REX Awards 2019: OTC


Consumers make it pretty clear what they expect from OTC products. It all comes down to four factors: accessibility, affordability, trust and empowerment. Offer them, and back it up with some strong marketing, and there is a good chance that they will at least experiment with your brand.

According to the Consumer Healthcare Products Association, consumers are relying on OTCs more than ever. The Washington, D.C.-based trade group’s research shows more than three-quarters of adults look to OTC products as their first choice to deal with minor ailments. Parents are among the most likely to turn to OTC medicines to treat their children’s minor ailments before seeking professional care. The most common healthcare concerns consumers seek out OTCs for include issues related to cough/cold/sinus, digestion, allergies, and minor aches and pains.

This month, Drug Store News recognizes the movers and shakers of the OTC world with our Retail Excellence, or REX, Awards. The winning companies were selected for their dedication to protecting and supporting consumer health. These are companies that have raised the bar higher each year in regard to innovation.

The REX Awards 2019 OTC award recipients are:

ADM Protexin
For more than 20 years, ADM Protexin has been producing probiotic products under its Bio-Kult label. Alexa Wood, brand manager, said ADM Protexin’s innovation and leadership in the market comes from developing its own research-based probiotic strains. To date, the company has developed 14 probiotic strains, all of which are proven to survive the acidity of stomach acid.

Compared with similar items on the market, the Miami-based company’s products contain no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives; are non-GMO; free of gluten, egg and nuts; and have a guaranteed two-year shelf life. ADM Protexin’s products also do not need to be refrigerated.

“We are focused on ensuring we are always at the forefront of the latest science, which includes in-vitro, early-stage development, concept exploration and human clinical trials,” Wood said. “Our Bio-Kult probiotics are manufactured at our state-of-the-art facility in Somerset, South West United Kingdom, designed specifically for probiotic research, development and production.”

This year, the company will be introducing its Bio-Kult Migréa, an advanced combination product that targets both the digestive tract and the head. According to Wood, this new product combines 14 probiotic strains, plus magnesium and vitamin B-6, both of which contribute to the normal functioning of the nervous system.

Aubio Life Sciences
Rachel Wagner, CEO and managing director of Aubio Life Sciences, said when it came to developing the company’s skin care line, the focus was on developing products that featured quality ingredients. It also was important to the company that its formulations would make a difference in people’s lives.

From this mission, Aubio Life Sciences has created its Cold Sore Treatment Gel. Offered in a 3-gram tube, it features lidocaine, allantoin and botanicals. Aubio also offers a Hydrating Lip Balm with sunscreen.

The Scottsdale, Ariz.-based company has partnered with U.S. Ski & Snowboard as their official cold sore treatment provider, as well as the Association of Volleyball Professionals. “We believe harsh weather conditions go hand in hand with the triggers of cold sores,” Wagner said. “Our products are ideal for those leading active and healthy lifestyles.”

Aubio has commissioned a study to review its products’ benefits. The results will be published later this year. Wagner said the study’s preliminary findings support what Aubio officials knew all along — its cold sore products contain antiviral and repair properties.

Avadim Health
Avadim Health is a life sciences company committed to identifying therapeutic gaps in care and filling them with evidence-based, clinically proven solutions. The company’s first innovation, Theraworx Relief, was created to topically address muscle cramps and spasms associated with restless leg syndrome, and officials said approximately 50,000 new patients are started on the product each week.

Ralph Lombardo, senior vice president of sales and marketing at the Asheville, N.C.-based company, said Avadim Health is focused on delivering clinically proven, published and peer-reviewed topical solutions so that consumers, especially seniors, have something they could use affordably without worrying about it interacting with the drugs they take or causing the typical side effects often seen with oral systemic medications.

Avadim Health will launch two new topical innovations in 2019 — one that addresses joint discomfort and inflammation and another for post-menopausal chronic urinary tract infections.“Our highest priority is to bring our retail partners proven and research-based solutions that work,” Lombardo said. “Our academic teaching institutional partners have had tremendous impact on our brands and enable us to publish results.”

The company is working on topical products to address symptoms associated with diabetic neuropathy, chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy and ionizing radiation-induced skin damage for the millions of patients undergoing chemo and radiation therapy.

