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Volume 43 No. 12


Store brand health-andwellness products shine during the pandemic P. 44 Drug Store News


December 2021

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Scan to learn more or call 800-633-8766 Important Safety Information: InPen™ The InPen™ is a home-use reusable pen injector for single-patient use by people with diabetes under the supervision of an adult caregiver, or by a patient age 7 and older for the self-injection of a desired dose of insulin and for calculating an insulin dose or carbohydrate intake based on user entered data. A healthcare professional must assist in dosage programming of the device prior to use, based on various patient-specific criteria and targets. The InPen™ requires a prescription. For additional product and safety information, please consult the Instructions for Use and bit.ly/InPenSafety. © 2021 Medtronic. All rights reserved. Medtronic, Medtronic logo and Further, Together are trademarks of Medtronic. Third party brands are trademarks of their respective owners. All other brands are trademarks of a Medtronic company. The Bluetooth® Wordmark and logos are owned by Bluetooth® SIG, Inc. and any use of such marks by Companion Medical, Inc. is under license. InPen™ logo is a trademark of Companion Medical. Copyright © 2021 Companion Medical and/or its affiliates. All rights reserved. 1 year warranty. US-DBA-2100073

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INTO REALITY Founded in 1970, Uniweb’s expertise is the design and manufacturing of quality fixtures that go beyond the retail pharmacy doors. Whether it is new construction, relocation or a renovation, Uniweb offers a complete line of fixture solutions and dedicated designers to guide you through the process.

Our TEAM For over 50 years, Uniweb has helped retailers improve their existing space by re-imagining their approach and employing our high-density fixture line. Uniweb RX systems hold up to 50% more product storage in the same footprint over conventional stick-built systems, generating more profit to the bottom line! Uniweb manufactures modular rooms, wall storage panels, retail displays, RX fixtures, OTC options, counters, locking units and adjustable height workstations. Uniweb products provide unlimited flexibility, and unmatched strength, utility and appearance, at an affordable price.

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Uniweb has maintained a 10 day build-time for standard equipment and 4-6 week production for custom RX equipment and modular rooms. Uniweb delivers significantly shorter lead times, adaptable designs, and long-lasting products. Uniweb has maintained a lower surcharge, passing those savings on to our customers!


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Vol. 43 No. 12 DrugStoreNews.com


Industry News

16 Products to Watch 26 CBD News 28 Cover Story 2021 Pharmacy Innovator of the Year: Walmart The Bentonville, Ark.-based retailer is striving to improve the health of its communities with new wellness programs and as an omnichannel healthcare organization with 5,100 pharmacies nationwide

44 Private Labels Shine The sale of private labels soared during the pandemic as consumers sought more economical choices to fill their medicine cabinets and pantries

COLUMNS 6 Editor’s Note 18 Counter Talk By Roche Diabetes Care’s Matt Jewett

19 Counter Talk By Quality Alliance’s Micah Cost

SOCIAL Facebook.com/ DrugStoreNews Twitter.com/ DrugStoreNews

28 20 One-on-One with PatientPoint’s Tom Finn

22 One-on-One with Total Resources International’s Geolyn Gonzalez


24 One-on-One with Medtronic Diabetes’ Mike Mensinger


58 Last Word By David Orgel Consulting’s David Orgel

INSIDE BEAUTY 48 Skin Care Breakouts Trends in the skin care category include acne remedies, body lotions, genderless brands and sunscreens among others



53 Healthy Snacking Options

56 Digital Health/ Connected Fitness

As the height of the pandemic wanes, consumers are looking to improve their health by eating and drinking healthier, including better-for-you snacking options

Consumers of all ages are embracing technologies that offer assistance with their healthcare needs

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



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The Brighter Side Retail pharmacy has some challenges, but there have been some bright spots in 2021 By Nigel F. Maynard


he year 2021 will go down as an uneven one for retail pharmacy. Mostly due to the pandemic, the industry has had to battle labor shortages, supply chain issues, an up-and-down economy and rising inflation. Other long-term issues include the looming threat from Amazon, declining foot traffic to brick-and-mortar stores and consumers who are delaying doctor visits and, consequently, not filling prescriptions and medications. But the news isn’t all bad. The industry has seen some Nigel F. Maynard Editor-in-Chief | wins and should take solace (and pride) in some of their Editorial Director accomplishments. Let’s do an end-of-the-year review of some of the positives. Growing e-commerce: This has been a bright spot for retail pharmacies. As more consumers stayed home to limit exposure to COVID-19, many looked to home delivery for the products and prescriptions they needed, which helped boost the bottom line for retailers. It is likely that this trend will continue after the pandemic is no longer a concern, and more brands are likely to expand on this offering in the coming years. Telehealth: Another feather in the cap for retail pharmacy was telehealth. When the pandemic hit and consumers put off doctors’ visits, pharmacies stepped in with COVID testing, vaccines and telehealth options. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, telehealth facilitates access to care, reduces risk for transmission of the virus, conserves scarce medical supplies and reduces strain on healthcare capacity. CDC adds that telehealth visits decline as the number of new COVID-19 cases decrease but rise as cases increase. Pandemic support: When it comes to the pandemic, the accomplishment of retail pharmacy has been well documented. During the last two years, pharmacies stepped up with COVID testing and vaccines, which have had an alternative benefit. The increased role for retail pharmacies brought more consumers into the stores, Bradley Smith writes on the R Global website. “This presents an opportunity for pharmacies to sell products and educate consumers about available services, including the delivery of other screenings, vaccines, and immunizations,” Smith wrote. “The trend also provides a pathway for retail pharmacies to pursue the conversion of retail space into clinics and primary care service locations. The expansion of pharmacy companies into primary care has driven ‘significant increases in both satisfaction and consumer spending,’ according to the J.D. Power 2020 U.S. Pharmacy study.” Of course, retail pharmacy still has some issues to solve and some obstacles to overcome. But amidst all this uncertainty, the industry is providing services and support where they are desperately needed. That is the strength of retail pharmacy, and that is likely to continue for the foreseeable future. dsn


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

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


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Do More Good

Upsher-Smith Laboratories, LLC is a U.S. pharmaceutical company that strives to improve the health and lives of patients through an unwavering commitment to high-quality products and sustainable growth. We bring generics and brands to a wide array of customers, always backed by our attentive level of service, our strong industry relationships, our dedication to uninterrupted supply, and most importantly, our aspiration to always Do More GoodTM for the patients we serve.

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

Do More GoodTM means that, together, we seek to deliver the best value for our stakeholders, and most importantly, do more to improve the lives of the patients we serve. Do More Good is a trademark of Upsher-Smith Laboratories, LLC. © 2021 Upsher-Smith Laboratories, LLC, 6701 Evenstad Drive, Maple Grove, MN 55369 1-800-654-2299 PM-000738.03

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Follow Your Heart Premieres Plant-Based SuperMac Follow Your Heart continues to expand its plant-based offerings by putting its own twist on classic macaroni and cheese with organic SuperMac. Designed to be paired with sauces that are made with vegetables, beans and cashews, SuperMac is USDA certified and comes in two flavors — Cheezy Carrot and Creamy Caulifredo. “While we have a long history in the refrigerated section, we’re always looking for exciting ways to expand the universe of healthy, plant-based solutions no matter where they’re found in the store,” Bob Goldberg, co-founder and CEO of Follow Your Heart, said. “SuperMac is an innovative, organic replacement for traditional mac and cheese as its sauces are made with vegetables, cashews and beans. It’s quick, simple, plant based, and it’s not only for kids. For so many occasions, it’s a meal in under 10 minutes that will put a smile on your face.” Cheezy Carrot SuperMac’s sauce is made with such ingredients as carrots, butternut squash and navy beans while the Creamy Caulifredo SuperMac sauce is made with navy beans, cauliflower and cashew butter, the Los Angeles-based company said. “Whether you’re having a plant-based or traditional feast, SuperMac is a superb addition to any holiday table, and it is also great to have on hand for an easy-to-prepare meal in minutes during this very busy time of year,” Goldberg said. Available in an 8.1-oz. box with a sauce pack, SuperMac retails for $5.99 each exclusively at Whole Foods Market.


Tushy’s Bidet Attachment Launches at Walmart New York-based Tushy, which originally launched its bidet attachment in a direct-to-consumer format, is making its retail brick-and-mortar debut at Walmart. Consumers can purchase Tushy’s Classic 2.0 bidet attachment in stores to experience a cleaning with a stream of water. “Too many Americans still walk around with dirty undercarriages. Once you start washing with Tushy, you can’t go back to wiping with dry paper. Our millions of customers agree! Buying a Tushy one time is much cheaper than buying toilet paper over and over again, is much cleaner and healthier, prevents the spread of bacteria and viruses, and is way better for the planet,” Miki Agrawal, Tushy’s founder and chief creative officer, said. “Cultures all over the world have been using water to wash for centuries, yet there’s still a stigma associated with bidets in the United States — one that we’re passionate about dismantling. The ability to pick up a Tushy at a retail behemoth like Walmart is a major step towards revolutionizing America’s bathrooms and pooping habits for good.” Featuring a pressure-control nozzle, users are able to choose from a gentle spritz or a power washer. The bidet attachment also features a self-cleaning nozzle that lowers when it is in use, a nozzle adjuster and an adjustable seat fastener, the company said. “We’re constantly looking for ways to provide our customers with new, high quality, innovative products that save them money and make their lives better and easier, and Tushy fits the bill perfectly,” Leo Walthall, a merchant at Walmart, said. “As we continue to identify products that appeal to Gen Z and millennial audiences, we couldn’t be more excited to have this bathroom disruptor on our endcaps and make bidet usage more accessible to Walmart shoppers at an affordable price.” The bidet attachment, which retails for $69.99, can be found online at Walmart.com and in the retailer’s hard bath aisle.


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Nature’s Truth Adds Iron, Cranberry Supplements to Gummy Line Nature’s Truth introduced two new formulas to its gummy collection. The Ronkonkoma, N.Y.-based company announced the launch of its iron gummies and cranberry gummies, which are formulated to meet consumers’ vitamin and supplement needs. Ideal for addressing iron deficiencies, the iron gummies contain essential B vitamins and zinc in a natural grape flavor. The cranberry gummies are designed to deliver concentrated cranberry extract to support urinary tract health in a cranberry mango flavor, the company said. Both gummy supplements, which are vegan, non-GMO and gluten free, are made without the use of artificial flavors or sweeteners. Additional information about the iron gummies and cranberry gummies can be found at naturestruth.com.

