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Rex Awards 2020: OTC


One of the oldest segments in retail pharmacy — over-the-counter medications — has been on a fast track as of late. With medical out-of-pocket costs climbing, many consumers increasingly are turning toward OTC products to address myriad health-and-wellness concerns, including pain relief, weight loss, sleeplessness, gastrointestinal issues and cough-cold and sinus needs.

Among the features consumers look for are simple, clean ingredient profiles, efficacy, ease of use, safety and convenience. Seeking to satisfy consumer demands, suppliers are introducing many items that shoppers want and need. 

This month, DSN recognizes the OTC companies at the forefront of innovation that are pushing to make consumers’ lives the healthiest they can be. Here are the winners of the Retail Excellence Award – OTC:

ADM Protexin
Miami-based ADM Protexin remains focused on ensuring that it is always ahead of the curve with the latest science. Its Bio-Kult products are manufactured at the company’s state-of-the-art facility, designed specifically for probiotic research, development and production.

ADM Protexin’s innovation and leadership in the market comes from developing its own research-driven probiotic strains. Alexa Wood, brand manager, said all of the company’s strains are included in the European Qualified Presumption of Safety list. “These lists are compiled by the European Food Standards Agency to assess the compiled evidence and confirm the safety and nomenclature of the bacteria used, ensuring the most stable, effective and research-based strains make it to the marketplace,” she said.

This year, the company will be introducing its newest addition to the Bio-Kult range. Bio-Kult Mind joins Bio-Kult Migréa, expanding the probiotic range specifically targeting the gut-brain axis. Bio-Kult Mind is an advanced multi-action formulation designed to target the digestive tract and cognitive function, Wood said. Bio-Kult Mind contains the company’s own probiotic strain — Bacillus subtilis PXN 21 — and zinc, as well as grape and wild blueberry extracts.

Avadim Health
Asheville, N.C.-based Avadim Health is committed to addressing the needs of patients by offering evidenced-based topical solutions that fill therapeutic gaps in care. Its flagship brand, Theraworx Relief, was created to help minimize muscle cramps, spasms, joint discomfort and inflammation. 

Given the concerns raised by the CDC and other healthcare organizations regarding the growth of antibiotic resistance in treating urinary issues, Avadim recently launched Theraworx Protect U-Pak for Daily Urinary Health. The product includes Theraworx Protect Topical Immune Health System wipes and foam, which are formulated to help protect against urinary tract infections. 

“To us, innovation means being on the forefront of delivering life-changing healthcare products that meet the evolving needs of the patients,” said Ralph Lombardo, senior vice president of sales and marketing. 

Bausch + Lomb
If Bauch + Lomb were a tree, it might be an aspen colony, with far-reaching roots and a reputation for longevity. The Bridgewater, N.J.-based company was founded in 1853 and is the world’s leading provider of eye health products. In the OTC world, its flagship products are contact lens solution and eye drops, including redness reducer Lumify and dry eye remedy Soothe Xtra Protection Preservative Free. It also markets the PreserVision and OcuVite brands of eye-focused vitamins. 

The latest addition to the PreserVision lineup is Areds 2 Minigel Eye Vitamins, which were developed to help prevent the progression of age-related macular degeneration. Besides its products, Bausch + Lomb funds awareness campaigns about eye-related maladies in its efforts to carry out its mission of “helping people see better to live better.”

Founded in 1932, Boiron offers more than 200 SKUs in a number of categories, including cough-cold, external analgesics and children’s medicines. It is best known for its pharmaceutical-grade quality drugs, including the Arnicare line of pain relievers and Oscillococcinum flu medicine.

 “As the U.S. shopper has shifted toward a healthier lifestyle, there is a growing need for products that contain more plant-based and natural active ingredients,” said MaryEllen Tefft, vice president of sales, food, drug and mass at the Newtown Square, Pa.-based company.

Tefft said the fallout over issues with certain OTC heartburn medicines last fall has fueled demand for safer, more natural alternatives to treat heartburn. 

