes By Nigel F. Maynard


e all know what they say about the only constant in life (It’s change, by the way). But what’s more important is how people deal with change. Some brands are great at adapting to disruption. Newspapers come to mind. With the growth of the internet, many have adapted to a new reality. But change probably doesn’t happen by chance. Brands that successfully adapt to change likely have forward-thinking executives or at least an influential person to push for it. Nigel F. Maynard It got me thinking: How will pharmacies adapt to the Editor-in-Chief | new realities of the retail landscape? How will shifting Editorial Director demographics and customer expectations force pharmacies to modify their offerings? What will future brick-and-mortar pharmacies look like? Last year, The Medical Futurist published an article titled “The Future of Pharmacies in Three Scenarios.” As patients evolve, “so must pharmacies and pharmacists in the age of digital health,” the Hungarian organization wrote on its website. “They have to redefine their place in medicine as well. A simple drug dispenser will not be enough in a shared and community-based economy.” According to The Medical Futurist, the evolution of pharmacies in the digital health era can take one of several pathways. In one scenario, there could be a boost in medical booths with pharmaceutical offerings. “These refer to booths located in malls or food courts where patients can enter to have a basic health check and talk to a healthcare professional via telecommunication.” Such ventures already have proven to be unsuccessful, the group concluded. In scenario two, pharmacies could change from the simple drug distribution machines into health consultancies. “This is the more likely scenario in the short-term given that technology and organisational schedules already enable it,” The Medical Futurist said. “Pharmacists will have the opportunity to provide basic care to patients with simple problems and/or provide health management consultations.” In the final scenario, pharmacies could become specialized points-of-care. This model “depicts pharmacies as specialised point-of-care centres where personalised therapies are made possible,” The Medical Futurist said. “Such centres will 3D-print multiple medications on a single pill, sequence one’s genome and combine such offerings to customise dosages based on one’s genomic data. Automated dispensers can further load the pills onto delivery drones for at-home deliveries.” Of course, no one knows for sure which of these scenarios is most likely, but one thing is clear, the pharmacy of tomorrow will have a different look than today. And in case you’re concerned that the newer model will be too tech-heavy: The Medical Futurist said the one element that will be an integral part of the pharmacy of the future is the human element. There is no replacement for a friendly, knowledgeable face. dsn


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 EDITORIAL Managing Editor David Salazar (212) 756-5114, dsalazar@ensembleiq.com Senior Editor Sandra Levy (845) 893-9573, slevy@ensembleiq.com Desk Editor Maria Manliclic (212) 756-5093, mmanliclic@ensembleiq.com Online Editor Gisselle Gaitan (212) 756-5138, ggaitan@ensembleiq.com SALES & BUSINESS Northeast Manager Alex Tomas (212) 756-5155, atomas@ensembleiq.com Regional Manager Steven Werner (312) 961-7162 swerner@ensembleiq.com Production Manager Jackie Batson (224) 632-8183, jbatson@ensembleiq.com PROJECT MANAGEMENT/PRODUCTION/ART Vice President, Production Derek Estey (877) 687-7321 x 1004, destey@ensembleiq.com Creative Director Colette Magliaro cmagliaro@ensembleiq.com AUDIENCE LIST RENTAL MeritDirect Marie Briganti 914-309-3378 SUBSCRIBER SERVICES/CUSTOMER CARE TOLL-FREE: 1-877-687-7321 FAX: 1-888-520-3608 contact@drugstorenews.com REPRINTS & PERMISSIONS Reprints, permissions and licensing, please contact Wright’s Media at ensembleiq@wrightsmedia.com or (877) 652-5295.

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


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Silk Unveils Coconut Milk Greek-Style Yogurts Silk is looking to deliver the signature texture of traditional Greek yogurt, but with a plant-based twist, to its yogurt line with its new Greek Style Coconutmilk Yogurt Alternative. The Broomfield, Colo.-based company has rolled out the dairy-free yogurt with 10 g of plant-based protein, live and active cultures, and no artificial sweeteners, the company said. “Seventy percent of plant-based beverage buyers are not yet buying plant-based yogurt alternatives,” said Lia Stierwalt, senior director of marketing at Silk plant-based yogurt alternatives. “We saw an incredible opportunity to appeal to those who are already familiar with a plant-based lifestyle, as well as those who love Greek-style yogurt. Silk is already a plant-based yogurt aisle favorite, and now we are tackling the elusive Greek-style category head-on. As part of our product innovation process, we tested Silk Greek with many consumers. We are confident that we’re delivering a fantastic tasting, high-protein, plant-based yogurt alternative.” Available in four flavors — vanilla, strawberry, lemon and blueberry — the certified vegan plant-based yogurt alternative is available for the suggested retail price of $1.99.

CandyRific, M&M’s Partner on Movie Night Snack Kits CandyRific and M&M’s are working together to make movie nights at home a little sweeter. Together, the companies joined forces to create four seasonal Movie Night Snack Kits, which contain M&M’s milk chocolate theater box candy, M&M’s peanut chocolate theater box candy and three bags of gourmet popping corn. Available in Halloween-, Christmas-, Valentine’s Day- and Easter-themed buckets, each snack kit comes in a six-count case with a tray for the six buckets to sit on, the company said. Each Movie Night Snack Kit will retail for $10.99 each.


Creme Savers Make a Comeback After a decade of being absent, Creme Savers are making their return. To make this comeback a reality, Mars Wrigley and Iconic Candy worked together to bring back the sought-after confections by reformulating their original flavor profiles and remastering the blends. As part of its initial reintroduction, Creme Savers will be available in two flavors — strawberries and creme, and orange and creme — both in the original peg bag and roll formats, the company said. Consumers can expect to find Creme Savers candies at 1,414 Big Lots stores across 47 states in mid-September.

Cystex Ultra Protection Features Probiotic Formula Cystex is going pro — probiotic. New from the Chattanooga, Tenn.-based company is Cystex Ultra Protection, which contains a probiotic formula that’s meant to manage recurrent urinary tract infections and maintain urinary tract health. Key ingredients found in the product include probiotics, 36 mg PACs of cranberry extract, vitamin A and bio-shield technology, which protects cranberry PCAs from stomach acid, the company said. “Cystex Ultra Protection is the first product of its kind. My patients who have long suffered from recurrent UTIs will be happy to be able to proactively prevent them in the future,” said Dr. Yvonne Bohn, an OB/GYN and Cystex’s chief medical correspondent. “For my patients to be able to think less about recurrent UTIs and more about their general health, this product will give them a peace of mind many have been longing for.” Currently, Cystex Ultra Protection is available for purchase at CVS Pharmacy and independent pharmacies, as well as on Amazon.com.


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5/13/21 11:00 AM 9/9/21 4:03 PM


Pacific Shaving’s Colored Shaving Creams Support Health, Social Causes

Baby Dove Targets Needs of Melanin-Rich Skin, Curly Hair Baby Dove is rolling out a new range of need-specific skin and hair products. The brand’s hypoallergenic Melanin-Rich Skin and Curl Nourishment collection is designed specifically for babies and infants with melanin-rich skin, as well as coils, curls and waves. Made with ingredients that include coconut oil, almond oil, calendula, chamomile and oatmeal, the Baby Dove MelaninRich Skin Nourishment collection features a hypoallergenic wash, cream and soothing baby oil to help skin retain moisture and prevent visible dryness. The Baby Dove Curl Nourishment collection includes a hydrating shampoo, conditioner and caring detangler cream to help moisturize and care for coils, curls and waves, the company said. Alongside the collection’s launch, the company is establishing the Black Birth Equity Fund, which aims to provide expecting Black mothers with financial access to doula services. “We are proud to see the Black Birth Equity Fund become available today to Black expectant moms and birthing individuals across the country,” said Angela D. Aina, co-founding executive director at Black Mamas Matter Alliance and Baby Dove strategic advisor. “For Black and other traditionally marginalized communities, doulas have been proven to help reduce health disparities, as well as bridge language and cultural gaps between families and health providers. With notable support from global brands like Baby Dove, we will be able to raise greater awareness of Black maternal health, promote advocacy and shift culture to support reproductive justice.” The Baby Dove Melanin-Rich Skin and Curl Nourishment collection is available at Walmart and on Walmart.com.


Pacific Shaving is adding a little color to its traditional shaving cream for a good cause. The San Francisco-based company is rolling out its new Shave With Purpose collection, which consists of six moisturizing shaving creams for men and women. The company will donate 10% of proceeds from its sales to nonprofits that support health and social causes. Each colored shaving cream correlates to a specific cause close to the founder’s heart, according to the company, which includes: • Green to support mental health awareness; • Yellow to support suicide prevention; • Blue to support prostate cancer research; • Pink to support breast cancer research; • Purple to support LGBTQ+ equality and inclusion; and • Red to support ALS research. The brand will be working with specific organizations, including Mental Health America, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Prostate Cancer Foundation, Lynn Sage Breast Cancer Foundation, It Gets Better Project and Project ALS. “Our mission has always been to develop innovative and effective grooming products with purpose. With #ShaveWithPurpose, we really love the idea of turning an everyday routine like shaving into a charitable action, and an easy way to build awareness for these important causes,” said Stan Ades, CEO and co-founder of Pacific Shaving. “If you don’t have the time to volunteer or the means to give monetarily, you can still demonstrate support and continue to keep awareness for these causes forefront in your mind each day — all before you even leave your bathroom.” Like other Pacific Shaving products, the Shave With Purpose shaving creams are formulated with safe and quality ingredients. They are free of synthetic fragrances and are packaged in recyclable aluminum cans, the company said. Consumers can find the Shave with Purpose collection online at Amazon.com and PacificShaving.com for the suggested retail price of $7.99 per can.


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Ohnut, Zimba Impress at ECRM’s Personal Care Program Ohnut won the Drug Store News/ECRM Buyers’ Choice Award for its Buffer sexual wellness wearable during ECRM’s Personal Care, Grooming, Oral & Travel/Trial Program held in July. Zimba was a finalist for its Coconut Teeth Whitening Strips. The products were selected from dozens of entries submitted by participating suppliers. Buyers were able to evaluate each entry and cast their votes based on product packaging and innovation via the Drug Store News-branded Buyers' Choice Awards section of the ECRM Connect platform. “Sexual wellness and oral care are trending categories within personal care,” said Craig Chmielowicz, ECRM senior vice president of health and beauty care. “Our Buyers’ Choice Award winners are great examples of the continued innovation within those segments. Congrats to both winners.” Ohnut aims to uplift the conversation about sexual health as a matter of overall wellness, offering wearables focused on patient care and human connection. Buffer, the company's flagship product, was created in collaboration with pelvic specialists to help customize penetration depth during sexual activity. For those experiencing pain when penetration goes too deep, Buffer gives couples the ability to stack one to four soft rings around a penetrating partner or device, which compress down during penetration. The rings stay outside the body and can be added or removed at any time during any position so that users can control penetration depth. Zimba is on a mission to inspire confidence and brighten smiles with safe, effective and innovative whitening products that use clean ingredients, are cruelty-free and vegan, and do not have an expensive price tag. According to the company, its products cost 40% to 60% less than its competitors. The company’s enamel-safe Coconut Teeth Whitening Strips are made with coconut oil to nourish teeth and gums, making them ideal for sensitive teeth. They are also nonslip, so users can apply them and go about their day. Each box contains 28 strips (14 treatments) and comes in a variety of flavors.



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Promescent’s Sexual Wellness Products Grow Distribution Promescent is bringing its sexual wellness products for individuals and couples to GNC stores nationwide. Among the products from the Las Vegas-based company are Delay Spray, VitaFlux supplements for men and women, Warming Female Arousal Gel and Before and After cleansing wet wipes. Founded in 2008 by Ronald Gilbert, Promescent offers an array of products designed to help reduce concerns during intimacy, as well as improve the confidence and pleasure of its users, the company said. Previously, the brand launched its Delay Spray at Target in 2016 and at 1,100 Walmart stores as of July. GNC will be the first retailer to carry its full line of products. “Having the opportunity to launch our full line of products in store at a retailer like GNC is an exciting milestone for the brand, and shows that there is consumer demand for quality products designed to enhance sexual performance and improve intimacy for men, women and couples,” said Jeff

Abraham, CEO of Absorption Pharmaceuticals, the brand’s parent company. “We believe that sexual wellness is linked to overall health and wellness, so being able to reach a larger demographic of people who are concerned about their health is an exciting growth opportunity.”

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diversity in organizations; Ronald Brownstein, a CNN senior political analyst, senior editor at The Atlantic and contributing editor at the National Journal, will discuss consensus building in a polarized era; • Marci Rossell, formerly CNBC’s chief economist and co-host of “Squawk Box,” will examine the big shifts impacting business, including the pandemic, cyberterrorism, environmental disasters, regulatory changes and more; and • Dr. Freda Lewis-Hall, a life science leader who was Pfizer’s chief medical officer and chief patient officer, will take a look at health and nutrition disparities in the country and how the supplement industry can help. The event is set to take place in Dana Point, Calif., at the Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel, with virtual attendance options available. The Now, New, Next conference immediately follows CRN’s daylong Science in Session Event, which kicks off in the same location on Oct. 19. That event, which also has virtual attendance options, will see Dr. Tierona Low Dog deliver a keynote address about the micronutrient needs of women across age groups. It will also feature presentations from experts on women’s health topics, including optimizing sleep health and weight management; supporting eye and brain health; reducing disease risk in post-menopausal women; nutrition for active, pregnant and lactating women; and sex differences in clinical trials. Details for both events can be found at crnusa.com/2021events. •

CRN Announces Now, New, Next Conference Speakers With the Council for Responsible Nutrition’s Now, New, Next conference slated for Oct. 20 to 22, the organization has announced the featured speakers who will address attendees on the challenges facing the supplement industry. Among them are former executives from Pfizer and Google, as well as political analysts and economists. “It’s time for a reset,” said CRN president and CEO Steve Mister. “After nearly two years apart, the supplement community’s executives are ready to experience big ideas, bolstered by fellowship.” Speakers include: • Suneel Gupta, an author and Harvard instructor who teaches entrepreneurial thinking, will explore how leaders manage burnout while encouraging innovation and performing at their peak; • Ginny Clarke, a former Google executive in charge of diversity and executive recruiting, who co-founded research firm Spencer Stuart’s diversity practice. Clarke will talk about how to solve the root causes of a lack of

Twix Salted Caramel Blends Salty, Sweet Flavors There’s a new Twix flavor in town. The Newark, N.J.based Mars Wrigley brand has unveiled Twix Salted Caramel, which combines salty and sweet flavors. Featuring the cookie bars’ signature three layers, the product contains a crispy cookie layer, soft caramel and milk chocolate, as well as a pinch of salt for an extra kick, the company said. “We’re thrilled to bring better moments and more smiles to fans by introducing Twix Salted Caramel, the perfect treat for

those who favor cookie and sweet and salty flavor combinations,” said Michelle Deignan, Mars Wrigley senior brand director. “While Twix fans will still need to pick a side when it comes to choosing between right Twix or left Twix, they will no longer have to decide between a sweet or salty treat with Twix Salted Caramel.” The cookie bar will be available in 1.4-oz. and 2.8-oz. sizes at select retailers in September. The product will expand its nationwide distribution in 2022.


