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Volume 42 No. 10


Drug Store News October 2020

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Provide Your Four-Legged Customers Quality and Value at a Price Your Pet Owners Can Afford!

Healthy Products From Nose To Tail! Healthy Tracks for Pets™ ancillary products and Test Buddy™ Pet-Monitoring Blood Glucose System are brought to you by Trividia Health, a leading developer and manufacturer in the Diabetes Category with over 30 years of experience.


High quality1, affordable products specially designed for dogs and cats with diabetes. Products Include: Test Buddy™ Pet-Monitoring Blood Glucose System Healthy Tracks for Pets™ Lancets (26 Gauge and 28 Gauge) Healthy Tracks for Pets™ Lancing Device

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Healthy Tracks for Pets™ Insulin Syringes (U-40 and U-100)

Visit www.healthy-tracks.com to learn more.

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Educational Material Featuring Buddy and Keto

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NICO-4548-9.25x11 09/20 @ 2020 Trividia Health, Inc. Healthy Tracks for Pets and Test Buddy are trademarks of Trividia Health, Inc. 1. Data on File. The Test Buddy System and Healthy Tracks for Pets products are intended for use only with dogs and cats. Not For Human Use.

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Diabetes Care P. 62


The mass retail industry, and the pharmacy, have played a huge role in the fight against COVID-19. DSN wants to highlight the industry’s success.

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Moving forward with you

When things feel as if they’re standing still, it’s good to know the healthcare community keeps pushing ahead. Amneal wants to thank

together, making healthy possible again

America’s pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, and front-line workers. Your heroic efforts ensure we all continue moving forward and that patients have uninterrupted access to vital medicines. To help support you, Amneal continues working tirelessly to manufacture affordable and quality pharmaceuticals for those who need them the most.


Copyright © 2020 Amneal Pharmaceuticals. All Rights Reserved. AMN-DSN 10.20

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Vol. 42 No. 10 DrugStoreNews.com

FEATURES 10 Industry News 20 In Depth: Tech and Medication Adherence


Insights from Cardinal Health on how technology can foster optimized medication use

22 Selfcare Roadmap Insights


Skin care shopper insights powered by GMDC|Retail Tomorrow’s and HRG’s Selfcare Roadmap Insights tool

24 Products to Watch 42 Focus On: PharmaCare US 44 CBD News 48 Cover Story: Standing Up How the retail pharmacy industry has helped combat COVID-19 — and how it’s paving the way for future growth




8 Editor’s Note 26 Counter Talk with Mack Elevation’s Dan Mack

28 Counter Talk with Crossmark’s Kristen Abreu

30 One-on-One with McKesson Prescription Automation’s Brian Doyle and Tim Chambers

38 One-on-One with Nordic Naturals’ Brian Terry

40 One-on-One with Mars Wrigley’s Mike Gilroy

74 Last Word with David Orgel Consulting’s David Orgel

32 One-on-One with Medterra’s Jay Hartenbach

34 One-on-One with Pharma Logistics’ Daniela Weiszhar

HEALTH 62 Diabetes Care Retailers are growing their role in managing diabetes as monitoring and injection technologies continue to get smart

68 News



54 Technicians

70 Hair to Stay

36 One-on-One Kadenwood’s Erick Dickens

As pharmacists flex their clinical muscles, technicians step up to support them and their patients

Multicultural and natural-focused shoppers are contributing to growth in hair care

68 SOCIAL Facebook.com/ DrugStoreNews Twitter.com/ DrugStoreNews

DSN (ISSN 0191-7587) is published monthly 12 times a year by EnsembleIQ, 8550 W. Bryn Mawr Ave, Suite 200, Chicago, IL 60631. Subscription rate in the United States: $125 one year; $230 two year; $14 single issue copy; Canada and Mexico: $150 one year; $270 two year; $16 single issue copy; Foreign: $170 one year; $325 two year; $16 single issue copy. Periodicals postage paid at Chicago, IL, and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Please send address changes to DSN, 8550 W. Bryn Mawr Ave, Suite 200, Chicago, IL 60631. Vol. 42 No. 10, October 2020. Copyright © 2020 by EnsembleIQ. All rights reserved.



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Dispatch from the Front Lines One pharmacist’s experience highlights how the pandemic is getting patients invested in their health By Seth Mendelson


took a pharmacist out to lunch last month. Well, kind of. Actually, I was waiting for a prescription at my local pharmacy and decided to grab a couple of slices of pizza at a nearby pizza joint. As I waited for my order, one of the pharmacists walked in for lunch. We almost shared a table — socially distancing, of course, which means she sat at one table outside and I sat at the other table, probably 8 feet away from each other. We did talk, though. Seth Mendelson My only question to her was how are things different Editor in Chief/ today than before COVID-19. Twenty minutes later, I had Associate Publisher a much better understanding of what pharmacists — and probably all healthcare workers — are going through during these extremely difficult times. The pandemic, she said, has changed just about everything, from what she wears to work, how she interacts with her colleagues and customers, to how she de-stresses when her shift is over. Frankly, she said, wearing a mask all day, sometimes for up to 10 straight hours (with a break for the aforementioned lunch only), can be a bit much. Interestingly, she said she disinfects in the car before entering her home. That routine means using antibacterial hand sanitizer in the car as she pulls up to her home, and taking off the outer layer of her clothing and leaving it in the car. (She also said that she goes to the dry cleaner more often to ensure that her clothes at work are also clean.) She showers as soon as she gets home, before interacting with her family. The real difference, she said, was her interaction with customers. Most have been great, she said, following all the rules on social distancing. A couple of times, people did not follow the rules, but they seemed more ignorant of what to do than not doing them on purpose. Most importantly, she has noticed that customers are much more concerned about their health and are asking many more questions, even on things that have nothing to do with COVID-19. Sometimes she has the answers. Most times, she said, she is not certain, but always takes the safest possible route for her customers. If something appears serious, her canned response is always to tell customers to contact their doctor immediately. “I just want to go back to normal,” she said at the end of our lunch. “I miss the good old days.” dsn

Most importantly, she has noticed that customers are much more concerned about their health and are asking many more questions, even on things that have nothing to do with COVID-19.


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

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


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helps ensure better delivery of beneďŹ cial bacteria to the gut.

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AssureCare Adds MTM Workflow Solution

RoC Intros Four New Products RoC Skincare is adding to its lineup with four products meant to keep skin healthy and smooth the appearance of lines. Two products use retinol to help diminish lines, and two use vitamin C to give skin new life and a healthy glow. The new line smoothing products aim to help facial skin look younger. The RoC Retinol Correxion Eye Cream addresses three signs of eye aging — puffiness, dark circles and wrinkles — in a nongreasy, hypoallergenic and dermatologist-tested formula that combines RoC retinol and its exclusive mineral complex. Already making waves, the eye cream was among Allure’s 2020 Best of Beauty Award winners. Beyond the eyes, RoC’s Retinol Correxion Line Smoothing Night Serum Capsules offer a potent overnight retinol serum sealed inside a biodegradable capsule. The serum is free of fragrances, parabens and sulfates. In clinical evaluations, the company found that 97% of users studied had visibly reduced lines and wrinkles in one night, with 100% reporting visibly firmer skin in four weeks, plus 100% continued reduction of wrinkle appearances.


Population health management software company AssureCare is rolling out an enhanced solution to help pharmacies and health plans handle medication therapy management, or MTM. AssureCare’s Medication Therapy Management Module is a solution meant to allow pharmacists to assess a patient’s medication regimen and ensure it is appropriate, effective and safe based on the patient’s health and care plan. The company said that the MTM Module allows pharmacists to perform and bill for clinical services within the patient’s medical benefits. “By enabling pharmacies and health plans to utilize the same platform, this enables the pharmacist to perform essential clinical services for health plans and bill them directly,” said Jim Gartner, executive vice president of clinical strategy at AssureCare. The solution also allows pharmacies to target such encounters as comprehensive medication reviews and targeted medication reviews, among others identified using AssureCare’s proprietary algorithms. The MTM Module also can be used to deliver a comprehensive MTM program for health plans, using a particular pharmacy network. The company said that the module also can help ensure better utility and efficiency for medication-management workflows, as well as create a member-centric solution for managing services and procedures. “With the inclusion of the Medication Management Module into the platform, it brings a 360-degree member-centric view of the patient,” said Yousuf Ahmad, CEO of AssureCare.


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Trividia Launches Pet Products For Trividia Health, it’s not enough to offer blood glucose meters and test strips, sharps, skin care, and nutrition products for people with diabetes. The Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based company, which markets products under the True brand and store brands, has entered the pet health segment. Trividia Health’s line of pet health products are branded under the Healthy Tracks for Pets line. The first product is the Test Buddy Pet-Monitoring Blood Glucose System, which features blood glucose monitoring, an advanced algorithm and connected health. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, diabetes in dogs and cats can occur at any age, but they usually are diagnosed when they are older. Diabetic dogs are usually 4-to-14 years of age, and most are diagnosed at roughly 7 to 10 years old. Most diabetic cats are older than 6 years old. Diabetes occurs in female dogs twice as often as male dogs. Certain breeds of dogs may be predisposed to diabetes. Obesity is a significant risk factor for the development of diabetes. Like testing in humans, testing a dog’s or cat’s blood glucose is done by obtaining a blood sample. However, the blood makeup of dogs and cats is different from humans, so testing with a meter made for human blood could give inaccurate results. The Test Buddy Pet-Monitoring Blood Glucose System provides an accurate, specifically calibrated glucose system that is affordably priced and comes with 50 test strips, a lancing device and lancets. The Test Buddy Meter has Bluetooth capability, so people can upload their pet’s results into the Test Buddy App, track the pet’s glucose health, and share results and trending information with a veterinarian. Trividia Health, which also launched Healthy Tracks for Pets Insulin Syringes, plans to further expand its portfolio in pet health in the coming months. The new products can help pharmacies attract more pet owners, many of whom already are filling prescriptions for pet medications. “Unfortunately, the incidence of diabetes in pets is on the rise,” said Michael J. Schlanger, director of channel marketing at Trividia Health.



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Nutrisystem Brings Body Select Program to Walmart Nutrisystem is debuting its Body Select program at Walmart. The program offers a five-day kit that includes five breakfasts, lunches and dinners with macronutrients meant to work with distinct body types to approach weight loss. It also offers add-ons that include snacks and shakes, as well as a la carte items. “Our goal is to bring something fresh to retail that personalizes the weight loss journey with new, on-trend nutritional products,” said Tommy Lewis, president of Nutrisystem. “As our business grows and evolves, we’re actively looking for ways to serve different customer segments. With this type of product innovation and our strong retail partnerships, we can continue to meet the needs of millions of Americans who want better health and wellness.” The company said that Nutrisystem Body Select can help users lose as much as 7 pounds in two weeks, and offers access to the NuMi app, which allows customers to track their foods, flex meals, activity, measurements and more.

The products launching at Walmart include the Belly Buster Kit for those who store fat in the midsection and require a low glycemic diet; the Power Lean Kit for those who store fat evenly and require protein for lean muscle and weight loss; and the Slim Balance Kit for those who store fat in the lower body and require a mix of carbs, lean proteins and healthy fats. Add-ons include Fuel Me Up Snacks and Nightcap Snacks, Protein and Probiotic Shakes, and breakfast muffins. “Our long-standing and collaborative relationship with Walmart makes them the perfect partner to help us launch the new Body Select program as people are looking for affordable, convenient ways to take care of their health,” said Mike Dermo, senior vice president of retail sales and marketing at Nutrisystem. “By making the Body Select program available through Walmart’s omnichannel approach, we can provide customers with real, nutritious food.” Nutrisystem said it would be expanding Body Select to more retail channels, including Amazon, Target.com and certain grocery chains.




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Crest Whitening Emulsions Skips Sensitivity Crest’s latest teeth-whitening product has been 20 years in the making. The new Crest Whitening Emulsions offers a leave-on whitening treatment that starts working instantly and delivers five times more hydrogen peroxide than traditional treatments with almost no teeth sensitivity. “Crest Whitening Emulsions is the culmination of almost two decades of research and development informed by consumer insights that show people are craving a teeth-whitening treatment that is effective, convenient and sensitivity-free,” said Carlos De Jesus, Procter & Gamble’s senior vice president of North America oral care. “Until now, no innovation has delivered on all three, and we are confident that consumers have never seen teeth whitening like this.” Containing a hydrating water-resistant base that protects teeth from whitening-related

sensitivity, the product creates a micro-thin layer of active peroxide droplets that stay on teeth longer and continue to work to remove and prevent stains, the company said. It is offered in two options — a tube with a built-in applicator and one with a wand applicator. “With the introduction of Crest Whitening Emulsions, we’re revolutionizing the way people think about teeth whitening, moving beyond occasion-based whitening with a product that can be used up to four times a day with no rinsing or brushing needed,” said Paul Sagel, P&G research fellow and Crest 3DWhitestrips inventor. “Consumers can tailor their teeth-whitening journey — whenever and wherever — based on their needs, and can see results after just a few uses.” Currently available for purchase at Walgreens and on Crest’s website, Crest Whitening Emulsions with the built-in applicator retails for $50, while the wand applicator option retails for $60. Both options will roll out to additional retailers throughout the fall, with national availability in February.

FROM PIPELINE TO PATIENT When one of the world’s largest API manufacturers is your parent company, quality, value and supply are strengths you can trust.

We’re Camber. We deliver peace of mind. ®



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Garden of Life’s Organic Line Targets Children’s Immunity





A new line of immune-centrick, children-focused line of USDA Certified Organic and Non-GMO Project Verified vitamins from Garden of Life is hitting shelves. “In these times, many parents have a heightened awareness of maintaining their families’ health and immunity, especially during cold and flu season. But as hard as parents may try, kids don’t always eat nutritious meals throughout the day or get the required nutrients they need,” said Brian Ray, president of Garden of Life. “To help families achieve immune-boosting health, we’re dedicated to using third-party-certified ingredients they can trust, including vitamins and minerals from Certified Organic Real Food, as well as Certified USDA Organic, Non-GMO Project Verified and NSF Certified Gluten-Free ingredients.”









Products that make up the line include: • Kids Organic Elderberry Gummy with elderberry extract and vitamin C from amla berries; • Kids Organic Elderberry Immune Syrup with 860 mg of organic black elderberry fruit extract per serving, Aronia berry and 10 mg of vitamin C from acerola cherries; • Immune Gummy with a combination of vitamins C and D, and zinc in a cherry flavor; • Kids Organic Vitamin D3 Gummy, a daily gummy with 20 mcg of vitamin D in an orange flavor; • Kids Probiotic Gummy, formulated with 3 billion colonyforming units, features a cherry flavor and looks to support both digestion and immunity; • Kids Multivitamin Powder, made for toddlers and children to help in healthy growth and bone development, contains 15 essential vitamins and minerals from real food; and • Kids Plant Omega-3 Liquid provides 500 mg of ALA, 256 mg of DHA and 100 mg of EPA per serving from such plant-based sources as coconut MCT oil and flaxseed. Available in a strawberry flavor, it looks to aid in brain, eye and central nervous system development. Garden of Life’s new immune-centric children’s line is available at retailers nationwide.

Certification for COVID-19 Testing and Adult & Pediatric Immunization For more information call us at: (215) 654-9110 or visit our website: TheComplianceTeam.org

Safety is your #1 priority.



