Lupin 2023

Genexa’s ‘clean’ pediatric formulas allow it to boost supply

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ATLANTA — Genexa continues to be a pioneer, and it is the only clean medicine company that makes over-the-counter medicines for the entire family. “Our medicines span most major categories of O-T-C treatment, including cold and flu, pain and fever relief, digestion, and allergy for infants, kids and adults,” says David Johnson, cofounder and chief executive officer.

David Johnson

He and cofounder Max Spielberg started the company six years ago when they were new dads and found themselves spending more time in the medicine aisles. “We were frequently picking up products for our kids to help with all the typical colds, coughs, runny noses, fevers and other common illnesses that tend to come with having young children at home.”

Johnson recalls that they were baffled by the unrecognizable ingredients and the bright colors of these medicines and were equally surprised and frustrated that there were no “clean” options that also provided effective relief.

“We knew there had to be a way to make effective O-T-C medicines without all the artificial preservatives, sweeteners and dyes, and made it our mission to deliver on this. In the early stages of exploring this idea we had several manufacturers and industry veterans express skepticism over what we were trying to do, but after years of R&D and hard work, we now offer families new options in the medicine aisle that did not exist before — clean medicine with the same effective active ingredients you need and none of the artificial fillers you don’t need.”

Genexa’s chairman, Brian Perkins, notes that the company is not experiencing any of these supply shortage issues that have been in the news. “The current product shortages being experienced seemed to start in Canada, where the situation has been quite severe, earlier in 2022 and became a big problem in the U.S. later in the year. As someone who’s been around this industry for a while, having been the brand manager on Tylenol during the product tamperings of the 1980s, the current situation is really unfortunate and hard to explain. There are huge stock-outs across all retail channels, especially with pediatric liquids. Yet a leading manufacturer and, in fact, the industry association says there’s no shortage! Have they been in stores? Have they talked to retailers? There’s a shortage! There are countless headlines about the shortage every day, and some retailers had to impose limits on the quantities that each customer could purchase of certain medicines during the peak of the seasonal crunch.”

Perkins notes that the “tripledemic” of a strong cold/flu season, RSV and COVID all hitting at once has certainly contributed to unusually high demand for products, but it’s hard to say that’s the only reason. “It’s likely there have also been supply issues on active and/or inactive ingredients, and I dare say some manufacturers were caught off guard and had less than optimal inventory levels going into the cold/flu season.

“Genexa, which is relatively new to the pediatric analgesic and cough/cold markets, was doing well in the market before the shortages hit, but when retailers started to call us in August and September of last year asking us for ‘as much as we can make,’ we went into overdrive. One of the key reasons we’re able to ramp up supply is that we do not use conventional, chemically derived inactive ingredients, which are in high demand now. The Genexa ‘clean’ story, which is playing well with young moms and dads looking for new, healthy options for their kids, has turned out to be helpful in our supply chain. Because we don’t use any artificial inactive ingredients — no dyes, no artificial sweeteners, no artificial preservatives — it’s been easier for us to procure ingredients.”

Perkins points out that Genexa has been upping supply of Kids’ Pain & Fever with retailers across the country. “I must tell you, as someone who has worked with chain drug a long time, the key to our response in meeting unforeseen market demand this season has been the support and the partnership we’ve received from retailers. They called us in early. They have gone out of their way to explain to us — the up-and-coming new brand in the market — what the situation is, what they need, and they’ve been incredibly transparent with information, which has helped us help them get much-needed product to moms and dads for their kids,” says Perkins.

“And because we’re an aggressive, early-stage growth company, we are also nimble and ready for the challenge. We immediately expanded manufacturing output, and haven’t let up since the shortage began. We also appreciate the support from Emerson, our broker, and Geodis, who have also been terrific partners,” he continues.

Johnson notes that the company got emergency clearance to start selling in Canada to counteract the shortage of competitor products.

“It’s an interesting story. Canada has had an even more severe and more protracted shortage of pediatric analgesics than the U.S. Genexa has not had a presence in Canada, but we got a call late last year from Walmart Canada saying they were referred to us by their colleagues in Bentonville. We have a great relationship with the team in Bentonville. Walmart Canada really needs pediatric analgesics and wanted to see if our Genexa Kids Pain & Fever product, which is selling really well in the States, could be made available in Canada. They introduced us to Health Canada. We’re thrilled at how collaborative this process has been with Health Canada, who shares our desire to increase access to acetaminophen options and give families the medicines they desperately need.”

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