Bausch + Lomb
Founded in 1853 by J.J. Bausch and Henry Lomb, Bausch + Lomb is the largest global provider of eye health products. After more than 165 years, the company’s mission of “helping people see better to live better” continues as it links the innovation, quality and craftsmanship with the passion and collaborative spirit of its employees.

This focus and drive allowed the Bridgewater, N.J.-based company to earn the status of the fastest growing consumer healthcare business for six consecutive years and be the top driver of growth within the OTC eye care category.

In 2018, Bausch + Lomb brought to market several products designed to help care for patients’ eyes in today’s digital age and support their evolving eye health needs as they age. These products include Lumify redness reliever eye drops, the first and only OTC eye drops containing low-dose brimonidine tartrate developed for the reduction of eye redness, and Soothe Xtra Protection Preservative Free lubricant eye drops, a preservative-free formula to help with dry eye symptoms. Bausch + Lomb also introduced Ocuvite Blue Light eye vitamins and PreserVision AREDS 2 Formula Chewable eye vitamins.

“As a fully integrated U.S. eye care business, Bausch + Lomb is solely dedicated to protecting and supporting the eye health of millions of people around the world,” said Joe Gordon, the company’s president. “We remain relentlessly focused on inventing new materials and engineering new technologies that meet the changing needs of patients.”

Founded in France in 1932 by twin brothers and pharmacists Jean and Henri Boiron, Boiron’s founders saw an opportunity to answer a growing demand for reliable homeopathic products. Headquartered in Lyon, the company continues as an independent pharmaceutical laboratory operated by the Boiron family.

The company is best known for its top-selling flu medicine Oscillococcinum and Arnicare line of pain relievers. Some of its newest products include Arnicare Bruise, Arnicare FootCare and Arnicare Roll-on in the external analgesic category. Boiron’s Camilia line has emerged as a top-selling teething medicine in the baby and children categories. Boiron recently introduced ThroatCalm, an alternative to benzocaine-based medicines, for relief of minor sore throat symptoms.

“Our products are unique because we play in white-space areas where there may not be homeopathic options,” said Gary Wittenberg, vice president of national accounts. “We have also brought innovations to the market with easier-to-take medicines, including quick-dissolving pellets, tablets and sterile single-use liquid doses.”

Boiron offers the medical community a variety of educational resources on the benefits of homeopathy, including sponsorship of training courses conducted by the Center for Education and Development of Clinical Homeopathy.

Doctor Easy Medical Products
Family-owned Doctor Easy was founded in 1997, when physician Teddy Garcia and his wife Marsha saw the need for a safer, more efficient method of earwax removal.

“When all the doctors in our office wanted us to make an ear washer for their practice, I knew we had developed something primary care physicians really needed,” said Marsha Garcia, president of the Orange Park, Fla.-based company.

Since then, the Elephant Ear Washer has been used more than 40 million times and Doctor Easy products have become synonymous with ear cleaning. In the last few years, with increased emphasis on self-care, the company has expanded into the consumer arena, introducing WaxRx, a professional-grade home ear wash system and Earvana for dry ear itch.

“We’re excited by the expanded interest in the ear care category from retailers and grateful for the opportunity to bring our experience in professional ear care to the consumer,” Marsha Garcia said.

GSK Consumer Healthcare
GSK Consumer Healthcare, one of three divisions at GlaxoSmithKline, is known for its Sensodyne, Theraflu, Excedrin, Nicorette, Flonase Allergy Relief and TUMS brands, among others.

Understanding consumers’ everyday healthcare needs, views and product preferences is an integral part of GSK Consumer Healthcare’s new product development process. “Our brands are backed by science and inspired by the real wants and needs of the millions of people who walk into pharmacies, supermarkets and go online all over the world every day,” said Colin Mackenzie, region head, Americas, at GSK Consumer Healthcare.

To drive growth, the company has partnered with leading research and strategy companies to develop insight-led category platforms and innovation solutions. GSK Consumer Healthcare’s Innovation Labs, located at its headquarters in Warren, N.J., enable the company to deliver real-time insights into shoppers’ purchase decisions; unlock healthcare opportunities through science, technology and innovation; and drive deeper collaboration with retail partners.