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Sally Hansen, Sour Patch Kids Create Halloween-Themed Shades Sally Hansen’s latest collection is both sour and sweet just like the candy brand it is partnering with. The Coty brand and Sour Patch Kids have teamed up for a limited-edition collection of nail shades. Inspired by the most popular Sour Patch Kids flavors and designed to be great in Halloweeninspired looks, the collection features Sally Hansen’s Insta-Dri line of quick-dry polish, offering a streak-free shine that dries in 60 seconds. “We are so excited to partner with Sour Patch Kids, the perennial candy favorite that represents fun and playfulness,” said Celia Tombalakian, vice president of global marketing at Sally Hansen. “Our limited-edition collection brings to life the vibrant colors of the Sour Patch Kids in our best-selling Insta-Dri formula. The spooky, quick-drying shades arrive just in time for Halloween

— the perfect occasion for DIY nails.” Shades in the Sally Hansen Insta-Dri X Sour Patch Kids collection include: • R.I.P-urple, an electrifying purple shade; • The Un-red, a punchy, blood-red shade; • Pump-kid, a poppy neon orange shade; • Hallogreen, a bright green shade; • Ghouls Night Out, a creamy black shade; • First Sour, Then Sweet, a clear polish with white sugar glitter; and • Boo-lue, a bright, zingy blue shade. As a way to embrace the spirit of the Halloween season, the packaging displays the Sour Patch Kids silhouette and logo on the front of the bottle with shade-matched caps. The Sally Hansen Insta-Dri X Sour Patch Kids collection retails for $5.59 at Ulta Beauty and Walgreens, as well as online at Amazon.com.

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Pharmacy Technology and the Healthcare Ecosystem How technology can improve patient outcomes BRENT STUTZ, SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT OF COMMERCIAL TECHNOLOGIES, CARDINAL HEALTH


edication therapy is not being optimized in the United States, a problem that is negatively impacting patient care and placing a major strain on the U.S. healthcare ecosystem. Each year, non-optimized medication therapy is linked to more than 275,000 avoidable patient deaths and adds upwards of $500 billion in costs, representing 16% of all healthcare expenditures. Non-optimized medication therapy is a cyclical process that begins with patients either not receiving the right medication/dosage or not adhering to their prescribed medication regimen, which leads to adverse events and potential health problems, and ultimately results in increased healthcare costs. As the shifting healthcare landscape places increasing emphasis on both cost efficiency and patient outcomes, breaking this cycle of non-optimized medication usage dramatically could lower costs and improve patient care. Pharmacists are uniquely positioned to be a key player in this effort and, with the right technology solutions at their disposal, they will be empowered to become even better advocates for their patients and help drive down healthcare costs.

Why Pharmacists are Uniquely Placed for an Expanding Role While the role of the pharmacist has been vastly underutilized in the past, the evolution of pharmacy into more clinical operations, as well as their position among patients as a trusted and accessible provider, places them in a central role to optimize medication therapy and engage with patients to help prevent nonadherence. In Gallup’s 2019 Honesty and Ethics survey, pharmacists ranked second overall — just below nurses and ahead of medical doctors — in their list of most trusted professions. This high level of trust indicates that pharmacists have opportunities to motivate patients toward behavioral change, whether by conducting a medication review to address some of the main challenges of non-optimized medication therapy or by providing clinical advice and support. Pharmacists also are highly accessible to patients and interact with them more frequently than other providers. Commonwealth Medicine notes that nine in 10 Americans live within 5 miles of a community pharmacy, and other research has shown that patients visit their pharmacists up to eight times more frequently than their primary care provider. Because of their overall accessibility to patients, pharmacists are well suited to serve as a central connector between key stakeholders across the healthcare ecosystem, from payers to providers to manufacturers. The expansion of the pharmacist’s role into clinical services in recent years has led to increased cohesion and efficiency in the


healthcare system. An example of this expansion is the development of collaborative practice agreements, or CPAs. According to Commonwealth Medicine, a pharmacist and primary care physician collaborate through a CPA to enable the pharmacist to provide additional direct patient care services to their clients, such as ordering and interpreting laboratory tests, prescribing, changing or discontinuing medications, screening and treating patients for minor ailments, and developing care plans. As of 2011, 44 states had allowed for the development of CPAs. Pharmacists are also playing a major role in advanced medication management. Health Datix reports that overusing, under-using or misusing medications costs the American healthcare system around $300 billion a year, but when pharmacists take on a more involved role with patients and manage their medications, the cost of nonadherence inevitably will decrease, and simultaneously improve patient outcomes. Payers are particularly interested in the expanded role of the pharmacist, as the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services reimburses based on performance. State administrators of these programs can demonstrate how they are able to differentiate and better administer health plans, and the benefits of improved adherence for all stakeholders across the healthcare ecosystem. This is an area in which pharmacists can add significant value and help other stakeholders reach the shared goal of improved outcomes at a lower cost.

Why Technology is Critical for Enabling Clinical Capabilities The expansion of the role of pharmacists as key players in connecting stakeholders across the healthcare ecosystem, as well as their role in advanced medication management and adherence, clearly shows they can successfully address the issue of non-optimized medication therapy. However, having the right technology solutions at their disposal is critical in order for pharmacists to expand into these areas. Currently, many pharmacies are managing several disconnected systems that make it difficult to track clinical opportunities and delegate priorities. Ideally, pharmacists should seek out a scalable patient-focused clinical care suite of advanced technology solutions that allows them to digitally manage their workflow, drive efficiencies, engage with patients and connect with payers, providers and manufacturers. Medication therapy management tools can be integrated into the pharmacy management system, connecting pharmacists with payers to access targeted, payable patient care opportunities and centrally


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A MASSIVE PROBLEM WITH PRESCRIPTION DRUGS IN AMERICA Every year non-optimized medication therapy costs

$528.4 billion, 6%


of total U.S. healthcare expenditures

avoidable deaths

(Source: https://www.pharmacist.com/article/nonoptimized-medication-therapy-costs-us-5284-billion-year)

document them. Additionally, they can enable pharmacists to provide health education, improve medication therapy compliance and assess medication side effects. As states continue to expand the provider status of pharmacists, enabling them to screen patients for diseases like flu and strep throat and prescribe treatments, pharmacies will require technology solutions to document and bill for these clinical services. Digital communication tools can also be integrated into existing systems for direct patient engagement, streamlining patient communication workflows and driving efficiencies through automated reminders, on-demand messaging, pre-fill alerts and medication delivery management. By helping pharmacists maintain a high-touch, personal relationship to patients, they can improve adherence and retention while adding a convenient, modernized patient experience. Telepharmacy solutions should also be a core component of a pharmacy technology portfolio. These solutions enable pharmacists to expand their operation and capture more prescriptions in a cost-effective manner, as well as load balance between locations. During the current COVID-19 pandemic, these tools are especially useful for counseling patients remotely in a secure, HIPAA-compliant manner. When their capabilities are fully leveraged and they have the technology tools needed to efficiently optimize medication therapy, pharmacists can help patients live healthier lives and reduce the overall cost of care. From their unique position in the healthcare ecosystem, pharmacists’ ability to connect to manufacturers, payers and providers can add significant value. dsn

The solution:


Why the pharmacy? Pharmacists Rank Second Again among Gallup’s Most Trusted Professionals,” not just healthcare professionals — all professionals. (Source: nacds.org/news/pharmacists-rank-second-again-among-gallups-mosttrusted-professionals/)

Patients visit their pharmacist eight times more than their primary care provider. (Source: “New Findings Confirm Predictions on Physician Shortage,” Association of American Medical Colleges, April 23, 2019)

Why technology? When you add technology to the trusted relationship between the pharmacist and the patient, patients achieve better health outcomes. 1. Intelligent Digital Communication • •

2.9 times more adherent to medication (Cardinal Health) 20% increase in adherence to medications (Cardinal Health)

2. Comprehensive Medication Reviews • •

60% of interventions document a drug therapy problem (Cardinal Health) 94% patient acceptance rate for consultations

3. Telepharmacy •

Fewer errors than traditional pharmacy (Error rate less than 1%, ½ national average.) 100 million Americans lack good access to pharmacies (Source: “The Growing Problem of Pharmacy Deserts,” Drug Topics, Sept. 14, 2019, drugtopics.com/view/ growing-problem-pharmacy-deserts)

(Cardinal Health) DRUGSTORENEWS.COM October 2020

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nowing how consumers in a certain category are shopping is crucial to merchandising in a way that successfully will drive bigger baskets and higher sales. Recognizing this, GMDC|Retail Tomorrow and Hamacher Resource Group created the Selfcare Roadmap, a tool that can identify opportunities and reveal how forward-looking practices can remake the shopping experience, while inspiring new merchandising and service models that make an impact throughout the store. The tool, which only is available to GMDC|Retail Tomorrow members, demonstrates how to optimize shoppers’ health, beauty, personal care and wellness experiences, as well as how to drive new avenues for profitability by offering more than 140 insights and infographics that can be sorted by category of self-care occasion. This month, the companies have shared insights with Drug Store News about the allergy shopper. dsn Allergies





Eye/Ear 5% Vitamins/ Supplements 5%


Children’s Allergy

Pain Relief 7% Cough/Cold 9%





Nasal Spray 19%

Allergy 37% Key insight: The average retail unit price of children’s allergy products is nearly 20% less than adult products.






Upper Respiratory



Average Price


Average Price


Children’s Allergy

Average Price



Adult Allergy

Average Price




Key insight: Adult allergy average retail unit prices are double the HBW average retail unit price.


Key insight: The allergy category is cited 4.5 times more often for those suffering from allergies than the average shopping trip.


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New and Noteworthy Hamacher Resource Group’s standout product picks from September


eptember saw CPG brands introduce 189 new products. Per usual, the Hamacher Resource Group’s new product team took the time to sift through the 59 OTC products, 67 wellness items and 63 beauty offerings to find five that stood on their own as Products to Watch.


Hyland’s Pain Relief Tablets


Airborne Elderberry Chewable Immune Support Tablets

One of the biggest names in immunity is getting into elderberry, the ingredient du jour of immunity support. Airborne’s chewable immune support tablets are designed to be taken on the go, offering four times as much elderberry extract as other chewables.

Homeopathic brand Hyland’s added to its analgesic offerings with a quick-dissolving pain-relief tablet, featuring natural active ingredients with no acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Hyland’s Pain Relief tablets are designed to be non-habit forming, nondrowsy and easy on the stomach. The product, which can be taken without water, has no known drug interactions



Refresh Digital Drops for Eye Dryness




With most IRL events going digital, more screen time means drier eyes. Refresh Digital Drops for Eye Dryness feature a clinical-strength formula to relieve eye dryness, burning, irritation and discomfort due to digital device use. The product, which helps tear evaporation, uses the company’s proprietary HydroCell technology to help maintain the volume of cells on the eye’s surface and prevent future irritation.

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CeraVe Hydrating Cream-to-Foam Cleanser

The latest from L’Oréal’s CeraVe brand is a cleanser that transforms from cream into a gentle foam to tackle oil, dirt and makeup without drying out the skin. The product includes three essential ceramides, as well as amino acids and hyaluronic acid to lock in water and leave skin feeling hydrated.

Hempvana Pain Relief Cream

In addition to hemp seed extract for moisturization, the secret weapon in Hempvana’s Pain Relief Cream is its active ingredient trolamine salicylate, which gets to work instantly. The cream is designed to be absorbed quickly and offers a maximum-strength pain relief product that is vegan and cruelty-free, as well as free of phthalates, parabens and gluten. dsn

10/8/20 1:34 PM


Outpaced VMHS growth by 375%

#1 selling supplement at Publix

Based on IRI VMS data ending 06/27/20

OMEGA-3 RESEARCH BOOKLET Download a copy today!

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1-888-663-4233 233

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10/9/20 7:03 AM


Mask Off The best working relationships require upfront communication and transparency By Dan Mack

H Dan Mack, founder, Mack Elevation To learn more about Mack Elevation’s coaching, consulting, training and leadership events, visit mackelevationforum.com.


onesty and empathy are the lifeblood of the best supplier-retailer relationships. Knowing you can count on a partnership provides fluidity in even the most turbulent times, and COVID-19 has delivered more than enough turbulence. When lightning strikes, mutually beneficial and co-created solutions to problems are too often replaced by a mindset of self-preservation. We start to view our relationships exclusively as outlets for personal gain instead of a connection which requires ongoing cultivation. Why is it that 8-in-10 relationships dissolve due to a lack of transparency and trust, becoming simply transactional? The best partnerships are cemented by shared risk and mutual investment, enriched by clear and healthy dialogue between both parties. In great partnerships the relationship is always protected. One of the most common things I tell people in coaching sessions is to “take off your mask.” We all go through life portraying an airbrushed version of ourselves, concealing vulnerabilities and being dishonest about how we are doing. Hiding behind your mask creates problems, which are often hard to pinpoint because they are obscured by layers of fear and insecurities. Bluntly and transparently telling a partner about how you’re doing is always better than the sugar-coated alternative, which feels good in the moment, but will inevitably lead to conflict. Setting an expectation with a partner is essential, as it establishes a target to work towards together. The best retailers act as lobbyists for the consumer, accurately assessing and reporting the consumer’s needs to the supplier. Here are three ways to ensure that chain of information is as smooth as possible: • Host an annual kickoff meeting to convey goals, strategies and your business interests; • The target is always moving, so be flexible with your joint business plan and adjust to real time learnings, new consumer insights or emerging threats; and • Be proactive in your funding discussions and offer clear justification on why the investment serves both parties.

Though retailers and suppliers are many times seen as two separate entities, what each crave is fundamentally the same: an empathetic partner. Author Daniel Pink reminds us of the following: “The era of information and ‘left brain’ dominance is giving way to a new world in which ‘right brain’ empathy will govern.” The ability to transport yourself into another’s shoes and understand his or her needs accurately and precisely is akin to a superpower when used correctly. Many times, people will tell you what you are trying to figure out if you just listen for it. The problem is nobody is listening. Consider this: • 75% of salespeople emphasize talking over listening; • 66% of customers believe their supplier partners do not understand their needs; and • 85% of leaders believe the biggest barrier to growth is internal alignment. This is not a retailer, supplier or consumer problem, it’s a human problem. Everyone is overestimating the value of their ideas and underestimating the importance of listening their partners. Google, the king of left-brain analytics, views coaching, listening, perception, empathy, supportive skills, problemsolving and critical thinking as paramount skills in team effectiveness. These “soft skills” are so often undervalued and ignored, yet COVID-19 has proven that when a huge external pressure is imposed unexpectedly, connecting with a partner in an efficient and authentic way is priceless. It is the only way to solve difficult problems. Lastly, I expect partners to finally “walk the talk” concerning agility, transparency and empathy. Now is the time to step up and put your money where your mouth is with these concepts. Companies that step up and demonstrate these attributes in their relationships during this time will be the companies that yield the biggest fruit once the dust settles. COVID-19 is a watershed event creating behavioral change, and I am confident that these behaviors will continue to gain traction. Can you concisely pinpoint your partner’s needs? Do they understand yours? dsn


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10/9/20 8:16 AM

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10/9/20 7:04 AM


Pivoting for Success Maximizing Black Friday Sales Potential in a COVID world By Kristen Abreu

A Kristen Abreu, vice president of business development, drug, Crossmark

mericans are divided. Thin crust or deep dish? American League or National League? And perhaps the most divisive of all: to shop Black Friday or not? For Black Friday families, it is a tradition as integral to the holiday as Thanksgiving dinner. In fact, just last year, the National Retail Federation reported that a record 124 million consumers (close to 40% of the nation’s population) participated in Black Friday in-store shopping — and that’s exclusive of the 66 million who shopped online only. Yet, a mere year after those Black Friday records were set, we find ourselves in a completely different world. A Google-commissioner Ipsos tracker found that one-third of people who shopped Black Friday in the past now don’t expect to do the same this year. Plus, there’s an 11% decline in intent-toshop in-store during the holiday season as a whole, according to data from Bazaarvoice. How can brick-and-mortar retailers maximize the potential of each consumer who walks through the doors, while also keeping all shoppers safe, and even preserving some of the fun and tradition of our Black Friday retail holiday? Here are a few thought starters on ways retailers can pivot for success this Black Friday. To those in the supplier community, the challenge is to provide resources and support as retailers implement new thinking.