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Florajen Eczema Supports Skin Health with Probiotics Probiotic maker Florajen is unveiling its first product focused on skin health. The Chattanooga, Tenn.-based company is rolling out Florajen Eczema, a refrigerated medical food designed to help reduce the severity of atopic dermatitis that the company said has been shown to be effective in a clinical trial. The National Eczema Association estimates that the condition affects more than 31.6 million Americans, including 20% of children. Consumers often use topical steroids and immunosuppressants to treat eczema. Florajen said a clinical trial showed Florajen Eczema, when taken daily, was able to improve the symptoms of redness, itchiness and inflammation. The double-blind trial saw that more than 90% of participants taking Florajen Eczema experienced clear or almost clear skin in 12 weeks, an 83% reduction in eczema severity and a 28% reduction in the number of days they used a topical steroid to treat the condition. “So many of my patients with eczema — both adults and children — often have to rely on multiple forms of treatment to manage their symptoms of itchiness and redness, and not always options they feel good about putting on or in their bodies,” said Dr. Marisa Garshick, a New York dermatologist and a Florajen skin care specialist. “I’m thrilled that those who suffer from eczema now have a new and simplified option to turn to with Florajen Eczema. This daily probiotic has been shown to provide long-term relief while reducing symptoms and improving the overall quality of skin.” The company noted that Florajen Eczema is meant to be taken under medical supervision. It is sold in packet form and can be mixed into a room-temperature or cold food or non-carbonated drink, and used by anyone 6 months old and older. The product is designed to be refrigerated and is under the company’s Cold Chain Commitment, which ensures it is refrigerated from manufacture to the point of sale to ensure cell counts remain potent and consistent. Florajen Eczema has debuted at Walgreens and independent pharmacies, as well as on Amazon.com. It has a suggested retail price of $39.99 for a 30-packet box.


Heali Medical, Mountainside Medical Equipment Win DSN/ECRM Awards Heali Medical won the Drug Store News/ECRM Buyers’ Choice Award for its Heali PRO Kinesiology Tape and Mountainside Medical Equipment was a finalist for its Mountain Ice pain relief gel during ECRM’s Health Care Program in August. “After a year of being locked in their homes, consumers are getting out and getting active, and along with this activity comes aches, pains and sore muscles,” said Craig Chmielowicz, senior vice president of health and beauty care for ECRM. “Our Buyers’ Choice Award winners each have developed innovative solutions for these increasingly active consumers. Congratulations to both winners.” Heali Medical was founded by Heather Sloan, a chiropractor, and Enwei Li, a practitioner of traditional Chinese medicine. The company’s Heali PRO Kinesiology Tape is meant to deliver stability and style by embedding natural healing and pain relief ingredients directly into a designer sports tape. The tape aims to combine stability and pain-relief capabilities with menthol and magnesium to promote healing of soft-tissue injuries. The line features nine designer tapes, with more designs slated for production. Mountainside Medical Equipment is a veteran-owned, family-run business started in June 2002 with the mission of providing durable products at a reasonable cost. The company’s Mountain Ice is an American-made, FDA-approved topical gel, containing natural ingredients and anti-inflammatory agents to help treat pain at its source. According to the company, Mountain Ice doesn't just numb pain, but also treats the inflammation causing it. Its nongreasy formula was developed to absorb quickly into the skin to relieve pain, reduce inflammation, improve circulation, and promote better muscle and joint healing, with ingredients that include turmeric root, arnica flower extract, tea tree oil, aloe vera and vitamin E, along with MSM, glucosamine and camphor.


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IBSA Adds Dosage Options for Hypothyroidism Treatment Americans diagnosed with hypothyroidism and their clinical providers now have access to greater dosage flexibility within levothyroxine therapy. IBSA Pharma is introducing three new dosage strengths of its Tirosint-SOL (levothyroxine sodium) oral solution to treat hypothyroidism. The new dosing options — 37.5, 44 and 62.5 mcg — are a first in the U.S. market and offer clinicians unprecedented precision and flexibility when treating patients, the company said. The three new dosages add to Tirosint-SOL’s existing 12 options and create a new industry standard of 15 strengths of levothyroxine therapy, the widest range of any therapy for hypothyroidism that is approved by the Food and Drug Administration, according to the company. Tirosint-SOL’s extensive dosing options provide clinicians with more choices, enabling them to adapt levothyroxine therapy to individual needs and better treat the full spectrum of hypothyroid patients. Increased dosage flexibility may also eliminate or reduce


the need to change patients’ doses. “The addition of 37.5-, 44- and 62.5-microgram dosages represents a much-needed advance in levothyroxine therapy, which is the standard of care for treating hypothyroidism,” said Charles Carter, interim chair and associate professor of clinical research at Campbell University College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences. “Up to this time, clinicians have often instructed parents, caregivers and patients to split levothyroxine tablets to create these doses, which can result in significant dosing errors and inconvenience,” Carter said. “Levothyroxine is a narrow therapeutic index drug with potentially deleterious clinical outcomes if administered in sub- or supratherapeutic doses. The splitting of tablets by patients can result in inconsistent levels of levothyroxine therapy, which should be a concern to clinicians and the patients they care for.” Tirosint-SOL is widely available in retail pharmacies.


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New and Noteworthy HRG’s Products to Watch from August 2021




Mederma Cold Sore Patch



Hyland’s Quitter’s Relief Irritability Tablets

s summer began to draw to a close, suppliers were not short of innovation. In August, companies introduced 129 new products. From the 17 health items, 46 wellness products and 66 beauty offerings, HRG’s new product team found five that stood out for their innovative bona fides and their potential on the shelf. They were:

Scar and stretch mark skin care brand Mederma is broadening its horizons into cold sore relief. The Mederma Cold Sore Patch is designed to relieve cold sore breakouts quickly, using an ultrathin adhesive patch. Made to be easy to apply, the patches provide discreet healing and protection from contamination for up to 12 hours and contain hydrocolloid gel to reduce the formation of scabs. Quitting smoking can be a nerve-wracking undertaking. To combat the irritability, anxiety, restlessness, nervous tension and occasional sleeplessness that comes with nicotine withdrawal, Hyland’s is rolling out its Quitter’s Relief Irritability Tablets. Sold in 100-count packages, the product is made with natural active ingredients to provide a nicotine- and drug-free offering that is nonaddictive, nondrowsy and able to quickly dissolve without water.


Halls Minis Cough Drops Honey Lemon, Sugar Free

Designed to pack a full-sized punch while delivering on-the-go convenience, Halls Minis Cough Drops are formulated to be just as effective as a standard cough drop with a cough suppressant and oral anesthetic. The drops are designed to dissolve quickly for fast relief and the package is portable for carrying in a pocket or purse, while the flip-top dispenser provides easy access.

Bic Us. Smooth Razor Starter Kit

Bic is introducing a gender-neutral razor line called Us. The Us. Smooth Razor Starter Kit includes a premium metal razor handle with two five-blade cartridges. Blades for the brand are made thin with titanium and feature a multilayer nano coating for durability, as well as nano-sharpening technology to enhance the razor edge for fluidity and irritation protection.


Azo Boric Acid Vaginal Suppositories

Azo is growing its lineup of urinary, vaginal and bladder health products with the Azo Boric Acid Vaginal Suppositories. Designed with soothing aloe vera, the product is meant to control and minimize infection symptoms using boric acid, which has been shown to help improve and restore vaginal pH levels. It also helps treat common infection symptoms, including odor, itching, burning and discharge. dsn


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Delivering E-Commerce Service Last mile care is the future of drug stores By Dhruvil Sanghvi

I Dhruvil Sanghvi, CEO, LogiNext and Forbes 30 under 30 entrepreneur


ndustries today are giving their operations an overhaul to keep up with the competition. New technology has provided updated tools for customers to shop more conveniently. As a result, the retail landscape is shifting rapidly, and retailers need to adapt to meet their customer’s demand for convenience. Thanks to medical e-commerce, the way medicine is dispensed and delivered has also changed. A July 2021 LogiNext eCommerce report points towards a rise in 40% of medicine e-commerce sales since June 2020. The use of logistics technology has helped provide retail solutions amid social and physical restrictions, allowing patients to receive their medicine and other drug store supplies, throughout the pandemic. Studies show, however, that consumers want to continue buying from medical e-commerce platforms even after restrictions have been lifted. Up to 70% of consumers will continue buying medical products online, leading economists to predict that the medical e-commerce market will grow to more than $150 billion by 2025. To keep up with this demand, Amazon launched PillPack, an online pharmacy that provides a nationwide drug network. CVS also has a prescription delivery membership service that includes free delivery and on-demand deliveries. Traditional drug stores and pharmacies need to keep up or else they will be left behind. For many facilities, last mile delivery platforms may be the make-orbreak technology that keeps them competitive. Enhanced last mile delivery can provide many benefits to those who need continued access to medical supplies. Patients undergoing treatment outside of medical facilities may need to utilize telemedicine tools to communicate with their doctors. Their caregivers may also need to constantly run to the pharmacy to restock on medicine and other supplies. When drug stores utilize last mile delivery, patients have easier access to medicine. Medicinal products can be delivered to their doorsteps on a regular schedule, ensuring continuous supply. Elderly caretakers can also greatly benefit from last mile delivery. For example, many caregivers need

to think about logistical concerns when purchasing wheelchairs, medical beds or patient lifts. Last mile delivery provides the solution. Not only can caregivers have access to more suppliers, but logistical concerns are also taken care of. What drug stores and pharmacies can leverage against bigger retail companies is the ability to cater to personal connections. However, this can only be done with a good order-management system in place. The right last mile delivery software can provide drug stores with systems to better manage orders. Their customers can also be provided automatic updates that result in a great customer experience. They can receive exact delivery times and be updated regarding any potential delays. This leads to better expectation management and bolsters trust among customers. Order management software also paves the way to flexible delivery options. For example, caretakers may need medications delivered the same day after a patient is discharged from the hospital, but suddenly can’t be at the delivery address. They can immediately change their address or send a note about the best time they can receive the parcel. A good last mile delivery system allows customers to change delivery information with just a few taps. It also allows drug stores to handle cancellations and returns more easily.

Key Takeaways Customers are continuing to look for more convenient ways to receive medicine and other supplies. One way for traditional drug stores and pharmacies to keep up is by having better last mile delivery solutions, that include route planning, route optimization, delivery associate management and detailed data analytics. Pharmacies should focus on scaling their digital infrastructure to meet demand. One solution is LogiNext Mile, which can help pharmacies digitize and optimize order scheduling, customer communication, routing and dispatching. The reality is that medical retail is going digital. It’s time for pharmacies and suppliers to embrace medical e-commerce and last mile delivery. dsn


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Give Your Pharmacy a Boost

With the new flu season now upon us and COVID-19 booster shots approved, are you ready to handle the surge in patient demand and capitalize on the revenue growth opportunity? By automating vaccine scheduling, consent collection, registry reporting and patient outreach, CareScheduler from EnlivenHealth™ allows you to efficiently manage the administration of both the flu vaccine and COVID-19 booster shots. CareScheduler uses Artificial Intelligence to automatically recommend and recruit your patients who are in most need of a flu vaccine. Equally important, the tool allows your patients to jointly book appointments for the flu and COVID-19 vaccines and boosters, using just a single electronic form for documentation.

Get ready for the flu season and COVID-19 booster shots with CareScheduler. To learn more about CareScheduler and how we can help your pharmacy profitably manage vaccine administration, visit EnlivenHealth.co, or call (877) 776-2832.

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Employing Digital Tools How small drug stores can leverage technology to compete against larger players By Chloe Hahn

T Chloe Hahn, director of marketing and sales, Dynamsoft

he market size for pharmacies and drug stores in the United States is more than $300 billion, according to IBISWorld research. With such competition, is there a way for smaller independent drug stores to compete with large, established chain pharmacies? Technology uses are likely critical in such an endeavor. For customer-facing technology, a point-of-sale system is almost a requirement today. There are numerous known efficiencies they offer. Not only do they speed processing of transactions, but they can also process many payment types too. When selecting a POS, there are various hardware decisions to make, such as a good quality keyboard, receipt printer and barcode scanner. These devices must hold up to high usage and be speedy at doing so. As a result, the software behind the scenes also becomes important.

Barcoding and Document Processing Considerations Developing an application to use barcodes is a complex and time-consuming process, but a drug store software solution will need to employ a barcode reading application. If a pharmacy opts to work with an application developer to create its system, it will need to consider open source and commercial barcode solutions. Often, application developers will rely on opensource solutions. They will deliver the cost savings inherent with open source but at the expense of speed, reliability and comprehensiveness. So, drug store managers should be aware of these shortfalls. There are common barcode scanner issues in pharma that might be challenging for some barcode reader solutions, particularly if done with open source software. Also, a small pharmacy might consider document capture capabilities. Paperwork continues to be prevalent in drug stores. There will be insurance claims, account creations using ID cards and so on. So, efficient document scanning can be helpful. The more nimble a small drug store can be, the more competitive it can remain via good customer service.


Optical Character Recognition, or OCR, technology is another capability to consider. In many document management systems, OCR is essential and used to extract text from scanned physical documents. So, in a pharmacy, it can be used to scan a customer’s ID and instantly and accurately capture basic information to process an insurance claim. It can save a lot of time versus manually entering data, let alone help remove data entry errors.

Working with an Application Developer Understanding that you need basic technologies like a POS and barcoding is one thing. But finding an experienced and reliable application development team can be daunting and can make or break a start-up drug store. There are many factors to consider in finding an optimal partner. For example, what are the design and build capabilities they offer? Do they only do desktop, or can they do mobile? Do their mobile capabilities include support for all common browsers regardless of platform or just iOS and Android app development? Often, supporting multiple browsers is a more robust approach. It does not require a customer to download and install an app. It also removes a requirement to keep apps updated as a smartphone’s operating system changes. You will also want to evaluate their project management approach. For example, what components are to be built in house, and which might need to be outsourced. Outsourcing some of the build is not uncommon. The use of software development kits can help reduce development time. These kits are off-the-shelf features that can be dropped into an application, but you might want to understand how much outsourcing is going to be done. There is more work to do when building a solution compared with buying one. Still, many drug stores might find it worthwhile. The more customized they can get, the more they might uncover new levels of customer service they can use to differentiate their brand over larger, established players. dsn


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Convenience and Access Walgreens Boots Alliance’s Giovanni Monti outlines the company’s healthcare efforts


algreens has been busy building out its healthcare offerings, including its Walgreens Find Care platform and its partnership with VillageMD, aimed at opening 600 primary care locations at its stores in the next several years. Drug Store News spoke with Giovanni Monti, Walgreens Boots Alliance’s senior vice president of healthcare services, about the company’s efforts. Drug Store News: Can you give an overview of some of Walgreens Boots Alliance’s healthcare efforts in the United States? Giovanni Monti: WBA serves millions of people a day both in person and online. Thanks to our trained healthcare professionals, digital innovations and more, we have extended our offer from pharmacy to broader healthcare services, and from the store to where, when and how people want it. COVID-19 tests and vaccinations are two of the latest examples of how we are serving communities in new ways. Our services are now available not only in store, but we also help patients connect with third-party providers via Walgreens Find Care, available on Walgreens.com and the Walgreens app. The award-winning Walgreens Find Care platform lets people access care when, and how, they need it from trusted local and national providers. Booking appointments with healthcare providers; ordering at-home diagnostic testing or scheduling an in-person diagnostic test at a Walgreens pharmacy or other patient service center; finding clinical trials; and accessing telehealth are just a few of the services available on Walgreens Find Care — all integrated with our digital pharmacy experience. We have teamed up with VillageMD to offer conveniently located and coordinated primary care through Village Medical at Walgreens clinics alongside Walgreens pharmacies. As of the end of our third quarter, we have opened Village Medical at Walgreens


Giovanni Monti, senior vice president of healthcare services, Walgreens Boots Alliance

“Creating neighborhood health destinations around a more modern pharmacy is one of WBA’s strategic priorities.” clinics in Texas, Arizona, Northern Indiana and Florida. In fact, Walgreens is the first national pharmacy chain to plan to offer full-service primary care clinics co-located at its stores at a large scale. Through this collaboration, we’re able to integrate primary care and pharmacy services in one place, making it easier to obtain comprehensive health care. DSN: You’ve now opened dozens of Village Medical at Walgreens locations as part of an accelerated investment in VillageMD. What makes this unique as a primary care offering at retail? GM: Yes, as of the end of our third quarter, we opened 46 previously announced Village

Medical at Walgreens locations, with a plan to open the next 35 locations by the end of this calendar year, for a total of approximately 80 co-locations. Village Medical at Walgreens is unique because it brings physician and pharmacy services together under one roof, enabling patients to benefit from improved health outcomes and lowered cost of care. Through VillageMD, we also help remove barriers to access quality healthcare services. VillageMD primary care physicians and Walgreens pharmacists work together to provide care for chronic conditions, such as diabetes, asthma and high blood pressure, as well as everyday illnesses and injuries. Patients can benefit from a seamless experience that saves them time and money, and helps them take medication as prescribed by their primary care providers. DSN: The VillageMD partnership was accelerated earlier this year. Why was this such a critical priority for WBA and how does it strengthen the company’s position as a healthcare destination? GM: We are on track to meet our overall goal of opening 600 Village Medical at Walgreens in more than 30 U.S. markets over the next four years. Creating neighborhood health destinations around a more modern pharmacy is one of WBA’s strategic priorities. An important part of that is our pharmacists’ work with VillageMD physicians to deliver the highest quality, coordinated and affordable care to help improve health outcomes in the communities we serve. Additionally, the pandemic highlighted numerous barriers to accessing care, including the difficulties patients face when navigating a complex healthcare environment, and has indirectly contributed to a worsening of backlogs of appointments and management of urgent and chronic health needs. What we’re offering through the Village Medical at Walgreens coordinated care model is now more important than ever, especially for patients with chronic conditions. dsn


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CBD Living Debuts Lotion Line CBD Living is adding to its line of CBD topicals with its CBD Living Lotion line. Offered in five scents — Relaxing Lavender, Soothing Eucalyptus, Refreshing Coconut Lime, Zenful Amber Bergamot and Calming Unscented — the lotion contains 200 mg of broad spectrum nano-CBD per 8-oz. tube. The lotions join CBD Living’s topical offerings, which include bath bombs, bath salts, soap, salve, massage oil and its Freeze Roll-On. “Our topicals line is a best seller for a reason,” said CBD Living COO Sean McDonald. “All our topical products are lightweight, nongreasy and use natural ingredients. In addition, they are manufactured using our proprietary skin retention technology, which allows nutrients to better absorb through the layers of the skin, and stay on the skin longer, for lasting relief.” The Corona, Calif.-based company said its THC-free products are made with organic hemp grown in Oregon and Colorado.