This state-of-the-art lab suite includes a shopper science lab, a consumer sensory lab, and a research and development lab. According to Mackenzie, the labs were developed with a product’s life cycle in mind, spanning science and research, product development, testing, in-store layout and e-commerce design.

With roots dating back to the early 1900s, Hyland’s has worked hard to earn the status of being the oldest and largest U.S. homeopathic company.

Throughout the years, the Los Angeles-based company has stayed true to its mission of offering consumers of all ages safe, convenient and effective remedies for their health needs. Parents, in particular, have come to rely on the company’s homeopathic products to relieve their children’s oral pain issues or cough-cold symptoms. Adults often turn to Hyland’s for its leg pain products.

This past year, Hyland’s has introduced several new line extensions, including its Baby Oral Pain Relief Tablets, which are now available in day and night formulas. The company also debuted Hyland’s 4 Kids Leg Pain Relief. Next, Hyland’s rolled out Restful Legs PM for those experiencing leg cramps that keep them up at night. Recognizing the need for a homeopathic menopause formula, Hyland’s introduced Doctor Wise Homeopathy, a five-SKU line created to relieve symptoms many older women experience as they age.

“People come to our brand because they are looking for a gentle, safe choice made with natural ingredients,” said Thao Le, vice president of marketing and innovation. “In many cases, they are searching for an option that does not contain NSAIDs and will not interfere with other medicines they may be taking. Alternative medicines such as homeopathy, which date back to the late 1700s, fit that description well.”

IM Health Science
Officials at Boca Raton, Fla.-based IM Health Science proudly said their products are “powered by nature, perfected by science.” It is a combination they think will play nicely with consumers, especially those with irritable bowel syndrome or functional dyspepsia.

IM Health Science offers IBgard, a product that uses peppermint oil and a delivery system that ensures it is delivered to the small intestine, the primary site of IBS. In clinical, multicentered,

double-blind and placebo-controlled trials, the company said the product has been shown to start working as early as 24 hours and continues to work for as long as four weeks. IBgard is available in two SKUs, a 12-capsule package and a 48-capsule package.

FDgard is designed to treat functional dyspepsia in the upper belly using a combination of caraway oil and peppermint oil. The product is available in two SKUs, a 12-count and 36-count package.

“Our products meet an unmet need,” said Dave Swenson, president of the company. There is a large population of people out there looking for items likes these that are natural and backed by science.”

Oakland, Calif.-based Kamedis is best known for its clinically proven, botanical-based skin care products that treat acne, eczema, dandruff, psoriasis, itching, irritation and redness without known side effects or additives, such as parabens, steroids, dyes and SLS.

Kamedis’ products go beyond treating symptoms to help restore the body’s natural balance. The company’s skin care collections contain clinically proven products that are the first to merge Eastern with Western approaches, applying traditional Chinese medicinal principles and proven botanicals in pharmacy-available products.

Kelli Rodriguez, director of U.S. sales and marketing, said Kamedis’ products were created to help skin differently than other products on the market. “Our extraction process and patented botanical combinations result in products that don’t just work on your skin, they work with your skin, triggering your immune system to fight dermatologic disorders and help restore the skin’s natural balance rapidly and effectively,” Rodriguez said.

The company recently introduced a therapeutic line of shampoos, lotions, creams and gels that combine traditional Chinese medicinal botanicals with Western ingredients. Among them is the new Eczema Therapy Cream and Eczema Therapy Wash is a two-step eczema regimen that officials said has been clinically proven to reduce flare-ups by 50% in two weeks. “Our products work, contain no steroids and are safe. It took a 3,000-year-old system to deliver results in days or hours,” Rodriguez said.

Lifelab Health
Coconut Creek, Fla.-based Lifelab Health’s singular mission is providing consumers with U.S.-made healthcare products, featuring natural and organic ingredients.

The company’s NuSyllium product, for example, is made with 100% USDA-certified organic psyllium fiber. NuSyllium is GMO- and gluten-free, has no artificial flavorings or food dyes, and comes in original and natural orange flavors. According to managing director Louis Machin, the organic psyllium fiber in NuSyllium is clinically proven to promote digestive health, lower cholesterol levels and help with weight management.