Engaging Outdoors: Develop Unique Experiences Before Shoppers Even Enter •


Black Friday sidewalk sale: Shoppers are now used to waiting to enter stores. They’re also likely more comfortable lingering in outdoor spaces — take advantage of that time. Add sidewalk and tented parking lot experiences. Bring featured items and highly sought after deals outside, and empower your shoppers to safely browse and buy out of store; and Deals on wheels: Consider a Black Friday Deal Truck to deliver your deals directly to local neighborhoods. Post the Deal Truck route in advance, then bring your best deals and

profitable add-ons directly to your shoppers.

Ensuring Efficiency: Shoppers Must Feel Empowered to Shop Safely, with Speed • • •

Increase staff visibility along strategic shopping paths — all to help consumers find products on their lists quickly; Add “runners” to your staffing plan so that inevitable forgotten items still can be captured with ease — even at the register; Increase your emphasis at the returns counter, too. If you make the typical hassle easier, a return may still translate into a reinvestment; and Consider buy online, pick up in-store solutions. In addition to appealing to an efficient shopper, this offering extends the ability to sample new products with those shoppers, too.

Do Digital: Enhance the Shopping Experience with Engaging Digital • Capture shoppers along the entire path to purchase — and start now in their homes. Ensure your brands make an online splash (buy banner ads) using creative that then carries over into the store (shelf-talkers). Let them know how you plan to make Black Friday shopping safe and fun; • Bring back sampling with QR code-triggered digital demos throughout the aisles. These turnkey demos swiftly introduce new products to consumers to increase basket size (to mitigate current impulse-purchase decline); and • Gamify the in-store experience. Add prizing elements within the retailer app — prizes awarded based on geo-targeting. Games draw in shoppers. While we may never see eye to eye on the best pizza in the United States, we can all agree that Black Friday will be different this year. With the right planning to pivot for success, you can assure the safety of shoppers, while also delivering a robust Black Friday experience to boost sales in 2020. dsn


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10/8/20 3:18 PM

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10/9/20 7:04 AM


Cutting-edge Alliance McKesson High Volume Solutions and R/X Automation Solutions merge


wo companies with a long history in the industry, McKesson High Volume Solutions, or HVS, and R/X Automation Solutions, or RXAS, have competed at times to deliver highly automated systems for the central fill and mail order pharmacy industry. Now, they have come together as McKesson Prescription Automation, merging the hardware and software expertise of RXAS with the integration and operational expertise of HVS. Drug Store News spoke with Brian Doyle and Tim Chambers to find out how this new company will operate and what the future looks like. Drug Store News: First of all, what made this combination so attractive to both companies? Brian Doyle: When we looked at how we could support growth and provide better value for our customers, the two things that stood out were a need to advance our software capabilities and provide innovative hardware solutions to meet the growing demand on central fill and mail order facilities. Acquiring RXAS and RXIT was a natural fit not only because of their existing products, but because we know what they are capable of in the future. Tim Chambers: We were very familiar with HVS, so combining the two companies really made sense. Plus, adding the benefits of additional investment in innovation, support and scalability that comes from being part of a company like McKesson will help us take our products to the next level. BD: Integrating two companies is never easy, but we know that together, we have a solution that is really unmatched in the industry. What’s really come out of this is we now have a technology company that is about more than just the technology. We’re able to really manage the integration of the interconnected systems, logistics, inventory management and new store-side processes for the customer in a way that makes the technology an extension


Left to right: Brian Doyle, vice president and general manager, McKesson Prescription Automation, and Tim Chambers, vice president of innovation, McKesson Prescription Automation

of their existing processes, rather than something else they need to manage. DSN: How will this change the systems that you build for clients? BD: We’ve always gone about our projects in a very consultative approach, that’s what makes us different. We’re part of the customer’s process long before any hardware is installed as we build a strategy, analyze their prescription capacity, and work through any potential regulatory compliance issues. None of that will change, but what will change is we’re now able to be even more flexible in our designs because we have the integrated hardware to be highly innovative in the solutions we create. Beyond the systems themselves, we can also offer a few things that are really unique to the industry. Having the tools we do, and being part of McKesson’s large distribution network, we can offer everything from a full capital purchase to a service model, where we actually own the system itself and charge the customer a per-script fee to manage their central fill or mail order programs. Being flexible on the model opens the door to new customers who may have not had the volume to justify a large purchase, but can benefit from the opportunity to structure a system that works for them.

DSN: What can you tell us about the software? TC: Brian was referring to the Sanitas Pharmacy Management System that we’ve designed and developed to provide commonality and consistency throughout the pharmacy. The software is very specific to operating in the mail order, central fill, specialty and digital spaces that require specialized order interfaces, scheduling, fulfillment, verification and shipping functionality. What’s great about the software is it’s modular, so it’s configurable and flexible for each customer’s unique requirements, but still provides a common look and feel from station to station. We can do anywhere from 500 scripts to 80,000 scripts a shift with the same software. BD To be honest, the Sanitas software was one of the things that was so attractive to us in this deal. Our HVS software is regularly updated, but getting to the next big release is typically a very lengthy process. Sanitas has a very good track record, having already been deployed in numerous sites, and does a lot of what we envisioned for our own software. It has a modern, flexible architecture, userfriendly dashboards and reporting features, and the ability to interface with numerous front-end pharmacy management systems and types of automation. DSN: What can we expect to see from the new combined company? BD: Simply put, it means we can offer a lot more to our customers. As a manufacturer, we have even more flexibility to design systems that are truly customized to each customer’s needs. Combining the software, hardware and operational experience allows us to deliver enhanced productivity, better inventory controls and increased capacity. Putting it all together as McKesson Prescription Automation is a real game changer for our customers. We’re committed to helping them fill prescriptions faster, more efficiently and at higher volumes. dsn


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10/8/20 3:19 PM


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9/15/20 6:17 PM

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10/9/20 7:05 AM


Adapting to Changes Medterra adjusts its approach to meet consumer needs, address pandemic


BD sales are under pressure at retail. But Jay Hartenbach, CEO of Medterra, told Drug Store News in an interview that his company maintains its leadership position by addressing specific consumer needs. Drug Store News: Have shoppers’ purchase behavior shifted during the pandemic, and has it impacted the CBD industry? Jay Hartenbach: CBD sales in the drug channel have shown a more than 8% decline from pre-Covid in March versus the “new normal” in August, according to Spins, powered by IRI, for the 24-week period ended Aug. 13. While other CBD brands have taken a hit with double-digit sales declines during this pandemic, Medterra has held its position as a top-ranked brand in the mass market channel and will record its highest pharmacy sales of 2020 in September. We believe the key differentiator is Medterra’s functionally designed products that address specific consumer needs.

DSN: How has Medterra pivoted to meet the needs of consumers? Have you seen a change in sales and growth? JH: Our priority will always be putting our customers first by developing unique research and data-driven products. Research shows increased consumption in addition to demand on safety and wellness during COVID. The pandemic has heightened the importance of health and wellness, especially as a preventative measure. It has shifted everyone’s mindset of self-care from a goal to a necessity. With so much of the environment out of our control, the one thing we can all do is be more proactive. If we are physically and mentally healthy, we have a significantly better chance at fighting any illnesses, including viruses associated with colds, the flu and COVID. To align with our customers’ needs, we launched an Immunity Boost tincture in less than 60 days, a product that we felt people


needed right now. To ensure this product had up-to-date science, we collaborated with Dr. Matt Halpert, a doctor of immunology at Baylor University. We have seen incredible sales and growth for our complete product line, especially the Immunity Boost, which has allowed us to become the No. 1 CBD isolate brand in the U.S. since the start of COVID in March.

Jay Hartenbach, CEO, Medterra

“The pandemic has heightened the importance of health and wellness, especially as a preventative measure. It has shifted everyone’s mindset of self-care from a goal to a necessity. With so much of the environment out of our control, the one thing we can all do is be more proactive.”

DSN: How do you think the CBD industry will evolve, and what are Medterra’s plans to continue to be successful in this space? JH: It is not a surprise that in times of financial insecurity consumers are demanding more from their purchases. It is no longer enough to sell purely CBD products. We’ve seen a growing trend in consumers consistently shifting their purchases to custom blended formulations that combine CBD with a variety of other natural ingredients. These products provide an enhanced effect, whether it be for better sleep, increasing energy, calming the mind or alleviating joint pain. Medterra was built on three goals: caring for others, continual innovation and CBD for all. Our continued success will always lie in putting our customers’ well-being first. Medterra has become a part of their daily wellness routine life, relieving our customers’ stress, managing their sleep and supporting their immunity. Our latest product launch, Immunity Boost, which includes CBD and a selection of natural ingredients that support the immune system, is one example of how Medterra is evolving and will continue to succeed in the industry. Our next product launch is the Ultra Broad Spectrum capsules. These are truly a game changer in the industry. By combining naturally occurring cannabinoids, terpenes and fatty acids, the Ultra Broad Spectrum capsules employ the “entourage effect.” When combined together, these compounds create a more synergistic effect and a more positive response to CBD without THC. dsn


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10/8/20 3:22 PM

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10/9/20 7:05 AM


Getting Smart About Inventory Management Pharma Logistics looks to improve efficiencies to keep inventory in line


aniela Weiszhar, head of marketing and communications at Pharma Logistics, said that interacting with consumers is vital to finish this year on a high note. In an interview with Drug Store News, she outlined strategies her company recommends for the mass retail industry. Drug Store News: What should retailers in the healthcare space do to finish 2020 as strongly as possible? Daniela Weiszhar: To finish 2020 in the best position possible, healthcare retailers need to continue listening to their customers to ensure that they are providing value, not just in the products or prescriptions that they need, but also in services and flexibility. Adaptability is a necessity, especially in this tumultuous time. Additionally, getting a handle on their cash flow and improving efficiency in operations, especially on the pharmacy side, will not only be important for rounding out the rest of the year but also for starting 2021 as strongly as possible. DSN: What are some strategies healthcare retailers should consider employing in 2021? DW: Implementing continuous improvement in areas like inventory management and using data to drive decision-making are two great strategies to employ in 2021. Inventory management can drive efficiency in retail pharmacies by optimizing the entire process from the ordering stage through expired pharmaceutical returns for credit. This is a great efficiency improvement goal. Analyzing sales and demand data next to inventory records is a good way to uncover efficiencies — both in ordering and in stocking to have what customers need, while also reducing waste. Although some retail pharmacies are able to handle this in-house, those that can’t


dispensing. Transactions will only be able to be made using the serialized products. Patient demands can also drive decisions beyond inventory and sales, including providing a safe and environmentally friendly way for people to dispose of their unused and expired medicines

Daniela Weiszhar, head of marketing and communications at Pharma Logistics

may want to bring in a consultant to start the new year off right. DSN: What are the biggest challenges facing retail pharmacies today and how can they be overcome? DW: Regulatory issues and patient demand are primary factors impacting retail pharmacies that always present at least a few challenges. And, of course, COVID-19 continues to be a challenge in all areas of health care. Connecting back-end process efficiencies and front-end ordering and inventory management is a good first step toward alleviating commonplace challenges. Staying vigilant on regulatory issues like DSCSA to ensure compliance is also important, especially as the implementation period continues to roll out. By November, pharmacies must have authentication processes in order to verify medicines prior to

DSN: How does Pharma Logistics help retail pharmacies succeed? DW: Pharma Logistics’ programs are specifically designed to help our customers improve cash flow by driving efficiency in the expired pharmaceutical returns process. We provide our customers with actionable advice to help them reduce waste and get credit for their expired products. Our Rapid Credit Program expedites credit return in a few as 14 days so that those funds can go back into the business. Rapid Credit is available with both box and ship and onsite services. In addition to box and ship and onsite pharmaceutical returns, we also have a drug take-back program available. For free resources, such as handbooks, checklists, webinars, calculators and other tools that pharmacies can use to improve their businesses and remain current on compliance issues, check out our website, pharmalogistics.com. DSN: What does the future look like for retail pharmacies? DW: Supply chain strength and track-andtrace capabilities are top of mind for retail pharmacies in both the near future and the longer term. Pharma Logistics will continue its commitment to help pharmacies clean out their unsalable inventory; collect return credits; and remain compliant with all relevant federal, state and local regulations. Moving forward, success will be determined by focusing on services and revenue streams that will thrive regardless of what happens. dsn


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10/8/20 3:24 PM

Pharma Logistics. The Reverse Distribution Experts.

What Can Pharma Logistics Do For You? Pharma Logistics gets you credits for expired pharmaceuticals and keeps you compliant with all state and federal regulations, allowing you to focus on what matters most‌your patients. For thousands of pharmacies across the country, Pharma Logistics delivers a range of services, including:

Rapid Credit

Receive credit within 14 days.

Onsite Service

Trained and licensed representatives come onsite to check paperwork, ensure proper packaging, and prepare shipments for carrier pickup.



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Box & Ship Service

Manually pack and ship your own returns with prepaid labels and boxes.

Drug Take Back

A medication disposal program that keeps your community safe and complies with the requirements of the DEA Secure and Responsible Drug Disposal Act.


Pharma Logistics brings efficiency and 24/7 visibility to the returns process so you can focus on patient care and the community. Call 888-729-7427 or visit www.pharmalogistics.com.

10/9/20 7:06 AM


Helping CBD Grow Kadenwood’s focus on quality drives confidence in CBD


rick Dickens, Kadenwood CEO and co-founder, is excited about the future of his company and the CBD category in general. He shared some of his insights into the marketplace with Drug Store News. Drug Store News: Tell us about Kadenwood, its history and current status. Erick Dickens: Kadenwood is a leading branded and biosciences company focused on elevating the CBD industry and bolstering consumer confidence in the wellness category through superior products, best-in-class operations, and through unparalleled investments in consumer education, brand building and in-demand creation. Kadenwood was founded a little over a year ago, and we have rapidly emerged as one of the largest vertically integrated suppliers of hemp-derived CBD in the United States. With our recent acquisition of EcoGen, as well as our industry-leading operations and expertise in plant genetics, farming and manufacturing, we are able to deliver the highest-quality CBD products to market today. On the branded side of our business, we have seen tremendous success with the launch of our first consumer brand Level Select, a performance-based CBD line of sports creams, roll-ons and oil drops that boast proprietary formulas with the highest levels of CBD; and supported by an industry-leading marketing plan that includes national television and radio, as well as a stable of professional athlete endorsers, including Rickie Fowler of the PGA, Steve Garvey of MLB, NFL player Carson Palmer and WNBA athlete Ann Meyers-Drysdale. DSN: What makes the company unique in the CBD world? ED: Kadenwood is unique on several fronts, starting from its inception. Kadenwood was founded by consumer products innovators and leaders from major CPG organizations,



brands must invest in awareness building and in-demand creation. Far too many brands sit on retailer shelves today without any meaningful investments in creating demand or in driving retailer traffic. Kadenwood is completely different in this regard, and we are setting a new high bar for investment in brand building and in driving consumer demand and retailer traffic.

