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PPC Group’s Malepati talks making immunity easy as EZC

PPC Group’s EZC Pak is aiming to help consumers improve their health by treating an immunity supplement like a prescription. The OTC offering from the Los Angeles-based health product team is designed to help combat the issue of antibiotic overuse by bolstering the immune system. DSN caught up with PPC Group’s medical director, physician Sarath Malepati, to discuss the product and the opportunities it offers retailers.

Drug Store News: Can you tell us a little bit about EZC Pak?
Sarath Malepati: EZC Pak is a physician-formulated, five-day, tapered immune support pack targeting antibiotic overuse in viral upper respiratory infections, commonly known as colds and flus. EZC stands for echinacea – zinc – vitamin C. The formulation is based upon the best available clinical data to provide optimal immune support.

EZC Pak is all natural with no added sugar. That was very important for us, as well. Our goal was to create an immune-support product that healthcare providers and pharmacists are comfortable recommending to their patients. A product that is not only professional strength, but also vegetarian, utilizes non-GMO ingredients and is gluten-free to meet patient preference, as well.

DSN: What do retailers need to do in terms of merchandising and marketing to most benefit from the EZC Pak?
SM: EZC Pak is the only physician-directed OTC-dose pack in the cold and flu category. The key is that it is physician-directed. EZC Pak saves the customer the cost and time of the doctor’s visit at initial onset of the problem.

The packaging is clinical by design. The dosing instructions are on the back of the package, as well as the inner blister packs. This way your patient knows what to take and when to take it. EZC Pak comes in quantities of six, with a visually appealing six-piece countertop display unit. We also have larger 24-piece countertop displays and floor stands that we are happy to send as needed. We recommend placing the product on the pharmacy counter and in the cough-cold section.

DSN: Education is crucial to the growth of this product. How are you educating consumers?
SM: Yes, you are correct. Educating the consumer is very important. We launched an animated music video on YouTube and Facebook that has over 5 million views and was recently nominated for a Telly Award. Our goal for the video was to educate the consumer on the dangers of inappropriate antibiotic use. Eighty percent of colds and flus are viral, and antibiotics can’t treat viral infections.

While reaching the consumer directly is ultimately important, the majority of our time and resources are dedicated to educating healthcare professionals, such as medical providers and pharmacists — the people you turn to when you get sick. This is where EZC Pak can make the greatest impact on reducing inappropriate antibiotic use.

We are heavily involved in patient education in partnership with medical providers, including physicians, nurse practitioners and physician assistants. We participate and speak at many medical conferences, and also work with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Be Antibiotics Aware initiative.

It is amazing to see the impact that just one provider can have when they adopt EZC Pak as a part of their treatment plan for viral URI. We are very encouraged by the response from the medical community thus far.

DSN: Any plans to grow your product line?
SM: EZC Pak-D is our premium five-day pack launching this fall 2018, and contains vitamin D. Vitamin D has stronger clinical data supporting its use than vitamin C, but it would be difficult to launch a cold and flu product brand that did not contain vitamin C from the start given the ingredient’s popularity.

The future is bright. We are working hard every day to meet and exceed the demands of our retail partners and our mutual customers.
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