Boiron’s digestive line includes Acidil, plant-based melt-away tablets that target heartburn, stomach pain and bloating. It has no known drug interactions, will not slow down the absorption of other medications or micronutrients, and can be taken before or after a meal on a full or empty stomach. The company recently launched Diaralia, which relieves symptoms of diarrhea, including traveler’s diarrhea, intestinal pain, bloating and gas. Boiron rounds out its digestive line with Gasalia, which the company said targets the entire digestive tract, not just the stomach, to bring relief

Daily Body Restore
Daily Body Restore is best known for its award-winning, science-

based probiotic products with digestive enzymes, which are designed to support gut microbiome, immune function, overall health and heartburn prevention.

The company was founded by Kim Shafer, CEO, after one of her children was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. “Our idea of innovation is leading by example,” said Miranda Prichett, vice president of marketing at the Wixom, Mich.-based company. “We strive to exceed not only the industry standards, but also that of our own.”

Prichett said the company’s motto — “We take what we make”— ensures that she and her team remain personally involved in all aspects of its business. “We have learned from successful entrepreneurs, buyers, distributors, customers and input from our family,” Prichett said. 

The company said it soon will introduce a pet-specific line of products, featuring DBR’s science-based formulations

Doctor Easy
Doctor Easy Medical Products is known as an ear care innovator, first in the medical arena and most recently with WaxRx, a professional-

grade ear wash system developed for OTC. “We knew ear wax sufferers were looking for an answer that was not on the retail shelf,” said Marsha Garcia, president of the Orange Park, Fla.-based business. “To date, our self-care ear wax solution has helped numerous consumers avoid costly medical visits.” 

The success of WaxRx inspired the company to introduce another innovative ear care product. For 2020, Doctor Easy has expanded its retail line to include Earvana, the first-ever, vitamin C-based solution for itchy ears. Earvana was created as a natural alternative to traditional oil-based ear itch remedies, Garcia said.

“Deciding to enter the consumer market took us out of our comfort zone, but the adventure has been worth it,” she said. “We have seen tremendous success with WaxRx and we know this is just the beginning. We are committed to supporting retailers by educating the consumer about the availability of professional-grade ear care products at retail.”

GSK Consumer Healthcare
When the joint venture combining GlaxoSmithKline’s and Pfizer’s consumer health businesses closed last August, GSK Consumer Healthcare became the largest OTC business in the world. Under the umbrella of the Warren, N.J.-based company are such well-known brands as Advil, Tums, Flonase, Centrum, Caltrate, Excedrin and more. 

The company’s biggest move this year has maintained its position as a savvy switcher. In February, the Food and Drug Administration gave the OK for the company to sell its previously prescription-only Voltaren Gel over the counter as Voltaren Arthritis Pain, an external analgesic meant to address pain from arthritis. Worldwide, Voltaren already is a leading OTC product.  The product joins Flonase, GSK Consumer Healthcare’s allergy-relief nasal spray that made the switch in 2015 and has since come to dominate the allergy category alongside Flonase Sensimist, which launched in 2017.

Hisamitsu America
Hisamitsu is a leading innovator and pioneer in OTC topical analgesic patches. Salonpas is the only OTC patch to receive new drug application approval status. While the company may be best known for its patches, it also offers spray, gel, cream and roll-on items that are safe and effective for external pain relief.  

“At Hisamitsu, we believe in the Kaizen approach of always trying to improve our products to help enhance one’s quality of life,” said Alan Squeri, vice president of sales, North America, at the Florham Park, N.J.-based company. “This also applies to how we think of product and marketing innovation.” Squeri said the company constantly looks for ways to improve its existing products to make them more relevant and attractive to consumers. For instance, it recently changed the shape of its patches to reduce accidental peeling and is improving the adhesion of its top selling lidocaine patch this year.  

The company also recently made some changes to Capsicum Hot by reducing the product’s size and taking it from a one-count to a three-count offering. Squeri said this change increases the item’s profit per square inch, while providing consumers a better value. “By continuously improving our product offerings, we increase shopper satisfaction and gain more users,” he said.  

For 117 years, Los Angeles-based Hyland’s has been on an important mission to identify the unmet needs of consumers and create products that address them.

Les Hamilton, president, said Hyland’s does extensive research using focus groups to identify unmet needs they feel are not being addressed with natural offerings. Once a product idea is formulated, the company works closely with retailers to determine if it will sell well.