Erick Dickens, CEO and co-founder, Kadenwood

“Kadenwood was founded a little over a year ago and we have rapidly emerged as one of the largest vertically integrated suppliers of hemp-derived CBD in the United States.” including Kraft, Dial/Henkel, Kings Hawaiian and others. We have put together a team that has spent decades launching and building household brands in partnership and in collaboration with retailers from all channels. We are the only CBD company with a former U.S. surgeon general, who leads our medical advisory board. Our collaboration and partnership with Dr. Richard Carmona helps ensure that Kadenwood remains at the forefront of all CBD-related issues and practices. Finally, and possibly most importantly, we understand that for the CBD category to grow,

DSN: Why should retailers carry your product? ED: For three primary reasons: 1. Because Level Select works due to its high levels of CBD versus competitors; 2. Because Level Select offers the absolute best consumer value with the lowest retail price per milligrams of CBD; and 3. Because no other brand invests more in driving demand and retailer traffic than Kadenwood. DSN: Where is CBD going to be in two years? What do retailers need to do to say ahead of the curve? ED: We are extremely excited about the future of CBD. We are investing in a very big way in the future growth and expansion of CBD products and are building an infrastructure that includes best-in-class biosciences genetics, farming, processing and manufacturing, as well as building out a portfolio of resonant consumer brandmarks that are destined to become leading household brands. As we have seen this past year, we expect that more CBD brands will struggle to keep up with the rapid pace of change that will continue to occur in the CBD space. There are sure to be more casualties, and it will become more critical than ever before that retailers partner with credible companies that can scale, that have an optimized supply chain, and that have leadership expertise that can help navigate the waters ahead. Kadenwood is that partner, and we look forward optimistically to the future and to the many customer and consumer relationships we have yet to build. dsn

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10/9/20 7:07 AM


Innovating to Grow Nordic Naturals focuses on innovation to grow its profile


ith consumer demands changing at a rapid pace, retailers and suppliers in the vitamin and supplements categories must be willing to evolve at a fast pace. Brian Terry, the national sales manager for food, drug, mass and specialty at Nordic Naturals, spoke with Drug Store News about the state of the VMS space. Drug Store News: Can you tell us about Nordic Naturals? Brian Terry: The company, founded in 1995, sells products in 43 countries across six continents. We are diligently working to expand in the mass channel and to bring our success across all of our business units to provide customers with a premium offering from a company they can trust. When you factor in our penetration into the natural segment, Whole Foods Market stores and the mass channel, Nordic Naturals is a top 25 brand in all vitamins and supplements sets across all channels. Nordic Naturals is set apart by its high-quality products, which are manufactured using best-in-class ingredients that are backed by science-based research. Nordic Naturals ensures freshness by bottling all of its fish oils in an oxygen-free, nitrogen-rich environment. This guarantees effective, great-tasting fish oil in each serving. Additionally, all of our products — from essential nutrients and probiotics to fish oils and vitamins — are non-GMO; dairy- and gluten-free; and made without preservatives, artificial flavors and artificial colors. DSN: What is new at the company in regards to products and promotions? BT: The company is continually innovating to expand its best-in-class manufacturing and product development operations. While we’re best known for our fish oils, we also own our gummy manufacturing facility, which allows us to craft and


are certain items that might not have been as prominent a year ago have new life, as constant studies and education from consumers are continuing to drive growth. Customers are also wanting to be able to trust what is being put in their bodies, so the brand and ingredients are very important, as the shopper has changed. Finally, the ability to connect with customers via omnichannel, with store pickup, delivery and traditional shopping are all interconnected is changing how brands market and learn about new products.

Brian Terry, national sales manager for food, drug, mass and specialty, Nordic Naturals

sell our proprietary Zero-Sugar gummy line, including Vitamin D3, Melatonin, Curcumin, Children’s DHA Gummies and more. Nordic Naturals has also recently introduced Nordic Immune Daily Defense, a 4-in-1 product that includes a high-potency blend of vitamin C (1,000 mg), vitamin D3 (2,000 IU), standardized elderberry (429 mg) and zinc (15 mg). Additionally, the company has the first concentrated cod liver oil on the market. We’re constantly innovating and have many new offerings that will be launching in the upcoming months and years with a robust schedule. DSN: The nutrients category is changing. Tell us about that. BT: There are a lot of new customers that are entering the category. Innovation as well as education of existing items are increasing substantially, so understanding that they

DSN: What do you recommend retailers do to get the most out of the category? BT: Customers are shopping the healthand-wellness categories far greater than in the past. Many brands will be experiencing increased sales, however deeper evaluations of brand loyalty will be instrumental in retaining these new customers, larger market baskets, cross-selling categories, and measuring many aspects of a brand’s importance to a category. DSN: What does the future look like? BT: Nordic Naturals intends to build on its success and to play an even more prominent role in helping people by providing the omega-3s and other essential nutrients they need to maintain good health and immunity. The future includes continued growth, high-quality offerings to the category, incremental consumers, and science-based innovation that includes expansion of all vitamins and supplements as we continue to evolve as an essential nutrients company. We’re working to expand our business in multiple divisions, even though we are one of the few companies with a diversified business that includes natural food stores, food/drug/mass chains, professional doctors, e-commerce, an international scale, and a presence in both the sports (NSF certified) and pet categories. dsn


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10/8/20 3:27 PM


ZERO SUGAR Nordic Naturals Zero Sugar Gummies deliver science-based nutritional support without the sugar. These fruit-avored gummy products contain zero grams of sugar, but aren’t short on nutrition, or taste.

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10/9/20 7:07 AM


Sweet Relief Mars Wrigley pivots to meet consumers’ needs and address the changing retail landscape


ike Gilroy, vice president of trade development and sponsorship at Mars Wrigley, said in an interview with Drug Store News that the company is pivoting to make sure that it is able to meet retailer and consumer needs during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Drug Store News: Tell us about what is happening at Mars Wrigley. Mike Gilroy: The way in which consumers interact with our products has fundamentally changed because of COVID-19. With shopper behavior significantly shifting, not only is Mars Wrigley adjusting how we market our products, but we are also working closely with retailers to quickly reprioritize and redesign the shopping experience in stores, as well as online to meet our consumers’ needs. This means doubling down our research efforts to ensure a priority focus on digital and developing strong strategies to drive impulse purchases online when shoppers make their order, as well as curbside pickup. Additionally, in stores we’re pivoting to help retailers with a variety of new opportunities to drive sales, including a renewed focus on self-checkout and development of innovative displays, especially for the transaction zone in stores, such as pin-pad displays for gum products. Furthermore, we’ve been studying changes in shoppers’  journeys in stores to assess new dwell time and hot zones to develop new recommendations for secondary display placements. DSN: The candy/snacks category continues to shine at retail. What do you see happening? MG: We have seen that though the ways in which consumers interact with our products has changed, there is a greater desire for snacks and treats as a way of finding comfort during these unprecedented times. We have also seen a change in how companies


Mike Gilroy, vice president of trade development and sponsorship, Mars Wrigley

are meeting consumers during moments when they typically would incorporate confectionery products, such as Halloween. Earlier this month, Mars Wrigley announced adapting its approach to Halloween this year to meet consumers where they are and match their lifestyle changes with its virtual trick-or-treating platform, Treat Town. Treat Town is a digital platform that aims to let consumers experience the joys of Halloween, such as “knocking” on the doors of friends and family, and giving them real Mars Wrigley products by earning “candy credits,” which can be redeemed at select retailers.

DSN: What is new at the company in regard to products and promotions? MG: We have had a lot of activity across the Mars Wrigley portfolio over the past few months. From product innovations to new brand campaigns, we’ve been working faster than ever to keep up with consumers ever-changing demands. We’ve announced product innovations, such as Twix Cookies & Crème, M&M’s Fudge Brownie, Respawn 5 Gum and Starburst Swirlers, while our brands have been pushing out campaigns that meet the times and focus on uplifting consumers during these challenging times. For example, Snickers sent over 157,000 bars to essential workers with its Send a Snickers campaign; Malteser surprised hospital workers in the U.K. with 1 million chocolate Easter eggs; Skittles celebrated the LGBTQ+ community this June and gave up its rainbow through a $100,000 donation to GLAAD; Extra thanked those who are giving back and invited consumers to shout out essential works with song dedications by calling 1-844-GIV-EXTRA; and Starburst encouraged fans to take time for themselves and created limited-edition Starburst All-Pink Self-Care Kits for International Self-Care Day. DSN: What do you recommend retailers do to get the most out of the categories? MG: Continue to adapt in-store and digital shopping experiences to reflect how consumers are using and shopping for products now. To spearhead growth and drive sales, Mars Wrigley is evolving its recommendations for online and in-store shopping to better address the new shopping landscape and meet the needs of consumers and retailers. For example, there are specific days and times that online shoppers are more receptive to receiving messages that are relevant to them. Leveraging this insight, Mars Wrigley’s Category Vision and new Digital Moments that Matter offer ways to nudge shoppers to purchase confectionery online. dsn


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The Rise of Black Elderberry Communicating immune benefits of its flagship product has yielded big results for PharmaCare US during the pandemic BY SETH MENDELSON


atience is not only a virtue for officials at PharmaCare US, it is very much a huge part of their business strategy, designed to gain both consumer acceptance and get its products more and better placement at retail. In fact, the 11-year-old company, a division of a privately held Sydney, Australia-based firm called PharmaCare, has built its business acumen by focusing on educating both consumers and retailers about Sambucol Black Elderberry, its flagship brand that has over the last few years become a darling of the vitamin/ supplement category and the talk of the industry. “Have sales exploded?” asked Art Rowe-Cerveny, the San Diegobased company’s vice president of marketing. “Well, let’s put it this way. In March of this year, we sold five times the number of products we sold in January of 2018. In fact, we sold more product in one month this year than we sold in an entire year just three years ago.”


PharmaCare certainly is a company with an interesting history, filled with stories of people who did not want to stray too far from the anointed course. When Toby Browne, the owner of PharmaCare in Australia and the company’s only shareholder, started the U.S. operation, he acquired Sambucol Black Elderberry, a struggling product with little consumer knowledge or interest in the domestic marketplace. Today, according to Rowe-Cerveny, Sambucol Black Elderberry is one of the hottest products on the market that’s gaining steam as more shoppers realize its benefits to the immune system, especially as they look for any product to protect them and their families from the COVID-19 pandemic. And, PharmaCare, thanks to its due diligence, is the market leader in the category with an estimated 45% share, according to company officials. “The model in Australia was to find unloved brands, buy them,


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polish them up a bit and give them life again,” said Rowe-Cerveny, who has been with PharmaCare since its start in 2009. “Our owner had a lot of success with this model in Australia, and he wanted to branch out to the U.S. In a short amount of time, he acquired the rights to Sambucol Black Elderberry and Real Health Labs. Sambucol was down and out and Real Health was a nice, solid performer that gave us a nice entry into the domestic American market.” That’s where having a lot of patience in what was basically a start-up brand started to play out. While other companies may have looked to hit a home run immediately, PharmaCare officials realized that they had a winner with Sambucol. At the same time, they also understood that they needed to educate consumers and merchants about the product’s attributes, specifically in the immune support realm. “We knew from the start that our job was to get people to understand what black elderberry is and how it can help them,” RoweCerveny said. “So, for about the first six or seven years that we owned the product, we focused on creating awareness of black elderberry and educating the consumer about the product. We really believed it was our responsibility and, frankly, we were the only company offering a black elderberry product to the mass-retail community.” Social media also played a significant role in the brand’s growth. In 2018, while most viewed black elderberry as a micro niche product, a housewife in Tennessee posted about Sambucol Black Elderberry and how it helped protect her family. “Within a week, it was shared 300,000 times and eventually was shared more than a million times on the site,” Rowe-Cerveny said. “One day, around that time, I got a phone call from a retailer who was already carrying the product and he just said to keep doing what we were doing. Product was flying off the shelves.”

“We started a push to make people aware of the need for immune support yearround. The goal was to get the kids to like how our products, including our gummies, tasted and their parents to like how we helped keep their childen healthy.” — Art Rowe-Cerveny, vice president of marketing, PharmaCare US

Rowe-Cerveny said that PharmaCare officials found that their marketing approach that focused on building awareness of the product was working from reading Facebook comments. Sales, he said, rocketed up by 500% in just two weeks and might have increased more if PharmaCare did not run out of stock on product. It also made company officials more aware that they could expand the reach of Sambucol Black Elderberry. While the coughcold and flu season will always be an extremely important part of the product’s sales, Rowe-Cerveny said that company executives saw an opportunity to reach beyond that time of the year. “We started a push to make people aware of the need for immune support year-round,” he said. “We did a large initiative around the back-to-school selling season to build sales with kids and their parents. The goal was to get the kids to like how our products, including gummies, tasted and their parents to like how we helped keep their children healthy.” Using cable television, network radio, a print campaign, digital advertising and working with retailers on their own digital advertising also are helping to get the message out to consumers, Rowe-Cerveny said. Today, PharmaCare offers about 20 SKUs of Sambucol Black Elderberry in syrups, tablets, gummies, pastilles, drinks and capsules. The company also makes some retailer-specific SKUs, while the Real Health line has three SKUs. The future is about expanding the reach of the product. The vitamin/supplement and cough-cold sections will remain the backbone of company sales. Yet, Rowe-Cerveny said that retailers need to start placing Sambucol throughout the store to build awareness with consumers. He suggested that the pediatrics section, the pharmacy counter and even the checkout stand would be great locations to help sales. Eventually, new products containing black elderberry might be found in such categories as skin care and hair care, he said. “We believe that the black elderberry market will eventually equal the size of the overall vitamin C category,” Rowe-Cerveny said. “This can be $500 million to $700 million, and it can be a category that brings more value and sales to retailers. We are extremely excited about the future of the category and our role in it.” dsn


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Sparkling CBD Augments Soda Lineup with CBD Water

Sunsoil, Medterra Impress Buyers at ECRM Session Sunsoil won the Drug Store News/ECRM Buyers’ Choice Award for its 20 MG CBD Softgels Full Spectrum Hemp Extract at ECRM’s Hemp/CBD Health & Beauty Care Virtual Session that took place in August. Medterra was a finalist for its CBD + Manuka Honey Cream. 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. “Consumers are increasingly incorporating CBD into their wellness regimens,” said Craig Chmielowicz, senior vice president of health and beauty care at ECRM. “Both Buyers’ Choice Award winners have a strong focus on quality ingredients, traceability, and ensuring that their products are sourced in the United States. Congratulations to both winners.” Sunsoil is a seed to shelf, vertically integrated organic farmer and manufacturer of full-spectrum, whole-plant CBD oil that is naturally extracted and lab tested. All of its CBD oil comes from its Vermont farms, where it grows USDA Certified Organic hemp without pesticides or herbicides. Sunsoil’s dried hemp is soaked in organic coconut or MCT oil, then heat, pressure and time are added to extract all the plant compounds in their naturally occurring ratios, which the company said creates an oil that is simple, raw, distilled and in a form that’s easy for the body to absorb. Its 20-mg softgel product is designed to be discreet, highly portable and easy to incorporate into daily life. The pills are small and easy to swallow, while providing an extremely accurate dose that can be added alongside other daily vitamins, supplements or medications. As with all Sunsoil products, they contain only 100% full-spectrum CBD extract and organic coconut oil. Medterra seeks to make high-quality CBD products more accessible. Grown and sourced in the United States, its products are traceable from seed to sale and rigorously tested by third parties to ensure 0% THC. Its CBD + Manuka Cream combines 125 mg of CBD with the healing benefits of New Zealand manuka honey and more than 20 botanical ingredients to help soothe and nourish the skin. This multifunctional cream was developed to support a number of various skin applications and be a valuable addition to consumers’ everyday skin care regimens.


