NCPA Session Highlights Inventive Side of Community Pharmacists


By Kevin Schweers

Five community pharmacists touted their inventions before a panel of industry veterans and received expert advice on how to grow sales of their products at the first-ever “Idea Incubator: Hatch Dreams into Dollars,” held Oct. 18 at the National Community Pharmacists Association’s 116th Annual Convention and Trade Exposition.

The program, inspired by the Emmy Award-winning TV show “Shark Tank” now in its sixth season, highlighted the creative side of independent community pharmacists. Twenty pharmacists applied to participate in the event and, due to time constraints, ultimately five were chosen.

The panel of evaluators was comprised of savvy leaders from the fields of wholesaling, merchandising, financing, manufacturing and marketing:

AmerisourceBergen‘s Scott Robinson, Vice President, Good Neighbor Pharmacy; James Christopher Smith, President and COO of H.D. Smith; Mike Bollinger, Senior Loan Officer at Live Oak Bank; Arman Amiri, Product Marketing Manager at McKesson Corporation; Liz Tiefenthaler, President of Pharm Fresh Media marketing; Brian Corcoran, President of Solo Laboratories, Inc.; and NCPA’s merchandising guru Gabe Trahan, Senior Director of Store Operations and Marketing and leader of the Front End Overhaul program.

Diaper-rash remedy Benson’s Bottom Paint® is the invention of pharmacist Randy Dahlquist of Benson Sav-Mor Pharmacy in lakefront-Muskegon, Mich. He began offering it in the 1980s and it generated enough demand that he had to find a company to manufacturer it in larger quantities while maintaining his quality standard.

“Like a lot of products on the market today, after people start using them, they come back and tell you other things that they use it for,” Dahlquist says. Some of those uses included running nose rash; blisters; saddle sores; and sunburn.

Sparta, Tenn., the self-proclaimed Bluegrass, USA, is home to about 5,000 people as well as Magic Sunburn Lotion, a product of pharmacist Alan Tatum of Payless Family Pharmacy. Tatum was inspired to develop his product 20 years ago because, as he put it, “There simply was not an effective product for sunburn that promoted healing while giving relief to the patient.” After encountering several hurdles to taking his product nationwide, he jumped at the chance to be part of the Idea Incubator.

Pharmacist Maria Young discussed how, on the campus of Wayne State University in Detroit, University Pharmacy developed Pill Pouch and U, a medication-management product and service. The traditional, 7-day pill box wasn’t cutting it for one 89-year-old patient. She became so frustrated that she stopped taking all of her medication and wound up hospitalized three times in just one month.

The pouch provides the patient with easy-to-follow, pill-by-pill instructions on taking multiple medications, alongside an example of what each pill looks like. Now University Pharmacy wants to expand its availability to other patients. Because medication regimens change, University Pharmacy intends to offer the pouch combined with the service of keeping it updated, through a membership model in the $10-to-$20 per month price range.

SILVERSKIN® is the invention of pharmacist Dr. Donna Barsky of Texas Star Pharmacy in Plano, Texas, a suburb of Dallas.

It is a system of all natural botanical facial treatments that assists in the elimination of impurities and contaminants while reconditioning the skin. Barsky says the system clears the skin, removes makeup,
evens out the skin tone, fades sun spots, and maintains the skin’s natural moisture factor.

KidsMeds Pharmacy offers pharmacies (or pharmacists) a membership program that proprietor Lea Wolsoncroft of Birmingham, Ala. feels is “ideal for hybrid pharmacies that handle traditional prescriptions as well as compound customized prescriptions.” Subscribers get access to child-focused compound medication recipes and other support to grow a pharmacy’s niche in pediatric care.

Following the session NCPA asked some of the pharmacist participants for their feedback on the experience.

“I found it quite helpful,” said Alan Tatum, the proprietor of Magic Sunburn Lotion. “We gave our little spiel and asked the panel of experts for their advice so that we might take our product to the next level. I encourage other people to take part in the future.”

“As a result of it, I have talked to a manufacturer and they are starting a feasibility study,” Tatum added. “So hopefully within the next six or eight months you will see Magic Sunburn Lotion in your wholesaler. I want to thank NCPA for this opportunity and for a fantastic show.”

“I really enjoyed the Idea Incubator,” Dr. Donna Barsky reflected, after pitching her SILVERSKIN. “We were a little nervous when it was time to go up. But as it turned out, we ended up with several different connections and maybe some good ideas for us to go ahead and move our product along.”

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