OTC cannabidiol (CBD) is often touted for its uses in pain management, anxiety relief, and sleep. However, the popular cannabinoid has been shown to benefit women’s health, too––an opportunity that pharmacies can leverage as a cash-based revenue strategy.
This week marks National Women’s Health Week, which serves as a reminder for women to take care of themselves and make their health a priority. Carrying women’s health products in the pharmacy can be a profitable strategy, as women are an important demographic to target, said Lisa Faast, PharmD, CEO of DiversifyRx, in a session at the Pharmacy Profit Summit.1
Hosted by Faast, the Pharmacy Profit Summit is a 6-day virtual event starting May 10 that is designed to equip pharmacy owners with strategies to increase profits. Alex Capano, DNP, CRNP, FNP-BC, chief medical officer at Ananda Professional, joined Faast to discuss opportunities for CBD in the context of women’s health.
“When I started looking at CBD and cannabinoids and the science behind that…I recognized that there’s a major therapeutic opportunity for sexual health, women’s health, gynecological issues because there’s so many receptors for these cannabinoids,” Capano said.
Capano, who has a doctoral degree in comprehensive cannabinoid science and has worked as a family nurse practitioner with a focus on sexual health, reported that CBD represents an underrecognized opportunity for its use in this area. Yet its benefits may be useful for the many women who deal with vaginal conditions such as yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis––problems that are extremely common but rarely discussed openly. In fact, 75% of women are likely to have 1 yeast infection during their lifetime, and nearly half have 2 or more.2
Capano discussed 2 new products offered by Ananda Professional that are geared toward women’s health.
The first, Endo Relief Cream, is a highly concentrated, thick and moisturizing product that is applied using an intravaginal application. It is designed to help relieve pelvic pain, whether that’s for menstrual pain, pain related to endometriosis, or for other reasons.
“It’s really going to pack a punch for someone who’s dealing with pelvic pain,” Capano said. She noted that the molecules work to decrease inflammation and sensations of pain.
Ananda Professional’s second product, the Flora Balancing Gel, contains vegan lactic acid and prebiotics to help restore the balance of vaginal flora, which is important for reducing the risk of yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis. Additionally, the gel is water soluble and can be used for dryness or pain during sexual activity, Capano said.
Yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis tend to reoccur and may require alternatives to the standard available therapy. Vaginal conditions can also be exacerbated during the summer, as warm weather can lead to increased bacteria. This presents an opportunity for pharmacists to recommend appropriate products in the upcoming months.
“Pharmacy can actually preemptively offer solutions for women who might be having these problems,” Faast said.
Faast noted that pharmacists can also be strategic when filling prescriptions. If a patient is filling a prescription for an antibiotic used to treat these conditions, or has a history of filling these types of prescriptions, pharmacists can follow up with the patient and offer recommendations.
According to Faast, women are an important demographic for pharmacists because they tend to be the medical decision makers of their household. Using CBD products to target these common women’s health issues could be a profitable opportunity for pharmacies.
“It’s going to have a profound effect, not just on the immediate front-end opportunity for these products for women, but drawing closer to the women of your community is just going to be good for the health of your pharmacy overall,” Faast said.
So how do you broach the topic of CBD for use in women’s health with patients in the pharmacy? Capano recommended explaining to patients that the reproductive organs are like a magnet for these molecules and this is a therapeutic area that is appropriate and backed by scientific evidence. It’s not difficult to start the conversation, she said, because oftentimes patients want to know. And because there is a lot of misinformation on CBD already on the internet, it is important for the pharmacist to be that trusted resource.
“If you are the person with answers…they are never going to forget that,” Capano said.
Capano also recommended achieving buy-in from the pharmacy staff and ensuring that every employee is educated, not just the pharmacist. Identifying and incentivizing a “CBD champion” in the store to serve as the go-to individual for education is an effective strategy.
Pharmacists who can confidently answer questions will be able to more effectively retain patients, and so it is necessary to be armed with the clinical education to be a resource for their communities.
“Your word, your recommendation does have weight in your community,” Faast said.