Sparkling CBD is cracking open two new offerings to augment its assortment of CBD sodas. The Denver-based company is introducing Sparkling Citrus Water and Sparkling Hibiscus Water, adding zero-calorie options to its soft drink lineup. “Our customers kept asking us for a zerocalorie option, so we set out to craft some great tasting sparkling CBD waters,” said Andrew Fulton, co-founder of Rocky Mountain Soda. “It can be difficult to make things with no sweeteners taste good, especially with hemp extracts, so it’s all about sourcing high-quality ingredients and letting them shine. That’s exactly what we’ve done with these sparkling CBD waters. We are committed to creating unique flavors, using all-natural and organic ingredients. We keep it as simple as possible and let the ingredients speak for themselves.” Both new waters contain 20 mg of broadspectrum hemp extract and feature natural flavors. The vegan, kosher and non-GMO beverages are free of gluten, carbs, sugar and sodium, and currently are available online. The sparkling waters join the company’s Colorado’s Best Drinks line of CBD sodas, which are offered in black cherry, cola, ginger ale, lemonade and root beer varieties.


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Mile High Labs Hires Quality Chief

Canopy Growth Debuts Martha Stewart CBD Martha Stewart and Marquee Brands are teaming up with cannabis and hemp company Canopy Growth to launch Martha Stewart CBD, a line of hemp-derived wellness supplements. The companies said the products’ flavor profiles are inspired by some of Stewart’s most popular recipes. “I’ve found that CBD supplements are a simple way to enhance my own health and wellness, especially when it comes to managing the stresses of daily life,” Stewart said. “I set out to create the most delicious CBD products on the market, drawing inspiration from some of my favorite recipes and flavor profiles from my greenhouse and gardens.” Martha Stewart CBD is launching with an initial focus on human wellness supplements, with plans to follow with a gift box and pet line later this year. Products in the line include gummies, softgels and oil drops that are naturally flavored and made in the United States. Martha Stewart CBD Wellness Gummies are sold in 10 mg strength in two flavors — citrus medley and berry medley — with a $34.99 suggested retail price for a 30-count bottle. The line’s softgels contain 25 mg of CBD and are priced at $44.99 for a 30-count bottle. Martha Stewart CBD Oil Drops are sold in bottles with a total strength of 750 mg of CBD in blood orange and meyer lemon flavors, as well as an unflavored option for $44.99 per bottle. “We are committed to leading the CBD industry by providing trusted brands, which is why we’ve chosen to collaborate with Martha Stewart, someone who people turn to for advice on living well,” said David Klein, Canopy Growth’s CEO. Together, we’re bringing consumers science-backed, premium quality products in elegantly designed and gourmet-flavored formats, available at a price point that makes Martha Stewart CBD one of the best values on the market.” The products currently are available at Canopy Growth’s online store.


Mile High Labs is adding a vice president of quality who is no stranger to the CBD space. Jodi Gatica has been named to the role, joining Broomfield, Colo.-based Mile High Labs from Charlotte’s Web, where she was senior manager of quality. In her new position, Gatica will lead Mile High’s quality assurance, quality control and audit efforts. “Our quality team has set the standard for CBD labs around the country, winning five Emerald Badges for excellence and establishing Mile High Labs as a leader with best-in-class quality systems,” said Jon Hilley, CEO of Mile High Labs. “In Ms. Gatica, we found a domain expert with a deep understanding of the FDA, global pharma expertise and a demonstrated ability to lead a team of quality professionals at one of the highest-profile companies in the CBD industry. Our global quality organization is in very capable hands.” Gatica is bringing extensive experience in quality oversight to the role. Before joining Charlotte’s Web, where she worked for three years leading that company’s regulatory and quality functions, she served as lead global quality auditor for Teva Pharmaceuticals. Prior to her work at Teva, she was a consumer safety investigator with the Food and Drug Administration. “I am thrilled to be joining Mile High Labs and their globally recognized quality team,” Gatica said. “The CBD market is entering a second phase with major CPG brands exploring the category, and our efforts will continue to be on elevating the quality and consistency of the consumer goods we produce.”


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The mass retail industry, and the pharmacy, have played a huge role in the fight against COVID-19. DSN wants to highlight the industry’s success.


here could be no doubt about the importance of this meeting. On March 13, standing next to President Trump in the Rose Garden at the White House, were top executives from healthcare providers and major retailers, including CVS Health, Kroger, Target, Walgreens and Walmart. The president was declaring a national emergency and sharing the administration’s plan to combat the novel coronavirus. He needed to show strength and unity from the people in the trenches and, as we all soon found out, retail, including the pharmacy, quickly became the front line in the war on COVID-19.

In addition to remaining open for the necessities that customers and patients required, the retail pharmacy industry over the past seven months also has been tasked with increasing the services offered to nclude COVID-19 testing, more immunizations and, eventually, administering a COVID-19 vaccine. For these reasons, Drug Store News is honoring the significant contributions that the entire industry has made to responding to the pandemic and demonstrating to a watching nation just how essential it is. “The pandemic has been called the great accelerator in almost every aspect of our economy, healthcare system and really on our personal lives and how we use technology — and that’s particularly


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COVER STORY true as it relates to pharmacy,” said Steve Anderson, president and CEO of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores. From Anderson’s perspective, there is not a better industry to help combat the coronavirus, with 91% of the U.S. population living within five miles of an NACDS member pharmacy. On a wider scale, 95% of the population lives within five miles of any pharmacy. Executives said that the pandemic has laid bare the crucial role retail pharmacy plays in the nation’s healthcare system — particularly when it comes to the clinical services offered by retailers that operate pharmacies. “As an industry and a profession, we’ve been lifting this boulder up this hill for many years and getting quick wins here and there where we could,” said Jocelyn Konrad, Rite Aid executive vice president and chief pharmacy officer. “This has accelerated that. We talk a lot about what our pharmacists are capable of doing, are educated to do, but this has given us the platform to show the country what the true value of a pharmacist is and how we can contribute to the whole healthcare system.” Throughout the pandemic there have bene key developments underscoring the value of pharmacy. “There were two really important inflection points for pharmacy in COVID, and they both related to the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act,” Anderson said, referring to two Department of Health and Human services declarations — the first allowing pharmacist testing and the more recent one allowing pharmacists to order and administer an eventual COVID-19 vaccine. “Both those items were huge game-changers for pharmacy, not only during the pandemic, but from our perspective if we can make some of these changes permanent, it will be excellent for patients moving forward.”


A critical component of the country’s response to the coronavirus has been its capacity for testing — an area where retailers have stepped up in a big way throughout the pandemic. On the regulatory side, getting clearance for pharmacists to order and administer tests

was an important step, according to NACDS senior vice president of pharmacy care Kathleen Jaeger. “We worked at the federal level and state level to remove all the needless regulatory burdens and limitations out there so that our members could actually engage in COVID testing,” she said. “While we were doing it at the state level, one state at a time, it was fantastic to see HHS issue a guidance and legal advisory opinion. NACDS, working with our members, was instrumental in getting the barriers removed so that our members could go ahead and get the testing done in an efficient fashion.” Getting the public tested was something many retailers knew they would be instrumental in providing to the public. “As Health and Human Services was reaching out to different partners, given our enormous presence in our communities, we saw this as one of the things that we had to figure out how to participate in,” added Bill Shinton, vice president of health and wellness at Kroger Health. Kroger currently is testing at all more than 220 Little Clinic locations, and it provided testing in certain hotspots when cases were peaking. Besides Kroger, the nation’s leading pharmacy chains went all-in on building out their testing infrastructure. Alongside

95% of people live within five miles of a pharmacy in the United States

Kroger, Walmart and Health Mart partnered with eTrueNorth to provide lab-testing capabilities. Rite Aid has partnered with PNWHealth as it worked to scale its testing effort, which currently includes 303 sites in 15 states. Though it was a challenge, Rite Aid’s Konrad, said it was a process that allowed for collaboration and that enabled retailers to highlight their capabilities. “We knew we had the skills to do it and we were willing, able and nimble enough to work with HHS alongside some of our peers and colleagues to learn from this, as it was something we hadn’t done before,” Konrad noted. “As that evolved, we had a seat at the table and we were able to


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COVER STORY continue to find ways — along with everyone else and HHS — to create a new and easier way to test patients.” Rite Aid is not the only pharmacy chain making testing strides. Walgreens currently boasts more than 400 testing sites nationwide and in Puerto Rico. Rick Gates, Walgreens senior vice president of pharmacy, said that in addition to the drive-thru testing with fairly quick turnaround on results (within 24 hours), the retailer also offers polymerase

Pharmacists have contributed to a

30% increase in administered flu shots since they started vaccinating


chain reaction tests, which can typically offer results within 72 hours. “As we worked to expand testing capacity to allow for more than 500,000 COVID19 tests per month, we maintained a focus on underserved communities, with more than 70 percent of our testing sites located in areas the CDC has identified as socially vulnerable,” Gates added. “The pandemic has underscored the significant trust Walgreens pharmacies have within the communities we serve.” For its part, CVS Health is on track to have more than 4,000 testing sites operational by mid-October across 33 states and Washington, D.C. The chain opened 400 sites on one day in September. “Since opening our first test site in March, we’ve been able to quickly adapt to the changing landscape in order to make it easier for people in the communities we serve to access testing,” Jon Roberts, COO of CVS Health and acting CVS Pharmacy president, said when the company announced in mid-September that it would be doubling its testing footprint from 2,000 sites. “We recognize the critical role testing plays in helping to manage the spread of the virus and are incredibly proud of how our teams have responded to this need while

continuing to take care of our customers, clients and patients.” Beyond directly testing the general population, Kroger made it a point to develop an easy to way ensure that its associates had access to tests in order to guarantee that its shoppers were healthy as well. The company work with the Food and Drug Administration to develop its own COVID19 home collection test. “That was an easy decision for us and we had the support all the way up to our CEO to make sure that we could take care of our associates,” Shinton said. At Walgreens, it also has positioned itself as a resource for institutions looking to reopen safely. “We’ve also launched Walgreens Test & Protect program to aid businesses and universities in their COVID-19 work plans and strategies,” Gates said. “The program provides access to COVID-19 testing, as well as clinical guidance including ongoing preventative care services such as flu shots and other CDC-recommended immunizations.”


As various businesses closed, consumers began to take notice of the extent to which retailers served as more than just a place to stock up safely. Increasingly, retailers stepped in to fill in areas of need in terms of healthcare — from medication dispensing and management to nutrition services and even catch-up vaccines for children and adults. The obvious part of retailers’ response was continuing to keep pharmacies open and dispensing medication. Along with that, particularly given the importance of keeping patients as healthy as possible to prevent contracting the virus, “We’ve been more focused than ever on making sure that we’re there to provide services for people, whether that is preventive care, whether it’s vaccination services, whether it’s disease state coaching or medication management,” Kroger’s Shinton said, noting that the company would continue to focus on the service aspect of pharmacy. “We felt really good that we were able to stay open through the pandemic and be able to


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Partners In Care At Upsher-Smith Laboratories, LLC, we’ve always had a special relationship with pharmacists. We were founded by a pharmacist, and we’ve continued to be owned and operated by leaders who’ve had a strong, sustained connection with the pharmacy industry. Because we value your ongoing partnership, we strive to give you the highest level of support. We recognize that without you, we wouldn’t be able to fulfill our commitment to sustainable growth and high-quality products that help improve the lives of patients. In 2019, we celebrated our 100-year anniversary—a century of serving patients. Thank you for helping make both Upsher-Smith and Sawai, our parent company, trusted names in the marketplace, and for continuing to dedicate yourselves, year after year, to being our partners in care.

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

© 2020 Upsher-Smith Laboratories, LLC, 6701 Evenstad Drive, Maple Grove, MN 55369 1-800-654-2299 PM-000736.02

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COVER STORY continue to provide those services, particularly as other parts of the healthcare system contracted a little bit.” With many physician’s offices closed and hospitals largely were only being visited for emergencies or by patients with the coronavirus. “One of the healthcare destinations that has been open and that is convenient is the pharmacy,” said NACDS’ Jaeger. The industry has seen its importance grow in vaccinations, an area of clinical services that it has been working to expand. In August, HHS allowed pharmacists to offer and administer vaccines to anyone ages 3 to 18 years old, opening up several pediatric vaccination opportunities to pharmacists in response to lower rates of childhood vaccination rates throughout the pandemic. “It’s exciting to see that trust and confidence in our pharmacists across the federal and state government to give us that ability to fill in the gaps,” Rite Aid’s Konrad said. “Any time we can get our pharmacists to practice at the top of their license, that’s what we want to do. Shinton said that though there was a lull in vaccinations offered early in the pandemic, interest in remaining health has driven more visits to the pharmacy. “Vaccines are definitely starting to pick back up and they have for a little while,” he said. “We’re seeing people really re-engaging with preventive care again.” Beyond the pharmacy, in May, Kroger Health began offering free telenutrition services as part of its “Food as Medicine” platform. Using data from the retailer’s analytics arm, 84.51° that found more Americans cooking and baking, as well as an uptick in consumption of comfort food, packaged foods and snacking, the offering included a complimentary virtual consultation with a registered dietitian and personalized support plans for individuals and families. “We have a strong belief at Kroger that food is medicine,” Shinton said. “Especially in times of stress and illness, good nutrition is a big part of your arsenal, and while people are homebound, having something to focus on like maintaining good nutrition is important. So, we made the decision early on to make our dietitian services free during the pandemic.”