Good Kind Pure Fragrances Feature Scents Inspired by Nature There’s a brand new fragrance line looking to shake up the cosmetics aisle. Good Kind Pure is a new Coty-owned brand made with clean ingredients. Featuring scents inspired by nature, the cruelty-free fragrances are made without the use of phthalates or dyes and come in three options, which include: • Wild Peony, a vibrant floral fragrance that features notes of peony and grapefruit against sandalwood and tonka; • Vanilla Ginger, a rich gourmand fragrance laced with notes of Casablanca lily and warm vanilla; and • Iris Petals, a woody floral fragrance that has notes of iris petal and nectarine blossom, as well as a warm background of fig and amber woods. Available in an eau de toilette that retails for $20 and in a fine fragrance mist for $11, Good Kind Pure’s fragrances come in FSCcertified packaging, the company said.



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12/3/21 9:33 AM


Designer Wellness Unveils Shelf-Stable Smoothies

H-E-B Introduces Environmentally Friendly Private Brand H-E-B is releasing its new private brand of household and personal care products. Field & Future by H-E-B consists of products made with hypoallergenic formulas and biodegradable ingredients that range from sponges and toothpaste to baby wipes and dish detergents that are designed to be friendly to the environment and Texans. The line features more than two dozen products in recyclable packaging that includes trash bags and recycling bags made from 65% and 30% post-consumer recycled plastic from its facilities, the retailer said. Other eco-friendly launches include dish sponges made with plant-based materials and toothpaste formulated without fluoride, sulfates, added dyes or artificial flavors. Additional products from the line include: • All-purpose cleaners, glass cleaner, toilet bowl cleaner and dish soaps made with plantderived fragrances and USDA Biobased formulas made without dyes, parabens and sulfates; • Feminine care products that are hypoallergenic, made with organic cotton, and do not contain color, chlorine and perfumes; • Bath tissue and paper towels made with 100% recycled fibers, a portion of which is postconsumer; and • Baby wipes, made with five ingredients, that do not contain fragrance, alcohol, chlorine or parabens. Field & Future by H-E-B also announced plans to expand its offerings in the coming months to include household cleaning, laundry, paper and plastic, beauty, personal care, oral care, feminine care, and baby products. “At H-E-B, we’re always looking for better ways to meet the needs of Texans. Many of our partners, customers and communities are on a green journey, and our goal with Field & Future by H-E-B is to meet them wherever they are on that path,” said Bonny Akers, director of H-E-B brand products. “With these environmentally minded products, along with our growing sustainability efforts, we want to take whatever steps we can, big and small, towards improving the well-being of our planet, our communities and ourselves.” To continue advancing its sustainability efforts, H-E-B shared plans to work with Keep Texas Recycling to help fund municipal recycling grants to cities and counties in the state that need support launching and improving recycling programs.


Designer Wellness has debuted a brand-new Designer Smoothie shelf-stable portable snack. Made with 12 g of whey protein and no added sugar, the glutenfree smoothies come in BPA-free packaging, the Carlsbad, Calif.based company said. “Designer Smoothie is the latest unparalleled innovative addition to our overall Designer Wellness platform of active lifestyle products and is a natural brand extension,” CEO Paul Pruett said. “Designer Smoothie tastes great and definitively has more protein and less sugar and carbs than other similar products. With cleaner labels, we expect that people will throw it into a gym bag, lunch box, purse, office drawer or consume it during training and exercise instead of a nutrition bar or gel.” Designer Smoothie, which contains 5 g to 6 g of sugar per serving and is formulated with MCT oil, comes in three flavors — mixed berry, strawberry banana and tropical fruit. The snack does not need to be refrigerated before opening and is available online at designerwellness.com.


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Walgreens, VillageMD Expand Clinics into Texas Walgreens Boots Alliance and VillageMD are continuing their expansion of opening primary care clinics. The companies announced plans to open more than 20 new Village Medical at Walgreens primary care practices in the Dallas area over the next year. The first Village Medical at Walgreens location in Dallas opened on Oct. 26 at 5001 Ross Ave., with several more openings to follow in November and December. These openings represent expansion into the fourth major market in Texas, following Houston, El Paso and Austin. “Dallas residents, and particularly patients who need ongoing care for chronic conditions, will benefit from our coordinated care team model and extended service hours through both in-person and virtual visits,” said Joseph Ventimiglia, a local Village Medical physician. “By teaming up with Walgreens pharmacists, we’re able to better serve patients and streamline their healthcare experience. This is the first time outside of a university medical center that I have been able to work collaboratively with a pharmacist.” Through the Walgreens and VillageMD coordinated care


model, patients receive comprehensive primary care from physicians alongside convenient pharmacy services. Village Medical primary care physicians and Walgreens pharmacists work together to provide care for chronic conditions, as well as everyday illnesses and injuries. “With our integrated care team, Walgreens pharmacists are able to offer more coordinated patient care,” said Rick Fernandez, registered pharmacist and regional healthcare director for Greater Texas at Walgreens. “Our pharmacists can often have prescriptions ready after doctors’ appointments and ensure individuals have convenient access to medication refills and affordable substitution options.” Walgreens and VillageMD have formed a strategic partnership and the companies are on track to open 1,000 primary care practices by 2027. More than 80 Village Medical at Walgreens practices will be opened by the end of 2021. With more than 50% of the practices in medically underserved areas, Village Medical at Walgreens locations will help meet the needs of all people, including those who may not have access to health care and are at greater risk of health disparities. Village Medical at Walgreens locations accept a wide range of health insurance options, including Medicare. Patients may access care and support through in-person, at-home and telehealth visits.


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Fueled by a relentless commitment to excellence, service and continual improvement, our award-winning supply chain and suite of innovative solutions will allow you to expand your business, make more time for patients and improve healthcare in your community. When you need us, we’re here for you.

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Pharmacists across the country are extending their services outside the brick-and-mortar by allowing patients to order over 11,000 products from the comfort of their home. E-Commerce Storefront allows you to expand your pharmacy online and provides an endless aisle of over-the-counter products without holding any additional inventory.

Ranging from the automated prescription fulfillment solution NavixRx™ Compliance Packaging, to the manual Dispill® Medication Packaging System, we will take care of the most time-consuming and often the costliest area of your pharmacy so that you can provide your patients with an easier way to manage multiple prescriptions and stay on track with their medication regimen.

Better Inventory Management with CIM

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Cardinal Health™ Inventory Manager (CIM) uses an automated approach that helps reduce excess inventory and increase turns while reducing the amount of time your staff spend on inventory tasks.

Our Connect™ platform connects you to payer and pharma-sponsored programs that provide payable clinical intervention opportunities to achieve better patient outcomes.

Pursue better with Cardinal Health cardinalhealth.com/EvenBetter © 2021 Cardinal Health. All Rights Reserved. CARDINAL HEALTH, the Cardinal Health LOGO, CONNECT, CIM, NAVIXRX, DISPILL and ESSENTIAL TO CARE are trademarks of Cardinal Health and may be registered in the US and/or in other countries. Lit. No. 1PD21-1459958

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


he year is essentially over, but the new products are still coming. Suppliers continue to launch new products to the market as the economy picks up steam and consumers are starting to spend again. In November, companies introduced 115 new products in the health, wellness and beauty categories. Hamacher Resource Group’s new product team evaluated 10 products in the health category, 34 in the wellness sector and 71 from the beauty aisle to identify five that could be superstars for retailers. Here are the products they found:


Procter & Gamble Floss Kit


Galderma Laboratories Acne Cleanser

Procter & Gamble Dietary Supplement

P&G’s Oral-B Glide Pro Refillable Floss Kit is a unique floss starter kit that can be refilled so it minimizes plastic waste. A more sustainable solution that is better for the planet, the floss kit is designed to slide easier between tight teeth compared to regular floss, and the package can freely sit on a bathroom counter to drive usage and frequency.


RB’s Pain Relief Pen

BioFreeze formula is now available in a portable broad-tip pen. The BioFreeze Pain Relief Pen is designed to target pain and provide fast-acting cooling relief exactly where it’s needed. The no touch applicator allows liquid to go on clear with no mess to help alleviate sore muscles, backaches, sore joints and arthritis pain.

Galderma Laboratories has added to the Cetaphil line with the Gentle Clear Clarifying Acne Cream Cleanser. The new gentle cream-to-lather cleanser is formulated to provide deep cleaning to clear and soothe breakouts in acne-prone and sensitive skin without drying. Salicylic acid helps clear and prevent breakouts, and white tea and aloe help nourish and soothe sensitive skin. It comes in 4.2 oz.


O’Keeffe’s Hand Soap




O’Keeffe’s Working Hands hand soap was developed to moisturize and cleanse, washing away dirt and grime while leaving hands hydrated and soothed. The moisture-rich formula is designed to replenish skin’s natural moisture to dry, cracked hands and leave them feeling healthy.

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P&G has expanded the Vick’s line with Vick’s SuperC Rest + Replenish dietary supplement. It combines 1,000 mg of vitamin C with zinc and a botanical blend of ashwagandha, chamomile and echinacea to help replenish essential vitamins when recovering from illness. dsn

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The Future of Diabetes Care Partnering with pharmacies to address the critical needs of people with diabetes By Matt Jewett

D Matt Jewett is the senior vice president and general manager of Roche Diabetes Care


iabetes never quits. Every day, people with this chronic condition test their blood glucose, eat nutritious meals, move, maybe take medication and generally know enough about their bodies to take the necessary steps to maintain control. To achieve all this, they require access to information, supplies and someone on the other side of the counter, desk, phone or computer. Increasingly, many of these needs can be addressed at the local pharmacy. Indeed, pharmacists and the pharmacy were especially in the spotlight delivering effective care to people with diabetes during COVID-19. Additionally, long overdue attention to health disparities (more information here: accu-chek.com/access) point to the retail pharmacy as a key part of the solution. We recognize that pharmacy teams have a significant opportunity to introduce innovative services and offerings to customers with diabetes and help the stores manage the opportunity to be the front line for the growing number of people with the condition. In the United States, 32.4 million people have diabetes, about 11% of the population, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. We believe collaboration offers both solutions and opportunities. Here are some ways we are partnering with pharmacies to address critical needs for people with diabetes: • Make diabetes management affordable: Savings initiatives, including managed care coverage, low over-the-counter pricing, terminal programs and the Accu-Chek Prescription Discount program — available through the pharmacy — make it easier for people with diabetes to receive and realize savings on the supplies they need. • Increasing awareness of diabetes support available at the pharmacy: As more pharmacies improve their own digital capabilities, we help with know-how and advertising support that get these assets off the ground. Recently RDCI was able to support a retailer and its strategy partner in building a web

page providing patient education, savings details and video feeds. In addition, we are currently in development with another retail partner to design a web page that provides education, details about the mySugr diabetes management app and cost-savings initiatives. Providing access to coaching: Remote solutions, such as mySugr, give people with diabetes access to virtual care and coaching from home, at work, wherever they are. The mySugr PRO app is available for free when paired with selected Accu-Chek meters.