This cough-cold season, the company will be launching three new 4Kids products, including a liquid pain-relief product, a liquid sore throat product, and a stuffy nose and sinus dissolvable tablet. Hamilton said the company formulated its new items after hearing moms say these types of natural items were missing from the shelves. Its new pain relief product will be the first homeopathic option targeted at kids. 

“From the food she gives her child and the HBC products she uses on their bodies to the OTC medicine she puts in their stomach, moms are looking for natural alternatives she can give her kids that address their healthcare needs simply and safely,” Hamilton said. “When she heads to the cough-cold aisle, she reviews all her choices and increasingly selects natural alternatives, such as homeopathic options.”

Bridgewater, N.J.-based Matrixx is best known as the maker of Zicam Cold Remedy, a line of homeopathic products clinically proven to shorten colds. The brand’s platform: Unlike other cold medicines that only mask cold symptoms, using Zicam at the onset of a cold can lessen the duration of symptoms.

Zicam’s range of products also includes homeopathic allergy relief, nasal congestion and sinus relief.

Gulam Khan, vice president of marketing, said Zicam Nasal AllClear, the company’s newest product, is the only patented swab technology that delivers a triple-action formula. 

“With this product we have created a completely different approach to protecting against nasal discomfort, while easing congestion,” Khan said. “The portable, individually sealed and sanitary cotton-tipped swabs cleanse one’s nose by helping to clear pollutants, irritants and excess mucus, and soothe irritation by keeping delicate nasal passages moist.” 

The company recently has expanded Zicam’s offerings with a chewy fruit drop. The gummy drops are made with a proprietary zinc formulation and are clinically proven to shorten a cold when taken at the first sign. The line first launched with a medicated version and was quickly followed up with an elderberry and orange variety.

When the NasoNeb brand was launched, it had a single goal: to meet the unmet needs of sinus sufferers by offering a superior drug delivery system to help people feel better and breathe easier. Initially, the NasoNeb Complete Sinus Therapy System was introduced in 2009 as a prescription-only controlled intranasal delivery system product. It was so effective that the Medina, Ohio-based company brought it over the counter, making it available without a prescription in 2018.

Company officials said the NasoNeb system’s flexible delivery approach means users can cleanse with a saline solution, maintain nasal and sinus health with a saline-based moisturizer, or treat a specific condition with an OTC or prescription medication. Studies show that NasoNeb’s aerosolized system delivers medication to the nasal and sinus cavities more thoroughly than traditional sprays. It was created to help moderate-to-severe nasal and sinus congestion sufferers better manage their symptoms.

Going forward, NasoNeb said it would continue to invest in research and product development to uncover more ways to help nasal and sinus congestion sufferers breathe better. 

Newell Brands
Sunbeam, a division of Newell Brands, is most known for its range of electric heated pain-relief products. Sunbeam is evolving the one-size-fits-all heating pad by offering heated products that are designed to treat specific needs and target specific body parts. 

“Consumers are looking for modern-day options to treat their individual pain,” said Aimee Yu, senior brand manager at the Boca Raton, Fla.-based company. Yu said Sunbeam products stand apart from other offerings by providing a total solution to pain relief. “Our products can be used to prevent pain and help the healing process as heat increases blood flow to promote tissue healing.” 

Some of the innovations that Sunbeam has introduced include the FlexTempHot Cold Joint Wrap, which  targets elbow and knee joints; FlexFit Heated Wrap, which wraps around body parts like the arm, elbow, wrist, ankle and lower leg; and the Heated Back Wrap, which contours to the back. One of Sunbeam’s newest innovations, the ConformHeat heating pad, flexes around curved body parts to improve contact and provide better heat transfer.

PanTheryx is a biotechnology company committed to addressing a wide range of serious GI microbiome-related health conditions. Founded in 2007 and located in Boulder, Colo., the company is at the forefront of immunology, microbiology and gut health. PanTheryx uses its proprietary technology platform to develop interventions ranging from supplements to biologics that address unmet consumer needs. 

The company is best known for its flagship product, DiaResQ, which launched nationally in 2016. Brian Budeselich, vice president of sales, said the difference between DiaResQ and other OTCs is that it addresses the source, not just the symptoms, associated with diarrhea relief. 