Socati, Super Snouts Partner on Water-Soluble CBD Pet Product Yooma Wellness subsidiary Socati is working with U.S. pet cannabinoid company Super Snouts to bring a line of USDA Certified Organic, water-soluble CBD tinctures for pets to market. The companies said the collaboration combines Socati’s expertise in ingredient manufacturing and product formulation with Super Snouts’ innovation, experience and pet industry knowledge. “We believe that water-soluble CBD drops are a great mechanism to deliver CBD to pets,” said Christy Love, co-founder of Super Snouts. “The drops can be mixed with food at mealtimes while the absorption of water-soluble ingredients continues to work in water-soluble environments in pets’ bodies. Most CBD pet products are oil based, but for absorption of edible CBD oil-based products — via the oral mucosal membrane — dogs are required to hold the oils in their mouths. Anyone who has dogs will know that asking them to hold food or liquid in their mouths for any length of time isn’t just impractical; it’s impossible.” The product — sold in 90-, 150-, 300- and 600-mg bottles — contains USDA Certified Organic, broad-spectrum hemp and comes in a vegan chicken flavor. “Innovating new and unique CBD products that better suit their users — whether those are pets or people — is an exciting business to be in,” said Mark Elfenbein, Socati chief revenue officer. “We’re very privileged to work with many of the most progressive CBD brands in the market, including Super Snouts, and look forward to continuing to leverage our formulations capabilities to help create next-generation products that move the market forward and provide users with great experiences.”


Mile High Labs Adds Doug Lynch as Chief Commercial Officer Mile High Labs has tapped a veteran clinical nutrition, dietary supplements and functional food industry executive to its C-suite. The Broomfield, Colo.based company has named Doug Lynch its chief commercial officer, bringing more than 25 years of experience to the manufacturer of hemp-derived cannabinoid ingredients and finished products. In his role, Lynch will spearhead the company’s sales, marketing and product strategy efforts. “I’m proud to be joining the exceptional team at Mile High Labs during what I view as a pivotal time for the company,” he said. “Cannabinoids, for now more specifically CBD, have quickly become an integral part of overall consumer healthand-wellness routines. Hundreds of global and domestic consumer companies are testing pilot products, developing new formulations and eagerly preparing for anticipated clarity in regulations. Premium brands are looking for the highest quality, best-in-class consumer solutions that deliver better experiences. I’m excited to welcome brand partners to Mile High Labs, and I look forward to continuing to work with them in facilitating a successful entry into this high growth category.” Lynch’s background includes executive positions in global technical and consumer product sales, as well as product development, business development and marketing. Over the course of his career, he has worked with such products as dietary supplements, medical and functional foods, cosmetics, animal nutrition, and proprietary active ingredients. He led the development of the first vitamin brands for Walmart and Sam’s Club e-commerce, and the first dietary supplements for Estée Lauder. “Mile High Labs has championed quality and innovation since its inception, and I’m thrilled to be contributing to its important mission,” Lynch said. “I look forward to playing a key role in our global strategy as we grow our business, and delivering truly novel consumer goods that delight and excite our customers, and in turn, inspire their customers as well.”


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Leafreport Survey Finds 50% of Pet Owners Use CBD CBD watchdog site Leafreport has picked the brains of pet owners, finding fully half of them using CBD for their pets. Among those surveyed, 50% said they were using CBD for their cat or dog, and 74% of those who use it said they would be likely or very likely to recommend pet CBD products to other pet owners. The survey of 1,448 pet owners found that 38% of those who used CBD on their pet did so because their veterinarian recommended it. The main uses were for easing a pet’s anxiety or stress (44%), and the most popular delivery format was pet edibles used by 53% of those giving CBD to their pets. Sixty-seven percent of CBD users said it had resulted in moderate to great improvement in their pets. More than 70% of consumers who use CBD for their pets said they make their purchases online, with 38% saying they bought it in a physical store. “For many of us, our pets are beloved members of our family, worthy of the highest level of devoted care and attention,” said Lital Shafir, head of product at Leafreport. “Although the research on the use of CBD in pets is still relatively low, many pet owners appear to be convinced of its efficacy. This is interesting because our previous research has shown that many vets support the use of CBD for inflammation, pain, seizures, allergies and anxiety in pet populations too, emphasizing its low side-effect profile. Our aim with regular reports such as this is to help consumers become more savvy about CBD and its potential benefits.” Leafreport launched the survey via SurveyMonkey, with questions targeting U.S.based pet owners. To read the full report on the survey, visit Leafreport.com/eduction/ cbd-for-pets-survey-what-do-pet-owners-really-think-about-pet-cbd-products-12531.



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9/9/21 4:14 PM


Walking on Air As a stand-alone company, Scholl’s Wellness has a spring in its step as it emphasizes innovative self-care for its Dr. Scholl’s brand


espite its roots that stretch back 115 years, the current version of Dr. Scholl’s has only existed for a few years. After going through several carve outs and acquisitions since the 1980s, the brand — acquired by Yellow Wood Partners in 2019 to become the stand-alone Scholl’s Wellness — was reunited earlier this year with its global counterpart, Scholl. After experiencing so many changes and coming under new ownership, the brand wanted to come out strong in innovation in its latest iteration, said Kate Godbout, senior vice president of marketing at Scholl’s Wellness. “We really wanted to come to the market and bring innovation across a number of different foot care segments,” Godbout said. “Part of that effort was that we had a lot of really good ideas that we thought would resonate well with consumers. But beyond that, we also wanted to show up as a kind of different organization that was really consumer focused. We’ve always been a strong player in innovation, and we wanted to make clear that that legacy would continue going forward.” Building on a new foundation for the company came at the same time as the COVID-19 pandemic, which had an impact on the types of products Dr. Scholl’s introduced this year. As products, such as orthotics and inserts, that had typically been given a large share of shelf space were de-emphasized, the company saw growing interest in condition-relief offerings and self-care products. “We saw that a lot of need-based categories — things like corn, bunion, blister and wart products — definitely fared well,” Godbout said. Looking to deliver on condition treatments, in April, the brand rolled out Freeze Away Max Wart Remover, which is billed as its first OTC wart remover that offers direct freeze technology by spraying a precise dosage of cooling agent directly onto warts. It differs in that other wart removers use indirect freezing, putting the cooling agent onto an applicator that is then applied to the wart. Yet the company’s biggest pivot — and a big area of opportunity in the foot care space — was the move toward more wellness and grooming products. “[In 2020], grooming had a tremendous, double-digit uptick at most retailers,” Godbout said. “I think the consumer was voting that grooming and skin care products within foot care were something that was interesting and relevant, given the fact that they weren’t going to stores or nail salons to get that health care and were having to take care of it themselves.” With an eye toward this trend, Dr. Scholl’s introduced its Foot Care & Grooming Collection. Featuring The Ultra Hydrating Foot



Lotion, Ultra Hydrating Foot Cream, Severe Cracked Heel Balm, Ultra Hydrating Foot Mask and Ultra Exfoliating Heel Mask, the collection is designed around various foot-related grooming needs, from calluses and dryness to cracked heels and skin repair. Also in foot care is the Odor-X Probiotic Extract Formula Foot Spray and its Arthritis Pain reliever, which uses diclofenac sodium topical gel. “Our products and the grooming or skin care category, if you will, are really a nice intersection between therapy and beauty,” Godbout said. “And so we felt like having a strong regimen that had a little bit more intensive treatments with some kind of basic everyday products to sustain your feet. Really looking and feeling their best were something that the doctor sold, had a right to play in.” The growth of wellness and self-care products during the pandemic does not mean the company is moving away from its flagship insoles and orthotics. Indeed, as business reopens and consumers venture into the world with more frequency, Godbout said the company sees an opportunity to bring these products back into view for consumers who are suffering from feet that have been improperly supported — a need state the company has dubbed “Frankenstein feet,” inspired by the stiff gait. “When people were stuck in lockdown at home, they were changing every aspect of their life. They were not wearing shoes anymore or they were exercising a lot more to try to stay active, so they had improperly supported feet,” she said. “Now that things are starting to kind of reopen, we feel like there is a great opportunity to reintroduce consumers to insoles and orthotics and to think differently about them as a way to solve for a lot of the pain points that they’ve had over the last, let’s say, 18 months.” Indeed, the company has augmented its trim-to-fit insole offerings with two recent additions, Float-On-Air Foam Insoles and EcoFoam All-Day Insoles. The Eco-Foam product and its packaging are 66% made with sustainable and recycled materials, including a cushioning foam made of plant-based materials and arch support made of natural cork. Godbout said the Eco-Foam launch was meant to underscore the company’s commitment to sustainability. “As we think about how we want to show up in the market, we absolutely want to be on the front line of translating relevant consumer trends into products, but then also thinking about what’s meaningful to retailers,” she said, noting that many retailers are leaning into green products. “For us, it wasn’t enough just to make the changes to our packaging to be more sustainable. We actually wanted to do it in product execution, too.”


SCHOLL’S WELLNESS Founded: 2019 U.S. Headquarters: Parsippany, N.J. Categories: Foot care, including insoles and devices; grooming; athlete’s foot; pain relief; wart removal; odor and wetness; and nail fungus Number of employees: 43 Website: drscholls.com

Sized-to-fit orthotics and insoles also constitute a growing area for the company. One of its latest custom-fit offerings is its Plantar Fasciitis Pain Relief Sized to Fit Insoles. Made with the company’s ShockGuard technology and the new Relyx365 foam cushioning, the insoles are designed to improve the heel’s position to absorb shock and reduce pressure on it to address heel pain while also offering arch support to reduce pain from a stretching plantar fascia. Having online-exclusive products is part of the company’s growing direct-to-consumer business, which it built out throughout the pandemic to be as educational as possible while the brand also works with retailers on omnichannel fulfillment. The DTC site is a great way to show up as a brand and give an endless shelf; it also offers

richer expert information to help consumers select products in their categories. “We like to give consumers the ability to consummate the sale on our site,” Godbout said. “We need to show and make sure we’re building strong omnichannel plans, taking advantage of the retailer marketing plans and telling the same product story in store and online, while providing richer content online to do more storytelling than at the shelf.” Godbout used the company’s partnership with CVS Pharmacy as an example of how it is getting smart about merchandising and leveraging retailers’ digital capabilities to augment the in-store experience. In certain CVS stores, alongside a three-quarter length display, Dr. Scholl’s has a Custom Fit kiosk that allows consumers to get custom recommendations on products to try. But with 24 SKUs of Custom Fit products, it presents a merchandising difficulty. So the company created QR codes displayed by the kiosk that allow shoppers to buy online and have their product shipped to their homes. “It’s allowing them the option of multiple products, some of which aren’t merchandised in the store, but they have the ability to buy that through CVS and get it delivered to them,” she said. “We’ll try to think of more opportunities just to kind of create those bridges for consumers and work with our retailers from here forward.” dsn


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etailers were already coping with a competitive labor market before the pandemic, but the events of the past year have compounded their staffing challenges and added some additional complications. Many food and drug retailers recruited additional workers, raised wages and handed out bonuses last year as consumers stocked up on groceries and other necessities, such as disinfectant, sanitizing wipes and toilet paper. In addition, new sanitation protocols and a sharp increase in demand for curbside pickup also required many retailers to maintain high levels of staffing. Offering COVID-19 testing and administering vaccines for the virus also kept food and drug retailers focused on attracting workers to assist with those functions. As the economy reopened and restrictions loosened throughout much of the country this past spring, other retail channels and restaurants also stepped up their hiring, putting even more pressure on the available workforce. These conditions have led food and drug retailers to issue mass appeals for labor and to roll out new incentives, including higher wages and increased benefits. CVS Health, for example, said in August that it plans to raise its minimum hourly wage to $15 per hour effective next July, with incremental increases beginning immediately. The company said that more than 65% of its hourly employees were already making more than $15 per hour.

“Our wage increase is the latest in a series of investments in our employees, including bonuses and benefit enhancements throughout the pandemic,” Rebecca Ferrick, a CVS Health spokesperson, told Drug Store News. “With millions of visits per day to our nearly 10,000 locations across the country, our retail business plays an important role in how we deliver care. Increasing our minimum wage for hourly employees will help attract and retain the talent needed for our customer-centric business approach. Just as critical, it aligns with our values and our purpose, and builds on the history of our investment in our people.” The wage increases, along with ongoing efforts to provide a competitive, comprehensive compensation package, will make the retailer “an even more attractive employment option,” she said. Independent pharmacy operators are also seeking to cope with labor shortfalls, said Jennifer Zilka, group vice president of Good Neighbor Pharmacy field programs and services at AmerisourceBergen. “Labor challenges seem to be impacting all market sectors right now,” she said. “Across independent community pharmacies, we are seeing needs for clerks, pharmacy technicians and delivery drivers. For the stores in the Good Neighbor Pharmacy Network, we’re keenly focused on helping them retain talent and support existing staff members.” AmerisourceBergen offers employee development tools that can be customized to the needs of specific pharmacies and their staff, Zilka said. “We combine industry best practices with the insight of a dedicated business coach and incorporate the goals of the pharmacy

CVS Health, for example, said in August that it plans to raise its minimum hourly wage to $15 per hour effective next July, with incremental increases beginning immediately. The company said that more than

65% of its hourly employees were already making more than $15 per hour.