Extending its natural product offerings, Lifelab Health has introduced NuAloe Organic Aloe Vera, an aloe drink supplement offered in individual, freeze-dried granulated powder packets. With an emphasis on convenience, NuAloe powder packets require no refrigeration and are ideal for on-the-go healthy lifestyles.

Looking to tap into the interest in organic products, Lifelab introduced its HoneyWorks line of cough-cold products for children and adults. Made with 100% USDA-certified organic dark honey, HoneyWorks products offer fast, drug-free and effective relief from sore throats and coughs. HoneyWorks is free from such artificial additives as dyes, preservatives, flavorings and colorings. It also is free of GMOs, gluten, dairy, tree nuts and peanuts, and has no trans fats. “Within our HoneyWorks line, we included certified organic options for the increasing number of parents looking for drug-free cough-cold alternatives to give their kids,” Machin said.

When officials at Medina, Ohio-based NasoNeb set out to create its Sinus Therapy System, they wanted the product to be effective, as well as easy and comfortable to use.

The company introduced the third generation NasoNeb Sinus Therapy System in 2018, which incorporates changes inspired by consumer feedback. It also introduced the NasoNeb Moisturizing Nasal Solution last year. Kathleen Leigh, vice president of marketing, said the solution’s dual-salt formulation includes multiple moisturizers and is specifically pH-balanced for the nose.

Leigh pointed out that peer-reviewed clinical studies from leading institutions have demonstrated that the NasoNeb system offers comprehensive relief because it delivers product to the whole sinus cavity. “It is designed to be less drying than saline alone. For retailers, it represents a strong repeat sales opportunity,” Leigh said.

NasoNeb also has invested in additional equipment for its warehouse and production areas to increase capacity. The company supports its retailers with coordinated marketing that includes in-store promotions, temporary price reductions, shelf tags, circulars, social media, print, direct mail, electronic advertising and geotargeting.

PanTheryx is a biotechnology company focused on realizing the potential of novel interventions to address a wide range of serious GI microbiome-related health conditions. Founded in 2007, the Boulder, Colo.-based company uses its proprietary technology platform to develop offerings that range from supplements to biologics that address unmet needs in the care continuum.

The company is best known for its flagship product DiaResQ, which launched nationally in 2016. As Brian Budeselich, the company’s vice president of sales, said, what makes DiaResQ different is that it addresses the source, not just the symptoms, associated with diarrhea.

“It is a food for special dietary use that contains immune factors, micronutrients and macronutrients that are beneficial for children and adults with diarrhea,” Budeselich said.

DiaResQ has been selected by healthcare equity organization PATH as one of the top 30 leading healthcare innovations with great promise to transform global health by 2030.

As a company, PanTheryx is gaining recognition for the innovation in its pipeline — medical food and biologics candidates — being developed for C. difficile infections, chemotherapy-induced diarrhea and inflammatory bowel disease.

Pfizer Consumer Healthcare
Pfizer Consumer Healthcare develops, manufactures and markets nonprescription medicines, vitamins and nutritional products, including such brands as Advil, Centrum, ChapStick, Emergen-C, Robitussin and Preparation H, among others.

“Our deep understanding of what consumers need and want, combined with rigorous science that is the foundation of our research and development program, has helped us develop innovative healthcare solutions throughout the years,” said Kevin Macero, chief customer officer at the New York-based company.

Putting these insights to work, the company introduced several new products in 2018, including Robitussin Honey Maximum Strength Cough + Chest Congestion DM — the first of its kind among leading cough brands. Emergen-C introduced Probiotics+, containing two strains of probiotics for immune health support, plus vitamin C. Pfizer Consumer Healthcare also expanded ChapStick’s Total Hydration line with a Vitamin Enriched Lip Oil.

“We pride ourselves on the trust we have been able to build with our retail partners through mutually beneficial strategic relationships — going beyond tactical and transactional — to bring solutions that benefit both retailers and consumers,” Macero said.

PPC Group
Los Angeles-based PPC Group is best known for its EZC Pak, a physician-formulated immune support pack composed of organic echinacea, zinc and vitamin C. According to company officials, EZC Pak was designed to target antibiotic overuse for colds and flu.