Support in-pharmacy health-and-wellness centers: Retail pharmacies are increasingly

serving as trusted destinations for a range of healthcare services and education. Data from the “J.D. Power 2020 U.S. Pharmacy Study,” released Aug. 5, 2020, underscored how consumers like and appreciate this. We recognize the valuable role of in-pharmacy health-and-wellness centers and offer a range of diabetes support, including providing sample Accu-Chek meters so those newly diagnosed can touch and handle them, discount coupons for testing supplies, educational materials and information about access. • Support in the communities: Now that local health events are returning, we look forward to once again partnering with retail pharmacies to bring diabetes information directly to people who need it. We’re currently planning one program that includes coupon fliers with website links to directly send customers information about mySugr, as well as the discounts available at the front of the store. Working as a team, Roche Diabetes Care and retail pharmacy can achieve the most important goal of meeting people with diabetes where they are and where they want to get support, whether in store, online and with or without a prescription. Through creative partnerships, we can provide access to support and information, help make diabetes care more affordable and enable personalized care that will help people with diabetes get better outcomes and live their lives. dsn


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‘We’ Not ‘Me’ Putting turf aside for better patient care By Micah Cost, PharmD, MS

D Micah Cost, PharmD, MS, is CEO of the Pharmacy Quality Alliance

The most valuable player is the one that makes the most players valuable.” — PEYTON MANNING


ispensing Doctors: Should Physicians Sell Drugs to Patients?” is the provocative title of an October article in Undark, a digital magazine that explores the intersection of science and society. It highlighted the pros and cons of physicians in dispensing medications, and the blurring lines and turf wars between physicians and pharmacists. It’s important to take a step back and assess the bigger picture — the “who” and “what” of patient care activities. We can establish ownership for those activities, but the best response to these questions is “yes and” rather than “either or.” Taking this approach will yield better outcomes for all involved, most importantly patients. Drawing battle lines around activities, such as prescribing and dispensing, yields fragmented care and silos, which have plagued our system for decades. Traditional role delineations tell us that physicians and other providers prescribe and pharmacists dispense. On top of the march towards value-based care, the global pandemic is challenging that thinking. The new “normal” in health care is fluid and dynamic, and roles should adapt to meet patients where they are. Undoubtedly, pharmacists have remained accessible to patients throughout this pandemic, providing immunizations, testing services and management of chronic conditions. Further, the scope of pharmacist-provided care has been expanded at the state and national levels through legislation and federal declarations to allow pharmacists to provide a variety of non-dispensing services to patients. Beyond the pandemic, the rise of collaborative practice agreements has integrated pharmacists as key providers of patient care in partnership with physicians and other clinicians, including the authority to prescribe and optimize medication therapies. Limiting discussion to who is doing the prescribing or dispensing loses sight of the end goal: better patient care. Pharmacists are uniquely trained in medication therapy, and the authority to prescribe is


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a critical step forward in optimizing care. However, unleashing the full capabilities of pharmacists should acknowledge that physician dispensing also can be done in the best interest of patients. However, the two functions are not mutually exclusive, and neither should be performed without collaboration and coordination between providers. Even when physician dispensing makes sense, the quality and safety of medication use can be greatly enhanced by partnership with pharmacists, who are focused experts on medication dosing, the prevention of errors and adverse drug interactions, as well as helping patients use medications safely and effectively. Traditional education and training pathways in medicine have focused on individuals’ expertise and establishing their practice territory. However, team-based approaches to care are expanding, as is interprofessional education. Engaging the right individuals to strengthen the team is more essential than establishing scope and turf. In the words of Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning, “The most valuable player is the one that makes the most players valuable.” Great teammates recognize that they are just one of many players that must execute at their highest level, and there are a plethora of players in other phases of the game that must do their jobs well to achieve the desired outcome. The best teams are fully aligned and deliver exceptional results when they have solid support, good communication and a collaborative mindset. In a high-performing team, the success of the team is only realized when all roles are performed synergistically and cohesively. Inevitably, there is a need to assign key roles to individuals to be held accountable and to reap the rewards of good institutional management, but individuals must transform their thinking from “mine” to “ours.” With this shift in mindset, ownership of results becomes a team function rather than an individual quest for recognition. The next time you’re faced with a perceived turf battle, think “yes and” rather than “either or.” dsn



12/2/21 1:18 PM


Healthy Outlook What are the future prospects for consumer health? A retired executive weighs in


fter 36 years at Procter & Gamble, Tom Finn recently retired. In his final P&G role, Finn served as the global president of the company’s multibillion-dollar OTC personal healthcare business. Today, he is active in the broader healthcare delivery and transformation landscape in Ohio. A consultant for PatientPoint, Finn recently talked with Drug Store News about the future outlook for the health sector. Drug Store News: From your perspective, what is the growth potential for the consumer health sector? Tom Finn: During my 13-year tenure leading Procter & Gamble’s global OTC business, we saw the consumer health market grow at 4% to 5%. I believe the potential for market expansion remains immense in almost every consumer health segment, and the benefits we could and should be offering to consumers remain significant and important. To generate meaningful growth, consumer health marketers must embrace innovative tactics beyond the traditional means. However, innovative doesn’t have to mean new. A prime example of a high-performing, yet underutilized tactic that has been around for decades is securing the recommendation of the healthcare professional. Drug Store News: What do you think the growth drivers will be? TF: Brand growth will come from shifting our focus from market share to identifying, targeting and trading in new users of consumer health products. We can expand all consumer health segments by educating both consumers and their influencers on the potential uses, proven benefits and proper administration of our existing products and regimens.


Tom Finn, consultant, PatientPoint

“I believe the potential for market expansion remains immense in almost every consumer health segment, and the benefits we could and should be offering to consumers remain significant and important.”

Drug Store News: Consumer health products typically haven’t played a large role in the treatment of chronic conditions. What’s the opportunity today and for the future? TF: From sinus conditions to diabetes, there are many chronic, recurring health conditions for which consumers have yet to recognize the benefits of consumer health solutions as part of early intervention or a more complete management regimen. Consumer health products could and should be a much bigger part of the “accepted” strategy for managing these conditions. The question is how to identify, reach, teach and motivate people with chronic or recurring conditions to add consumer health solutions to their daily habits early in the progression of the condition. One answer: Have a healthcare professional make the recommendation for you. Drug Store News: What’s your experience with having a doctor recommend brands to consumers while in the doctor’s office? TF: Harnessing and cultivating the unique and durable power of the professional recommendation is a tactic I used for many of my P&G brands. Utilizing physician offices or “point of care” engagement solutions, such as video education and awareness tools in waiting rooms, exam rooms and in the back office, we were able to reach our target consumers with pinpointed, highly valuable messaging when and where it was extremely relevant and top of mind. We saw time and time again how our messaging empowered consumers to take action in asking the healthcare provider or their staff about the value of a product and, ultimately, to purchase it. In my experience, I always found that product usage initiated by a doctor’s recommendation was far more robust and much more durable than usage generated strictly from consumer advertising or PR. dsn


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Prepared for Action TRI is redefining the first aid category with innovative new products that go beyond traditional wound care


irst aid and emergency preparedness company Total Resources International is looking to the future of the category and developing a new generation of products. Drug Store News recently spoke with Geolyn Gonzalez, vice president of sales and marketing, to talk about the company’s legacy and to get an update on the company’s future product introductions. Drug Store News: Total Resources International is known as a manufacturer of first aid and emergency preparedness kits and other items. What makes your brand different? What would you say is one of your most significant contributions in retail? Geolyn Gonzalez: Be Smart Get Prepared is not your basic first aid. We design to fit consumer lifestyles, and the goal is always to fill in the gaps where necessary. Our products are a true reflection of the company’s culture and people. Be Smart Get Prepared kits have a playful aesthetic, comprehensive components that treat minor to severe injuries, and offer a wide range of versatility. We span across multiple retail categories in HBC pharmacy, outdoors, auto, industrial, emergency survival and more. We have plastic cases and bags in various shapes and sizes to keep people safe at home and away from home. We have what you need, when you need it, wherever you are. The rise in demand for versatile products and the evolution of wound care from traditional to advanced wound care guided us towards launching SILVEX Nano Silver Wound Gel — our most significant, most innovative contribution to retail. SILVEX Nano Silver Wound Gel is a broadspectrum antimicrobial gel that kills a wide variety of pathogens and harmful bacteria, such as fungus, yeast, and most importantly, neutralizes viruses. SILVEX is the new standard for silver first aid solutions.


is versatile and unique, effectively killing 99.99% of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, such as MRSA and VRE, staph, and other harmful bacteria.

