Q&A: Xlear president highlights importance of upper respiratory health

What do chewing gum and ear infections have in common? You might think nothing, but 20 years ago, Xlear’s founder, Alonso Jones, looked at studies showing lower rates of ear infections among children using xylitol chewing gum and saw potential, especially given xylitol’s ability to reduce bacterial adhesion of common pathogens that cause upper respiratory infections. Now, company president Nathan Jones, Alonso’s son, told Drug Store News Xlear and education are vital to helping consumers get through the coronavirus pandemic and maintain upper respiratory health

Drug Store News: How can your products help during this crisis?  
Nathan Jones: This COVID-19 crisis is a respiratory crisis. Almost by definition that means that the problems are in the airway. Multiple papers have been published [that] point out that 90% of the viral load of this virus resides in the upper airway. If that is true then it is of extreme importance to make sure that we are doing everything we can to hydrate our upper airway, to do what we can to help it naturally and efficiently clean the air that we are breathing.  

Our mucous is a very important part of our natural defenses. It traps viruses, bacteria, allergens, and washes them away. If we use antihistamines, decongestants and steroids to dry up the mucous without anything to help keep that mucosal layer intact, then we are hobbling our defenses. Our mucous will become dry and cracked, and it exposes all the underlying tissue to the bacteria and viruses that we are breathing in. Traditional nasal sprays are all designed to dry out the airway. Xlear with xylitol is unique in that our goal is to thin out the mucous so that the body can more efficiently clean it away after it has trapped the pathogens.

DSN: What do you recommend retailers do to educate consumers about these products? 
NJ: Retailers should be pointing out to their customers that the purpose of the nose is to clean the air. 

If they are ever uncomfortable because of dryness, then they should be using something to moisturize their airway. If a person is taking drugs that cause dry mouth, chances are very high that they will also have a dry airway. While there is a lot of talk about the importance of dry mouth products that can hydrate the mouth, it is just as important or more important that they also talk about hydrating the airway. 

DSN: What is Xlear doing to help educate both retailers and consumers?
NJ: Our company philosophy is to do what we can to reduce the amount of drugs that are used and, at the same time, to provide solutions that are more effective and cheaper. Health care shouldn’t be expensive.

So, what we have been doing for the past 20 years is getting out there trying to get physicians onboard with why xylitol is a much better option than saline. Using a hydrating ingredient at the same time as a decongestant or antihistamine, while it might sound counterproductive, is the best option for the customer. Any chronic airway issues that the customer might be having would be benefited with a xylitol nasal spray also. 

DSN: Tell us about some of your new products.
NJ: Our new products that are now on the market and the ones that we are hoping to get out during the next 18 months are OTC nasal sprays that combine the use of decongestants, antihistamines and steroids with the xylitol. 

Many people have specific drugs that work best for them. We want to provide those needed drugs and provide them with the added benefits of xylitol. 

We want people that are using oxymetazoline and are happy with the results they get with it to start using the Xlear brand, which will not only give them the benefits of the oxymetazoline, but also the hydrating and cleaning effect of the xylitol. 

The Xlear 12 Hour product is our first combination of an OTC and xylitol, and we are looking at getting a few more options out within the next 18 months.