Pharmacies Can Improve Front End Sales with Foster & Thrive OTC Products


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McKesson’s private brand of OTC health and wellness products are a great way for independent pharmacies to increase profits.

OTC medications are a critical part of the health care system due to their common use by consumers: More than 80% of adults report using OTC medications as a first response to many minor ailments and approximately 7 in 10 parents said they have given their child an OTC medicine to help treat a sudden medical symptom.1

The global OTC medication market is expected to grow to nearly $74 billion by the year 2030, driven largely by the increasing number of OTC products that are becoming available and their lower cost compared to prescription drugs.2 The OTC medicine space now represents a prime opportunity for independent pharmacies to increase foot traffic and boost profits, according to Peter Koo, PharmD, RPh, vice president and general manager of Pharmacy & Healthcare Solutions at McKesson. Drug Topics spoke with Koo during an interview at McKesson ideaShare 2024, held June 23 to 26 in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Foster & Thrive, McKesson's private brand of health and wellness products, was launched in 2023. | Image credit: Piman Khrutmuang -

Foster & Thrive, McKesson's private brand of health and wellness products, was launched in 2023. | Image credit: Piman Khrutmuang -

“[OTC medications are] a very inexpensive way to really improve [pharmacists’] bottom line because the margin levels are good [and offer] significant value,” Koo said. “There's not a lot of operating work that someone has to do. They really have to just market it and put it on the shelf. Let the consumer decide to buy what they want, vs how much a pharmacist works in the back.”

READ MORE: Consumer Survey Data Show Opportunity, Challenges in OTC Space

In 2023, McKesson launched its own private brand of health and wellness products called Foster & Thrive. The private OTC line features 4 product categories that aim to help consumers find whatever items they need: acute care, diagnostic care, everyday care, and preventative care. To date, Foster & Thrive has more than 360 products and is working toward its goal of surpassing 500 products.

“When you think about the shift of health care, it's going to a more complicated health care, but it's also moving to a lot of self-care,” Koo said. “The pharmacist plays a critical role in really helping to establish that self-care space. In addition to that, you can make a decent margin, it’s very profitable for an independent [pharmacy] owner to carry this private label. It's not only good for the customer…but also from a profit perspective.”

The private Foster & Thrive line of OTC medications has been very well received by both pharmacists and customers, Koo said, explaining that carrying a private brand can help a pharmacy not only improve its OTC sales, but also upgrade its front end—a key component of any pharmacy’s bottom line.

Koo said the one of the key goals of the latest product launch was to be eco-friendly and focus on sustainability. One way McKesson was able to accomplish that goal was by cutting down on plastic and using aluminum for the packaging. The company was also able to introduce the more sustainable materials without any associated price increase to consumers. The Foster & Thrive eco-friendly line has so far launched 10 products with 10 more expected to launch in the near future.

“[Pharmacists] are worried about cash flow; they're worried about how the reimbursements are affecting their business,” Koo said. “I was talking to a previous owner and I said, ‘How many scripts a week are you doing?’ and he told me the number and I said, ‘Wow, because 10 years ago, I was a very profitable pharmacy.’ He said, ‘I can barely make it now on this kind of volume.’ So, it's just hard. This is a great way to help diversify the profitability of a store.”

READ MORE: McKesson ideaShare 2024 Coverage

1. OTC sales statistics. Consumer Healthcare Products Association. Accessed June 26, 2024.
2. Over the counter drugs market size. Report. Fortune Business Insights. June 10, 2024. Accessed June 26, 2024.

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