Geolyn Gonzalez, vice president of sales and marketing, Total Resources International

Drug Store News: What is innovative about SILVEX Nano Silver Wound Gel and how does it benefit consumers? GG: “I bought this for a fever blister and then tried it on a toe fungus. I have tried every product the podiatrist recommended, but nothing has worked for the past four to five years. … After three days of use, the white fungus was gone, and after a week and a half, my nail color was normal and growing back. Worked great on both issues!” – S. MacIntyre, Amazon customer review SILVEX Wound Gel contains 24 ppm of patented Nano Silver technology, making it fast-acting against minor to severe wounds. SILVEX creates a barrier of protection for your skin and wounds that lasts up to three days, making it the perfect solution for cuts and lacerations, firstand second-degree burns, skin irritations, and more severe injuries such as diabetic ulcers and post-operative wounds. SILVEX

Drug Store News: What are the prospects and growth potential for the products in the SILVEX line? GG: The SILVEX family continues to grow and spread awareness in this space. With our INSIDE/OUT campaign, which promotes optimal health inside and outside of your body, Nano Silver Immuno Boost strengthens immunity by supporting your gut health. SILVEX Wound Gel provides a topical solution to address all the aforementioned injuries while accelerating the skin’s natural healing process and preventing infections. We offer a combo of our all-natural silver solutions on Amazon — FSA/HSA eligible. Also launching soon is SILVEX Nano Silver Wound Wash and SILVEX Immuno Drops with manuka honey for sore throats. Drug Store News: Is there anything new we can look forward to from Be Smart Get Prepared next year? GG: We are launching an easy and convenient refill program for our OSHA ANSI/ ISEA first aid kits called REGISTER, REMIND, REFILL. The program is to REGISTER your kit online, and we will REMIND you via email when to REFILL your kit. Consecutive reminders are sent 30, 15 and seven days before expiration. When you register, you get 10% off your refills. Overall, we look forward to spreading awareness and connecting to our consumers. The biggest opportunity is to make first aid relevant through education. Our purpose and intent is to change the mindset of consumers to be proactive instead of reactive. This is our legacy … Be Smart Get Prepared. dsn


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Biomedical Marvels Medtronic Diabetes expands into smart insulin pens and develops a new therapy platform called Smart MDI systems


edtronic is a medical device company that is known for groundbreaking healthcare technology solutions. The company’s aim is “to contribute to human welfare by application of biomedical engineering in the research, design, manufacture and sale of instruments or appliances that alleviate pain, restore health and extend life.” Drug Store News recently spoke with Mike Mensinger, vice president of engineering at Medtronic Diabetes, about the company’s mission and its latest diabetes innovation. Drug Store News: Can you describe what Medtronic is and what is its specialty? Mike Mensinger: The diabetes business at Medtronic is working together with the global community to change the way people manage diabetes. We care about improving the lives of those living with diabetes. And we’re passionate about our products that help people achieve their health goals, proud of our around-the-clock support and service, and driven to innovate new diabetes solutions. While the business has previously been most known for insulin pump systems and continuous glucose monitors (CGM), the acquisition of Companion Medical in 2020 has allowed us to expand into smart insulin pens, with their innovative InPen system, and to develop a new category called Smart MDI (multiple daily injection) systems. Drug Store News: Can you explain how your Smart MDI technology changes the conversation about diabetes treatment? MM: The Medtronic Diabetes product portfolio is expanding. With the addition of the InPen system and future innovations, we will continue to build on our ability to meet customers where they are on their diabetes journey. In doing so, we’ll need to make it easier for customers to understand our portfolio of products and how they can benefit


from choosing Medtronic. Simultaneously, we want to use our expanding portfolio to drive meaningful differentiation that helps to reiterate our position as a leader in smart diabetes technology. We are doing this by developing a new therapy platform called Smart MDI systems to allow us to promote various combinations of products within the Medtronic Diabetes product portfolio.

Mike Mensinger, vice president of engineering, Medtronic Diabetes

“The diabetes business at Medtronic is working together with the global community to change the way people manage diabetes.”

Drug Store News: What is the benefit for diabetes patients? MM: InPen provides a customizable fastacting insulin therapy solution for people with Type 1 or Type 2 insulin-dependent diabetes. InPen provides a choice of therapy modes: carb counting, fixed dose and meal estimation dose calculators to those who use multiple daily injections (MDI) based on their healthcare provider’s recommendations. This puts actionable diabetes treatment suggestions into the hands of users and healthcare providers, no matter the insulin treatment protocol. With real-time glucose data from the Guardian Connect CGM in the InPen app, patients can see their glucose, active insulin and dosing recommendations — all in one convenient view. Drug Store News: How has the acquisition of InPen changed the focus of the diabetes business? MM: We Acquiring InPen was an ideal strategic fit for Medtronic as the company looked to further simplify diabetes management and improve outcomes by optimizing dosing decisions for the large number of people using multiple daily injection (MDI). The goal is to help people think less about diabetes and be able to live life with more freedom, on their own terms. Medtronic wants to be a trusted partner that offers consistent support, whether an individual wants to stay on MDI or transition to an automated insulin delivery pump system. dsn


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NIHC Announces Effort to Strengthen Testing Standards, CBD Labels The National Industrial Hemp Council, or NIHC, announced recently that it plans to roll out a pilot program establishing standards for product testing protocols and laboratories. Participants in the program will be able to label products with the NIHC label of approval, ensuring the accuracy of product labeling that will set standards for ingredients and, ultimately, strengthening consumer confidence in CBD products that they’re buying. “We’re excited for this program that we believe is going to strengthen consumer confidence, promote accuracy in labeling and, ultimately, protect the brand of hemp,” said Patrick Atagi, president and CEO of the National Industrial Hemp Council. “Since the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, consumers have been waiting for the FDA to act on CBD. Without any guidance from the FDA thus far, NIHC is stepping up to develop our own testing standards and labeling protocols that we believe will enhance consumer safety and protect the consumer’s right to know.” This label will bring value to the marketplace and integrity to products sold nationwide in stores and online, NIHC said. The council also is exploring testing standards and third-party verification laboratory requirements that will be applicable when testing for potency, pesticides, metals, terpenes and other product attributes. A critical part of the program will include using third-party accreditation bodies to verify that laboratories are following the appropriate testing protocols and properly calibrating their equipment, and that those running the tests are properly trained. “As one of North America’s leading food and consumer product testing companies, FSNS is pleased to lead this effort,” said Barry Carpenter, NIHC board member, NIHC Standards Committee chair, and senior advisor of regulatory affairs and client relations at Food Safety Net Services, or FSNS. “This initiative will bring value to the marketplace and peace of mind to the consumer with reliable and transparent information about CBD products.”


Botany Scientifics Rolls Out Tincture, Gummies and Vapes Botany Scientifics, a Texas hemp company, has introduced a line of Delta 8 products that include Delta 8 Tinctures, Delta 8 Gummies and Delta 8 Vapes. “Since the introduction of these products, we have seen exceptional reviews from our clients,” said founder Chris Oppenheimer. Botany Scientifics has a wide variety of full spectrum, broad spectrum and CBD products, which range from sleep gummies to tinctures. The Delta 8 distillate is derived from the cleanest materials in the market, the company said. “When manufacturing our Delta 8 vape products, we only use our Delta 8 distillate and natural terpenes,” the company said in a release, adding that their “team carefully selects the best terpene profiles, so they can offer unique products, which really set them apart from the rest of the industry. This same Delta 8 distillate is used in all of their Delta 8 products. You will truly be able to feel the difference in the products, compared to other competitors in the market, according to Botany Scientifics.

Promise Nutraceuticals Launches New Line of Hero Brand CBD Products Former professional football and baseball player Vincent “Bo” Jackson and his company, Promise Nutraceuticals, has announced the launch of a line of Hero Brand CBD products. “Over the past few years, we have been approached by several CBD companies that were seeking my endorsement,” Jackson said. “As we began to research this industry, we learned that there was a lot of scientific data that supported the use of CBD and hemp-derived products. We also discovered there were a lot of products on the market that were misleading, and consumers were confused.” Jackson and longtime business partners, Danny Heffernan and Ken Krieg, put together a team of professionals who were experts in this space. “One of our primary goals was to ensure the removal of all THC during the refinement process,” Krieg said, and “create products that were innovative, safe and effective. We also wanted to take an active role in educating the consumer. In 2020, we partnered with LaurelCrest, an industry leader in hemp and CBD products.” After two years of research and development, Promise Nutraceuticals has debuted Topical Trauma Oil and Water-Soluble Drops, the first in a line of Hero Brand CBD products. “We chose ‘Hero’ as our brand name to honor our military, first responders, healthcare workers and hard-working mom’s and dad’s whose dedication and commitment to excellence mirror that of our company and the innovative products we have developed,” Heffernan said. Jackson went on to say, “Promise Nutraceuticals is not about numbers on a balance sheet. We are a cause-driven company. Just like the ‘Hero’s’ we honor; we are dedicated to improving lives and helping others.” To learn more about Promise Nutraceuticals and the Hero Brand CBD products, visit promisedrops.com.


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almart wants to do more than offer consumers budget-friendly groceries and discount items. The company also strives to be an integrated, omnichannel healthcare organization, and is working to improve the health of its communities. The Bentonville, Ark.-based retailer responded to the COVID-19 crisis not only by offering testing and vaccinations, but by developing new ways to offer these important services, and by implementing new wellness programs. With more than 5,100 pharmacy locations nationwide, Walmart can engage with millions of consumers. From setting up COVID-19 testing sites in underserved communities and making vaccines widely available nationwide to offering digital scheduling for these appointments, the company mobilized to keep people healthy. Community care extended beyond the coronavirus, as the chain added more diabetes care and virtual care to its offerings and hosted many wellness events. For all these reasons Drug Store News named Walmart the 2021 Pharmacy Innovator of the Year.





pharmacies (as of Nov. 1, 2021)

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The company’s vision is to be able to deliver the right level of care — at the right time, in the right setting — for everyone. One major focus has been to bring health and wellness to underserved communities, and Walmart is well suited to meet the inherent logistics and other challenges. “We have more than 4,000 locations in HRSA-designated medically underserved areas, giving us the opportunity to provide health-andwellness services and vaccine access to areas that need it most, with our pharmacies and health services that are already there,” said Amy Hill, senior director for public affairs at


Walmart. The company brought COVID-19 vaccines to these communities with more than 600 events in 2021. When the pandemic unfolded in 2020, Walmart partnered with local nonprofits and community leaders to offer testing in medically underserved neighborhoods. The company set up free testing sites with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “From the beginning, when we were asked by HHS to step up and support community testing, our goal has been to help provide increased access to testing in our communities and play a part

in helping combat the pandemic,” said Jason LaFave, Walmart’s senior director of operations implementation. To choose the sites, the company reviewed factors including areas of highest need, positive COVID case rates, CDC’s CVAC (vaccine coverage index) areas of concern, immunization rates and the social vulnerability index (SVI). As of August, Walmart supported more than 500 testing sites across the country and tested hundreds of thousands of people. VACCINATE IN STORE AND OUT When the COVID-19 vaccines became available this year, Walmart developed a “Get Out the Vaccine” plan modeled


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When the COVID-19 vaccines became available this year, Walmart developed a “Get Out the Vaccine” plan modeled after “Get Out the Vote” election campaigns. The effort included strategies for grassroots and community partnerships, corporate partners, internal operations, media and surrogates, and had a lofty objective. after “Get Out the Vote” election campaigns. The effort included strategies for grassroots and community partnerships, corporate partners, internal operations, media and surrogates, and had a lofty objective. “The overarching goal of the campaign is to support the goals of getting the majority of the eligible U.S. population vaccinated,” said Dr. Cheryl Pegus, Walmart’s executive vice president of health and wellness. “We’ve administered millions of vaccines, and 80% have been delivered in underserved and rural communities — often to those with higher vaccine reluctance.”