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SERVICE DOGS CHANGE VETERANS’ LIVES Dog Chow’s Service Dog Salute Campaign By Joe Toscano, Vice President, Trade & Industry Development at Purina This September, in honor of National Service Dog Awareness Month, Purina Dog Chow will be launching its fourth annual “Service Dog Salute” campaign to highlight the life-changing benefits that service dogs can provide to veterans experiencing Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Over three million military veterans suffer from PTSD, and service dogs are proven to reduce the severity of PTSD symptoms and suicidal behaviors. Unfortunately, due to the cost and time it takes to train a service dog, less than one percent of those in need can obtain one. Dog Chow is on a mission to help change that. The Service Dog Salute campaign supports the care and training of more service dogs for America’s military veterans to ensure that every hero in need can find a canine hero of their own. Dog Chow is continuing to help fund organizations who train service dogs for veterans with PTSD, donating $850,000 since the program began in 2018. This year, Dog Chow’s donations will support Got Your Six Support Dogs in IL and Tony LaRussa’s Animal Rescue Foundation in CA. PTSD service dogs are NOT the same as emotional support, therapy or

companion dogs. Like service dogs for the blind, deaf and physically disabled, PTSD service dogs for veterans must be specifically trained to help their handler perform tasks they cannot otherwise perform on their own. The training process can take from one to two and a half years to learn to perform tasks such as: • Placing body weight on the veteran to promote a sense of calm during panic attacks • Waking the veteran from upsetting dreams or night terrors • Reminding the veteran to take medications • Alerting the veteran when someone is approaching from behind

helpful resources. • Patrolling the perimeter of a room for triggers and • Retailers can make an threats impact beginning in September by carrying Purina Dog Chow and Purina special Service Dog Salute associates are working to merchandising shipper bring more awareness and units and support to veteran service in-store signage designed dogs. Here are three ways to drive attention you can help us: and awareness for • To better understand the the documentary and life-changing work these information on the service dogs do, watch benefits of PTSD service Dog Chow’s documentary, dogs. Contact your Purina premiering Sept. 1 at sales rep to learn more. DogChow.com/Service, which follows three veterans on their unique journeys of healing and hope alongside a PTSD service dog. • Visit DogChow.com/ Service now to receive updates, get the facts on PTSD service dogs and find


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owner to tailor a program that will empower staff, ensure they feel supported in their role and maximize employee engagement,” she said. “Our customers recognize how important good talent is to their patients, so we’re working with them on how they can invest and ensure the retention of existing staff members.” Meanwhile, some companies have sought to expand the pool of talent that is available to them by loosening the requirements for employment. CVS, for example, in addition to boosting wages, recently said that a high school diploma or GED would no longer be needed for most entry-level roles. This year, the company will also eliminate the minimum grade point average requirement for candidates from colleges and universities. Tom Hill, a partner at Axiom Consulting Partners, said eliminating the requirements would allow CVS to reach a broader spectrum of potential candidates. “It really doesn’t surprise me that an employer like CVS, which has a robust training and onboarding program, believes it can tap into another piece of the labor market to find associates that may have been overlooked in the past,” he said. “I think it can be a really good move to open up the talent market.” Hill said he’s also seen other employers re-evaluate whether college degrees are required for other specific positions as well.

Competing Beyond Wages

In addition to CVS, national retailers planning wage increases include Kroger, Walgreens, Walmart and Costco.

Cincinnati-based Kroger said in March that it would increase its average wage to $16 per hour for hourly employees by the end of this year, following an announcement by Walmart in February that it would raise its average wage to $15 per hour. Also in February, Costco announced that it would increase its starting wage to $16 per hour. Offers of increased pay from these companies and others, such as Amazon, are expected to add additional pressures on smaller retailers that are seeking to hire and retain staff. Hill said smaller retailers need to consider how they can compete for talent using other components of their employee value proposition. These components can include such perks as flexible scheduling that allows workers to attend to their other obligations, for example. He said Axiom has found that employee turnover is often closely related to workers’ desire for a more favorable work schedule, especially when job openings are plentiful and people can easily leave one job for another with similar pay. Another way retailers can compete for talent is by making it easier for workers to qualify for benefits, as opposed to limiting workers’ hours to prevent them from qualifying for health insurance, for example. Outlining a path to building a career is another important benefit that employers can offer candidates, Hill said. “This is harder for mom-and-pop retailers than it is for big retailers, but it’s important to provide career pathing, so that employees can build their skills and move up within the retail

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store, or within the field organization in the case of a larger company,” he said. Providing formal training opportunities can be a part of this career development, but it also includes providing on-thejob experiences that can help workers develop their skills and grow their careers. Another recruiting tactic available to large employers is highlighting opportunities at multiple locations, Hill suggested. If someone applies for a position at one store, they could be alerted to available positions at other nearby stores, for example. “That opens up the talent pool a little bit more, in case the candidate that was a silver medalist at one location might be a better fit with the manager and team at another location,” he said. “That way you get the most out of the talent that is available.” Other tips Hill offered to aid in the recruiting and retention process included: • Consider posting ads in appropriate areas of job-hunting websites, such as ZipRecruiter, where potential employees may be seeking opportunities; • Schedule some interviews and initial discussions with potential employees by phone, rather than in person, both to minimize in-person interactions during COVID, but also for the sake of convenience; and • Pay close attention to the onboarding process. “Some research we have done in the past shows that a better onboarding experience improves retention and productivity of employees,” Hill said.

He said retailers also need to move quickly if a new hire isn’t working out. “It is an employee’s market right now, and just using 30-day probation or things like that just aren’t going to cut it,” Hill said. “It calls for recognition that some employees might not be a good fit, and moving them along quickly if they are not meeting the requirements of the job.”

Tapping into the Gen Z Workforce

Members of Generation Z — people born between 1997 and 2012 — are entering the workforce at a rapid pace and represent the employees of the future for many retailers. Managing the needs of these young workers requires a special approach that takes into consideration their life experiences and their attitudes about their careers, said Hana Ben-Shabat, founder of research firm Gen Z Planet and author of the recently published book “Gen Z 360: Preparing for the Inevitable Change in Culture, Work, and Commerce.” After the 2008 recession, she said, many companies were using the excuse of a sluggish economy to offer low starting wages, which led many millennials, who were often burdened with high student debt, to jump from job to job to seek betterpaying opportunities. “Everyone is looking back and saying that millennials are disloyal, but millennials were acting in a rational way to maximize their personal gain by making those moves,” Ben-Shabat said. She cautioned against retailers taking a similar approach in the wake of the pandemic. “Some companies might think they


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will be able to offer lower wages to people who just came out of college, or to young workers, because we are just coming out of the pandemic,” she said. “My warning is not to do that because Gen Z is actually willing to be very loyal.” Ben-Shabat said her research shows that Gen Z workers are willing to stay five years or more with a company, if the employer offers them the kind of experience they are seeking. She also noted that benefits are even more important to Gen Z than wages, according to her research. “This is a generation that grew up during the 2008 recession,” she said. “They were seeing their parents losing their jobs, sometimes losing their homes, and that experience is really ingrained in this generation. They have really learned the lesson that, from a very young age, they have to secure their financial future.” Along those lines, some tools that can attract these workers include matching 401(k) retirement programs and good health insurance. According to Ben-Shabat’s research, 88% of Gen Z said benefits are important or extremely important to them when selecting an employer. She also agreed with Hill that flexibility in scheduling is particularly important to young job seekers, as this was cited as an important consideration by 80% of Gen Z people that she surveyed. Personal development and training are also very important to this generation, she said.

CVS Opens Training Centers in Pa. In addition to its efforts to raise wages and improve its benefit offering, CVS Health said it also has opened two new Workforce and Talent Centers, one each in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. The centers will offer training for individuals seeking employment as pharmacy technicians, customer service associates, call center associates, logistics associates and retail associates. They will include simulated retail stores that offer hands-on job training, with the Pittsburgh location also having a fully functional restaurant, where participants can get on-site job training in restaurant services. A satellite location in Philadelphia will also offer training for individuals seeking employment as customer service associates. Individuals who complete the program at any of these locations qualify to apply for a position at CVS Health, the company said. “With the new Workforce Innovation and Talent Centers, we aim to take a more personalized approach to break down employment barriers and provide each participant the tools they need to be successful in the workplace and, more importantly, in life,” said Rebecca Ferrick, a spokesperson for CVS Health. “Each location builds on our community partnerships to provide employment services and training to underserved populations, including individuals with disabilities, mature workers, youth and veterans.” Each center is focused on addressing the community’s broader needs, such as food insecurity and access to health care, she said. The centers will offer on-site supportive services to help participants succeed outside the workforce, including a health clinic, food pantry, a daycare, after-school programs and transportation assistance. In addition to the new Philadelphia and Pittsburgh locations, CVS also operates Workforce Development and Training Centers in Cleveland, Boston, New York City and Washington, D.C.

Recruiting ‘Digital Natives’

Retailers should keep in mind that younger consumers entering the workforce are more technologically savvy than any generation before them, Ben-Shabat said. “They are true digital natives,” she said. “They know how to use technology, and they expect that companies that are trying to recruit them should have a smooth, technology-driven process.” More and more companies are embracing new tools, such as video-based resumes and candidate-directed online interview scheduling, to appeal to younger workers, she said. “When you do a video resume, you allow a person to express who they are, without 40 40


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actually having to fill a page with ‘stuff’ that they did,” BenShabat said. “There is a limit as to how much a 20-year-old person has done.” A video resume not only allows candidates to express themselves, but gives employers an opportunity to gain a sense of how the person speaks and behaves, she said, noting that these qualities are particularly important in a retail environment, where customer interaction is often a key aspect of the job. In addition, she said, today’s younger consumers will likely feel very comfortable submitting a resume in video format. “For this generation, this is very natural. They love to do that, and they have the tools to do that.” Allowing job candidates to schedule their interviews themselves online is another way employers can make the application process more amenable to younger workers. This puts the candidate in control and reinforces the fact that the employer is taking a modern approach to the hiring process, Ben-Shabat said. At the same time, retailers also need to be careful about overautomating the hiring process, however. “I have seen some companies that have gone into a totally automated recruitment process, and that can be a very major turnoff,” she said. “You have to strike a balance between personal contact with the candidate and using technology in the process.” Another important consideration is the speed and responsiveness of the employer, she said. “Gen Z really does not want to wait. If you take too long to respond to them — or what they perceive is too long — they will never get back to you again.”

Providing Purpose

Ben-Shabat also suggested that young workers want employers to provide more than the traditional onboarding process, where companies simply explain the company’s mission and policies. “That’s all great stuff, but Gen Z wants more,” she said. “I think it’s important to give people context and explain why you do things.” A common complaint among Gen Z workers is that they are often asked to perform tasks, such as filing reports, without

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adequate explanation from the employer about why those tasks are important. “This is the kind of thing that gets Gen Z extremely frustrated,” she said. Training should also take into account the fact that young workers are comfortable using technology, Ben-Shabat said. Retailers should consider offering training via short videos that workers can watch when it suits them, and organized in a way that will be familiar to them, topic by topic, she suggested. “Gen Z can absorb a two-minute video better than they can a half-page memo. It’s just the way they are wired,” she said. Another way to leverage Gen Z’s technological prowess is to offer them reciprocal mentoring opportunities, through which young consumers can have the chance to learn certain skills from older workers and, at the same time, teach their digital skills to the older workers in exchange, for example. Gen Z is also very competitive, and these workers overall consider their careers very important, Ben-Shabat said. “They want to make progress, they want to make a contribution and they want to move fast up the ladder. How you give them these things will be very important in terms of whether or not you can keep them.” Other characteristics of Gen Zers are their value of community and sense of belonging, she said. “They want to be part of something that is bigger than them,” said Ben-Shabat. “They really want to work for companies that do good in the world. “I have spoken to so many Gen Zers and surveyed so many Gen Zers, and I keep hearing that all of the time,” she said. “They will not take offers from companies that they deem are either harmful to the environment, or don’t do anything good for the society they are in.” dsn


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A Family Affair Pharmacists share their experiences working in family businesses and with relatives in the industry By Sandra Levy


hey speak about their parents with utmost adulation. They are joyful that they are working side by side with their relatives. They can’t hide how proud they are of their sons and daughters. These are the pharmacists whose grandparents, parents and siblings are pharmacists. They also are the pharmacists who are married to pharmacists, and whose children are following in their footsteps. Whether they are multigenerational pharmacy owners, or hang their white coats in vastly different healthcare settings, their passion and enthusiasm for pharmacy has made the profession truly a family affair. Drug Store News sat down with several pharmacists to find out what has inspired them to keep pharmacy in the family.

Heidi Snyder

When Heidi Snyder was only 5 years old she loved going to work with her dad, Danny Kantor, at his pharmacy in Elmsford, N.Y. “I loved the smell of the pharmacy,” she said. “If I had a choice with what to do with my dad, that’s what I wanted to do.” Snyder, who has owned Drug World in Cold Spring, N.Y., since 2003, said her dad was the ultimate entrepreneur. He eventually owned four pharmacies. Kantor, who passed away in 2020, also had many leadership roles, including serving as president of the Pharmacists Society of the State of New York and as chairman of NACDS’ small chain conference, known as NACDS Regional today.


Snyder recalled that her dad was tough on her. He even fired her three times when she was a teen. After Snyder went to pharmacy school in Boston, she earned a master’s degree in marketing in Chicago, and then worked as a pharmacist in California. When her dad wanted to retire at the age of 60, Snyder, who was 37 years old at the time, moved her family back from California so she could take over the business. “I read every file in every file cabinet. I sat in his office for every meeting he had. I got to hear him on the phone,” she said, adding that he even took her to NACDS board meetings. In 2000, Snyder’s father sold the business to her. “I had the opportunity of a lifetime,” she said. He told her: “‘You’ve got this.’” Finally, Snyder recalled playing the game Life with her dad. “He wanted more of the dollar signs and hearts. I had equal amounts of each. I needed some fame in my life.” Snyder, who has administered over 5,000 COVID-19 shots, recently got her share of fame. “Someone walked into my store and said, ‘You’re Heidi. You’re our heroine.’ I couldn’t stop crying,” she said.

Catherine Cary



Catherine Cary and her sister Michelle Thomas are both pharmacists who grew up in Bremo Pharmacy, owned by their dad, Dan Herbert. Herbert, who was president of the American Pharmacists Association when he passed away in 2004, opened Bremo Pharmacy in Richmond, Va., in 1976. He oversaw five pharmacies at one time. “We grew up surrounded by pharmacy,” Cary said. “My dad ran the pharmacy, my mom did the books and our living room was the business office. All four children helped out when they were too young to work. We went with him so he wouldn’t be by himself, from when


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MULTIGENERATIONAL PHARMACISTS we were old enough to dust shelves until we were able to help when we got to high school. We did everything from delivering to dusting shelves to being a pharmacy technician.” Two of Herbert’s four children saw pharmacy as a natural career choice. Cary noted that her father was ahead of his time in his ideas about pharmacy. “From the time I graduated pharmacy school, they were looking for ways in the community setting for pharmacists to be paid for their knowledge and advice versus for the product,” she said. When her dad, who was the CEO of the pharmacy, had a sudden and terminal illness, Cary, who enjoyed her role as a pharmacist, had to switch gears. “We asked, what are we going to do, hire someone to run the company or change our roles?” she said. “I decided to take on more of an admin role at that point. We had three pharmacies and realized smaller for us was better for keeping things in line as far as our goals and staying focused on who we were. We closed one of the three pharmacies this past year during COVID.” Cary’s sister Michelle stayed on for a few years as a pharmacist after their dad passed. She now works at a physician’s office group, where she specializes in helping diabetes patients get control of their disease. Michelle and her brother, Charles Herbert, still remain active with the family business in an advisory role. Cary’s other sister, Wendy Vandy, serves as the project manager. Finally, Cary said she is glad she followed in her father’s footsteps. “It’s rewarding when you’re able to help people feel better and live healthier lives,” she said.