Physician Sarath Malepati, CEO and creator of the EZC Pak, said his company’s product is one of the few utilizing premium ingredients. It also is one of the only ones to not have added sugar.

The company recently launched EZC Pak-D, which has all the benefits of its premium EZC Pak, plus vitamin D. Due to growing interest, the company’s products now are available in more than 8,000 retail locations.

“EZC Pak is the only OTC physician-directed solution for colds and flu in the category,” Malepati said. “Our brand identity blends the best of natural with the knowledge of modern medicine and pharmacy for the mass market audience.”

Prestige Consumer Healthcare
For Prestige Consumer Healthcare in Tarrytown, N.Y., its drive to innovate comes from the desire to improve consumers’ lives within the OTC healthcare category, company officials said. Some of the brands the company is most known for include Summer’s Eve, Monistat, Clear Eyes, Dentek, Dramamine, Compound W and Nix.

The company recently introduced a number of products within its existing brands. It launched Dramamine-N Multi-Purpose formula for relief of nausea and Dramamine-N Long-Lasting formula, which offers up to 24 hours of nausea relief and prevention. Within its Compound W line, the company introduced NitroFreeze, the first OTC wart remedy to contain nitrous oxide. The company’s Summer’s Eve brand launched FreshCycle, a line of feminine cleansers.

“For generations, our trusted brands have helped consumers care for themselves and their loved ones,” said Joseph Juliano, vice president of innovation and consumer insights. “We are constantly improving, creating products that match the ever-changing lifestyles and needs of people and families everywhere.”

Juliano referred to Prestige Consumer Healthcare as a different kind of company. “We are the largest independent provider of

over-the-counter products in North America, yet nimble enough to give detailed attention to every one of our product offerings.”

Since its founding in 2013, Rhinomed has been focused on helping people overcome breathing issues stemming from nasal congestion and obstruction. CEO Michael Johnson said Rhinomed’s strategy is to ensure its products are not only on retail shelves, but that they carry the endorsement of leading clinicians.

The company, which has offices in Melbourne, Australia, and Cincinnati, is best known for Turbine, a breathing aid favored by many top-level athletes, and Mute, an adjustable nasal dilator created to help people breathe more, snore less and sleep better. More recently, the company has been working on better understanding the relationship between nasal congestion, sleep and aromatherapy. After extensive consumer research, listening to leading sleep dentists and sleep specialists, and getting feedback from the U.S. Army, Rhinomed will be introducing a line of pure essential oil vapor, delivering products this spring.

“Medical research is increasingly telling us that how well one sleeps can impact many aspects of your life — from heart health and cognition to your mental state,” Johnson said. “Rhinomed is committed to driving innovation and creating new, noninvasive solutions that radically improve the way people breathe, sleep, maintain their health and take medication.”

American Fork, Utah-based Xlear was founded in 2000 and is best known for its patented sinus care products and Spry Dental Defense System, both of which are xylitol-based. The products first debuted in the natural products industry, but as word spread, Xlear easily has been able to expand into food, drug and mass retail outlets. The company recently introduced Xlear 12 Hour decongestant nasal spray.

“There really hasn’t been much innovation in the nasal spray/sinus care category for decades,” said Nathan Jones, the company’s president. Jones said that xylitol was chosen for Xlear’s products because of its effectiveness binding to bacteria.

“What’s more, by utilizing xylitol in our sinus formulas, we are able to mitigate most of the negative side effects traditional sinus products cause, including the really bad taste, dryness, increased upper respiratory tract infections, and it can substantially reduce the rebound effect,” Jones said. “And, unlike other products used to treat sinus issues, ours can be used preventively as well.”

Given xylitol’s long-standing reputation in preventing tooth decay, Jones’ company recently developed its Spry Dental Defense System, which includes gum, mints, toothpaste and mouthwash, as well as several products designed for children. As is the case with the company’s nasal products, xylitol acts to prevent bacteria from colonizing in the mouth. “Because bacteria can’t thrive, it also can’t produce its by-product, acid, which can lead to tooth decay and cavities,” Jones said.


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