As it did with testing, Walmart partnered with community groups and nonprofits to bring vaccines to people who had limited access to these resources. For example in Jackson, Miss., Walmart teamed up with the Jackson Housing Authority to set up a community center for a low-income senior housing unit. The team administered nearly 2,000 vaccinations to vulnerable seniors. Walmart maintains partnerships with long-term healthcare facilities, and still conducts community vaccination events and Walmart Wellness Days, where it offers free health screenings, COVID-19 and flu vaccinations, and other services.

Employees also need care. Walmart associates can get vaccinated while on the clock or receive up to two hours of paid time off to do so. If they suffer any adverse reactions, they can receive up to three days of paid leave. Walmart also offered a one-time incentive of $150 to associates who work in stores to get fully vaccinated. The retailer also educates its associates about the vaccine, using up-to-date information from reputable sources. Some associates are vaccine ambassadors, who have volunteered to share their story on why they got vaccinated. “Our associates want to hear from others like them,” said Lisa


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Smith, Walmart’s senior director of clinical strategy and operations support. Education is an important piece, and the company makes sure staff and shoppers get the latest COVID19 information. For example, when


the booster shots became available, customers asked about mixing and matching booster shots. “We’ve armed our pharmacy teams with the CDC guidance to explain,” Smith said. The stores also have posters and overhead announcements, and there is information on the company website. To administer the shots, Walmart has more than 13,500 nationally certified immunizing pharmacy technicians in pharmacies, in addition to trained pharmacists. “All associates who are immunizing have also been trained in vaccine hesitancy and in how to give vaccinations to children,” Smith said.


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DATA, TECHNOLOGY AND DIGITAL OFFERINGS Customers can schedule a vaccine appointment through Walmart’s Digital COVID-19 Scheduler, available on its website and through a QR code in stores. “Providing a digital solution for more customers to sign up and get an appointment for their COVID-19 shot aligns with our mission to make it simple for our customers to live healthier,” said Trent Gruenwald, Walmart’s director of planning and strategy for health and wellness. The company has scheduled millions of vaccine doses through the tool. The technology also enables the pharmacy to be more efficient. The tool collects the consumer’s information prior to a visit, freeing the pharmacist to focus less on administrative tasks and more on meeting patients’ needs. Other labor-saving tools include videos to train pharmacists and online modules to streamline the training process. “This has allowed our pharmacy teams to work through the training in short durations to help with retention and to allow them to revisit when necessary,” Gruenwald said. Walmart also launched a free digital vaccine record (DVR). It includes the individual’s name, date of birth, date of vaccination, vaccine manufacturer, vaccine lot number and location where the person received the immunization, and is securely stored in the customer’s pharmacy account on Walmart.com or Samsclub.com. That saves wear and tear on the paper copy of the vaccine card, but more importantly, empowers people with



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increased access to their health data through a free, secure digital wallet. The DVR has been accessed more than one million times since its June launch. Other tech includes the Walmart Wellness App, which enables customers to track and manage their medications and other healthcare needs. In another exploding trend, virtual medicine, Walmart acquired the multispecialty telehealth provider MeMD. The acquisition enables Walmart Health to provide access to virtual care across the nation, including urgent, behavioral and primary care, complementing the in-person Walmart Health centers. MeMD offers women’s health, men’s


health, acute care, behavioral health for adults and teens, and psychiatry. “Today people expect omnichannel access to care, including accessing the type of care they want in the way they want to experience it,” said Bill Goodwin, senior director of Walmart health operations. “Adding telehealth to our Walmart Health care strategies allows us to provide in-person and digital care across our multiple assets and solutions.” The offering helps Walmart reach a broad base, such as busy parents looking for a quick virtual care visit, seniors lacking transportation to a doctor and employers looking for solutions for employees.

To help with insulin affordability, in June Walmart announced the launch of ReliOn private brand analog insulin that offers customers significant price savings.


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OTHER WELLNESS Other health issues are important too, so Walmart offers quarterly Wellness Days when customers can get vaccines and check their cholesterol, A1C and blood pressure. As part of its July Walmart Wellness Day, the company contracted with an organization to bring their HIV mobile testing units to store parking lots in the greater Atlanta area stores so customers could also get HIV tested if they wanted. In October, Walmart hosted a series of events at local stores to encourage customers to get their flu shots during a regular shopping trip. Diabetes is still a major health issue, and more than 14% of Walmart shoppers are managing diabetes. According to the CDC National Diabetes Statistics Report, 34.2 million Americans — just over 1 in 10 — have diabetes. To help with insulin affordability, in June Walmart announced the launch of


ReliOn private brand analog insulin that offers customers significant price savings. Walmart, which launched $4 generic prescriptions in 2006, has a long track record of improving the affordability of medications. “The natural step was to extend our private brand offering to an area of insulin that had the largest growth in out-of-pocket costs,” said W. Michael Burke, Walmart’s director of brand pharmacy merchandising. The new private-label product is ReliOn NovoLog Insulin (insulin aspart) injection, manufactured by Novo Nordisk. In August, Walmart launched another option in the portfolio, ReliOn Novolog 70/30 Mix. Also in the drug-cost realm, Walmart launched Walmart+ Rx for less, a prescription savings program for Walmart+ members, in June. As the pandemic, and other health issues, continue, Walmart shows no

sign of slowing down its wellness initiatives. The next Walmart Wellness Day is scheduled for Jan. 28. Testing sites continue to be available, and the stores and the website sell at-home COVID-19 antigen screening self tests and self-administered PCR mail-in tests. As boosters and immunizations for children expand, Walmart said it expects to see increased usage of the Digital COVID-19 Scheduler and of the DVR. The company continues to deliver booster shots at community events, long-term care facilities and school-based clinics. “We have already shown we can make a real difference in our communities through our nonprofit, communitybased, and state and local government partnerships to improve access to the vaccine,” Dr. Pegus said. “We continue to see increases across our stores, which tells us our efforts are working.” dsn


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Private Labels Play Leading Role for Food and Drug Retailers Innovative store-brand health-and-wellness products shine during the pandemic and beyond BY MARK HAMSTRA


rivate labels have evolved to be at the leading edge of innovation for many food and drug retailers, tapping into the latest consumer trends while retaining their “value” halo. Sales of these products soared during the COVID-19 pandemic and have retained a dedicated following in many categories as consumers readily switched brands and sought more economical choices to stock their pantries and medicine cabinets. “As proven in the past when consumers try own brands, the quality and value wins them over and many remain loyal consumers,” said Peggy Davies, president of the Private Label Manufacturers Association. “The past 10 years of growth of private brands, especially with discounters and mass merchandisers, are evidence of that.” Target, Walmart, CVS, Kroger, Casey’s and many other retailers have all either expanded their own-brand lines or launched brand new private-label lines in plant-based products, pets or home goods, she said. Drug store chains in particular have been aggressive in categories such as food, beverage, snacks and household goods in order to gain share from grocery and mass channels, Davies said. “By listening to their shoppers and positioning their offerings as a ‘one-stop


shop’ in many departments, this strategy is delivering.” In the OTC and HBC categories, for example, store brands showed strong growth in the second quarter, year-over-year, compared with 2020, Davies pointed out, especially in pain relief, eye care and first aid products. In total, HBC private-brand dollar sales were up 8.5% in drug chains and had a 3.9% increase in unit share, she said, citing PLMA research from NielsenIQ. She said drug stores may also have opportunities to expand their private-label assortments in edibles, citing CVS as an example of a company that has been a leader in this area with its store-brand food and beverage products, including snacks. “Drug chains are the first place many turn to when they think of healthcare products, and while in the store or on the website, the purchase of snacks, beverages, etc., is a natural expansion of their purchase,” Davies said. Retailers also have opportunities to drive private-label sales growth by offering discounts or incentives through their loyalty programs, she pointed out, citing both CVS and Walgreens as examples of drug store banners that promote their store brands effectively through their loyalty platforms.


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Value-Based Solutions Brenda Lord, vice president of private brands and quality assurance at CVS Health, agreed that consumer shopping habits shifted toward value opportunities during the pandemic. “With CVS store brands’ products averaging 20% to 40% lower in cost than competing brands, shoppers’ shift toward value directly impacted our sales of CVS Health and Live Better by CVS Health products, as customers were looking for more wellness products to be proactive about their health goals,” she said. Lord noted that this year alone, CVS has added more than 400 new products under its portfolio of store brands, and the company has continued to see “an incredibly positive customer response” to these items. New products include vitamins and supplements, better-foryou snacks, and over-the-counter health products, she said, adding that offering these items in store-brand varieties “make some of the latest trends in wellness more accessible to the average consumer.” In 2020, CVS’ overall store-brand portfolio grew six times faster than national brands, Lord said, and store-brand health-andwellness offerings, including CVS Health and Live Better by CVS Health, grew at twice the rate of national brands, she said. The company’s product introductions also included new items in the mental well-being category, including a Breathing Guidance Light to help guide users in calming exercises and a Daylight Lamp that seeks to create a healthier, natural work environment. CVS also

expanded its at-home fitness and recovery assortment with resistance bands, massage tools and pain relief devices to empower consumers to relieve stress in a healthy way, Lord said. “The pandemic illuminated the importance of holistic health and normalized conversations on mental well-being,” she said. “As an enterprise, we are working to make mental well-being services more accessible, less complicated and more inviting.”