Douglas Hoey

When Douglas Hoey, CEO of the National Community Pharmacists Association, was born, his father Phil was just six months into his dream of starting a new pharmacy that was located in the back of a Gibson’s Discount Center. “I literally grew up in it, in the bays with the medicine, with my coloring books,” Hoey recalled. “Gibson’s had laundry detergent, vinyl records, mops, and guns and a variety of things. I’d go out front to buy a pack of gum, a comic book, and say, ‘My dad works in the back’ to get my 10% discount and, of course, they knew who I was because there weren’t a lot of other 6-year-old kids walking around the store by themselves. I grew up just hanging out at the store and then eventually started working at the store when I was 13, running one of the registers.” When Gibson’s left the community, Hoey’s dad took over the building and later built a freestanding pharmacy across the street. Hoey, who started out as a journalism major in college, also was interested in premed. “A lot of kids in my high school who went to college were zoology majors, hoping to get into medical school,” he said. “I thought that they were putting all of their eggs in one basket. I thought I knew a lot about pharmacy, that’s practical. I’ll declare pharmacy and, if I don’t get into med school, I’ll be a pharmacist.” Yet by the time Hoey went to pharmacy school, his love of pharmacy was blossoming. “Something clicked,” he said. “I was learning about the practice of pharmacy in pharmacy school and took that back to the store on spring and winter breaks and in the



summers, where I worked to make money for college. I had the passion for the patients and for being able to make a difference, and on the business side, being able to marry up the business and patient side. I fell in love with that, and by the time that I had finished my sophomore year in college, I was accepted into pharmacy school, and that passion continues 30 years later.” After working for other independents for a few years and eventually for his dad for a couple of years, Hoey decided to go to Washington, D.C., to join NCPA. His move came shortly before his father’s plan to retire. “His being ready to retire didn’t jive very well,” Hoey said. “I was young and wanderlust was in my blood. I wanted to see the world before I settled down, so our timing didn’t match up very well,” he said, noting that his dad sold his pharmacy to a group in Oklahoma. While Hoey had his own pharmacy dream, he was quick to point out a slew of important decisions that his father made that have left a lasting impression on him. The first was his dad’s decision to build a freestanding store. “It was a very wise decision,” he said. Hoey also credited his dad’s support of legislative issues for inspiring him to become an association leader. “When I got out of school, I practiced for five years before coming to NCPA. I was at his store for two of those years as a pharmacist. He paid for NCPA membership for me and his other four pharmacists.” Hoey, who has been with NCPA for almost a quarter century, said that while his father would have preferred if he stayed in the family pharmacy store, he is proud of his son. “I know he was happy about me going to NCPA, although at the time, he thought I was crazy moving 1,300 miles away to Washington, D.C., from the Midwest. He’s very proud of me today.”


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It appears that despite the fact that Hoey followed his own pharmacy dream, his view of the future of pharmacy coincides with his father’s vision of what pharmacy ought to be. “We saw a lot of glimpses of the future of pharmacy through the pandemic, where the pharmacy industry has been talking about the fact that pharmacies will become more of a health destination, a health center,” Hoey said. “That’s slowly been happening, but the pandemic accelerated that with point-of-care testing and vaccinations.”

Hugh Chancy

When Hugh Chancy’s parents — Hubert and Sue — opened their first pharmacy, Chancy Drugs in Hahira, Ga., in 1966, he was a young boy growing up in a pharmacy that housed a soda fountain. While the soda fountain left an impression on him, it was what he learned about the pharmacy profession that left a permanent mark. Fast forward to today, Hugh, who is chairman of the National Community Pharmacists Association’s board, along with his brother, Bert Chancy, have expanded Chancy Drugs into five retail pharmacies and a long-term care pharmacy that services nursing homes and assisted living patients. Hugh’s wife Tina and his oldest son Patrick are both pharmacists who work in the family business. Bert’s wife Cyndi is also involved in the management of the family business. “I was very young when the pharmacy was started,” Hugh Chancy said. “I got to see the impact of what my dad did and how it impacted the lives of people in the community. Originally I thought, I don’t want to follow in my dad’s footsteps and become a pharmacist. As I got older, I really resonated with the way he impacted our community. I realized then that pharmacy was truly a profession that could make a difference. I have always felt that I had a servant’s heart, and pharmacy is truly a service profession. So, what I was pushing against ended up pulling me back in.” Chancy met his wife in pharmacy school. Upon graduation, they



both worked for a chain pharmacy before returning to his hometown. Tina worked for a local hospital for a few years before joining the family business. Today, she runs the closed-door pharmacy, which services long-term care and assisted living facilities, as well as patients who want their medications packaged. What is it like to be married to a pharmacist? “It’s exciting because we both have similar passions,” Chancy said. “We both like to serve people and patients,” he said. “Early on, we both worked for the same big box store, and we did the same thing and we had some of the same complaints every day. When we got back into business with the family, all of our job roles changed, and so her day and my day are totally different. We’re both working toward the same goal, but we have different job responsibilities and are dealing with different issues. No matter how hard we try not to discuss pharmacy issues at home, somehow it always ends up in the conversation.” Chancy said that his son Patrick chose the pharmacy profession because he saw the same thing in his parents that he saw in his father. “He saw what we were doing was having a positive impact on patients’ lives and our community,” he said, noting that Patrick organized the pharmacy’s vaccine clinics. Finally, Chancy, who became involved with NCPA in 2002, and began serving in leadership roles since 2009, said that he and his wife Tina have been involved with local and state pharmacy organizations since they graduated from the University of Georgia College of Pharmacy. Patrick is following that path also. “We saw that from my father. He instilled in me early on that you always want to be a part of the solution, so always serve in a capacity that is available to you,” he said.

Heather Ferrarese

“Everybody says they have the best dad, but I really do,” said Heather Ferrarese, who has been working side by side with her 80-year-old pharmacist father Brian Ferrarese at Bartle’s Pharmacy in Oxford,


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MULTIGENERATIONAL PHARMACISTS N.Y., which has been serving the community for over 50 years. What drove Ferrarese to the pharmacy profession was the relationship her dad has within the community. “I saw all the good that he did. In a small family business, we offer 24/7 emergency services, and just seeing the respect and appreciation that people had for him. I wanted to emulate that as much as I could,” she said. With that goal, Ferrarese returned home after graduating from pharmacy school to join her dad, who still practices. “He’s about 15 feet away,” she said with a chuckle. “Most people think it will be very difficult to work with your father. I’ve come to know my dad in a completely different way. I always need his guidance. I really admire his work ethic and his caring for the community.” When Ferrarese isn’t taking care of patients, she’s on the forefront of legislative issues that impact pharmacy. She is president-elect of the Pharmacist Society of New York, of which her dad has been a member for many years.

Michele Belcher

Michele Belcher’s father, Michael Maffett, always had ambitions about owning a pharmacy. After he was discharged from the military, he decided to go to pharmacy school. After graduating from Oregon State University in 1966, Maffett worked for a few different chain drug stores in Oregon and Washington. Then he and wife Bonnie moved back to their home town of Grants Pass and purchased the Grants Pass Pharmacy from Nan and Lewis Stidham, who founded the pharmacy in 1933. Belcher recalled that when her parents bought the pharmacy in 1973, her mother did all the bookkeeping and gift purchasing. “It was a husband and wife operation,” she said, noting that they also purchased the building. Belcher, who was 10 years old at the time, said that she and her siblings spent a lot of time at the pharmacy after school. “I helped a lot in the pharmacy,” she said. “We had an old-fashioned soda fountain that we still operate. I stood on a box and helped punch the numbers into the cash register. When I would go to work with him, I loved being able to help around the store.” When Belcher became a teenager, she helped to keep patient profiles, which were kept manually. “We had a profile system set up for each patient and utilized a carbon copy when you wrote out the receipt. I would write the patient’s receipt, with their name, the medication name, quantity of pills and the price,” she recalled. After Belcher’s husband was honorably discharged from the Marines in 1993, the opportunity to run her parent’s pharmacy presented itself. Looking back on the opportunity that she had to work alongside her father, who is in his 80s, Belcher said, “Those are memories that I will never forget. He had such a caring and empathetic way of taking care of his patients.” Finally, Belcher, who will be president of NCPA this October, noted that in the ’70s, her dad served on NCPA’s long-term care steering committees. “He felt very passionate about not only giving back to your community, but giving back to your pharmacy profession,” she said.



Janet Engle and Andrew Donnelly

What is it like being married to another pharmacist? “We both understand the stresses and the importance of each other’s jobs,” said Janet Engle, who met her husband Andrew Donnelly when they were both working in the same pharmacy. “We also had a lot of mutual interests besides pharmacy,” Engle said. “Our careers are similar in that we both have held faculty positions and various administrative positions, but that is where the similarity ends.” Engle is now the executive director of the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education while Donnelly is the director of Pharmacy Services at UI Health, and associate dean for clinical affairs and clinical professor, department of pharmacy practice, at the University of Illinois Chicago College of Pharmacy. “We don’t need to spend a lot of time explaining things that come up at work,” Engle said. “It is also nice that we can help each other out by reviewing publications or posters, for example.” Engle’s husband also keeps her current with trends in hospital and ambulatory pharmacy as he oversees a large pharmacy department that has seven outpatient pharmacies. Another benefit to both being pharmacists is that often the couple is speaking or presenting posters at the same pharmacy meeting, as they did at an international pharmacy meeting in Seoul, South Korea. The couple’s oldest child, who is going into her P3 year of pharmacy also teaches her parents new things. “Our daughter gave me a very good perspective on the challenges that student pharmacists were facing with the pandemic,” Engle said. dsn


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Beauty Disruptors Brands making waves in the sea of beauty products


ame changing. Customer-centric. Rooted in innovation. Those are all words describing disruptive brands — those that deliver a new perspective and or a consumer need solution. For beauty, these are the brands bringing in new customers and building volume. What makes a brand disruptive could be anything from ingredients to a purpose-driven positioning. Many deliver a product that fills a gap in the market. DSN canvassed retailers, beauty experts and consumers to identify mass-market brands that they feel offer a competitive edge. While there are many other brands changing up the status quo, here are some that received mentions.

UOMA by Sharon C.

Launched and sold: June 18, 2021 at Walmart, and on Walmart.com and UOMABeauty.com Mission: Setting the bar for true non-performative inclusive beauty. Competitive edge: Rooted in skin care, self-care, and soul care, the new line of products was created for everyone with naturally derived, vegan, cruelty-free formulas and sustainable, 100% recyclable packaging, as well as affordable price points. Sharon Chuter, the founder of Uoma, has become one of the most recognizable forces in the beauty industry with her breakthrough brand, but also with efforts such as Pull Up For Change. The sister brand for UOMA that she created for the masses bowed at Walmart. “Beauty is for every color, every budget, beauty comes in every culture — everybody must be welcome to the table,” she said of why she added a lower-priced collection. The mother brand prices reach up to $44. Best sellers: Flawless IRL Foundation, Badder Boom Volumizing Mascara, Go Awf! 2-in-1 Water-Activated Cleansing Wipes What’s next: Primer, brow product, lipstick Price points: $5.99 to $23.99


Launched and sold: Reserveage was launched just over a decade ago in 2009. The brand has grown into a leader in beauty ingestibles, and now topicals with the launch of a new line of Pro-Collagen skin care. Its products are sold in major national and regional retailers, including CVS Pharmacy, The Vitamin Shoppe, Hy-Vee, Harris Teeter, King Soopers, Rayley’s, Whole Foods Market and Pharmaca, as well as on major online retailers such as Vitacost, Kroger.com, Lucky Vitamin, Swanson, iherb, Amazon and more. Mission: Reserveage lives by its mission, applying a science-backed approach and innovating


with ingenuity to create supplements and topicals with clinically tested ingredients. Competitive edge: Reserveage was founded by a woman and is led and run by women with a commitment to providing products that will help them look and feel their best. Best sellers: Reserveage boasts a collection of best sellers, including Resveratrol 500 mg, Collagen Booster and Keratin Hair Booster. What’s next: Reserveage will step into the realm of skin care topicals, advancing its product portfolio to become more dynamic in its approach to helping women feel confident in their skin. Price points: Reserveage is a premium brand with products retail ranging in price from $21.99 to $84.99.


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

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BEAUTY DISRUPTORS provides natural products for the entire family: hair, skin, bath and body, and baby. Alikay is family owned with a private manufacturing facility that is certified Made in the USA. Competitive edge: The ingredient story is an important component of the brand. HER by Alikay Naturals currently includes a feminine foaming wash and a feminine refreshing spray in two different formulas — normal and sensitive. The pH-balanced, paraben-free and crueltyfree products feature such key ingredients as rose water, aloe vera, coconut oil and pineapple extract for a light refreshing scent. Best sellers: Foaming Feminine Wash Normal Formula and Foaming Feminine Wash Sensitive Formula What’s next: Line extensions are in the pipeline, according to the company. Price points: $9.99

Purezero Clean Beauty

No Fade Fresh

Launched and sold: No Fade Fresh debuted in February 2020, just prior to the coronavirus outbreak. “As salons were forced closed, and anyone that colored their hair was unable to make salon visits, our product became a do-it-yourself option at home,” said CEO Leland Hirsch. The products are available in more than 8,000 stores, including CVS Pharmacy, Target, ShopRite/Wakefern, Wegman’s, Harris Teeter, Rite Aid and H-E-B, as well as on Walmart.com. Mission: “We are passionate about delivering ‘clean beauty hair color’ that is free from what we define as ‘dirty dyes.’ We want hair coloring to be easy, fun and healthy. Our product fights the No. 1 problem with hair color — fade,” Hirsch said. Competitive edge: “We only use FDA- and EU-approved dyes in our products, where many companies will use dyes that are intended for textiles,” Hirsch said. “We have gone to great effort and expense to make sure that our products are 100% gluten free/ vegan, are PETA-certified and cruelty free, and are also free from sulfates, PPD, parabens, formaldehyde, phthalates and mineral oil.” Best sellers: Icy Platinum Silver shade is the best seller because it is a “brass buster” for blonde hair and removes unwanted yellow from color. The next best-selling SKU is normally Light Pink, which is a fun shade for all ages. What’s next: The company is working on new product offerings and new colors for the existing line. Price points: The color-depositing shampoos and conditioners have a MSRP of $14.99, and its BondHeal Conditioning mask is $9.99.

Her By Alikay Naturals

Launched and sold: The Her collection was released in October 2020 and is sold in mass market retailers and online.

Mission: The Her Feminine Care Collection is new from Alikay Naturals, a lifestyle brand that provides natural beauty products and education to empower customers, as well as promotes self-love and healthy chemical-free beauty practices. Created by Rochelle Graham-Campbell, who started off as a YouTuber/Influencer. Alikay


Launched and sold: Launched in January 2019 with national distribution in food, drug and mass at Target, Whole Foods Market, Rite Aid, Walgreens and CVS Pharmacy among many others Mission: Produce salon-quality performance clean beauty products at a value to bring more consumers into the category. Competitive edge: Purezero has developed a proprietary surfactant blend meant to deliver a lather and performance that outperforms its clean-beauty counterparts. Priced as a mid-tier product, the company said the products are made with premium formulas in an effort to democratize the clean beauty space and make it more accessible. Purezero has a list of over 120 ingredients (commonly used in personal care products) that the company refuses to use in its brand, including the basic sulfates, parabens, pthalates and phosphates that a consumer would expect, but goes further by eschewing formaldehyde-releasing preservatives and ingredients known to be carcinogens. Best sellers: Biotin Strengthening Shampoo and Conditioner What’s next: Purezero is focused on growing its U.S. distribution in food, drug, mass and specialty beauty in its core hair care category while working to bring its brand mission to other beauty and personal care categories. Price Points: $5.99 to $6.99


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Launched and sold: Based in New York City, Spascriptions joined the umbrella of family-owned Global Beauty Care brands in 2016. Spascriptions has distribution in over 75,000 doors globally in key food, drug, mass, value and specialty retailers. Mission: The company said its mission is to offer high-quality, luxurious skin care with trending ingredients at an affordable price. Competitive edge: Spascriptions provides high-performing skin care to Gen Z and millennials that delivers a daily spa indulgence at home for self-care and healthylooking, feel-good skin. “We are a skin positive brand and strive to keep our products free from parabens, mineral oil, sulfates, silicones, phthalates, dyes, alcohol and fragrances whenever possible — and we never test on animals,” said Laura Bernthol, chief marketing officer at Global Beauty Care. Best sellers: Clinicals by Spascriptions Facial Serums, Day & Night Cream Sets and Spascriptions Peel-Off Masks What’s next: New items include its new Clinicals by Spascriptions line with formulas that contain luxurious, concentrated prestige skin care ingredients to reboot skin health and help moisturize, tighten, smooth and recharge skin for a youthful glow. “We are also launching innovation in the nose treatment and facial mask categories,” Bernthol said. “Our Deep Cleansing Nose Peels with applicator offer individual customizable treatments to help gently remove excess oil and blackheads. Our new Spascriptions facial masks feature high-performing formulas with skin care ingredients.” Price Points: $1.99 to $9.99

Urban Hydration

Launched and sold: Founded as a small online store in 2010 by Psyche Terry and Vontoba Terry, Urban Hydration was inspired by a need to offer better products for dry skin and hair, without compromising on clean formulations and ingredients. Today, products are sold in more than 10,000 retail stores across the nation, including Ulta Beauty, Target, CVS Pharmacy, Bed Bath & Beyond, H-E-B stores, Family Dollar and more. Mission: With every purchase of an Urban Hydration product, one gallon of water is donated to a community in need through a keystone partnership with WATERisLIFE. Competitive edge: Urban Hydration is focused on natural, plant-based ingredients and has always upheld a standard of clean beauty, with all products being paraben-free, silicone-free, sulfate-free and phthalate-free. Best sellers: The Aloe Vera Leaf collection, while the best-selling SKUs include the line’s spot cream, face wash, face toner and gel moisturizer. What’s next: Urban Hydration launched on Walgreens.com with an assortment of items from the best-selling Aloe Vera Leaf and Castor & Shea collections. Additionally, in October, the brand has exciting new bath and body products launching at Ulta Beauty stores. Of note, the brand landed at Ulta Beauty in 437 stores in October of last year before rolling out to all of Ulta Beauty’s nearly 1,300 stores in March of this year. Price points: Individually, Urban Hydration products are priced primarily from $5.99 to $14.99.

