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REX Awards 2024: OTC Products

Drug Store News’ Retail Excellence Awards recognize manufacturers for innovation in over-the-counter remedies
Nora Caley

The over-the-counter drug industry is seeing growth in sales and in innovation. According to the Consumer Healthcare Products Association, retail sales of OTC medicines totaled $41.2 billion in 2022, up from $37.7 billion in 2021. The CHPA also noted that two first-in-class Rx-to-OTC switches occurred in 2023: naloxone hydrochloride, or Narcan, a nasal spray to treat opioid overdoses, and norgestrel, or Opill, to prevent pregnancy.

Consumers appreciate the convenience and accessibility of more routine OTC drugs. According to a Mintel report, A Year of Innovation in the OTC Medications Market 2023, pain is an important driver of many OTC sales, and 30% of U.S. adults consider targeted relief when purchasing OTC pain remedies.

Pain is a wide-reaching category, and consumers shop for various benefits. Women seek deals, men rely on brand recognition, and younger shoppers seek clean formulations.

This year’s winners of DSN’s REX Awards – OTC are companies that are developing innovative products in a variety of categories, all enabling retailers to help consumers self-treat issues.

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crossingwell group

CrossingWell Consumer Health

Family-owned CrossingWell Consumer Health’s expertise is revitalizing and maintaining heritage brands. The Cornwall on Hudson, N.Y.-based company has achieved consistent double-digit growth year over year with this strategy.

In 2023 CrossingWell, formerly Randob Labs, relaunched the PediaCare brand. PediaCare is now available at several national and regional grocery and drug chains. The brand re-introduced five SKUs to the market, including Children’s and Infants’ Acetaminophen, Children’s Ibuprofen, Cough & Cold and Cough & Congestion.

“The brand was on the market for three or four years under previous owners,” said Jim Creagan, president and second-generation owner of CrossingWell. “We did some research, and PediaCare is still a very trusted name.” In first aid, CrossingWell has two top-performing insect bite and sting brands, Sting-Kill and Chiggerex. Both brands have been on the market for decades and have loyal customers. To bolster its first aid lineup, CrossingWell acquired Bacitraycin Plus and Zinc Oxyde Plus in 2021. Creagan said Bacitraycin Plus is the only nationally branded bacitracin ointment that contains the doctor-recommended antibiotic for healing from minor cuts, scrapes and burns alongside soothing aloe.

In the baby space, CrossingWell has Balmex diaper rash cream and ointment, a brand the company acquired in 2018. Creagan said the company invested in new packaging and marketing guided by quantitative consumer research, and the result has been high consumer loyalty and repeat purchase rates at key retailers and expanded distribution into additional retailers.

doctor east waxrx

Doctor Easy

The developer of clinical and at-home ear wash, Doctor Easy Medical Products have been helping clinicians and consumers clear out impacted ear wax for more than 25 years. Doctor Easy invented spray ear wash technology for the medical community in 1997, and developed a home use version six years ago with the WaxRx Ear Wash System. “Since then, our sole focus has been on educating retailers and consumers about the availability of our professional grade ear washer in the ear care category,” said Marsha Garcia, president.

Garcia said the inspiration for the products comes from Doctor Easy’s background in patient care. WaxRx was fashioned after the company’s professional ear washers, invented for physicians in its walk-in clinics to treat patients for ear wax impaction. Doctor Easy brought the WaxRx all-in-one kit to retail, which expanded the ear care category for retailers and allowed patients to skip the doctor’s visit and realize cost savings and convenience.

Doctor Easy’s products include the original Elephant Ear Washer used in clinics, the Rhino Ear Washer with a smaller nozzle for one-handed use, WaxRx for use at home and Earvana Ear Wash ear cleansing system with a Vitamin C formula. In 2024, the Orange Park, Fla.-based company will continue to expand distribution of WaxRx so consumers can find professional grade ear wax relief at their favorite retailer.

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haleon sensodyne


A merging of the words “hale,” an old English word that means “in good health,” and “leon,” which is associated with the word “strength,” Haleon became a standalone company in 2022 after the demerger of Consumer Healthcare from GSK. The largest consumer healthcare company in the world, Haleon’s U.S. brands include Advil, Centrum, Emergen-C, Excedrin, Flonase, Gas-X, Nexium, Nicorette, Preparation H, Sensodyne, Robitussin, Theraflu, TUMS, Voltaren and more.

Haleon recently launched several products, including Sensodyne Clinical White premium whitening paste for visibly whiter teeth. The product offers up to two shades whiter teeth and 24/7 sensitivity protection. It is clinically proven to whiten, polish and protect teeth from future stains and is enamel safe. The company said the consumer insight that inspired the launch is that 86% of people with sensitive teeth also want whiter teeth, and current whitening OTC treatments can be tough on sensitive teeth.

Other new products include Voltaren Joint Health & Bone Strength Dietary Supplements and Joint Comfort & Movement Dietary Supplements; Advil Dual Action Back Pain with acetaminophen and ibuprofen; Centrum Maternal Health PreNatal Multivitamin Gummies, Morning Sickness Relief Gummies, and Maternal Health PostNatal Multivitamin Gummies; and Emergen-C Crystals for Immune Support.