Consumer Trends in Private Label Nicole Stump, director of CPG – category management at McKesson, said consumer shopping behavior evolved quickly during the pandemic, to the benefit of private label and retailers that have been able to provide depth and breadth in their product offerings. “Consumers have demonstrated that they are willing — more than ever — to switch brands,” she said. “This has opened the door for private label to capture even more market share at a faster rate. It’s truly been remarkable.” She agreed that consumers are taking a more proactive approach to their health, which has led to opportunities in categories such as vitamins, sleep remedies and homeopathic medicines. “Often, we see brands lead in these areas with private labels acting as fast followers,” Stump said. “However, the market has shifted and private-label products are innovating faster than their competition.” Amy Groth, marketing manager of private label at Garcoa

Private Label Pet Care, HBC, Kitchen Items Show Growth First-quarter private-label sales were down in the drug store channel compared with a year ago, according to the Private Label Manufacturers Association, although there were bright spots in pet care and kitchen products as retailers benefitted from the increase in pet ownership and cooking at home. The following are some select product categories that saw private-label sales growth in the first two quarters in the drug channel. Q1 2021 - Drug Chains (dollar sales versus year ago) Pet care

+11% Pet food


Kitchen accessories

+23.1% Kitchen utensils


Second quarter overall private label HBC dollar sales were up 8.5% in the drug channel, an increase of $115 million in added privatelabel sales compared with a year ago. Q2 2021 - Drug Chains (dollar sales versus year ago) Kitchen accessories Household maintenance Water Eye care First aid

+1.9% +16.8% +16% +35.1% +12% +27%

Pain relief

+30.1% +32.3%

Laundry care Detergent


Bleach Pet food Dog food

+16.1% +13.6% Source: PLMA/NielsenIQ


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Q & A W I T H C V S H E A LT H ’ S B R E N D A L O R D

Value, Transparency and Sustainability CVS Health’s Brenda Lord highlights consumer trends influencing the retail giant’s store-brand portfolio Drug Store News interviewed Brenda Lord, vice president of private brands and quality assurance at CVS Health, about the retailer’s private-label program. Drug Store News: What are some of the significant trends you are seeing in consumer demand for private-label products? Brenda Lord: Our customers are at the heart of everything we do, and our team is responsible for creating innovative products and product lines that customers can’t get anywhere else. We do this by relentlessly looking at customer insights and identifying trends and opportunities in the market for innovations. We’ve been listening to and working with our customers to engage and meet their needs in ways others haven’t. Guided by current shopping behaviors and consumer feedback, signaling further shifts toward value, transparency and sustainability, our storebrands launches this year across health, grocery and beauty were created to satisfy unmet customer needs. The expansion of these exclusive lines goes beyond the comparison to products that are typically associated with store-brand lines, and instead offer premium products at affordable prices. We’ve seen that younger and health-minded consumers are responding positively to our exclusive offerings, noticing the purpose, passion, quality and value across our store-brands portfolio. Based on customer feedback and current trends, we also found that our customers were looking for more alternatives in health care, requesting transparency from the brands they love and aspiring to make a positive impact on the planet. This past year, consumers were looking for solutions to support their overall health. According to Nielsen, U.S. dietary supplement sales rose by 51.2% in March as COVID-19 spread, with CVS’ vitamins and supplements category surpassing sales of cold and flu products for the first time. As a result, we expanded our Live Better by CVS Health line to include new offerings, which emphasized trending ingredients like mushrooms, ashwagandha, echinacea, apple cider vinegar and more. In another example, we noticed a change in coffee habits with increased at-home consumption, the importance of sustainability and consumers’ desire to feel good about the brands they support. As a result, we launched Gold Emblem Fair Trade Certified Coffees. Because it’s Fair Trade Certified, customers can feel good knowing that it empowers farmers and protects the environment. CVS is the first drug store to offer 100% Fair Trade Certified products within its exclusive store brand. Another trend consumers embraced this past year as their snacking habits changed was an inclination toward bold flavors and buying bigger family-sized packs in the grocery sector as many shoppers across the country were traveling less and working from home. In keeping with these trends, we offered larger sizes in some of our popular items like nuts and trail mix, and launched new items like the Gold Emblem Extreme Hot Cheese Popcorn that offer the boldness customers are hungry for. Many consumers adopted self-care at home last year, and it is still a strong trend in our stores. Male consumers especially are investing


in their self-care and grooming. We launched a new brand, Goodline Grooming Co., which encompasses more than 35 items across shave, skin care, tools, and bath and body. The brand was built for guys, by guys, using a panel of 90 “guys” to inform all aspects of the brand. DSN: How important is sustainability to the private-label consumer? BL: Customers are asking smart questions about the products they buy and/ or put in their bodies, and we know that one of the things they’re looking for are brands that prioritize and promote sustainability. Our customers are increasingly conscious of product sustainability and supply chains. Sustainability is a core area of focus. As a company dedicated to improving people’s lives through innovative and high-quality health offerings, we are vigorously working to ensure that customers have access to affordable, accessible, sustainable options across our storebrands portfolio. In our Total Home Earth Essentials line, we recently introduced compostable bamboo plates and cups, birch utensils from Forest Stewardship Council-managed forests, and bio-based dish soaps free from parabens and phthalates — all high-quality, sustainable solutions that help customers make eco-friendly swaps in their home without a hefty price tag. We’re on the lookout for even more innovation in sustainable and minimized packaging, and anticipate more collaboration in the industry to support this. DSN: How is CVS working to meet these demands in its private brands? BL: Trust and transparency within each of our product lines is of the utmost importance, so in 2017 we removed parabens, phthalates and the most prevalent formaldehyde donors from all our store-brands lines. This move


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PRIVATE LABEL was due partly to our journey towards more sustainable products that satisfy consumer expectations, and to further deliver on our commitment to safety, quality and trust. Today, consumers want more from brands and products, and expect large organizations to be transparent and purposeful. In 2020, we began an assessment of our store-brand packaging materials made up of plastic. By surveying select store-brand suppliers responsible for producing a large percentage of our plastic packaging within the store-brands portfolio of products, we will gain a better understanding of the impacts within our supply chain and inform meaningful sustainable packaging targets, leading with our store-brand products. Another step we took last year was to join the Sustainable Packaging Coalition’s How2Recycle program to begin including detailed recycling icons and instructions on our store-brand product packaging. The How2Recycle label includes details on the type of packaging material, which components of the packaging are recyclable and directions for how consumers should prepare each component for recycling, such as rinsing. We have already begun adding How2Recycle labels to some of our products, including CVS Health Vitamins and Total Home, which will begin shipping to stores by the end of 2021. To further our commitment to providing quality and innovative products that are sustainable, we announced the expansion of our Live Better by CVS Health line in June of last year. ... All the packaging in the Live Better line is at least 80% recyclable, with many simply requiring consumers to remove specific elements to allow for easy recycling. For instance, with some vitamin bottles the customer may need to discard a small foil seal or cotton, but the bottles and caps themselves are fully recyclable.

Laboratories, a maker of personal care products, said consumers are seeking proven and safe lifestyle ingredients, such as turmeric, lavender, apple cider vinegar, tea tree oil and others in skin care, OTC, hair care, household cleaning and other categories. One key trend is to bundle proven active ingredients with a natural oil or with homeopathic solutions, she said, which demonstrates that consumers are “looking for results, but also alternative remedies.” Consumers also are seeking “no touch, no mess” packaging for ease of use or application as a benefit, Groth said. Retailers also have been open to own-brand products that do not need a “compare to” claim to contrast with national-brand offerings, she said. “[This] shows strength in own-brand growth and ability to take market share from branded offerings.” Michael Law, chief commercial officer at Eagle Labs, a contract manufacturer of a wide range of pharmaceutical and HBC products, said consumers are seeking private-label products that can match or even exceed national brand quality. “Helping consumers save money has always been a key element, but the role of private label has shifted dramatically over time,” he said. Retailers can build stronger connections with consumers by ensuring that their private labels are of high quality, Law said. “Private-label brands need to lead versus follow in key areas like sustainability, premiumization and building trials to gain share.” To build share in private label, Law suggested that retailers on the leading edge of private-label branding and growth should consider these areas of opportunity: • Focus on sustainability: Retailers should seek ways to increase their focus on environmentally friendly ingredients and packaging, including recyclable and reusable packaging, as well as the increased use of plant-based ingredients, he said. • Increase efforts around premium/higher end private label: “Consumer trust in private labels has grown significantly over time and retailers that have built strong equity have permission to build premium private-label sub-brands that can increase margin and help them capture greater share,” Law said. “Consider leading with innovation instead of just waiting for the national brands to lead.” • Lower consumer risk of trial: Retailers can help consumers switch to store brands by lowering the financial risk of trial, he said, citing tactics such as making it easy for customers to obtain refunds if they are not satisfied with a product, for example, or offering targeted, high-value coupons to encourage trial.

Looking Ahead Supply chain delays and inflationary cost pressures for a range of consumer goods are expected to linger into next year, but industry leaders are optimistic about private label’s resilience. Stump said McKesson has been working through the same supply constraints and logistics challenges that have been widespread across industries. “We have been working proactively and collaboratively with our key supplier partners to ensure our demands align with their production plans, resulting in choices at shelf,” Stump said. “Sitting here 18 months ago, none of us could have predicted the uphill supply battle we have been facing since 2020. We are not out of the woods yet, but we are leveraging all available avenues together and we remain optimistic about where the retail landscape will be a year from now.” PLMA’s Davies said the outlook is especially bright in health-and-wellness categories, as consumers continue to seek out products for preventative care. “As we move into 2022, a focus on health and wellness, sustainability in both products, and packaging, along with the development of plant proteins and organics for retailers’ own brands, will continue to drive share for retailers and profitable volume for both PLMA members and our retail partners,” she said. dsn


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Beauty Bounce Work-from-home trends help propel skin care products


kin care emerged as the darling of the beauty industry during COVID-19. With time on their hands, Americans purchased more products to perfect their complexions, often hoping to look better on video calls. The obsession with skin care hasn’t abated, as the global skin care industry is on track to exceed sales of $165 billion by 2025, according to artificial intelligence provider ProQuo. The United States represents almost 30% of total spending. What has changed is what people are buying. Supplanting last year’s heroes, such as cleansers, face masks and antiaging facials, are acne remedies, body lotions and facials devices. IRI data for the 52-week period ending Oct. 3, 2021 in mass outlets illustrates the shift. Cleanser volume is down 1.4% versus double-digit gains throughout 2020. Conversely, acne sales during the same period jumped 11.4%, hand and body rose 5.3%, and devices chalked up gains of 35%. Spate, which tracks Google searches, offers a snapshot of what’s to come in skin care as retailers prepare for 2022 planograms. Armed with research completed in September 2021, Spate pinpointed the biggest search action in acne, hybrid skin care products like tinted moisturizers, body care, solutions for sensitive skin, derm-backed formulas, genderless brands and sunscreens. Industry observers and retailers identified other beauty trends on the radar, including conscious/clean formulas, sustainable


packaging including PCR and refillables, buzzy ingredients and celebrityendorsed entries. The high-wattage faces behind skin care include Nicole Kidman for Sera Lab’s Seratopical, Alicia Keys with E.l.f.’s Keys Soulcare, Fenty Skin Care by Rihanna,

Rare Beauty from Selena Gomez and Cindy Crawford Meaningful Beauty. The star spigot hasn’t been turned off with Ellen DeGeneres debuting Kind Science in October and Meghan Markle reported to be in the market to launch her own brand in the coming future.


