REX Awards 2023 - OTC

DSN’s Retail Excellence Awards spotlight companies that help consumers treat minor maladies with over-the-counter solutions.

Since 1976, more than 120 medications have switched from prescription to over-the-counter availability. According to the Consumer Healthcare Products Association, these ingredients, indications and dosages in the Rx-to-OTC pathway include antihistamines, nasal decongestants, analgesics and much more. 

In addition to these switches, there have been many product developments over the years that were launched as OTC products. The CHPA, citing its study with Nielsen, reported sales of OTC medicines at retail totaled nearly $37.7 billion in 2021. The sales drove considerable health care savings. In its 2022 Over-The-Counter Value Study, the CHPA reported that 82% of consumers who treat their symptoms with OTC medicines would have sought professional medical treatment if the OTC item had not been available. The study noted that OTC drove $56.8 billion in drug cost savings and $110.3 billion in cost savings from unneeded doctor’s visits.

This year’s winners of REX Awards – OTC are companies that are developing innovative products that help consumers self-treat a variety of issues.


Bausch + Lomb 

Global eye health company Bausch + Lomb offers more than 400 products including contact lenses, lens care products, eye care products, ophthalmic pharmaceuticals, over-the-counter products and ophthalmic surgical devices and instruments. Its OTC product portfolio includes the categories of ocular nutritional supplements, eye drops and lens care solutions. 

In 2022, the Bridgewater, N.J.-based brand launched several products. Biotrue Hydration Plus Multi-Purpose Solution provides more moisture to contact lenses for those patients who depend on their contact lenses for most of the day and may experience lens dryness and discomfort. The company also introduced an enhanced 

Ocuvite Adult 50+ eye vitamin with Vitamin D to help support healthy cell function, which is key to protecting eye health. 

This year the company is celebrating its 170th anniversary and plans to launch several OTC products in the U.S. to address dry eyes and contact lens dryness. The new products will include line extensions to the Biotrue brand, including Biotrue Hydration Boost Contact Lens Rehydrating drops and PreserVision AREDS 2 Formula eye vitamins.


Doctor Easy 

The mission of Doctor Easy Medical Products is to bring clinically proven, effective ear wax removal to the consumer. “From the start, our driving motivation has been to help consumers avoid costly doctor visits,” said Marsha Garcia, president. “Our secondary goal has been to protect the unsuspecting from gimmicky ear wax products that crop up year after year but don’t actually work.” 

WaxRx is based on the brand’s professional ear washers, which have been used over 50 million times in the medical setting. “Our innovation is offering consumers and retailers a real OTC solution, for even the most stubborn ear wax impaction, something that was not available in the pharmacy until WaxRx came along,” Garcia said. 

The Orange Park, Fla.-based company’s current products include the WaxRx Ear Wash System, WaxRx Refill Kit, Earvana Ear Rinse for itchy ears, and WaxRx Carbamide Peroxide Ear Wax Drops. The focus now is to raise brand awareness of the WaxRx Ear Wash System through national cable TV advertising, pharmacist education and in-store promotions. WaxRx has had tremendous success with current retail partners, Garcia said, and the goal is to reach retailers that do not offer the products and demonstrate how they can boost their ear category sales


Focus Consumer Healthcare 

The driving force for Focus Consumer Healthcare is typically a consumer need that is not being met in the current marketplace. In the cold sore category, the Chattanooga, Tenn.-based company found an unmet need for pain and itch relief. It launched another product in the Herpecin L line, Herpecin L Pain Relief with Lidocaine. The company is working to make Herpecin L Pain Relief more accessible to cold sore sufferers who need the immediate pain and itch relief of a lidocaine item for their cold sores. 

Focus Consumer Healthcare also repositioned and repackaged its base item, now Herpecin L Everyday Protection. “We listened to consumers, learned more about how they are using the product, and ended up really leaning into the heritage of the brand, which was always intended to be a proactive step against cold sore flare up triggers like sun damage and skin damage,” said Kevin Menzel, managing director and chief operating officer. “Herpecin L is now helping cold sore sufferers through all the various stages of their cold sore episodes.” 

In addition to Herpecin L, Focus Consumer Healthcare’s brands include Pamprin, Garlique, Blue Star, Zapzyt, Sun In, UltraSwim, and Benzodent. For 2023 the company will continue in launch mode and distribution expansion for Garlique Healthy Blood Pressure and Herpecin Pain Relief with Lidocaine.



A pharmaceutical, clinical nutrition and dietary supplement company, Megalabs USA offers therapeutic solutions for a healthier life. The Miami-based company has two divisions that it highlights in the U.S. Dietary Supplements, including digestive products such as probiotics and laxatives as well as items in the cough and cold category. It also has Specialty Nutrition that includes drinks for wound healing and diabetic nutritional drinks. 

In 2022 Megalabs acquired Victus and plans to offer its line of nutritional products across the region. It also will continue to focus on the wellness and natural market, strategic segments Megalabs hopes to grow in the coming years. 

This year the company plans to focus on Prunelax, its heritage laxative brand, which has several different formulations including traditional tablets and capsules, syrups, jams, gummies and tea. Also being highlighted is Prospan, a natural and effective brand for those suffering from cough and cold. Prospan is formulated with special ivy extract EA575, which the company said has been clinically proven, with 11 studies and 65,000 patients, to support the respiratory system to relieve cough, open airways and reduce phlegm and inflammation.