Addicted Beauty

Launched and sold: Addicted Beauty launched in 2018 and is sold on several e-commerce platforms and Macys.com.

Mission: Addicted Beauty’s goal is to provide 100% natural products that work. The natural industry is often associated with products that don’t deliver, the company said. Addicted Beauty aims to change the conversation. Competitive edge: “We at Addicted Beauty did our research and focused on 100% natural ingredients following the Ayurvedic methods (ancient Indian herbal medicine)


to curate hair oils that do wonders for the hair and scalp,” founder Rida Khan said. “We blend different herbs and roots that have been used for centuries to cure hair fall and other hair- and scalp-related issues. [They] are considered super fruits and super roots with their levels of vitamins and minerals.” Best sellers: The top three products are Booster Oil, Nourishing Oil and Indian Gooseberry. What’s next: Shampoos, conditioners and other products with same ingredients that help tackle all the ailments are in the works. Price points: From $20 to $25 per bottle

Sky Organics Curl Care

Launched and sold: March 2020, Walmart Mission: “One of the pillars of Sky Organics is making natural and certified organic products accessible,” said Dean Neiger, chief strategy officer. Competitive edge: The company offers a line of USDA Certified Biobased hair products. By listing the percentage of biobased content on the label, a USDA Certified Biobased product takes the guesswork out of how natural a product is and gives the consumer a direct understanding of how much of the product content comes from renewable biological sources. Biobased products replace the need for many petroleum-based products, thereby reducing dependence on fossil fuels. The environmental impact of this reduction is that it minimizes the amount of new carbon that is released into the atmosphere and thereby helps reduce climate change. Best sellers: Wash Day Shampoo, Bouncy Curl Cream What’s next: Sky Organics recently launched a Youth Boost formulated with bakuchiol, a plant-derived retinol alternative. Price points: $9.98 dsn


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Comprehensive and Coordinated Care Retailers bolster their specialty pharmacy capabilities as its role in the industry grows By Sandra Levy


s far back as the late 1970s, when patients were diagnosed with a complex chronic or rare condition and prescribed a specialty medication, specialty pharmacy was not in most retailers’ lexicon. Yet, there were a handful of retailers who had the foresight to initiate care for these patients from the moment they received a diagnosis and were prescribed specialty medicine. Undeterred by the daunting task of providing in-depth monitoring and patient counseling, as well as reimbursement assistance, many of these retailers nonetheless delved into the specialty market. The potential benefits of entering this market include the ability to enhance pharmacist-patient relationships to improve health, as well as ratcheting up their bottom line in a market that has experienced substantial growth in recent years. In fact, although traditional growth in the retail channel is currently outpacing specialty growth with the help of COVID and flu vaccines and has 84% of total spend, Doug Long, IQVIA vice president of industry relations, said May 2021 data showed that specialty spend did increase 3.2% versus traditional, which grew at 4.2%.

Specialty Service Model Prime standouts that have created successful specialty models include Walgreens, CVS Health, Rite Aid and Thrifty White. CVS Health’s success in specialty pharmacy sheds light on the opportunities and challenges for retailers that serve specialty patients. CVS Specialty began providing specialty medication services in 1978, with the launch of hemophilia home care. “That service has since grown to being one of the nation’s largest hemophilia home therapy providers as a result of our strong relationships with hemophilia treatment centers,


CVS Health has been expanding its specialty capabilities via CVS Caremark over the past eight years, acquiring Coram and Novologix among other specialty-focused businesses. clinicians and individuals with hemophilia and their families,” said Prem Shah, CVS Health executive vice president, specialty and product innovation. Following the launch of hemophilia services, CVS Specialty successfully expanded its portfolio of therapies to include a wide range of chronic and genetic disorders, in addition to growing distribution of specialty medications through its network of specialty pharmacies. Since 2013, CVS Caremark has acquired several businesses, including Coram and Novologix, to expand its specialty capabilities, as well as the services that support clients and their plan members. “Novologix enhanced our ability to

help clients and their members better manage their specialty medications and related costs,” Shah said. Shah noted that CVS Specialty dispenses prescriptions to 1.3 million patients per year and provides home infusion services to more than 50,000 patients, as well as enteral nutrition to more than 20,000 members each month. Coram has 82 infusion locations nationwide, as well as 66 ambulatory infusion suites. Plymouth, Minn.-based Thrifty White, which began early on to recognize and address the unmet needs for specialty services, continues to be successful in that area. In the 1990s, the Midwest chain began dispensing specialty pharmacy products and, in 2014, built out a dedicated central


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team to support specialty patients. It also obtained URAC and ACHC accreditation. Jeremy Faulks, director of specialty pharmacy and procurement, said that by taking an active approach to specialty that focuses on a one-to-one relationship between its pharmacists and patients, the chain has quadrupled the number of its specialty patients. “Thrifty White’s core specialty offering has always been about offering a better experience to both our patients and our provider groups,” Faulks said. “Our offering focuses on providing the best central expertise and service, but also a local, face-to-face counseling and education experience.” To this end, Thrifty White has trained more than 100 of its community pharmacists in key specialty clinical and counseling components, and it offers Specialty Center of Excellences at all of its local pharmacies. The range of chronic conditions that the chain treats includes psoriasis, atopic dermatitis, Crohn’s disease/colitis, GI, rheumatology, behavioral health, oncology, HIV, MS and asthma. “One of our key initiatives included training our pharmacists to provide medication injection services, so we can continue to advance the practice of pharmacy while also facilitating the patient-pharmacist relationship,” Faulks said. “So much specialty is dispensed via mail these days, it’s refreshing for our patients and providers to receive more comprehensive service in their local community.” Walgreens also stands out for its success in specialty pharmacy. The chain made a foray into community- based specialty pharmacy in the late 1990s at the Howard Brown Health Center in Chicago. “We were supporting the care team as the HIV and AIDS epidemic was ravaging the community there,” said Alexandra Broadus, Walgreens senior director of specialty health solutions. “We became involved when there was no such thing as a specialty pharmacy. We have always prioritized supporting patients in our communities with all of their conditions, including specialized and complex conditions.” In the early 2000s, Walgreens’ expansion into specialty was marked by its purchase of Schraft’s pharmacy, which specializes in fertility. Broadus noted that this was Walgreens’ first central specialty pharmacy.


Since Rite Aid acquired Elixir Pharmacy in 2015, Elixir Specialty has grown to encompass a $100 million portfolio. It also has built out medicationspecific and patient-specific clinical protocols for various disease states.

The acquisition of Medmark Specialty Pharmacy and Cystic Fibrosis Services Pharmacy, and a joint venture with Prime to create AllianceRx Walgreens Prime followed. Today, Walgreens has over 300 community-based specialty pharmacies that are URAC accredited. In addition to traditional Walgreens pharmacies, these specialty locations support a range of conditions, including HIV and cancers. “We care for over 8 million Americans daily,” Broadus said. “We want to be there for them on their entire journey from when they first step into our pharmacy for first line therapy to when their treatment may become more complex and have other needs.” Fertility is yet another area that Walgreens specialty concentrates on. “Within the fertility space, an increasing number of employers in more states are mandating fertility coverage,” Broadus said. “It’s one of the most emotionally trying times for many people. It’s not just for patients experiencing infertility, but also

for LGBTQ families as part of their family planning journey, and patients with cancer who need fertility preservation services. We are deeply committed to it.” Rite Aid also is making its mark in the specialty space and addressing gaps in access to specialty services. In 2015, Rite Aid acquired Elixir Pharmacy, a pharmacy benefit manager that also has its own specialty pharmacy, Elixir Specialty. Don Gale, senior vice president of Elixir Pharmacy, said that Elixir Specialty has grown its portfolio to nearly $100 million in annual revenue in 2020. Elixir Specialty has developed medicationand customer-specific clinical protocols within the following therapeutic areas: cardiovascular; growth hormone; hematology (anemia, hemophilia, neutropenia, thrombocytopenia); hepatitis C; HIV; immune globulin; inflammatory conditions (ankylosing spondylitis, atopic dermatitis, Crohn’s disease, hidradenitis suppurativa, juvenile arthritis, lupus, psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis,


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Better adherence begins with better coordination between the pharmacy and the prescriber.

The Compliance Team’s Patient-Centered Pharmacy Home™ (PCPH) program is designed specifically to promote better patient medication management and care planning as well as improve patient outcomes. Patients visit their pharmacists much more frequently than they do their providers, making pharmacists critical to effective and safe patient care. PCPH allows the pharmacist to work at the top of their license and be part of the patient’s care team in a value-based care model.

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With a focus on offering superior customer service and counseling, Thrifty White has trained 100 of its pharmacists in the key clinical and counseling components of specialty pharmacy while offering Specialty Centers of Excellence at all of its retail pharmacy locations. ulcerative colitis, uticaria and uveitis); multiple sclerosis; oncology; and pulmonary conditions, including allergic asthma, idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, nasal polyps and pulmonary hypertension.

Partnerships and Collaborations As retailers treat patients with a wide range of chronic conditions, they also are finding


that collaborations with advocacy groups are crucial. Walgreens’ collaborations in the oncology area are a case in point. The chain has worked with the Look Good Feel Better Foundation and various cancer support communities to launch its Feel More Like You service, which has Walgreens’ beauty consultants trained to help cancer patients better manage their side effects that may be

visible from their treatment, as well as provide the confidence and support they and their caregivers need. “Our patients might visit one of our community-based specialty pharmacies, but they often go to their traditional Walgreens on the corner for their other needs,” Broadus said. “We create this connection between our pharmacists and beauty consultants to bring care together for them, making sure they are supported throughout their journey.” Walgreens also collaborates with the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, and through the Walgreens Find Care platform, the chain connects patients to cancer screenings. “We help patients through that moment of diagnosis as they start therapy, and if they are able to finish with treatment, help them transition to a different routine, as well as through survivorship,” Broadus said. For patients who visit their local Walgreens pharmacy, the chain offers clinical programs and other wraparound services, including patient assistance. “If they choose to use one of Walgreens’ 300 community-based specialty locations that are URAC accredited, they receive care from team members with specialized training in breast and blood cancers,” Broadus said. “If patients prefer to use their local Walgreens or our centralized specialty asset through AllianceRx Walgreens Prime, they can while receiving the same level of care.” Walgreens’ partnership with VillageMD also is beneficial to specialty patients. “We’re doing a lot of great work to make sure pharmacists are integrated into the primary care team and care model and helping patients,” Broadus said. CVS Specialty also boasts a range of collaborations that it has with patient advocacy and support groups that are focused on education, awareness, improving access to testing, screening, healthcare services and health equity. These partnerships include the Arthritis Foundation, American Cancer Society, American Heart Association, American Diabetes Association, PAH Foundation, PHAware, National Hemophilia Foundation and the MS Society.


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SPECIALTY MEDICATION JOURNEY TO CUT TIME TO FILL B Y N E A R LY 2 DAY S 1 Give your pharmacists what they need to deliver exceptional care. For less uncertainty. For less waiting. For more living.

Visit surescripts.com/ specialtypharmacy to learn more.

1. Based on analysis of a large specialty pharmacy’s average fill time before and after implementing Surescripts Specialty Patient Enrollment and Specialty Medications Gateway. Surescripts, “Remapping the Process for Prescribing & Filling Specialty Medications,” September 2021.

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Affordability in Focus Beyond partnerships and collaborations with advocacy groups and others, helping patients afford specialty medications, which can cost up to $6,000 a year, is yet another crucial responsibility for retailers in the specialty arena, and it requires a knowledgeable staff and the development of costsaving resources for patients. Elixir Specialty takes financial assistance

for patients to the highest level. “We also find it rewarding that we link 97% of our eligible customer population to financial assistance to ensure they can overcome any financial barriers to therapy that they face,” Gale said. Thrifty White is not sitting on the sidelines when it comes to helping patients afford their medications. The chain works closely with its manufacturer and payer partners to create

programs to support their products/members. Faulks explained that Thrifty White has joined major health plans, including BlueCross BlueShield Minnesota and North Dakota, and HealthPartners, to make medications available locally for their members. Offering prior authorization support as a way to mitigate declines in patients starting therapy, adding new medications or staying on therapy also is paramount to


The Compliance Team

“The Compliance Team has championed a simplified operationsbased accreditation process as a common-sense solution to defining and validating patient care quality for specialty drug and infusion services since 1994,” said founder Sandra Canally. “That’s when we introduced our first measured continuous quality improvement program for infectious disease physician practices.” In 2021, medication therapy management and enhanced care planning have now become of paramount importance to the successful treatment of chronically ill patients, Canally noted. “Better communications at all patient contact levels and improved coordination between pharmacists and prescribing professionals have become imperatives for specialty drug and infusion practices to run smoothly on a daily basis,” she said. The Compliance Team’s sub-specialty accreditation programs for Patient-Centered Medical Home and Home Infusion Therapy were designed to show that practices who achieve accreditation and display the organization’s Exemplary Provider Accreditation Seal of Asclepius have met demanding quality measures. “Our industry-leading Safety-Honesty-Caring quality standards and evidence of compliance incorporate all relevant United States Pharmacopeia best practice recommendations,” Canally said. “In addition, each program includes expert-led implementation webinars and ongoing access to document templates and reporting portals that help streamline core business practices while addressing MTM issues so that program participants can advance their Medicare Star Ratings, as well as comply with all state licensure and managed care requirements.”



Specialty pharmacies use KNAPP’s Apostore automated storage and retrieval systems, which automatically put medications away while recording their lot number, expiration date and serialization. They read 2-D and other barcodes, as well as optical character recognition. “These meds are then dynamically stored, providing the densest storage, with the most compact footprint available in the pharmacy,” said Brian Sullivan, KNAPP senior systems sales manager of healthcare solutions. This approach becomes critically important in specialty pharmacy, where medications are extremely expensive and dispensing them in the wrong sequence can cost tens of thousands of dollars, according to Sullivan. The Apostore systems always dispense medications first to expire, first out, assuring that the correct medications are dispensed as needed. Real-time inventory reports eliminate expensive errors caused by manual inventory systems, and the systems also provide warnings of medications that are close to expiration and other critical information. The Apostore TWIN is the preferred system for specialty pharmacies because of the combination of ambient and refrigerated systems that are available, Sullivan noted. “The system acts as one unit with a single automated induction point for optimum staffing, and dispenses locations from both sides of the system based on the workflow and the space requirements of the pharmacy,” he said. “The automated system reduces staffing requirements, saves space and assures that the medications in the pharmacy are in a controlled automated system that allows the pharmacy to track their meds in real time.”