Hyland’s Women’s Health

Hyland’s Naturals

Hyland’s Naturals has a portfolio of products for babies, kids, moms and active consumers. The Los Angeles-based company’s products are manufactured in the USA in GMP facilities. The items contain no artificial flavors or dyes and are free of top allergens.

Among the newer baby care products is Hyland’s Naturals Organic Cough & Immune Daytime and Nighttime formulas, made with chamomile, organic agave and organic black elderberry. For baby skincare, the lineup includes Organic All Purpose Balm, Eczema Lotion, Organic Calming Balm and Diaper Rash Cream.

For kids two to 12, newer items include Organic Cough & Immune Daytime and Nighttime formulas with organic agave, organic honey and organic elderberry.

For adults, in addition to legacy products such as Hyland’s Naturals Leg Cramps tablets, caplets, and ointment, the brand offers natural pain relief, vitamins, and immune support in gummies, capsules, ointments, and more. Among the newest items is Women’s Menopause Multi + Youthful Skin, which contains 18 essential nutrients for overall wellness, chasteberry and red clover for menopause support, and collagen and biotin for youthful skin.

nordic naturals ultimate omega one daily

Nordic Naturals

From its beginnings as a fish oil company, Nordic Naturals now offers more than 200 products, including omegas, probiotics, and vitamins and minerals. The company distributes products to 35 global markets. Nordic Naturals is the number-one selling fish oil brand in the United States, based on Stackline, Nielsen and SPINS annual sales data.

The Watsonville, Calif.-based company is committed to delivering safe and effective nutrients essential to health. Nordic Naturals also is committed to sustainability, and all the fish oils are Friends of the Sea Certified, which means they come from healthy fisheries.

“Our exceptionally fresh, pure, and effective ingredients distinguish our brand as a trusted leader in the supplement industry,” said Brian Terry, senior director of sales, retail.

For 2024, Nordic Naturals will focus on fish oil, and expand other product lines. Among the new products are Ultimate Omega One Daily, featuring the brand’s highest-concentration omega-3 fish oil in re-esterified triglyceride form to deliver essential fatty acid support for cardiovascular, brain and immune health, the company said. Men’s Multivitamin One Daily provides 20 essential vitamins and minerals in one highly bioavailable tablet. Women’s Multivitamin One Daily provides 20 essential vitamins and minerals in one highly bioavailable tablet. Kids Calm Gummies combine highly bioavailable magnesium with L-theanine to promote relaxation and a sense of calm in strawberry-watermelon gummies.

total resources international

Total Resources International

For a variety of mishaps, there are Be Smart Get Prepared First Aid Kits & Emergency Preparedness solutions from Total Resources International. TRI kits span across multiple retail categories including HBC, outdoor, sporting goods, auto, industrial hardware and survival.

“We believe our innovation lies within our approach,” said Geolyn Gonzalez, chief sales and marketing officer. “We always design with the consumer in mind by creating products with solutions to fit their lifestyles.” The kits have a fun and playful aesthetic, to address serious first aid issues with a new and fresh approach. The brand’s intent is to change the mindset of consumers to be proactive instead of reactive.

In 2023, The Walnut, Calif.-based TRI launched Diabetes-Friendly Wound Care Kits. “We noticed for those living with diabetes, there are solutions for their health, diet, and management, but nothing in the market for diabetes-friendly wound care,” Gonzalez said.

In addition to the BSGP first aid kits, TRI also has the Silvex brand, launched in 2018. “It has grown to be the new standard for silver first aid solutions and the go-to solution for wound care,” Gonzalez said. The lineup includes Silvex Nano Silver Wound Gel, which is available in more than 8,000 major retail stores nationwide, and Silvex Nano Silver Antibacterial Wound Wash, which was launched last year. This year the brand will launch Silvex Nano Silver Burn Gel, packaged in multiple single-use sachets.



Xlear offers a comprehensive range of nasal hygiene products under the Xlear brand and oral care products under the Spry brand. Xlear Nasal Sprays include the drug-free Xlear Nasal Spray for daily use, Xlear Max with aloe and capsicum, Xlear Rescue with herbs and essential oils, Xlear Sinus Rinse, Kid’s Xlear and Xlear 12-Hour. Spray products include gum, mints, oral rinse, mouthwash, toothpaste, mouth moisturizing spray and gel, kid’s mouthwash and tooth gel.

All the products are made with xylitol, a natural sweetener that cleanses and moisturizes. The American Fork, Utah-based Xlear explores the antiviral potential of xylitol and related sugars, focusing on inhibiting viral infections and enhancing airway hygiene. “The inspiration for innovation comes from ongoing research, aiming to o er solutions for chronic sinus and respiratory issues, aligning with Xlear Inc.’s mission to promote holistic well-being,” said Joel Melton, director of marketing.

This year, the company will focus on Xlear Nasal Spray for daily use, sugar-free Xlear Cough Drops with xylitol that moisturize the mouth and soothe dry, itchy throats and a new 55-count bag of Spry Gum that enhances oral hygiene and facilitates convenient sharing of xylitol’s health benefits. Xlear is promoting the 55-ct. gum bag with a “DARE TO SHARE” campaign.

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