Nufabrx sells medicine-infused compression sleeves that treat pain. The portfolio consists of six products: Knee, Leg, Ankle, Arm, Shin and Wrist, and the products can be found at retailers in the braces and compression sleeve section. The pain relief ingredient, capsaicin, is in the yarn of the fabric, and the products provide contact-activated medicine. 

“We sit at the intersection of pharmaceuticals and apparel,” said Jason Andree, chief marketing officer. The compression sleeves can deliver a controlled dose of medications for all day pain relief. The embedded medicine releases into the skin on contact, providing targeted pain relief. Meanwhile, the compressive fabric pro- vides pressure to support circulation and help eliminate fluid buildup and inflammation. The products are reusable, and the medicine lasts for 15-plus washes. 

In 2023 Nufabrx will add Neck and Back SKUs, as working from home has driven an uptick in neck and back pain. The company is based in North Carolina, where it manufactures in the historic mill towns of Asheboro and Conover. The company began in 2011, when founder Jordan Schindler developed a bamboo pillowcase embedded with tea tree oil and lavender for people with acne.


Pharmacare US

Black elderberries help support the immune system because they are a natural source of vitamins C, E, and A, and contain more free-radical-fighting antioxidants than cranberries, blueberries, and pomegranates.

Pharmacare US makes Sambucol Black Elderberry products using premium Haschberg berries that are grown in Central Europe. Among the newest products is 5-in-1 Intense Defense, which contains echinacea, zinc, vitamin C and white willow, a natural source of salicin, a pain reliever. The Liquid Action Softgels are free from gluten and artificial flavors. 

The San Diego-based company is working on other new products for launch this year.


ProBiora Health

The oral health category has many products that focus on removing the mouth’s bad, harmful bacteria that cause cavities, gum disease and bad breath. ProBiora Health offers a different approach, based on the concept that a healthy mouth needs good (probiotic) bacteria too. The good bacteria in ProBiora oral care probiotics help to crowd out the bad bacteria to maintain a healthy mouth and tooth and gum biome. 

Sarasota, Fla.-based ProBiora offers a line of oral care probiotics for adults, kids and pets. For adults, ProBiora oral care probiotics come in Hint of Mint, Extra Minty and new Orange flavor. For kids, ProBiora is available in Orange Creamsicle flavor. For cats and dogs, ProBiora comes in a dry, odorless and flavorless daily 

probiotic powder that can be sprinkled on their food. All ProBiora oral care probiotics are gluten-free, vegetarian-friendly, with no artificial flavors or colors. Additionally, they are safe to use with dental and orthodontic appliances. 

For 2023, ProBiora is evolving its packaging, adding new flavors to the adult and kid lineups and introducing single-serve packets in the pet items.


Quest Products

Quest Products creates healthcare OTC solutions with brands that include OraCoat oral care, Clinere ear care, Alocane and ProVent first aid, Enemeez digestive health, SunBurnt after-sun skin recovery and SleepWell sleep products. 

In 2022, in response to pandemic and inflation-related challenges, Quest Products looked at innovating to reinvigorate more stagnant categories. It expanded the Alocane brand beyond the gel form into a spray form, as company research indicated that 41% of shoppers in the burn segment said they preferred a spray format, which allows them to treat their burn without touching it. In the Clinere brand, Quest added a Carbamide Peroxide Earwax Removal Kit to the line, as consumers indicated they wanted a medicated solution in addition to the Natural Oil Earwax Removal Kit. 

This year Quest plans to highlight SunBurnt Plus, the after-sun skin recovery gel that combines the efficacy of lidocaine with botanical ingredients. The relaunch of Enemeez mini-enema brand will continue to be a focus, and the Provent Skin Tag Band Kit is bringing a popular solution from online to brick-and-mortar shelves.


Total Resources International

Known for its first aid kits and wound care products, Total Resources International launched a Diabetic Wound Care line in 2022. “We noticed for those living with diabetes, there are solutions for their health, diet and management, but nothing in the market for diabetic wound care,” said Geolyn Gonzalez, vice president of sales and marketing. The line focuses on infection prevention and the company plans to launch more products in the line this year. 

TRI’s flagship brand is Be Smart Get Prepared (BSGP), which are First Aid Kits and Emergency Preparedness solutions that cover multiple retail categories, including HBC, outdoors and emergency survival. In addition to BSGP, in 2018 TRI launched SILVEX brand, a silver first aid and wound care solution, in the HBC category. SILVEX Nano Silver Wound Gel is in 7,000+ major retail stores nationwide and SILVEX Nano Silver Antibacterial Wound Wash will launch in Walmart and Walgreens in March 2023. 

The Walnut, Calif.-based company has a social impact program, Every Kit Cares. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of all TRI products funds projects to enrich children and families with life-changing opportunities, empower them with the knowledge to build strong foundations and shape impactful leaders.



Xlear manufactures and sells nasal and oral hygiene products. In the nasal category, the addition of xylitol to a saline nasal spray can more effectively wash the upper airway where most infections in the human body begin. Xylitol has been shown to block the adhesion of many bacteria and viruses, and the company has scientific studies showing these results on its website. 

In oral hygiene, the Spry brand is a complete line of dental care products utilizing xylitol to improve oral health. Xylitol works differently than fluoride by changing the oral microbiome to bacteria that does not create acid that results in cavities. The brand recently improved the formulation with the new EnamelMax formula, which includes STMP to help in strengthening the enamel and helps with sensitivity. 

In 2023 the American Fork, Utah-based company will continue to focus on these products and cough drops, as the main entry point for bacteria and viruses is still in the upper airway, including the nose and mouth.

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