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Courting Younger Consumers Social media has a monumental impact on skin care. Whether it’s a dermatologist touting an ingredient or TikTokers posting skin care hacks, exposure from the social phenomenon can triple sales, according to Sarah Lee, founder of Glow Recipe, which couldn’t keep its watermelon-based products in stock after such posts. Jumping onto product trends featured on TikTok is viewed as an avenue for mass marketers to court younger shoppers. An Aug. 3, 2021 NPD Group study found that 62% of Gen Z consumers said TikTok influences their skin care purchases. That’s not lost on Walmart, which is adding younger brands to its product mix including teen, natural and genderless bubble skin care. Musab Balbale, merchandising vice president at Walmart U.S. Beauty, said his team first spotted the line on Teen Vogue. Walmart also was the first to launch DermaGeek, a brand created by Procter & Gamble and targeted at the TikTok generation.



TikTok is one of the reasons for the explosion of acne medications, experts said. Whether festered by stress or the environment, blemishes are plaguing Americans — of all ages. There have been few advances in product innovation in acne until recently. CeraVe was on the plus end of social media posts. The brand is the top seller in almost every mass skin care subsegment. Now, the L’Oréal-owned line is entering the acne race, bringing innovation to a category that has long been dominated with formulas that are decades old. The entries, Acne Control Cleanser and Acne Control Gel, were developed with the aid of two dermatologists and feature 2% salicylic acid to help clear and prevent acne where it starts while also restoring the skin’s natural barrier with three essential ceramides.

A Clear Breakout The status quo of acne also is being shaken up with the introduction of “pimple patches,” either those that blend into skin or stand out with shapes and colors. Searches

for the patches are up 68%, according to Spate data. One of the most popular is the Mighty Patch from Hero Cosmetics, an indie line created by Ju Rhyu. Rhyu just added a Rescue Balm and Lightning Wand. “Rescue Balm was inspired by people’s use of Neosporin for pimples and the Lightning Wand pen format was inspired by the desire to have a post-pimple hyperpigmentation product that was very targeted,” she said. The brand is sold in more than 8,000 doors, including Target, Walmart and Ulta Beauty. Patch technology also is used in The Good Patch, a collection of wearable “wellness” patches recently launched by CVS, that fuse skin care with ingredients that can help with sleep or pep users up after a night out. Skin care consumers, on the hunt for the foundation of youth, tend to jump quickly on new ingredients. Trendalytics, the predictive data and retail analytics platform, offers a glimpse into which ingredients will spark sales in the next few months. In order they are:


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

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chlorophyll, postbiotic, pyrrolidone carboxylic acids, bakuchiol, winter cherry, volcanic ash, makgeolli, tulip, CBD and probiotic. Chlorophyll was nudged to the top spot by frequent mention of the ingredient as a remedy for acne on TikTok. Sky Organics has a jump on bakuchiol, a key ingredient in the brand’s Youth Boost Bakuchiol Night Serum. “It is a more gentle option to retinol,” said Christine Keihm, the brand’s chief marketing officer. Scoring in the top 10 is welcome news to the plethora of brands containing CBD. The buzz CBD beauty created in 2019 was tamped down during the pandemic, but

The obsession

with skin care

hasn’t abated with the global skin care industry on track to exceed sales of

$165 billion by 2025.

appears to be gaining traction going into the next year. Consumers are researching ingredients more often with many interested in CBD, CBN and hemp-based choices.

Conscious Skin Care “We’re hungry for better choices in the name of health,” said Emily Heitman, chief marketing officer at Leef Organics. “Inquiring minds are digging deep into ingredient decks and seeking understanding of how and why an alternative approach to skin care can work effectively,” she said. Leef’s Revive, a skin care balm, contains a simple, plant-based approach to skin care and is just one of the brand’s top sellers, she said.


The quest for conscious skin care has also been a boost to lines like Alikay Naturals and its new Her feminine care, OKAY Pure Naturals, Pacifica, and PURA D’OR. Products for below the neck are putting up above average numbers. Reserveage, a wellness and beauty supplement brand, just revealed its Pro-Collagen Booster skin care collection. In addition to traditional eye creams and face creams, the range zeroes in on necks, hands and feet. “The line is designed for the whole body,” said Yamit Sadok, senior director of marketing at Reserveage. Olay said it hopes to leverage its brand equity in the face category with its Olay Body Lotion Collection. “With the addition of this new collection to our body care lineup, we close the gap in her hydration needs,” said Selina Phillips, senior brand director of Olay Body. The products feature some of the same ingredients beneficial to

faces and overall body, such as niacinamide, collage, hyaluronic acids and vitamin C. Even as consumers look to bring self-care skin care to their entire bodies, there is a movement to more simple regimens. During the pandemic, there was time to experiment with as many as 10 steps. Now Spate data points to fewer and more efficient options, such as tinted moisturizers that perform double duty. Brad Newcomer, co-founder and director of product development at the plantpowered skin and hair care brand Dr. Tusk, said the simplification is catching on. “This was a trend in men’s grooming for years, but women have embraced the idea as of late.” He also brings good news to retailers looking to boost the men’s shaving sector “Men’s shaving has begun to shift back from beard care to shave,” he said. That could help turnaround the languishing shaving cream, razor and blade market. dsn


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Mindful Snacking Consumers are seeking out flavorful and nutritional snacking options By Sandra Levy


ho among us didn’t snack more than usual in the early days of the pandemic? Hunkered down with responsibilities caring for family while working from home, many Americans found that snacking was convenient, and it offered solace. As the pandemic fades in the rearview mirror and face-to-face meetings return, many folks want to trim their waistlines and improve their health. According to FMCG Gurus, from April to July, there was a month-on-month increase in the proportion of consumers who said they are worried about their waistlines (21%-32%-37%). In the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, consumers are looking to improve their health, with 79% saying that they are making plans to eat and drink healthier. That’s why companies seeking to gain traction in this market have been focusing on “better for you” snacking options. While numbers are hard to come by for the healthy snack category, market research firm IRI pegged the snack bars/granola bars category at around $5.7 billion, snack nuts/ seeds/corn nuts at $4.8 billion and ready-toeat popcorn at $1.5 billion, between total U.S. multi-outlet for the 52 weeks ending Oct. 3, 2021.

Optimal Protein Products that are high in protein and low in sugar and net carbs are among the strategies that companies are betting on. Take the case of Quest Nutrition, based in El Segundo, Calif. “Whatever the format, bars, cookies or confections, the key is to look at the nutrition panel and see if it’s checking the boxes of optimal protein while being lower in sugar and net carbs,” said Linda Zink, Quest Nutrition’s chief marketing officer.

To meet those goals, Quest Nutrition launched gluten-free Quest Dipped Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Protein Bars, with 1 g of sugar, 3 g of net carbs and 17 g of protein, and Quest Frosted Cookies, which have less than 1 g of sugar, 1 g of net carbs and 5 g of protein. Scott Parker, chief marketing officer of Denver-based Atkins Brand, agreed that more consumers are continuously learning about the health-and-wellness benefits

of limiting carbs and sugar. “We’re continuing to focus on awareness of the Atkins lifestyle and our variety of products, including our on-the-go snacks, as well as indulgent options that fit into our consumers’ lifestyle without compromising their nutritional or health goals,” he said. Atkins recently debuted a new Chocolate Crème Wafer Crisps snack bar and Atkins Protein Cookies, with 10 g of protein and 3 g of net carbs, in chocolate chip, peanut


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butter and double chocolate chip. Offering keto-friendly products is yet another strategy that snack manufacturers are employing. Shrewd Food, based in Hauppauge, N.Y., is a case in point. Janet Levi, company spokesperson, said Shrewd Food has tied into this trend with its dark chocolate Keto Dippers, which contain 8 g of protein, and most of its savory Protein Puffs, which contain 13 g of protein. No Sugar Company, based in Ontario, Canada, also is focusing on the keto trend. CEO Brad Woodgate said that the company’s first product was a no sugar keto bar that paved the way for more innovation, including a no sugar Kids Bars, No Sugar Ice Cream Kups and Joyburst Energy, a no sugar energy drink. Offering snacks that contain essential nutrients is another way that manufacturers are responding to consumers. Following this path is POPtritional, based in Orlando, Fla., which unveiled Light White Cheddar Popcorn, which contains protein, calcium, and vitamins C, B12 and D. Its Kettle Corn includes protein, calcium, iron, magnesium and zinc. “Gone are the days where choosing a healthy option means eating something bland,” said POPtritional founder Courtney Adeleye. “Instead, there is an


important balance that we must find between creating a snack that has flavor and nutritional value.” New York-based Sakara Life also is taking healthy snacks to new heights with Superseed + Nuts Blend Collection, which contains plant protein. It can be used as a meal or sprinkled on meals. Mark Chu, director of marketing at Austin, Texas-based SkinnyPop, said consumers want products that offer “better for you” claims, but they also want “the indulgence

of a treat. With SkinnyPop, consumers know they can enjoy a salty snack, but also not feel guilty if they eat the whole bag.”

Flavor Profiles Companies also are rolling out products with tempting flavors. For example, Shrewd Food recently debuted Protein Puffs in aged white cheddar, totally taco, Buffalo ranch, sweet thai chili, avocado toast and caramel apple pie. Loves Park, Ill.-based TH Foods, makers of Crunchmaster Bistro Crisps, released vegan cheddar, nacho and margherita pizza flavors. What’s more, the crisps have zero g of trans fat and zero mg of cholesterol, and the company is replacing safflower oil with olive oil in most of its crackers. Manufacturers are also responding to consumers who crave seasonal flavors. For instance, Quest offers limited-edition Quest Pumpkin Pie and Peppermint Bark Protein Bars. Snacks containing Greek yogurt also are gaining in popularity. Piscataway, N.J.-based Clio Snacks makes Granola & Yogurt Parfait Bars, Greek Yogurt Bars and Less Sugar Yogurt Bars. Aside from enticing flavors and healthier ingredients, manufacturers are offering portable snacks. Quest’s Zink said that at the beginning


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of the pandemic, the nutritional bar category as a whole decreased. “In most recent months, as more people’s lifestyles have become more active, we saw an uptick in our protein bar sales,” she said. Carlsbad, Calif.-based Designer Wellness also is focusing on portability with Designer Smoothie, a shelf stable and portable protein fruit smoothie in a single-serve pouch. Paul Pruett, CEO of Designer Wellness, said he expects customers to carry the product in a gym bag, lunch box or purse, or place it in an office drawer. Snack companies also are revamping their packaging to be more eco-friendly. No Sugar Company reduced its packaging from 67% to 70%. “That’s a very good move from a climate perspective and for retailers to carry more offerings,” Woodgate said. Designer Wellness also is on a sustainability path with 100% BPA-free packaging.