Even with expanded vaccinating powers, this year much focus has been placed on patients stopping by the pharmacy for a longtime mainstay — the flu shot. In 2020, the saying that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure is being taken to heart. Jaeger noted that in the most recent flu season, 67,000 people died and more than half a million were hospitalized. She said that if that trend repeats itself, those numbers, combined with COVID-19 cases, could easily overload the healthcare system. As a result, NACDS has been highlighting flu preparedness with an ad campaign, and retailers have been publicizing flu shot availability, while also making adjustments to the experience to ensure safety during the pandemic. “With flu, every action that we take is ultimately going to help the health care system because it will alleviate some of the patients who might be hospitalized if they don’t get their flu shots and the system won’t be able to handle it,” Konrad said, noting that pharmacists have contributed to a 30% rise in overall administered flu shots than were delivered before pharmacists could immunize. Because the pandemic is still going on, retailers are making necessary changes to the process. “The patient experience for flu vaccines may look and feel a little different this year,” Walgreens’ Gates said. “Among other precautions we’ve taken in our pharmacies, prior to administering an immunization, pharmacy team members will take patients’ temperature and screen for presence of symptoms or illness. If a patient has a fever or other symptoms associated with illness, they will be referred to their healthcare provider and immunizations will be deferred. Pharmacy team members also wear face shields in addition to facemasks required by both pharmacy team members and patients while administering vaccinations.” In addition to precautions, at Kroger, Shinton said the need for a contactless experience drove the adoption of a paperless fly shot experience. “We’re happy that we were able to make this completely digitized,” he said, adding

that from appointment scheduling to insurance information completion, the entire process is done without paper. “Even if somebody doesn’t schedule an appointment or do their form prior to showing up, they can scan a QR code onsite and it takes them to the form, which transmits directly into our pharmacy system for our staff to start working on it right away.” In another occurrence that is underscoring pharmacy’s role in healthcare delivery, HHS in September issued a guidance allowing pharmacists to order and administer an eventual COVID-19 vaccine that passes regulatory muster. The move made clear that the administration sees the advantages to distributing the COVID-19 vaccines via the existing infrastructure of retail pharmacy. “They realize that the existing pharmacy infrastructure across the United States is reliable, so why not utilize what’s you already have and what’s already very effective,” Jaeger said. Konrad concurred: “I believe that in order to get the vaccine to the masses, you will not be able to do it without pharmacists — I don’t know how you can immunize the number of people who will need to be immunized without pharmacists in the mix.” Ultimately, though the pandemic is far from being over, industry players agree that it has raised pharmacy’s profile and forced retailers to adjust on the fly to best serve customer needs — two trends that are expected to continue. “Something like this really makes us look at how to take it to the next level,” Shinton said. “Our digital capabilities are where we’ve started to lean in and ask how we make the overall healthcare experience simpler for people.” Rite Aid’s Konrad said, “This has probably been the most exciting time in my career because it’s all actually happening, and we’re here and making it happen. And we’re going to continue to show the world that pharmacy really can be supportive — not only in times of need, but always. To put it very simply, as NACDS’ Anderson did, “This is a time where pharmacy has shined more than it ever has, and I think it will speak very well for the future of pharmacy moving forward.” dsn


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Retail Healthcare Growth Spotlight: Millennial Shoppers In just one-year, millennial shoppers’ interest in retailer services has grown substantially:

Share of Millennial Shoppers Very Interested in Using Service: 2019 vs. 2020 12.0 10.0

9.4 6.9

Dental exams

Eye exam

Exercise classes

Nutritionist to answer foodrelated questions




In-store medical clinic for adults

Kantar’s retail and shopper experts can help you capitalize on this growth opportunity. Visit retailiq.kantar.com to learn more about enterprise access to retail forecasts, shopper trends, and topical insights.

To connect with us directly, please email switchon@kantar.com

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Source: ShopperScape®, February 2019 and 2020 10/9/20 7:17 AM


Pharmacy’s Secret Weapon Pharmacy technicians expand their responsibilities to support pharmacy clinical services and improved patient outcomes By Sandra Levy


t Towncrest Pharmacy in Iowa City, Iowa, a pharmacy technician has completed the order entry for a prescription and is about to fill the prescription. After that, another technician will perform product verification, a task formerly done by the pharmacist.


Inside L&S Pharmacy in Charleston, Mo., a pharmacy technician, who has earned the professional designation of community health worker, is connecting one patient with Meals on Wheels and helping a second patient access transportation to a doctor’s appointment. At any one of the many Health Mart

pharmacy franchises nationwide, a pharmacy technician can be found performing prescription processing functions, including collecting and documenting patient profile information, processing and packaging prescriptions, resolving third-party billing issues, and ordering products. Scenes similar to these are playing out


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daily in independent community pharmacies and retail chains. From order entry and dispensing of medications to prescription verification, point-of-care testing, administration of immunizations, and serving as community health workers, pharmacy techs are freeing retail pharmacists to provide more clinical services and boost revenues from these services. They also are assisting retailers in attracting new pharmacy customers, ensuring patient satisfaction and retention, and differentiating their store from the competition. The enhanced roles for technicians could not have come at a better time for pharmacy, what with the enormous impact COVID-19 has had on pharmacists’ daily workload as they seek to fill a greater volume of 30- and 90-day scripts, provide delivery of prescriptions and OTC items, perform COVID-19 tests, administer a backlog of immunizations, and prepare for a potential COVID-19 vaccine. Hannah Fish, associate director of strategic initiatives at the National Community Pharmacists Association, said that as many pharmacies are no longer able to survive from dispensing prescriptions alone, they are turning their attention to offering such enhanced services as diabetes education, chronic disease management, MTM, and medication synchronization. “As the pharmacy is transitioning to fit the model for success, that’s requiring technicians to evolve as well,” she said. “As pharmacies are getting more involved in enhanced and counseling services and comprehensive health management, technicians play a role above and beyond the typical dispensing model.” Echoing Fish’s sentiments, Darem Dughri, Walgreens’ senior director of pharmacy operations, sees the growing role of the pharmacy technicians. “The role of the technician is evolving before our eyes. At Walgreens, they are an integral part of the patient care team, supporting both pharmacists and patients, and will continue to help deliver positive patient outcomes as we move forward,” Dughri said. “Pharmacy technicians play an important role in collecting medication and health condition history information, as

well as communicating with pharmacists if care plans are needed once adherence barriers are identified. Technicians also take on more of the administrative tasks so that our pharmacists can focus on patient care.” Aaron Wiese, senior vice president and chief health officer at Hy-Vee, which employs more than 1,200 certified technicians across eight states, agreed that the role of pharmacy technicians has evolved. “We encourage our pharmacy technicians to operate at the top of their license, which in turn, allows our pharmacists to practice at the top of theirs,” Wiese said. “Combined with Hy-Vee’s strong focus on patient care and employee job satisfaction, Hy-Vee pharmacy technicians have had opportunities to expand upon their responsibilities and gain new experiences.”

Randy McDonough, a board member of the American Pharmacists Association and co-owner and director of clinical services of Towncrest, Solon Towncrest and Towncrest Compounding Pharmacies in Iowa, which employ regular career techs and student pharmacist techs, is no stranger to enabling technicians to exercise their full abilities. Towncrest Pharmacy was one of the initial sites in Iowa that studied how to implement technician product verification in community pharmacy. The process, already widely used in health systems and hospitals, involves a technician checking medications after the prescription has been filled by another technician to ensure accuracy. The pilot turned into a multiyear process with additional pharmacies, in which data was collected to determine the safety and


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PHARMACY | TECHNICIANS’ GROWING ROLE in advanced clinical positions.” These positions include collecting assessment information before an immunization or other clinical interventions, documenting and billing patient interventions, performing finger sticks, taking blood pressure measurements and other point-of-care test collections, as well as administering immunizations under the direction of the pharmacist, where permitted by their states, Lyons said.

Increasing Responsibility

the effectiveness of the “tech check tech” process in community pharmacy. “What we found was that technicians, because they can focus on product distribution, were very accurate in checking each other and making sure it was the right product in the right bottle and the right directions,” McDonough said. “The tech is now really managing more of the dispensing functions. It helps to bring more revenue, and that’s the reason we went this route and why we call it a new practice model in Iowa. We can’t have pharmacists be tied down to dispensing functions because that


is not where the future of health care is or the future of pharmacy.” Beyond product verification, pharmacy techs also are assuming a wide range of critical and expanded responsibilities, as Nancy Lyons, vice president and chief pharmacist at Health Mart pointed out. “As with many small businesses, technician employees often take on any role that is needed by the business, including marketing, community relations and HR functions,” Lyons said. “Because Health Mart pharmacies also are offering additional clinical services, you’ll also see technicians

Pharmacy techs also are taking the lead in helping pharmacists address the challenges of social determinants of health by training for and assuming the role of community health worker, or CHW. “Techs often serve as additional eyes and ears for flagging some issues the pharmacist may need to go counsel on,” said NCPA’s Fish. Fish explained the role of CHWs as one in which techs are serving as health liaisons in the community, connecting patients with resources. They are focused on all of the social determinants of health, including health literacy, transportation, housing and food security. “Especially with COVID and folks losing their job, pharmacy techs serving as CHWs have been able to identify and connect individuals with resources that maybe they never have needed before or don’t know where to look, such as local food banks and Meals on Wheels,” she said. “These resources aren’t necessarily medically related, but they take priority over the medical side of things when trying to manage a patient with hypertension or diabetes. The patient will worry about the next meal more than the next insulin dose. These CHWs play an enormous role to help focus on those social determinants of health, so the pharmacist and pharmacy team can then manage the patient’s chronic disease.” SEMO Rx Pharmacies, which employs a total of 16 techs between its two Missouri locations — Medical Arts Pharmacy and L&S Pharmacy — has cross-trained seven technicians as CHWs. SEMO’s founder, Richard Logan, is working with the University of Buffalo in New York as advisors on a grant project developing CHWs in the world of pharmacy. “The state of Missouri seems to be at the


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forefront of embracing the CHW movement, and there are state regulations, guidelines and a curriculum that all of our CHWs are required to go through to use the CHW initials after their name,” Logan said. “You’ll see CHWs working within health systems, in clinics and in hospitals doing patient outreach and ombudsman-type activities. They are new to the world of pharmacy,” Logan said. Logan said that when the pharmacy trained its technicians as CHWs, it has had a dramatic influence on the tone of the practice in that it is not so much focused on providing medication as it is on providing more holistic access to health care. He said that the result is more filled prescriptions and better customer loyalty based on the care received from the technicians, who he called “pharmacy extenders” As an example of the work CHWs do, Logan used a Medicare member

Pandemic Lets Techs Step Up With all of their responsibilities, pharmacy technicians have been particularly instrumental in helping patients amid the COVID-19 pandemic. At Towncrest Pharmacy in Iowa City, Iowa, student pharmacy technicians are performing curbside COVID-19 testing decked out in personal protective equipment, while regular pharmacy technicians are managing dispensing functions. “With this surge of COVID-19, they are doing 20 to 25 tests a day. That frees up our pharmacists, too,” said Randy McDonough, Towncrest Pharmacy co-owner and director of clinical services. Nancy Lyons, vice president and chief pharmacist at Health Mart, said that amid the COVID-19 pandemic, many technicians are involved in setting up and maintaining new curbside pickup options for their patients, assisting with the higher demand for home deliveries and managing the enhanced cleaning practices needed. “We also had technicians assisting with COVID-19 test collections as part of Health Mart’s partnership with eTrue North in the Department of Health and Human Services COVID-19 testing program,” she said. Richard Logan, owner of L&S Pharmacy in Charleston, Mo., said that COVID-19 recently began to hit the rural area hard, and one of his technicians, a certified community health worker,


saw that patients were facing challenges accessing groceries, which led to patient outreach. “We reached out to 140 patients over the phone just to check on them to make sure they had plenty to eat, to find out if they had trouble getting to the grocery stores, or if they lost their job due to COVID, if they needed Meals on Wheels or a food bank,” Logan said. “That resulted in seven high-quality referrals to agencies just from that one technician who saw that as a COVID issue.” At Hy-Vee, COVID-19 has led to new shifts in the way pharmacies operate and serve their patients, which has added responsibilities for both Hy-Vee’s technicians and pharmacists. “Since the start of the pandemic, our technicians have become even more integral to our operations, taking on added responsibilities to meet the needs of patients,” said Aaron Wiese, Hy-Vee’s senior vice president and chief health officer. “Our technicians were key during times when we were seeing unprecedented demand in prescriptions earlier this year, and have continued to play an important role in ensuring our pharmacies are following a strict cleaning and sanitization regimen to provide a safe and clean space for our patients and employees. — Sandra Levy


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who goes to pick up a prescription, but didn’t know his Part D plan had dropped him. “Instead of a monthly bill of $4 or $5, he was faced with a $600 bill. That’s a significant social determinant health issue and a barrier to care — 99.9% of community pharmacies will look into that and try to figure a resolution to the problem,” Logan said. “We have formalized it into a process where it’s passed off to a CHW. They have experience in how to solve that problem. They know who to call and how to cut through red tape,” Logan said. CHWs also visit patients at home, which affords the ability to get referrals back to the pharmacy so the pharmacist can intervene. “They can observe things that you might not get in your five-minute patient encounter when they walk in the door,” NCPA’s Fish said. They can see if the patient has acceptable transportation to get to their medical appointments. They also can tell if the patient is smoking, or if there is second-hand smoke so we can address smoking cessation. They can see how medications are stored. Are they on the counter, in a shoebox or are they in the fridge? Does it seem like the patient has enough food?”

Education Is Key

While fostering the enhanced role of the pharmacy tech appears to be a no-brainer, those who carry out these growing responsibilities must be trained and educated in order to assume their varied responsibilities. NCPA is among the organizations providing training and education, creating a three hour continuing education program to give pharmacists and techs a general baseline as to what they need to know, what they’ll likely be exposed to, and the concepts involved in working as a CHW. Elise Damman, NCPA associate director of education programs, said that in putting together education for its members and staff, NCPA provides information and resources that they need to be successful. “A lot of the programs may seem more specific for pharmacists, but it also applies to pharmacy techs. It allows them to be better team members to support the pharmacist and the pharmacy’s goals,” Fish said. “Every state regulates how many credits they require of their techs. We try to make


sure we’re putting out education, such as monthly webinars that are CE accredited for pharmacists and techs, and sessions during our annual convention in October.” Retailers also are stepping up to the plate when it comes to training and educating technicians. In addition to in-pharmacy training, Hy-Vee offers designated training classes, a technician training program and various other technician-driven programs. “At Hy-Vee, we have developed a training program to allow our technicians to be engaged in MTM, which helps our technicians to understand the value they can bring in assisting our pharmacists in the MTM workflow,” Wiese said. Heath Mart also has taken steps to provide increased access to high-quality training programs for pharmacy technicians, including an

option to become an approved training site within Health Mart’s ASHP/ACPE Accredited Technician Training program. “Earlier this month, we announced a partnership with TRC Healthcare that provides more than 5,000 community pharmacies in the Health Mart family comprehensive training options,” Lyons said. “Each of the solutions leverage comprehensive Pharmacy Technicians University curriculum from TRC Healthcare via the Health Mart’s Basic 127-hour PTU 101 program or 402-hour National Standards EntryLevel training curriculum that is a part of the accredited program. Access to both of these training programs is an exclusive advantage for Health Mart pharmacies.” The curriculum Health Mart offers also meets the training prerequisite for the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board


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exam application. The Pharmacy Technician Certification Board provides credentialing for pharmacy technicians, and is continually launching new certificate programs. PTCB has 282,271 active PTCB Certified Pharmacy Technicians as of Aug. 1. Ryan Burke, PTCB’s director of professional affairs, said these programs enable technicians to assume roles and to demonstrate their specialty skills to employers. In September,PTCB launched anAssessmentBased Certificate Program in Controlled Substances Diversion Prevention. The program is the fifth to be launched of PTCB’s suite of specialty certificates that include Technician Product Verification, Medication History, Hazardous Drug Management, and Billing and Reimbursement. PTCB will develop certificate programs in immunization, point of care testing and the CHW role in the future.

