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CBD 'could be dynamic' market for HME

CBD 'could be dynamic' market for HME

For an industry in need of a retail product that fits within any of the HME major categories, CBD certainly seems to fit the bill. As a therapeutic product with potential benefits for a litany of conditions, CBD can effectively be marketed and merchandised for virtually every HME customer, specialists in the field say.

CBD—known as cannabidiol—is a non-intoxicating cannabinoid found in cannabis. On the market for retail sale since being legalized in the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018, CBD is being touted as an effective therapy for various purposes, including anti-inflammatory, analgesic, anti-anxiety and as a seizure suppressant. These products contain only trace amounts (0.3% or less) of THC, the intoxicating property of marijuana.

Since being legalized, CBD products have flooded shelves in the retail sector from pharmacies to pet supply shops. Jay Butler, director of extended care for Daytona Beach, Fla.-based IMCO, told HME News in February: “Google 'CBD' and 30,000 products come up. And it is one of the few things Amazon does not carry.”

A Grandview Research CBD market study found the value in the US to be $7.1 billion in 2019 and estimated the value will grow to $9.3 billion in 2020.

CBD products come in various forms, including hemp oil, lotions and tinctures, gel caps and “gummy” edibles. Providers interested in carrying CBD items need to do their homework on the nature of the category and commit to educating consumers about product nuances—specifically the difference between CBD and its relative, marijuana. While CBD has federal clearance, it may be restricted or even prohibited at the state and municipal levels.

To date, “the healthcare community overall has been keen to adopt full-spectrum hemp oil and CBD, despite federal and state ambiguity,” said Derek Thomas, vice president of business development for Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based Veritas Farms. “There is white space when it comes to HME's adoption of full-spectrum hemp oil. Where it has been done on different platforms in local and regional markets, national adoption by a big HME operator has mostly been avoided primarily due to the lack of guidance from federal guidance.”

“Full spectrum” CBD means that an oil or product contains all the cannabinoids that are naturally occurring in the cannabis plant.

Until there is stronger federal regulation, HME retailers and consumers need to heavily vet any CBD brand, Thomas said. Yet at this point “there is a huge opportunity for HMEs to provide CBD, especially with the onset of COVID-19 restrictions. Home healthcare is not only safer in terms of COVID avoidance, the direct support of a knowledgeable provider in the home answering questions about applications and uses is needed and not readily available.”

Made for HME

Rocky River, Ohio-based WellCare Brands has deep roots in the HME industry and recently developed a new product called PürCare, designed to be HME provider-friendly, offering MAP pricing, sales collateral, sales support and ease of ordering through HME distributor Compass Health Brands.

The PürCare CBD line includes capsules, tinctures, topical cream and a topical roll-on, “but what we are most excited to share is our new Oral Mist sublingual aerosol,” said Andrea Mangini, director of marketing for WellCare Brands. “The Oral Mist is the first of its kind—there is no other item with this delivery system in the CBD space. It is a pre-measured, sublingual aerosol that combines the benefits of full spectrum CBD with nano-sized particles, allowing for faster absorption.”

HME providers have a marketing advantage over major chain stores, Thomas said, because they can offer CBD products directly in the client's home.

“Privacy and fear of the unknown are concerns for many consumers considering full spectrum hemp oil, but they can be mitigated by in-home delivery,” he said. “Combined with a strong educational component, HME operators could position themselves to carve out a strong niche in the category.”

Key demographics

While the primary consumers of CBD products tend to be age 40 and over, the demographics can range from 20-year-old college students to 75-year-old retirees.

Referral sources can include holistic health and wellness practitioners, therapists and pharmacists, as well family and friends who are already incorporating CBD into their wellness routines, Thomas said.


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