“It’s safer for our consumers,” Pruett said. Finally, companies also are helping consumers make positive lifestyle changes. This trend is evident in Atkins’ five-week #AtkinsSmallWins campaign that celebrates attainable goals that can help people improve health and wellness. What advice can suppliers share with retailers? “They need to be savvy in terms of whether a keto product meets the claims the companies are trying to make,” Woodgate said. Levi recommended that retailers feature specialty items prominently in a specialty area where similar products are featured. Finally, Clio Snacks CEO John McGuckin advised, “Consumers shopping for nourishment continue to migrate their attention to the perimeter of the store where they perceive greater health benefits in fresh products.” dsn


For product inquiries contact: Dana Johnson - djohnson@wellnx.com AD-NODSN-U02-A


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The Digital Frontier Technological advances are showing promise toward improved healthcare access, increasing compliance and affordability By Carol Radice


he healthcare industry has never been one to rapidly adopt change — that is until recently. Fueled by two seemingly divergent dynamics — consumers who still expected immediate and easy access to medical care and the inability to get medical help in person — the pandemic single-handedly fasttracked acceptance of digital healthcare in the United States. More and more consumers of all ages are embracing technologies that offer assistance with their healthcare needs, such as remote monitoring, tracking, testing, diagnostics and other telehealth services. In its report, “The health fix: How COVID19 has transformed consumers’ attitudes to health and accelerated the future of digital healthcare,” the Capgemini Research Institute found consumers’ willingness to accept this new way of managing their health has created a myriad of opportunities for healthcare providers to improve patient engagement, satisfaction, retention and health outcomes while decreasing operational costs. From an investment perspective, digital health has experienced a year like no other. “The pandemic drove funding for digital health ventures to levels never seen before,” said Matty Francis, principal in strategic investing at Healthbox, a Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society, or HIMSS, innovation company. “COVID-19 injected a strong sense of urgency across the healthcare ecosystem, leading to dramatic change in a short period of time.” Francis said, given how quickly consumers have adjusted to this change, this acceptance isn’t a one-off but the beginning of the new normal. Estimates gathered by HIMSS show that as much as $250 billion of the current total U.S. healthcare spend could in fact be virtual. But most agree that


transition won’t happen overnight. For one, enhancements to the way information is shared and exchanged will need to be made as will stronger access to, and integration of, various and disparate technologies. Health systems and plans need to make investments in digital now or risk being left behind, noted Aaron Martin, executive vice president and chief digital officer at Providence St. Josephs Health, or PSJH, and managing general partner at Providence Ventures in Seattle. “COVID-19 effectively funded the trial and adoption of digital health/telemedicine technology. Tens of millions of patients were forced by circumstance and safety to sample this new digital approach to health care, and they liked it,” Martin said.

Take a Seat COVID-19 may have accelerated the adoption of digital healthcare solutions, but there is a confluence of additional factors at play supporting its future staying power.

Jeff Bennett, CEO of higi based in Chicago, said the industry shift from fee-forservice reimbursement models to valuebased care, along with the decline in the number of people who have a primary care provider, have created the perfect storm for digital solutions to thrive as both a preventative and managerial healthcare tool. For example, Smart Health Stations, such as the one higi designed, can help consumers discover their risk of having or developing chronic conditions, including hypertension, obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. According to Bennett, two-thirds of the sessions on its stations consistently indicated such risk. Patients also can use the station to complete a virtual doctor appointment, create a basic health profile and screen for risk factors. The goal is to influence patients to take appropriate preventative care and guide rising and high-risk members/patients into programs that provide personalized care management. Higi officials said they see health stations


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as one of many digital health vehicles that can positively affect a patient’s health. Next generation products will feature a more holistic and personalized approach, Bennett noted. To this end, the company is working on introducing several new platforms, including Health Guide and Care Everyday remote patient monitoring. “Technology will get more tailored to the individual, with solutions designed to identify and deliver care that considers health conditions, genomics and more,” Bennett said. “Wearable devices will be more integrated into the home, won’t require training or technological knowhow on the part of the user, and will provide closed-loop feedback and support to actively keep the consumer adherent and on track with provider-defined goals.”

HERE TO STAY COVID may have been the catalyst for rapid adoption of digital health modalities across the board, but, based on the rapid acceptance rate seen thus far, four key areas stand to benefit in 2022. Remote patient monitoring: More than $940 million was spent on remote patient monitoring in 2020, and that figure is expected to rise by the end of this year, as digital health solutions and wearables grow in acceptance. Among the standouts are monitoring, support and tracking tools. Several chronic care management tools are slated to be introduced in 2022 as well. The emergence of digital biomarker technology has the potential to further expand remote patient monitoring applications. Telehealth: Until last year, telemedicine was not widely used. The pandemic changed that, and faced with the choice of seeing a doctor virtually or not at all, many patients opted for the former. As a result, telemedicine visits went from 2% to 30% of care visits during this period. Investments in telemedicine solutions nearly tripled between 2019 and 2020, growing from $1.1 billion to $3.1 billion. Tracking and diagnostics: One of the few bright spots that came out of the pandemic is the need to triage, test and track on a large scale. Diagnostic technology is still in its early stages, but experts we spoke with said the sky is the limit when it comes to adding additional value to diagnostic technology. Mental health: The pandemic was one of many factors that brought to light the legitimacy, seriousness and scope of behavioral health challenges. Prior to the pandemic, some 50 million people in the United States were dealing with mental health issues, and today that figure has jumped significantly due to the isolation, financial stress and anxiety brought on by COVID. Funding for mental health reached $1.4 billion in 2020, and experts said there is great promise for tech-enabled care tools to increase access for those in need of mental help. SOURCE: HIMSS

Diabetes Management Just about everyone living with diabetes, who needs insulin, uses pens and syringes, and until recently, technology wasn’t available for them. The introduction of the first smart insulin pens changed that. Smart pens were intended to simplify tasks, such as tracking insulin dosing, calculating doses, sending reminders and other decision support features that enable patients to manage their diabetes more effectively. Mike Mensinger, vice president of engineering at Minneapolis-based Medtronic, said smart pens have seen tremendous adoption recently — Medtronic acquired InPen in 2020. Refillable pens, such as the one Medtronic offers, are Bluetooth enabled and connect to a smartphone app. Key information about the amount and timing of insulin injections is automatically uploaded. The app can be paired with a continuous glucose monitor, or CGM, as well to collect information about a person’s glucose readings and trends. “Smart pens bring the benefits of insulin dose recommendations and automatic dose tracking in a simple, affordable package,” Mensinger said. “There has been a huge technology gap for those using pens and syringes. Now there is a better option available.” Two months after Medtronic acquired InPen, the company integrated the pen with real-time Guardian Connect CGM data. This integrated system now provides real-time glucose readings alongside insulin dose information, giving users everything they need to manage their diabetes in one view — and making it easier to make smarter dosing decisions to manage their sugar levels. Medtronic said it plans to build on that InPen innovation by using all that it learned in creating insulin pump algorithms to “close the loop” on multiple daily injections, or MDI. Integration of the pen with continuous glucose monitoring, or CGM, begins to create a smart MDI system. By developing dosing suggestion algorithms, Mensinger said the InPen can help users to also increase their glucose control without requiring a lot of extra work. dsn


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Eyeing 2022 Trends from New Store Launches Retailers continue to push the envelope on store development for consumers’ changing needs By David Orgel


t’s possible to see the future of retail by analyzing the latest new store launches. New stores and formats provide direction on where food and drug retail is headed because they are driven by the latest angles in store development, consumer behavior, technology innovation and other aspects. This is a good time to consider new directions as we look ahead to 2022.

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

Enhanced In-store Experiences Pandemic-weary shoppers are craving unique in-store experiences as they increasingly return to physical stores. Hy-Vee’s recently launched new concept store in Grimes, Iowa, delivers on this need — and then some. This monster of a store, at about 93,000 sq. ft., contains an eyepopping number of distinctive elements that include the following: • A new dining concept, featuring a large, open food hall dining area; • All-digital shelf tags and more than 100 TVs for digital marketing; • Digital kiosks for ordering cakes and fresh prepared foods; and • A range of in-store destination areas that include DSW shoes and accessories, Joe Fresh clothing, the W Nail Bar, Pair Eyewear kiosk, and Johnson Fitness & Wellness showroom. If all these features aren’t enough, there’s also a Hy-Vee Fast and Fresh convenience store at the southwest end of the parking lot.

Creative Store Development Retailers continue to push the envelope on store development for changing needs. Wegmans provides one of the more interesting cases as it expands into urban areas with smaller formats that leverage mixed-use development initiatives. It’s important to clarify what is meant by “small format” in the world of Wegmans. The retailer, known for large stores that surpass 100,000 sq. ft., is planning some units in the 80,000-sq.-ft. range, including for its first store in Washington, D.C. That store, set for the summer of 2022, is


planned at 84,000 sq. ft., with three levels of underground parking. Also in the works are two other locations in mixed-use developments for next year and an urban site in New York City in 2023.

Emphasis on Environmental Sustainability Environmental sustainability is gaining importance at retail in various ways, from sourcing to packaging. A recently opened store by H-E-B underscores how retailers are increasingly embracing environmental sustainability in store development. This 90,000-sq.-ft. unit in Southwest Austin incorporates rainwater harvesting and water retention ponds, in addition to adherence to impervious cover regulations and compliance with all aquifer regulations. H-E-B also is making provisions for solar panel installation in the future.

Emerging In-store Technology One of the important 2022 trends will be the growth of in-store technology. A key example is the evolution of checkout technology by numerous retailers. A case in point is the launch of the largest Amazon Fresh store, featuring Just Walk Out technology. The 35,000-sq.-ft. store, which recently opened in Westmont, Ill., gives customers the option of skipping traditional checkouts by making use of a virtual cart enabled by the Amazon app. The technology enables customers to add items to their virtual cart as they shop, and to finish their transactions and exit the store after scanning an in-store QR code. All of these new stores and formats can be considered retail labs for borrowing ideas as we move into 2022. However, retailers will need to do the hard work of figuring out which ideas are relevant for their own customer bases. Every new year seems like a puzzle waiting for the pieces to be filled in. Retailers can tap into some of these ideas to fit together puzzle pieces for their market areas. dsn


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