“As you think about advanced roles of technicians, looking at the certificate programs we currently offer or are planning to offer, those are all areas where we know technicians are currently fulfilling those roles, or it’s something we hear from our stakeholders, which means boards of pharmacy, individual technicians or large employers that these are future roles they see for their technicians,” Burke said. “We’re trying to ready the workforce for these roles that will allow technicians to build a career ladder in the health system world, as well as in the community world. That’s ultimately the goal of these credentials, not only to recognize the knowledge and skills, but to make sure this provides a pathway for technicians to feel like they have a home within the pharmacy team.” With all of the advanced responsibilities that techs are assuming, it appears that as pharmacy techs continue to evolve, so too will the practice of pharmacy. “Many of our Hy-Vee pharmacy technicians are engaged in technician product verification programs, expanding their roles and responsibilities, which allows our pharmacists to focus on clinical services and provide the best health outcomes for our patients,” Hy-Vee’s Wiese said. He also pointed out that Hy-Vee recently was approved by the Iowa Board of Pharmacy to participate in a pilot project that allows pharmacy technicians to administer immunizations to patients. “In addition to providing more time for our pharmacists to assess immunization statuses of our patients, the pilot will allow our technicians the opportunity to expand upon their skill sets and responsibilities,” he said. Burke said he sees the glass as half full. He pointed to several states, including Washington, Idaho, Utah, Rhode Island and Nevada that are permitting technicians to administer immunizations. “Some other states are looking to accelerate the idea of allowing pharmacy technicians to administer vaccines, and it’s being talked about within the boards of pharmacy,” he said. “The pandemic is accelerating talks about expanding the role of pharmacy technicians in community

pharmacies.” The question facing states is whether these expanded opportunities require legislation, a rule change or whether existing language allows technician immunization, Burke said. Whether or not more states will shortly permit technicians to immunize is yet to be seen, but PTCB executive fellow Rhea Angeles said many retailers are supporting technician certification and investing in the cost of recertification. Angeles, who was previously a pharmacy technician and was certified prior to becoming a pharmacy intern, said that she is now completing a fellowship with PTCB, where she sees the growth pharmacy technicians are able to make in the community or other pharmacy settings. “There’s definitely room for growth for pharmacy technicians in the pharmacy world, and even roles for technicians to move up the career ladder and take on more leadership and management roles,” she said. Lyons also expressed optimism. “As more demands are placed on the healthcare system and pharmacy practice, the future for pharmacy technicians is bright, especially when employers see the potential in investing in careers of high-talent pharmacy technicians.” Community pharmacies need to continue to develop and promote technicians to do more within the industry, Walgreens’ Dughri said. “From administering immunizations to other advanced technician practice opportunities, there are many ways for pharmacy technicians to have greater responsibility in the larger healthcare team, helping care for patients’ health and well-being,” he said. “With the appropriate training and experience, pharmacy technicians may be promoted to supervisory roles, seek specialized skills, or pursue further education and training to become a pharmacist.” Logan said that his company long ago realized the benefit of having well-trained technicians on the team, and that he incentivizes techs to become certified with PTCB. “It’s like any professional. You can’t do it by yourself,” he said. “You have to have the support behind you. If my techs didn’t show up, I’d go home.” dsn


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Lowering Blood Sugar, Raising Awareness Diabetes care advances as retailers take on crucial role By Nora Caley


iabetes care is taking on a new meaning, helped in large part by the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as other factors. Now, for retailers, the diabetes category also entails educating people, especially the newly diagnosed, about blood glucose monitoring, nutrition and other important topics. Pharmacy staff are engaging with consumers and manufacturers are introducing innovative products and systems that can help stores capitalize on the growing need for managing the condition. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in its 2020 National Diabetes Statistics Report, 34.2 million people of all ages, or 10.5% of the U.S. population, had diabetes in 2018. Also, 1.5 million new cases of diabetes were diagnosed. The report also estimated that 88 million adults aged 18 years old or older had prediabetes in 2018. Not only are more people being diagnosed with diabetes, but the way they are connecting with healthcare providers is changing. “Unsurprisingly, the most important trend in diabetes management is related to COVID19,” said Elaine Anderson, global head of marketing at Ascensia Diabetes Care. “Many people with diabetes have seen their regular face-to-face meetings with physicians, dietitians and educators postponed or moved to telephone or video calls.” People with diabetes are using digital tools to get remote coaching for diabetes management, share their blood glucose data from their blood glucose meters or their continuous glucose monitoring, or CGM, systems, and get personalized recommendations. “Although this was related to COVID-19, we expect that this trend will continue,” Anderson said. Since many people with diabetes see their pharmacists more frequently than their


clinicians, retailers play a key role in helping people manage their diabetes. Now that consumers are hesitant to visit stores during the pandemic, retailers and pharmacies have an opportunity to provide more services using technology. For example, pharmacists can leverage digital tools for remote monitoring of patients and identify trends or needed behavior modification. With this in mind, Ascensia is enhancing its digital solutions to support diabetes management. The company, which is based in Switzerland and has U.S. headquarters in Parsippany, N.J., recently announced a partnership with Visiquate to develop a digital diabetes management

platform. The new platform will integrate with Ascensia’s existing devices and apps to data capture, and will provide the ability to deliver analytics for individuals, health plans, diabetes educators and providers through various dashboards.

Diabetes in a Pandemic The COVID-19 pandemic added another challenge for retail pharmacies. Many had to make such operational changes as adding curbside pickup and delivery. “It speaks volumes to the tenacity, adaptability and creativity of our pharmacy partners,” said Casey Pflieger, director of retail sales at Owen Mumford, based in Marietta, Ga.


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“Despite the bleak side of this pandemic, community pharmacies are rapidly evolving and taking their place center stage. It is an exciting time for the industry.” Also, according to the CDC, the percentage of adults with diabetes increased with age, reaching 26.8% among those aged 65 years and older. This age group tends to fill more than one prescription, and some pharmacies are implementing medication synchronization, or med sync, as a way to improve efficiencies and increase medication adherence. Med sync is a system of software and other components that help pharmacies conduct a comprehensive review with consumers who can then pick up all their prescriptions in one visit per month. The system helps streamline operations, decrease abandoned prescriptions and increase medication adherence. “Most importantly, these programs make life easier for patients,” Pflieger said. “With a condition as complex as diabetes, anything that can be done to make treatment easier, safer or more convenient can have a profound impact on quality of life and patient compliance.” Owen Mumford, which makes injection therapy solutions like Unifine Pentips pen needles, introduced Unifine SafeControl, its first safety pen needle, this summer. Company officials said it is an elegant, easy-to-use solution that provides greater control of the injection process for users. “We also engaged with pharmacists to better understand the financial


challenges they are facing with current solutions in the market,” Pflieger said. “The result, a product that better meets the needs of the end user and has attractive pricing to satisfy the needs of our pharmacy customers.”

There’s an App for That The pandemic also sped up certain trends, such as the consumerization of health care. “People are more proactively seeking and using what they perceive to be trustworthy, relevant information and technology to make better-informed decisions with their HCPs and on their own,” said Stacy Burch, vice president of marketing and commercial excellence at U.S. Diabetes Care at BD Medical in Franklin Lakes, N.J. “COVID-19 has accelerated the need for more virtual engagement.” BD manufactures pen needles, insulin syringes and other products. Burch said that the CDC has made certain recommendations for pharmacy staff during the COVID-19 pandemic. “Pharmacists who are providing patients with chronic disease management services, medication management services and other services that do not require face-to-face encounters should make every effort to use telephone, telehealth or telepharmacy strategies,” according to the CDC recommendations updated in May. One way to do this is with an app. According to a March 2019 study in Frontiers in Endocrinology, people who have Type 1 or

Type 2 diabetes and who used diabetes apps had higher scores in self-management, which was calculated by summing up scores for factors including diet, exercise, blood glucose testing, foot care and smoking. “Recommending a well-suited diabetes care app may be important,” Burch said. To that end, BD Medical is providing pharmacy customers with tools and resources that facilitate patient engagement to meet patients where they are, whether face-toface or remotely. The company offers the BD Diabetes Care App, designed to support positive diabetes self-care behavior. The app uses artificial intelligence with content in English and Spanish, including recipes, data logging, how-to videos and personalized tips for self-management. “The BD Diabetes Care App can reinforce and supplement what patients learn in the physician office or pharmacy,” said Claire Levine, associate director of strategic customer marketing at BD Medical — Diabetes Care. “Connecting patients with diabetes to trusted support beyond the pharmacy, in a consumer-friendly format, can be an opportunity for pharmacists to add value to patient interactions.”

Bluetooth and Blood Glucose Meters Connected health that allows for sharing health data with a healthcare provider through digital or wireless means is gaining


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People with diabetes, especially those who are newly diagnosed, might not realize they need the array of products. Trividia also has launched an educational campaign, Meet Lance, which features a character named Lance who is diagnosed with diabetes. The brochure walks readers through test strips, choosing the right meter and other details of diabetes care.

Other Innovation

momentum not just because of COVID-19 and social distancing, but because consumers in general have been relying on technology to help them manage their own health. Trividia Health offers the True line of blood glucose monitors, test strips and other products. Through a partnership with Mellitus Health, which provides software for diabetes care professionals who manage insulin therapy, Trividia Health will offer a solution to help improve diabetes care through pharmacies and pharmacy-based clinics. In general, patients bring their glucose meter to the pharmacy or store clinic, and the solution, which will integrate Mellitus Health’s FDA-cleared Insulin Insights software, analyzes the glucose meter data and generates an insulin dosing recommendation for their healthcare professional, who can accept or edit the suggested change. “It’s a new program that allows retail pharmacies to be the access point of data,” said Michael Schlanger, director of channel marketing at Trividia Health. The Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based company offers a full portfolio of products that cover all aspects of diabetes care, from testing and monitoring to nutrition and skin care. In addition to implementing new high-tech solutions, a best practice for retailers is to display the full diabetes set with products that cover the gamut of needs, Schlanger said.


There also has been innovation in other such areas as glucose monitoring. “Continuous glucose monitors are arguably the most important and critical innovation in diabetes care in quite some time,” said Marc Taub, divisional vice president of technical operations at Abbott Diabetes Care, with U.S. headquarters in Abbott Park, Ill. “CGMs measure glucose levels without a fingerstick and provide users with actionable information to make informed decisions about their health painlessly and conveniently.” Glucose levels change minute by minute for individuals who live with diabetes, Taub said, so round-the-clock glucose monitoring is critical. “Traditional glucose monitoring involves painful fingersticks multiple times a day and, because of this, many people did not test their glucose levels as often as they should,” he said. “If left unchecked, this can cause serious health complications.” Earlier this year, Abbott announced it had received Food and Drug Administration clearance for its FreeStyle Libre 2 system. It is worn on the back of the upper arm for up to 14 days and measures glucose every minute to help users and their healthcare providers make informed treatment decisions. With a one-second scan using a handheld reader, users can see their glucose reading, trend arrow and eight-hour history. The system also alerts users when glucose levels are too high or too low without scanning. Abbott is working with several strategic partners to integrate technologies to make diabetes care easier. For example, Abbott and Tandem Diabetes Care recently finalized an agreement to develop and commercialize integrated diabetes solutions that combine Abbott’s CGM technology with Tandem’s insulin delivery systems to provide more

options for people to manage their diabetes. “Abbott is committed to continuing to innovate its technologies to ensure those living with diabetes are equipped with the best tools to manage the condition,” Taub said. Other category leaders also are working on new products and services. Eli Lilly is developing two platforms that will integrate connected insulin delivery devices, software and analytics. The components are designed to analyze glucose trends in response to insulin doses and people’s behaviors to equip people with diabetes and healthcare providers with actionable insights to help with diabetes management. “We believe that with the insights backed by data, we can help people with diabetes change their behaviors,” said Azam Khan, chief data insights officer for connected care and insulins at Eli Lilly. “Our goal is to help people with diabetes reduce their A1C and spend more time in the target glucose range.”

Nutrition Is Important, Too While it might not be as flashy as the hottest new technology, nutrition is an important segment in diabetes care. Pamela Heyward, president of SOS Life Sciences, developed Glucose SOS Rapid Glucose Recovery when two of her daughters, who have diabetes, were suffering from severe hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar. Glucose SOS, which is fine powdered glucose that is absorbed more quickly than candy, soda or juice, dissolves faster than tablets. “I invented it out of necessity,” Heyward said. Glucose SOS, available in several food, drug and mass chains, often is displayed in the pharmacy section with other diabetes-related products. Some even set up a counter display in November for National Diabetes Month. Retailers have been very supportive of the new product. “One buyer said he doesn’t have diabetes, but he loved the flavor,” Heyward said. Glucose SOS is available in fruit medley, green apple crisp, kiwi strawberry, and original sweet and tangy. From advanced digital communications to fun flavors of glucose, the diabetes category is seeing much change, said Owen Mumford’s Pflieger. “Within diabetes care, innovation is happening all around us, all the time.” dsn


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Remarkable accuracy.2,3 Always covered under Medicare Part B.* Your patients with diabetes rely on you for blood glucose meter and test strip platform recommendations. When accuracy and ease of use are most important, prescribe CONTOURŽNEXT test strips – always covered under Medicare Part B. * Not a guarantee of coverage and payment. A doctor's prescription is required for Medicare coverage and patients must meet Medicare eligibility coverage criteria. Coverage and payment may be subject to coinsurance, deductible and patient eligibility requirements. Visit http://www.medicare.gov to learn more about Medicare plans and coverage. References: 1. Ascensia Diabetes Care. Data on File. Q4 2019 dQ&A US Diabetes Connections Quarterly Patient Survey. Data collected from December 6 to December 31, 2019. 2. Christiansen, M. P. (2017). A New, Wireless-enabled Blood Glucose Monitoring System That Links to a Smart Mobile Device: Accuracy and User Performance Evaluation. Journal of Diabetes Science and Technology, 11(3), 567-573. 3. Bernstein, R. et al. (2013). A New Test Strip Technology Platform for Self-Monitoring of Blood Glucose. Journal of Diabetes Science and Technology, 7(5), 1386-1399.

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Ascencia Enhances Solutions Ascensia Diabetes Care entered into a strategic partnership with Senseonics, the manufacturer of the Eversense and Eversense XL continuous glucose monitoring, or CGM, systems. These systems are an innovative and differentiated technology, which feature a small sensor that is inserted completely under the skin and communicates with a smart transmitter worn over the sensor. The current version available in the United States lasts for 90 days, with a 180-day version in development. Ascensia is the exclusive global distribution partner for Senseonics’ CGM systems, and this agreement is expected to last until 2025. In the United States, Ascensia plans to initiate marketing and sales activities for the Eversense product in the coming months. In Europe, it will begin commercialization activities in select countries in February 2021.