“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. “Unlike the standard of care for diarrhea, which primarily focuses on symptom relief and rehydration, DiaResQ works with the body to address the underlying issue quickly.” 

PharmaCare US
San Diego-based PharmaCare US is part of the PharmaCare Australia group, a family-owned business that produces a variety of health-and-wellness products. 

PharmaCare offers condition-specific formulas for building immune health, prostate health and women’s health. It is the company behind such popular brands as Sambucol, Bioglan Kids Smart, Real Health Labs and Promensil. It also has been one of the fastest growing independent OTC companies over the past two years.

PharmaCare is best known for Sambucol Black Elderberry, the top-selling black elderberry supplement for immune health. Developed by a world-renowned virologist, Sambucol can be taken every day. “For immune support, we feel that the black elderberry market can be on par with vitamin C, and we are proud to be the leading participant in cultivating sustainable growth for the category,” said Art Rowe-Cerveny, vice president of marketing. The Sambucol lineup includes gummies, chewable tablets, pastelles and liquids.

 The company also offers a children’s line, Sambucol for Kids, which Rowe-Cerveny said has increasingly grown popular as demand from mothers looking for alternative options has risen.

Prestige Consumer Healthcare
Prestige Consumer Healthcare is the largest independent provider of over-the-counter products in North America, holding the top position in several categories. While the company’s name might not sound familiar, many of its brands are household staples — Summer’s Eve, Monistat, Dramamine, BC/Goody’s, Chloraseptic, Clear Eyes, Compound W, Nix and Fleet.

According to Joseph Juliano, vice president of marketing, the Tarrytown, N.Y.-based company’s approach to innovation centers on delivering on both the consumers’ and the retailers’ needs. “It could be around a product, communication or the path to purchase, but our strategy remains the same,” Juliano said. “We invest heavily in understanding the needs of the consumer and use these insights to drive our business across all classes of trade.”

Recently launched products include Goody’s Hangover, Dentek Cross-Flosser, BC Max and Summer’s Eve Active. Juliano said each of these items represents innovation within its own category. For example, the Dentek Cross Flosser is an advanced floss pick that was created to remove 80% more plaque from between the teeth than the leading rolled floss, he said.

Randob Labs
Randob Labs is a private, family-held company that has been in business since 1979. The Cornwall, N.Y.-based company has been in the Creagan family since 1991, and Jim Creagan, its current president, has guided Randob to achieve consistent double-digit growth year over year by revitalizing and maintaining heritage brands. 

In 2018, Randob acquired the Balmex brand, and in 2019, the Chiggerex first aid ointment and E-R-O ear wax removal solution were added to the brand portfolio. Looking to 2020, Creagan said Randob is committing to growing share by deploying new marketing strategies, implementing packaging creative, penetrating new markets and providing top level service.

“Balmex has been a trusted name in baby care for over 65 years, and the product does not rest on its laurels,” Creagan said. “The Balmex Cream is powered by zinc oxide, which provides a barrier against moisture and prevents chafing.” Where Balmex goes above and beyond the competition is by neutralizing rash-causing irritants with botanical extracts, he said. In addition to the Balmex baby line, there also are two Balmex adult SKUs. Creagan said these products are positioned to support an aging population from conditions ranging from light bladder leakage to incontinence. 

Several years ago, officials at Rhinomed set out to address what they saw as a growing issue among consumers — the inability to get a good night’s sleep. It was not long before the company found a correlation between poor sleep and the struggle many have to breathe fully through their nose during the night. Thus was born two of the company’s most popular products — Mute and Turbine.

Michael Johnson, CEO and managing partner of the New York City-based company, said 10 years ago, no one understood the connection between good respiration and getting a restful night’s sleep. “A lot has changed since then, and consumers now see how a bad night’s sleep can affect their cognitive and physical health,” Johnson said.  

Rhinomed recently introduced Pronto Sleep, a rechargeable vapor inhaler that opens the nose and delivers a continual stream of essential oils to help people sleep better, and Pronto Clear, which uses essential oils to help clear stuffy noses. “There has been a chronic misuse of sleep drugs occurring for a while now. Consumers are looking for more natural, safer ways to sleep better, and this starts with breathing better through their nose,” Johnson said. 

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