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success in specialty pharmacy. Establishing EHR data connections to collect information needed to facilitate prior authorization data gathering and submission is an example of helping patients starting therapy quickly on the most appropriate treatment, CVS Health’s Shah said. “Supporting initiation of treatment and therapy continuity are essential for optimal adherence and care

LexisNexis Risk Solutions

of those with complex health conditions.” CVS Specialty takes this responsibility seriously and its initiatives in this area are paying off. “We can see the electronic health records for almost 70% of our specialty patients,” Shah said. “Our proprietary Novologix technology offers online, real-time access to an automated prior authorization process across the medical and pharmacy benefits with a single

LexisNexis Risk Solutions offers specialty pharmacies information that facilitates better decisions to improve treatment outcomes. “The company’s VerifyRx is a real time compliance-driven solution, enabling specialty pharmacy staff to confidently fill a prescription with the knowledge that the writing physician is not sanctioned, deceased or lacks the required licensure or writing authority to write for the drug they are about to dispense,” said John Heller, director of LexisNexis Risk Solutions. VerifyRx allows pharmacy staff to submit Rx claims to LexisNexis before submitting the claim to their switch vendor. The platform can send predetermined messages directly to the pharmacy when needed. “LexisNexis’ [social determinants of health] solution enables our retail and specialty pharmacy clients to leverage our regulated patient level public records-derived data assets to identify those specific patients that may be more prone to being nonadherent when it comes to their drug regimen or more likely to be rehospitalized,” Heller said. Heller said the solution leverages clinically validated socio economic attributes on key categories, education level and income, to identify barriers to care. Another offering, LexisNexis MarketView is a practitioner-level claims database that draws on more than 2.4 billion de-identified claims across ambulatory, acute and post-acute settings. MarketView enables specialty pharmacies to obtain critical intelligence about the practitioners and facilities diagnosing those disease states and writing prescriptions for those specialty medications. It also provides insight into the amount insurers paid and reported at the payer/provider level, and can be customized to specific service lines defined by ICD-10 and HCPCS codes.

front-end system. Providers can enter the request in one place, the automated system guides the request to appropriate benefit and simplifies the process for prescribers and their office staff.” The platform also integrates National Comprehensive Cancer Network Clinical Guidelines and offers multi-regimen level authorization for treatments aligned to evidence-based guidelines.


Surescripts is streamlining the specialty medication prescribing and fulfillment process with services that reduce administrative burdens and help to initiate a patient’s pharmacotherapy faster. “Prescribing requirements for specialty medications are complex and involve inputs from health plans, benefit administrators, specialty pharmacies, prescribers and patients,” said Ken Whittemore Jr., Surescripts vice president of professional and regulatory affairs. “Specialty pharmacies are often on the receiving end of incomplete and paper-based forms that require lab and other data specific to the disease state,” he said. “Specialty pharmacists use these forms while reviewing a medication order to evaluate its appropriateness for the patient and to ensure the medication will be covered by the payer.” Whittemore cited a 2020 Surescripts survey in which 69% of specialty pharmacists said administrative tasks interfere with providing patient care, and 39% reported needing to reach out to clinicians at least five times a day for more information. If Surescripts Specialty Patient Enrollment isn’t available to prescribers, then pharmacists can use Surescripts Specialty Medications Gateway to gather necessary patient information and fill in the gaps. “It does so by enabling specialty pharmacies to initiate a patient search and gather clinical information required to fulfill a specialty medication directly from the patient’s electronic health record, so they can get patients started on therapy faster,” Whittemore said. He noted that a large specialty pharmacy reduced the overall turnaround time to initiate prescription therapy by nearly two days, realized a 44% decrease in calls to prescriber offices related to missing clinical data and improved its successful dispensing rate by 14%. —S.L.


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Overcoming Restrictions Aside from addressing the challenge of providing support with prior authorization, retailers also must overcome payer and manufacturer restrictions since many specialty drugs are available only from limited distribution networks. “The biggest challenges in specialty are due to payer and manufacturer restrictions,” Faulks said. “With the competition for these patients, it’s an ongoing effort to ensure we have access to patients. If you can convince your local health plans, employers and providers to keep you in the network, the benefits to patients are huge.” Walgreens’ Broadus emphasized that to address specialty medications that have limited drug distribution networks, the chain has a dedicated team that looks at these prescriptions and figures out where a patient can get the medication, even if it is from a competitor. “Can they use one of our 300 local solutions or AllianceRx Walgreens Prime to receive care, or do they need to use a different specialty pharmacy?” Broadus said. “Our teams will seamlessly get that prescription where it needs to go, whether that’s within Walgreens or one of our competitors. Our primary mandate is to make sure we are taking care of that patient.” To ensure that patients obtain their medications, Elixir Specialty has partnered with 31 manufacturers in its limited distribution drug program, Gale noted.

Patient Adherence Once patients get their medications, ensuring they are adherent with their regimen and don’t suffer from any potential side effects are yet another responsibility that retailers must assume if they want to be successful in specialty pharmacy. Elixir Specialty’s clinical staff, on average, engages with its customers for 25 minutes of consultation prior to starting their therapy to review dosing, administration, how to manage side effects if they are present, medication storage and to address patients’ questions, Gale said. CVS Specialty’s Transform Oncology Care program opens a window on improving


patients’ adherence with their specialty drugs. “The program helps improve outcomes and experience while lowering costs for patients, providers and payers by enabling the best, right treatment at the right time, driving for the best quality care at the best value,” Shah said. “It also gives members the best chance to succeed in their cancer journey with proactive outreach, earlier and more often.” The program incorporates care management with a focus on care coordination, post-acute and palliative care, as well as adherence support for members on orals. “It utilizes our accessible, local footprint, connected data and integrated systems to help better identify and intervene with patients who could benefit from preventive or screening services,” Shah said. Yet another medication adherence strategy that CVS Specialty has instituted is having its CareTeams, made up of specially trained pharmacists and nurses who collaborate and intervene in member care on multiple levels, conduct initial assessments, symptom tracking with guided care recommendations, ongoing clinical assessments, medication reconciliation, intervention assessments if appropriate, clinical reassessment post intervention and the use of digital tools. Thrifty White also has put in place measures to increase medication adherence. “On the manufacturer side, we run multiple clinical programs focused on reducing primary nonadherence, increasing patient persistency on therapy and managing side effect issues,” Faulks said. The chain also offers clinical counseling, face-to-face medication administration and device training. “From paying for the drug, managing and mitigating side effects, and promoting adherence, patients truly benefit from the additional level of care,” Faulks said. Walgreens is no stranger to offering solutions to increase patient adherence. Its Connected Care program uses a patient-centered process to improve patient outcomes. “The technology helps guide interactions with patients, helping them stay on their treatment and manage any possible side effects,” Broadus said.

Pandemic Impact Despite all of their efforts to excel at specialty, the pandemic has had a tremendous

Walgreens operates more than 300 stand-alone, community-based specialty pharmacy locations that offer specialized care from trained staff. The specialty locations augment its specialty offering at its standard locations, as well as its centralized AllianceRx Walgreens Prime service. impact on specialty pharmacies’ ability to provide face-to-face patient care. Still chains rose to the occasion. “The pandemic definitely taught us to be more flexible in how we deliver care,” Faulks said. “From developing remote models, drive-thru and curbside pickup, our pharmacies remained open and accessible to patients throughout the pandemic. Even in the early days when many clinics closed, our specialty patients could still visit the pharmacy, get trained on their medication or get an injection from our pharmacist. This access to care was a huge win and a great example of how important the community pharmacy setting is.” Walgreens also served patients when shut downs were in place. “All in all, we stayed


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clinical staff to answer questions and support healthcare needs,” Shah said. Elixir Specialty also reacted to the pandemic without flinching. Gale said that its customers maintained their overall adherence rate to their medication regimen of greater than 90% throughout the pandemic. “While the pandemic has challenged many traditional social interactions, pharmacists have been developing customer relationships beyond the counter since the inception of specialty pharmacy,” Gale said. “The pandemic has highlighted that the remote model of pharmacy in place at Elixir Specialty works and is well prepared for emergency situations like a pandemic. In 2020, we saw an increase in customer interaction while doctor offices remained closed or accepted only limited appointments. We feel that our model was key in providing the exceptional clinical support that our customers have come to expect while continuing to deliver medications on time for the customer.”

The Future of Specialty

open and provided support to patients throughout the pandemic, as well as during various natural disasters. Because we’re locally based, we’re able to support our patients through it all,” Broadus said. CVS Specialty also remained focused on ensuring that members had access to specialty medications amid the pandemic. “We were prepared with digital tools, engaged patients, connected clinicians, consistent messaging across channels and ready access via digital or phone to ensure patients had access to expert

Broadus said Walgreens expects to expand HIV testing, which it now offers in select stores, as part of the chain’s broader health testing strategy. “We’ve already seen what pharmacists can do in light of COVID, imagine the impact that pharmacists can have on helping patients who may be at risk of HIV access care and get on to PrEP?” she said. “We have the privilege of being in so many communities, how can we leverage our pharmacists to help patients get the care they need?” Faulks envisioned that Thrifty White’s continued growth in specialty will include working closer with its health system providers, expanding disease states and geographic territory, and the chain looking at how it can expand specialty services to traditionally non-specialty products, such as diabetes. Shah said the future that CVS Specialty sees will entail using sensor data to trigger additional meaningful interventions for oncology and RA activity, using a payer agnostic approach to integrate wearables

and digital devices for increased remote monitoring that can be shared simultaneously with the member and their care providers. He also projected that the future will involve an effort to accelerate proven data science techniques to prompt clinical interventions to additional therapies and conditions based on various data inputs, as well as a push to expand patient-reported outcome assessment, patient reported outcomes and symptom tracker tools based on proven success in oncology. CVS Specialty’s road map features multidisciplinary solutions and technology for rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn’s disease, psoriasis, cystic fibrosis, hereditary angioedema, multiple sclerosis and hemophilia, as well as a kidney care program with new technology for in-home hemodialysis. Gale projected that Elixir Specialty will continue to seek out partnerships with manufacturers in the growing limited distribution drug market. “We also continue to seek out opportunities to support health plans in the market by participating in their pharmacy networks,” he said. Enhanced services being considered include Elixir Specialty and Rite Aid retail pharmacy service support for contingency and urgent specialty fills with easy-toaccess points of contact, improvements to the member experience with Rite Aid local pickup option with Elixir Specialty, and specialty case management services offered to members filling in a retail location, Gale noted. Perhaps Gale summed up the future best for retailers in the specialty space: “Specialty conditions can be very complex, have a significant impact to quality of life, involve multiple high cost treatments — which may require special storage, handling and administration — and create unique challenges to medication adherence and optimal clinical outcomes,” he said. “Specialty pharmacies and pharmacists are positioned to have the greatest impact in combating these challenges by partnering with customers to promote health and happiness.” dsn


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Healthy New Normal It’s clear that the pandemic has changed every facet of our lives, including what people eat and how they exercise By Carol Radice


oday’s savvy consumers are the dynamic force behind changes across multiple health-andwellness categories. Add a pandemic into the mix and we begin to see several new trends emerge, particularly within the sports nutrition, weight loss and meal replacement segments. Many of these so-called savvy consumers are members of today’s visual culture, which some have dubbed the “Look at Me” generation. They are the driving influence behind changes we see today. Pandemic or not, these mainly younger consumers have made it their priority to stay in shape and always look their best regardless of — or despite — what’s going on in the world around them. When health clubs closed and in-person group training was not an option, people went old school. They dug out old treadmills from their basements; bought used equipment from Facebook Marketplace or purchased new gear if they could find it; signed up for online classes; and some even ventured outside to walk or bike around their neighborhood. During this period, we also saw the rise in popularity of digital community workouts, where people willingly shelled out big bucks each month for the motivation, support and connectivity interactive platforms, such as Peloton and Mirror, offered. Matt Wohl, president and CEO of CliffCartwright, based in Wellesley, Mass., noted that when competitions and races were shut down last year, sports and sports nutrition took on an entirely new look. “With no need for ‘race day’ training and a greater focus on at-home workouts, consumers shifted their attention to everyday functional solutions and that has carried through to today,” Wohl said. “These consumers are making buying decisions based on this expanded view of the category’s role and their changing


workout and conditioning routines,” said Wohl, whose company is best known for its Hotshot line of sports shots.

Sports Nutrition Appeal Broadens At one point, only a very specific and narrow group of consumers were core users of sports nutrition products, namely weightlifters and endurance athletes. Today’s sports nutrition consumer is much more diverse and increasingly includes the growing group of active lifestyle consumers looking to sports nutrition products to improve their energy, protein intake and long-term health. Not surprisingly as the user group broadened, what they wanted from sports nutrition products changed. This group of savvy wellness athletes was not going to fall for quick-fix gimmicks or empty product

promises. They sought out products with science-backed ingredients, from companies that offer efficacy, transparency and evidence-based results. “The pandemic has caused a lot of consumers to be concerned with their overall health and wellness,” said Joe Herne, vice president of sales FDM at Boston-based Force Factor. “There are a lot of new shoppers in the space, but we also see purchase frequency increasing from consumers that had not previously been heavy buyers, suggesting that supplementation is simply becoming a more mainstream practice.” Beyond vitamins and minerals, Herne said consumers now have the ability to remedy a variety of concerns with products that target specific goals, and with specialized formulations that work to meet their individual needs.


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And, as more people come to understand the importance of diet, health and immunity, there is a push for products that integrate such holistic wellness themes as vegan, sugar-free, GMO-free and gut friendly. Today’s wellness athletes also want more plant-based sports nutrition products ,as well as those that are sustainably sourced and free of artificial colors, flavors and sweeteners. Pea protein has become one of the most popular plant-based proteins in sports nutrition. It is high in leucine, which fuels muscle protein synthesis, and when partnered with other proteins such as chia, sunflower or pumpkin seeds, it delivers an optimal balance of amino acids. Another rising star is curcumin, which is purported to support joint health and promote a healthy inflammatory response. Data from Persistence Market Research shows the plant-based protein market is predicted to reach $16.3 billion by 2025. “Hotshot consumers, more and more, are looking for plant-based nutrition and solutions,” Wohl said. “In 2020, we heard from more athletes who were digging into the nutrition labels of what they were consuming as they focused on fine-tuning their health. Clean labels have been big, but the role of plantbased benefits is growing ever larger.” Products that address physical health are just one piece of the wellness puzzle. This summer’s Olympics helped highlight the role mental wellness plays in one’s life, be it with the weekend warrior or those competing at the highest level possible. This awareness has put the spotlight on pre-workout products that offer energy and mental focus support. As a result, experts said products containing stress-reducing adaptogens and medicinal mushrooms to improve focus and energy are predicted to see sales growth this year. And, as more people adopt a whole health perspective, products that help with exercise recovery are gaining in popularity, particularly those that include L-theanine and melatonin to support restful sleep and probiotics to aid in better nutrient absorption, reduce muscle damage and increase recovery. Regardless of the reasons that drive people to the category, value — whether that is reflected in lower price points or larger sizes — is important to consumers. “For too long,


consumers have had to choose between low cost, low quality formulas and high cost premium options. We set out to remedy this by providing value premium formulations by way of product benefits, days of supply and retail price points,” Force Factor’s Herne said.


Weight Management


It seems when it came to watching what they ate during the pandemic, people fell into one of two camps — some did much better because they were not eating every meal out while others found comfort in normally avoided foods and packed on the weight. Consequently, in addition to seeing more people working out this year, we are seeing a surge in the number of people looking to shed a few pounds in a healthy, safe manner. Given this, it’s not surprising that sales of weight management products have been on the rise this year, and researchers predicted sales will continue to climb. According to market research firm Technavio, the weight loss supplement market is projected to reach $5.9 billion by 2024 and is growing at a CAGR of more than 5%. The growing obese population, the firm noted, has been instrumental in driving continued growth in the market. Admittedly, weight loss products have been around for a long time, undergoing many iterations over the years. And, as often as weight management products have changed, so too, has what motivates consumers to take them. For a long time, fad diets and quick-fix products were popular, but after many stops and starts, consumers have come to the realization that they cannot just waive a wand or take a pill and magically lose weight. While it is their physical shape they wish to change, increasingly consumers understand the solution to long-term weight loss lies in changing one’s lifestyle. Often this means letting go of years’ worth of bad habits and recognizing the psychology of why we eat what we do. For many, the stress associated with living in these unprecedented times has led to weight gain. At the same time, consumers have become focused on incorporating more functional nutrition, immunityenhancing products and quality proteins in their lives that support performance and a healthier lifestyle.