Novo Nordisk Offers Insulin Assistance

UltiMed Extends Line

In April, Novo Nordisk announced that people who use the company’s insulin and who have lost health insurance coverage because of a change in job status due to the COVID-19 pandemic may be eligible for enrollment in the company’s Diabetes Patient Assistance Program and receive insulin free of charge for 90 days. Applicants needed to provide such documentation showing loss of healthcare benefits as a job termination notice, job status change or proof that COBRA benefits are being offered. People applying for the program also needed to have a valid prescription for a Novo Nordisk insulin and meet certain eligibility criteria. Helping people afford insulin is not new for Novo Nordisk. Earlier this year, the company announced three insulin affordability options. With My$99Insulin, patients can purchase up to three vials or two packs of FlexPen/FlexTouch/Penfill pens of any combination of insulins from Novo Nordisk for $99. With follow-on brand insulins, unbranded biologics of NovoLog and NovoLog Mix, made by the new Novo Nordisk A/S U.S. company, Novo Nordisk Pharma, are available at pharmacies within 1-to-3 business days at 50% off the list price. Immediate Supply, a new, immediate one-time insulin supply option, is available for people facing an acute need when more time is needed to identify a long-term sustainable solution. Also from Novo Nordisk, Cornerstones4Care.com, a website that offers advice for people with diabetes.

UltiMed launches its exclusive Pen Needle UltiGuard Safe Pack in two new sizes — 5 mm x 31 gauge and 6 mm x 32 gauge. The Pen Needle UltiGuard Safe Pack is the only all-in-one pen needle product that combines premium 100-count pen needles with a sharps container for the same co-pay as pen needles alone. UltiMed is a manufacturer of drug delivery and specialty safety syringe devices, including insulin syringes, pen needles and other specialty syringes, with a focus on serving people and pets with diabetes.


Owen Mumford Adds Needles Owen Mumford said it approaches product development by fulfilling an unmet need and designing something that makes life easier, safer or more convenient for patients and healthcare professionals. With that in mind, the company broadened its Unifine Pentips and Unifine Pentips Plus ranges to include two new sizes. The company introduced an ultra-thin 33 gauge option last year, which is 10% thinner than a 32 gauge needle and is designed to provide greater comfort during injection. (In injection needles, the higher the gauge, or G, the thinner the needle.) They are designed for pediatric patients or anyone with needle phobia. Also, as more viscous and high dose medications enter the market, Owen Mumford has a new RapidFlow pen needle available. This 5 mm x 30 G needle is designed to improve drug flow efficiency and delivers medication twice as fast as a 5 mm x 31 G.


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Evolving with you

Navigating diabetes management. Trust the light. The highly accurate1 and easy-to-use CONTOUR®NEXT ONE meter, with its unique smartLIGHT feature, instantly shows if blood glucose is in target range – which helps guide decision making.2,3

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My Readings WED

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Patients can get even more guidance with the CONTOUR®DIABETES app: Improved glucose control.4* Increased engagement with diabetes management.4* Significant decrease in likelihood of hypoglycemic events.4*


minutes. Common recommendations include: mg




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Four glucose tablets 92 mgdL

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Test again in 15:00 min 10:24 AM 227 1:33 PM

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Compatible with Apple Health™

Patients should consult with their health care provider prior to making changes to diet, exercise or treatment regimen. * In a data analysis of people in North America using the CONTOUR®DIABETES app (N=5,870 people with diabetes), real world evidence demonstrated that use of the app for more than 180 days resulted in a statistically significant decrease in the estimated risk of experiencing >1 hypoglycemic or hyperglycemic event at using both the less (<70mg/dL and >180 mg/dL; n=1,253) and more stringent (<50mg/dL and >250 mg/dL; n=654) definitions of hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia, indicating improved blood glucose control. References: 1. Christiansen, M. et al. A New, Wireless-enabled Blood Glucose Monitoring System That Links to a Smart Mobile Device: Accuracy and User Performance Evaluation. J Diabetes Sci Technol. 2017, Vol. 11(3) 567-57. 2. Grady M et al. J Diabetes Sci Technol 2015;9:841-848 (Pg. 6, Table 2). 3. Ascensia Diabetes Care, Data on file, SMARTSON market research study of the CONTOUR®NEXT ONE meter and CONTOUR®DIABETES app, June 2017, Sweden. Participants received a free meter and test strips. 4. Stuhr A and Pardo S. Impact of Real-World Use of the CONTOUR®DIABETES App on Glycemic Control and Testing Frequency. Poster presented at the Diabetes Technology Meeting (DTM). November 8-10 2018, North Bethesda, Maryland, USA. © 2020 Ascensia Diabetes Care. All rights reserved. Ascensia, the Ascensia Diabetes Care logo, and Contour are trademarks and/or registered trademarks of Ascensia Diabetes Care.

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Brushing Up on Hair Care At-home treatments, natural products and textured hair offerings fuel the mass-market hair category By Seth Mendelson


OVID-19 may have tangled the economy, but it actually has helped build sales within the hair care category. Industry observers said that the onset of the pandemic has caused many consumers to look more closely at home treatments, from simple shampoos and


conditioners to more complex products usually made available at spas and salons, to take care of their hair care needs. The result is a significant uptick in sales in the $12.3 billion hair care industry, as well as an acceleration of megatrends that dominate the category. In fact, many industry officials said the confluence

of these trends has not only positively impacted the category but has opened the door to new ways to merchandise massmarket hair care. A number of retailers have expanded their hair care assortment in recent months to respond to consumer needs. At the forefront is the much-discussed hair coloring segment


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*Beiersdorf, Inc., will donate $1 to kindness.org for each NIVEA® product purchased from October 1 to December 31, 2020, up to $200,000. Visit www.NIVEAusa.com/choosesoft for more details. No part of your purchase is tax deductible. DSN_Template.indd 1

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Federal Government Moves to Stop Hair Care Discrimination

that has seen significant growth since the beginning of the pandemic. Yet, retailers also said other segments are growing, too. First is the “skinification” of hair care as ingredients and regimens traditionally associated with skin have been applied to hair, as well. Just as dry skin has special remedies, consumers now have options to tackle dry scalps and dry hair strands. The next trend is consumer demand for natural ingredients, which also parallels what has been prompting growth in skin care. “They are looking at what they are putting on their bodies and their hair. They are thinking about the ecosystem and what the future holds,” said Dan Taylor, chief revenue officer and senior vice president of global sales at Pasadena, Calif.-based Yes To. The final trend has to do with consumers who could not or would not get to a salon or specialty store during the pandemic and are now sticking with mass-market brands even as stores and hair salons reopen. “Through the last six- to seven-month journey with the pandemic, we have


For years, Black women and men have felt prejudice in the workplace and in schools because of such hairstyles as braids, locs, twists and knots. That could be about to change. Last year, the U.S. House of Representatives passed The CROWN Act, which stands for Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair. The act, which prohibits discrimination based on race-based hair texture and such protective hairstyles as braids, buns or extensions, now moves to the Senate for consideration. If it is passed by the Senate, natural hair disclination could be deemed illegal nationwide. Officials at Dove, which has been a huge supporter of The CROWN Act, said that Black women are 80% more likely than white women to feel the need to change their hair from its natural state to fit in at the office. Black women also are 30% more likely to be made aware of a formal workplace appearance policy, and are 1.5 times more likely to be sent home from the workplace because of their hair. With the help of Dove and other co-founding members of the CROWN Coalition — Color of Change, National Urban League, Western Center on Law & Poverty — seven states have passed their own versions of the CROWN Act. Those states are New York, New Jersey, Virginia, Colorado, Maryland, California and Washington. The act was first introduced in California in January 2019 and signed into law on July 3 of that year. —Seth Mendelson


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seen a good response to our business,” Taylor said. “People who had regimens of getting their hair conditioned or styled at a hair salon were able to go,” He also said that what they found at mass stores with brands like Yes To were effective and affordable options. Experts said they think many of the do-itat-home rituals — especially hair coloring, textured hair brands and a focus on scalp health — will remain, even as salons and specialty doors continue to reopen. Also, because of safety protocols, Taylor said, the sampling and makeovers so integral to specialty stores is missing, putting mass marketers on an even playing field. With more time on their hands, self-care has emerged as a major past time. As more people started to take better care of themselves, they sought natural formulas. “Consumers are smarter than ever. They are reading labels and they are going to drug stores specifically for natural products,” said Allison Grossman, co-founder of Boulder, Colo.-based Seaweed Bath. Seaweed Bath’s naturally positioned brand caught the attention of Camp Hill, Pa.-based Rite Aid, which is putting the company’s Hydrating Body and Hair collection in 2,400 of its stores, Grossman said, adding that the brand also is going into Rite Aid’s “Store of the Future,” which will be a wellness destination. Yes To also is getting a boost from its positioning as a brand with formulas that are all 95% (and in many cases more than 95%) natural and tested by dermatologists. Originally a skin brand, Yes To leverages its knowledge in skin care into hair. For example, Yes To Tea Tree Gentle and Soothing Pre-Shampoo Scalp Scrub is equated with a deep cleanser for skin. Scalp health is top of mind and a centerpiece of the

range, which also includes Yes To Tea Tree Soothing Scalp Treatment, Yes To Tea Tree and Sage Oil Scalp Relief, and Yes To Tea Tree and Sage Oil Scalp Relief Shampoo. Target also has put an emphasis on a healthy scalp with its Kristin Ess private brand, created exclusively by its namesake, a celebrity hair stylist. “When you think of it, the scalp is an extension of your skin,” Ess said late last year when she expanded her brand’s range with such new items as Purifying Micellar Shampoo, Detoxifying Bubble Hair Mask, Weightless Hydration Daily Scalp and Hair Mask, Anytime Anywhere Scalp Plus Hair Milk Oil, and Instant Exfoliating Scalp Scrub. With its strength in sun care, Sun Bum, now owned by Unilever, also has made the progression from skin to hair. The brand plays off its sun care heritage with products for “beach hair.” CVS Pharmacy is among the chains with an in-shelf specialty presentation of such Sun Bum products as a Detox Shampoo, Blond Hair Lightener, and Scalp and Hair Mist. Products for textured hair, which typically have natural ingredients, are the fastest growing segment within hair care, according to data from Chicago-based Strategic Solutions International. Without access to brands at salons or specialty stores, people with textured tresses — which, according to TextureMedia includes the 63% of Americans who self-report having coily, curly or kinky hair — migrated to online or essential merchants for their needs. Many of the brands posting growth are Black-founded, such as Alikay Naturals, Camille Rose, The Mane Choice (now owned by MAV Brands), Curls, Mielle, Urban Hydration, Uncle Funky’s Daughter and The Doux. Also growing fast is Teterboro, N.J.-based Ebin New York, which not only

has popular styling products but items for wig care — a briskly growing segment. Retailers also singled out Shea Moisture, now owned by Unilever, as one of the most popular brands in the textured hair care arena. Several Black women who founded hair care brands are making it clear that their products do not only appeal to Black consumers, and they need retailers to help them educate other shoppers to this fact. That is prompting shelf shuffling at major chains, according to Carol Sagers, executive director of the Global Beauty Alliance, an association that supports multicultural brands and is based in Chicago. “Shelves should be set how people shop for needs,” she said. “For many years, hair care was the only category in a store merchandised by ethnicity.” For decades, mass aisles were divided by budget brands, salon-inspired, crossoversalon products and the outdated “ethnic” nomenclature. Such retailers as Walmart, CVS Pharmacy, Target and Ulta Beauty are starting to merchandise hair products the way shoppers search shelves. Examples are grouping by specialty brands like scalp care or lines that appeal to shoppers with textured hair. The pandemic also propelled sales in two other hair care segments, including mass-market hair color, which had been in a downward spiral for 10 years. Yet, sales started to climb when people couldn’t get out to the salon. According to IRI data, hair color sales grew nearly 8% each month from March to August of 2020. Interestingly, according to a beauty advisor at Walgreens, sales were strong in men’s as well as women’s products. There also was a huge spike in bold, temporary shades, such as the products from Corona,Calif.-based Splat. The other category that came to life during the pandemic is hair accessories as people on Zoom calls looked to dress up their look. As an example, Beauty by Imagination — based in Commack, N.Y. — whose brands include WetBrush and Goody, said an uptick in scarves and headbands occurred. dsn


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Retail Experience Stages a Comeback The new imperative is to provide excitement and enhanced solutions — along with safety By David Orgel

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

t’s not that experience ever stopped being important at retail. But let’s face it, there were other things to think about — especially safety and staying in stock — when the world first turned upside down a few months back. But now it seems shoppers want it all, and food and drug retailers need to be prepared to offer new experiences in addition to everything else. Retailers are introducing their latest efforts, including new formats, remodels, rebrandings and product line launches. Some of the key initiatives are from such companies as Wegmans Food Markets, H-E-B, Giant, CVS and even Amazon. Understandably, experiences may need to be tempered for pandemic safety needs, but within those constraints retailers still have a lot of leverage to bring excitement and enhanced solutions to customers still spending a lot of time at home. Wegmans is a case in point on how retailers can pivot to improve customer satisfaction at this stage of the global crisis. A recent article in Progressive Grocer, DSN’s sister publication, profiled the unveiling of a Wegmans 103,000-sq.-ft. store in West Cary, N.C. Even amidst social distancing and mask wearing practices, the customer excitement was palpable as shoppers encountered restaurants, sampling and other offerings.

Now it seems shoppers want it all, and food and drug retailers need to be prepared to offer new experiences in addition to everything else. The store’s foodservice attractions included expanded offerings of sushi, Indian and Asian cuisines — bringing restaurant-type experiences to food retail. Wegmans has placed extreme emphasis on in-store safety measures during the pandemic, a fact that likely increases shopper comfort levels. The retailer had to make some pandemic compromises even with this store unveiling, including to ensure hot and cold bars 74

have appropriate safety strategies in place, the PG article reported. That said, this store’s experience likely is far better than what many customers are used to in the COVID-19 era, which raises the bar for future expectations at retail. Wegmans is not the only retailer determined to step up experiences for consumers. • The Giant Co. has unveiled its new brand platform called For Today’s Table, accompanied by such elements as new store décor and advertising. The strategy includes testing of in-store smoothie bars and kombucha taps, as well as expanded product assortments. • H-E-B introduced a food hall inside an Austin store with a lineup of six restaurants. Called Main Streat by H-E-B, the food hall features such concepts as Roots Chicken Shak by Chef Tiffany Derry, True Texas BBQ, Calle Taqueria, Yumai Japanese Grill, The Meltery, and Bar at Mueller. • Amazon has opened a long-awaited fresh format with a store in California that offers a unique mix of fresh product — from breads to made-to-order pizzas — along with technology strategies that boost convenience. The latter includes Amazon Dash Carts that enable customers to skip checkout lines and the ability to access Alexa shopping lists to check off items as consumers shop. • CVS Pharmacy has enhanced its health and well-being experience for customers with more than 80 new items under the Live Better by CVS Health brand. The retailer also committed to ensuring all packaging in the expanded health-and-wellness brand will be at least 80% recyclable. It’s likely some of these retailer plans were underway before the pandemic began and may have been put on hold temporarily. This would have enabled retailers to further fine-tune strategies to be on target for this new landscape. Which is exactly the point. Being on target for today’s situation isn’t just about safety, and it isn’t just about experience. It’s about both. That’s what customers increasingly will demand. dsn


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