More than a quarter of millennials in the United States

consider themselves athletic and exercise regularly. Not surprisingly, the United States and Canada hold the largest market share of sports nutrition sales



by Europe, the Middle East and Africa (17%); Asia Pacific (14%); and Latin America (7%). The majority of U.S. consumers who regularly drink sports nutrition or performance beverages


said they believe there are too many artificial ingredients in these products and would like to see cleaner labels. Growth in sports nutrition products is being driven by products making claims that they are vegan, GMO-free, all natural, sugar-free; have no sugar added; contain low or reduced sugar; and have low/no or reduced fat and carbs, and fewer calories. SOURCES: MINTEL & EUROMONITOR



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Iovate Health Sciences of Oakville, Ontario, Canada, with offices in New York City makes several weight management products, including Hydroxycut. The company recently kicked off a “No Fads. Just Weight Loss” campaign, aimed at addressing the confusion and struggle so many people face on their weight loss journeys. Kayleigh Dunn, associate director of Hydroxycut, said the campaign taps into the emotional component weight loss carries and teaches people that weight loss can be a fun process that includes making healthy lifestyle changes. “From full day juicing and cleansing teas to child-sized portions, we want people to know that weight loss doesn’t involve a quick-fix fad solution,” Dunn said. “Hydroxycut provides science-backed weight loss as part of a three-step solution, which includes proper diet and an active lifestyle.”


Meal Replacement

Keto Kick coffee energy bars are the latest offering from Los Angelesbased That’s It. As its name implies, the energy bar was created for those following the keto lifestyle. The limited ingredient, low calorie, low carb bar contains 95 mg of caffeine derived from fair trade Ethiopian Arabica coffee beans and organic dates. The bars also include FiberSmart organic soluble tapioca fiber powder, organic garbanzo beans, sea salt, organic cacao and vanilla. Each gluten-free 20 g bar is also USDA Certified Organic, non-GMO, kosher and free from 12 allergens. That’s It founder and CEO Lior Lewensztain said the bar was formulated in response to the increased demand from keto followers looking for plant-based snacking options with clean labels. “As consumers resume their activity levels, they are looking for on-the-go snacking options that fit their lifestyle,” Lewensztain said.

Mirroring trends being seen in sports nutrition, today’s meal replacement products have undergone a dramatic transformation recently. What was once part of a quickfix trend that lacked quality and flavor, the latest generation of meal replacement products offers nutritionally complete, well-rounded options with simple, limited ingredient profiles. Given that meal replacements are no longer considered a niche product, who these products appeal to has expanded as well. Originally, the primary audience consisted of athletes and outdoor enthusiasts looking to fuel their active lifestyles, but current products are being tailored to appeal to different usage groups. Some offer fitness support while others aid digestive health, and a growing number of new entrants are targeting consumers with specific medical needs, including those who are looking to increase muscle mass or shed weight. As one report noted, new entries are being driven by functionality and accessibility, and appeal to anyone who considers themselves “health conscious,” including those following a vegan, keto or paleo diet. This trend is expected to drive introductions of new products and fuel the launch of more plant-based, nondairy meal replacements. dsn



While athletes of all levels, from elite participants to fitness enthusiasts, made their own adjustments to their workout routines in 2020, the barrier that could indiscriminately hold any of them back from their daily routine was muscle soreness, said Matt Wohl, president and CEO of Cliff-Cartwright, based in Wellesley, Mass. “It was a frustration we knew we could help with by leveraging Hotshot’s scientific approach to treating nerve-based issues with on-trend all-natural formulations.” Current soreness products on the market manage muscular causes of soreness, but Wohl noted there is a portion of next-day pain that’s nerve based and generally untreated. Building off its core Hotshot science, the company will launch the Hotshot for Muscle Soreness Sports Shot this fall. Wohl described the new product as an all-natural, non-GMO, NSF Certified sport formulation. “This uniquely addresses nerve-based soreness, giving athletes a new tool to keep their daily workouts on track without unnecessary delayed onset muscle soreness holding them back,” Wohl said.



Total Beets is a new line of beet-based formulas from Boston-based Force Factor. Available in powder, soft chews and tablets, Total Beets is said to support blood flow, energy, stamina and endurance. The line launched in Walmart this June. Total Beets features beetroot powder and beetroot extract, blended with antioxidant-rich grapeseed extract. Force Factor’s Joe Herne said beet supplements appeal to users looking for heart healthy products. “Consumers are continuously seeking better ways to boost energy and improve heart health, but those two goals are often incompatible given that the energy segment is mostly dominated by stimulantbased solutions,” he said. “Beets are stimulant-free and already well regarded as a food to address both concerns, but prior to our launch, there had not yet been a brand that resonated with consumers.”



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Drink to Good Health Consumers are looking for functional beverages, sustainable packaging and variety By Nora Caley


t’s important to stay hydrated and to stay healthy. Consumers are purchasing beverages that help them do both and that are packaged in an environmentally friendly way. The pandemic made people think more about their health, and they are looking to retailers to make better-for-you drinks available and convenient to purchase. According to The Hartman Group’s report, “Functional Food & Beverage and Supplements 2020,” 56% of adults use functional beverages to treat or prevent a specific condition. Among the top conditions that consumers noted were hydration (34%), energy (18%), general prevention (15%) and immunity (13%). Manufacturers are responding to these demands by launching new products, accentuating their wellness benefits, and packaging them in recycled or recyclable bottles. Functional Beverages Purchasing better-for-you beverages is part of a larger trend that accelerated last year. “The COVID-19 pandemic prompted consumers to take a more proactive and holistic approach to their personal wellness,” said Stephanie McMahan, category leadership, small store shopping insights, for the North America operating unit of Coca-Cola. “As consumers are becoming more health-conscious, we are seeing an increase in the consumption of beverages that are refreshing without containing as much sugar or calories.” McMahan said consumers are looking for zero-sugar drinks, beverages with functional benefits that aid in improving physical and mental health, and at the same time, comfort and indulgence from familiar brands. Another factor driving the demand for better-for-you beverage solutions is that consumers are emerging from their homes and getting back to their routines. “As consumers resume pre-pandemic on-the-go activities with an increased focus on their health, they’re looking for ‘good for you’ beverages that contain functional benefits,” said Scott Miller, CEO of Bothell, Wash.-based Essentia Water. Citing April 2021 SPINS data, Miller said sales of shelf-stable functional beverages grew almost 100% among conventional products, with more shoppers reaching for options like electrolyte water. Essentia, which earlier this year was acquired by Nestlé USA, offers ionized alkaline water that contains a pH of 9.5 or higher. The brand recently launched its 500-ml six-pack of bottles to answer another increasing consumer demand, which is for multipack options. The desire for bottled water with benefits will be a lasting trend. “Consumers are continuing to look for products that help support their active lifestyles and tap into their pursuit of health and wellness — both trends that became even more sought out during the pandemic,” said Rachel Chambers, senior vice president of marketing at


Voss Water. “Taking care of yourself — both inside and out — elevated in importance with the challenges of COVID-19.” Voss, which launched in Norway 20 years ago and now has corporate headquarters in New York City, recently launched the Voss+ range of three enhanced waters. “We want to help consumers look and feel their best by helping them meet their daily vitamin, mineral and hydration needs,” Chambers said. “By offering unique and meaningful ingredients, along with outstanding taste and the iconic VOSS bottle, Voss+ provides an exceptional experience.” Kombucha Gains, Juices Have Opportunity Gut health has captured consumers’ attention in recent years. As a result, the fermented drink kombucha has exploded in popularity. There is much curiosity now about how probiotics and prebiotics can help people with self-care, said Vanessa Dew, co-founder and chief sales officer of Torrance, Calif.-based Health-Ade. “There are amazing gut health benefits with kombucha that help to advance this idea of self-care.” Sales of kombucha at retail stores are up significantly, Dew said, and she pointed to burnout as one driver in this increased interest in self-care in general and in Health-Ade specifically. “With endless Zoom calls, a year and then some of COVID-related restrictions and trying to ‘be well’ versus ‘get well,’ there’s huge momentum around doing things to advance self-care,” she said. Health-Ade announced in August that long-standing partner First Bev had acquired a controlling stake in the company. When it comes to format, consumers are looking for multipacks and single-serve packs. At the beginning of the pandemic, consumers purchased multipacks because they were spending more time at home,


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said Andy Baran, head of sales for small format and specialty channel at Stamford, Conn.-based BlueTriton Brands, the new corporate name for Nestlé Waters North America. “While purchases of single-serve beverages declined as people spent more time at home, they are now coming back. Multipack growth accelerated during the pandemic and has continued, even as the country has opened up. This appears to be a sustained change in consumer buying behavior.” One area that has seen its ups and downs is juices. In August, PepsiCo announced that it had entered into an agreement to sell Tropicana, Naked and other juice brands across North America to the private equity firm PAI Partners. While news outlets, such as CNBC and The Wall Street Journal, pointed to pressure on fruitjuice sales due to consumers’ desire to decrease their sugar intake, opportunities for brands to boost sales of juice drinks abound. Mintel notes in its U.S. Juice and Juice Drinks Market Report 2021 that the category saw an unexpected boost from the pandemic. People bought juice for at-home consumption when they were working and going to school remotely. In early 2021, 30% of category participants reported they increased their purchases of juices, and only 10% said they decreased their purchases of juices. The report identified growth opportunities for juices that have added benefits, such as prebiotics, probiotics and protein. Also, juices can highlight their inherent benefits, such as vitamin C, to prevent the mature category from returning to the sales declines it saw before the pandemic. Innovation will be crucial as will messaging about nutrition, especially to parents looking for better-for-you items for their children. Sustainability Still Important For bottled water, juice or any beverage, opportunities to highlight sustainability exist. Plastic waste and recycling are factors that affect many consumers’ purchase decisions. Among the initiatives of Coca-Cola’s environmental program, World Without Waste, the company introduced a 30%-recycled-content cap for Dasani water bottles on the West Coast in 2020 and is expanding this innovation across the United States. Baran said BlueTriton Brands has seen an increase in consumers who are seeking beverages that are packaged in ways they perceive to be more sustainable. To meet that preference, all the company’s regional spring water brands are available in bottles made with recycled PET plastic, excluding the labels and caps. Also, the bottles, labels and caps were designed to be recyclable. The brands include Poland Spring, Deer Park, Zephyrhills, Ice Mountain, Ozarka and Arrowhead. Consumers are looking for brands that embrace sustainability and offer more recycled package options, said Voss’ Chambers. “Helping take care of our planet, especially with the revelations in the recent UN [climate change] report, is mission critical.” Voss uses 100% recycled PET bottles as part of its sustainability commitment. Retailers Can Drive Sales To capitalize on these demands, Chambers said retailers, especially drug retailers with a mission anchored in supporting health and wellness,


should continue to expand their enhanced and functional beverage offerings. The right assortment provides consumers the opportunity to “trade in and trade up,” which in turn builds incremental sales and category growth. Trade in refers to bringing new consumers to the beverage category with new benefits, and trade up enables a higher dollar ring due to inclusion of value-added ingredients. “It is an exciting trend that should enable solid growth for years to come,” she said. There are larger trends that affect consumer purchase decisions more broadly, and retailers can leverage these trends to drive sales. The pandemic made everyone search for healthful items but also easy, convenient ways to purchase them. Digital solutions such as mobile orders, scan-and-go and curbside pickup have become a trend across all channels. These provide a major area of opportunity for retailers, according to Ryan O’Connor, category leadership, drug channel, for the North America operating unit of Coca-Cola. “As consumers are increasingly seeking out digital solutions, drug channel retailers should leverage digital channels to communicate these messages and offer frictionless shopping solutions to get beverages into shoppers’ hands,” he said. As for in-store solutions, retailers must focus on both impulse and convenience purchases. Items for immediate consumption should be within consumers’ reach in high-traffic locations throughout the store. Items for future consumption, such as for at-home, can be bundled with family-sized meal or snack solutions. Some retailers have made significant investments to accommodate the demand for healthful beverages and other items. Dew, from Health-Ade, said certain chains have introduced new concept stores that highlight a wellness section, with signage that calls out organic or pharmacist-recommended beauty, food and skin care products. Other chains are creating stores featuring a whole health destination with self-care options. “This idea of education will become increasingly important,” Dew said. “The better a retailer can help educate the consumer on self-care, wellness or better-for-you products, the more loyalty and repeat business they will probably see.” dsn


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Growing Pet Category Brings Valuable Consumer Insights The pet products segment reflects key trends that include brand loyalty, health and well-being, and e-commerce By David Orgel


David Orgel is an awardwinning business journalist, industry expert and speaker. He is currently the principal of David Orgel Consulting.

t doesn’t matter whether you have a pet — or even if you like them. The pet products category can help retailers better understand the latest consumer insights relevant across food and drug retail. The category sheds light on trends in e-commerce, health and well-being, and the changing preferences of younger shoppers. In fact, the pet segment practically provides a road map for how to connect with customers across the store. The pandemic has accelerated the growth of the pet segment, as stay-at-home consumers became pet owners in larger numbers (including me, with my family’s pandemic dog Roscoe). This growth is evident in data from IRI’s second quarter 2021 Consumer Connect Survey. Pet products — including pet food, supplies and treats — were among the top 10 selling CPG categories in the quarter, with an increase in dollar sales of more than 7% compared with 2020, and accounting for nearly $40 billion in sales throughout the past year, IRI said. In addition, as mentioned, the pet category lines up well with today’s most important consumer trends. Let’s take a look at how this is playing out.

work well online, partly because a lot of these items are regularly reordered.

Lifestyles: The pet category provides great

consumer purchase decisions are driven by many of the same factors at play in buying for themselves — including health and well-being. IRI found that more than half of consumers shopping for pet food consider health and nutritional standards before making purchases. This makes sense given the growing focus of shoppers on those very same factors for their own consumption. What are the key takeaways from this pet discussion? One is that consumers will continue to prioritize their pets in their purchasing behaviors. Just as important is the point that the pet segment lines up almost perfectly with consumer perspectives and behaviors across retail today. So the most important thing to remember is this: If you want to obtain the best read on shoppers, study the pet category. dsn

examples of how to connect with consumers around their lifestyles — and retailers can learn from outside the retail world. For example, in the automobile field, the car brand Subaru directs much of its marketing to pet-loving parents, including with recent introductions of petfriendly accessories, from a mobile pet bed to a pet travel bowl. This strategy recognizes that people are getting out of the house more.

E-commerce: Pets also ties into the all-important e-commerce trend. IRI’s survey found that more consumers are ordering groceries and pet products online, and that 31% of online shoppers said they visit fewer brick-and-mortar stores because of this. It’s not surprising to me that pet products


Next-Gen: Gen Z and millennial consumers — and wealthy households — purchased more pet products during the pandemic compared with other groups, IRI found. Younger consumers shopped for their pets across the most channels and showed a preference for buying at specialty stores and mass merchandisers more than other generations. These are important insights for retailers at a time when they are working to attract younger shoppers to their stores.

Brand Loyalty: IRI reported that national brand loyalty has been important in the pet category — and that national brands outperformed private brands in this segment during the past year. However, that doesn’t mean private brands can’t build loyalty of their own. Consider Target’s recent launch of its pet private brand Kindfull, a line of more than 50 items for cats and dogs. Target is clearly betting on the potential to advance private brands in the pet segment.

Health and Well-being: When shopping for pets,


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Capsule Brand is

Now Launching


Science Backed Formulas. Beauty Driven Results. Our premium line of Reserveage collagen building supplements is now complemented with a pro-collagen booster skincare portfolio. This smart, multi-purpose skincare line pairs exclusive microencapsulated copper peptide technology with nine clinically studied ingredients designed to work with the natural processes of your body, so you can look and feel your best every single day. The result? Youthful, smooth and firmer looking skin. Available August 2021.

To learn more and request a sample, email: cstpierre@twinlab.com | call: 800.553.1896 #ReserveageBeauty | reserveage.com | @ReserveageNutrition

+ Spins Natural Market L52 Weeks ending 4/18/21

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9/9/21 5:11 PM