This is very much about the nature of a chain picking up a new product., The stores only have so much shelf space, and there is a lot of competition for who gets it. Also if you are lucky enough to negotiate a deal to get enough space for toothpaste, it doesn't mean they are going to give you space for the other products in the line. Last, if it is a new product to them which this is, (even though they have had a previous relationship with Laclede), if the product doesn't sell in about 6 months really well, you are out and off their shelves. So the strategy is not to try and get it everywhere right off the bat. It is better to drive everyone to a single source like Walgreens, and when your shelf space is secure you can add on CVS, and at the end when those two are well established and sales are happening, finally the giant killer Walmart. This might take a year or more to roll out. Bottom line, Walmart will always discount it and when they come in that's where most end up buying it. It is also pretty easy to get a product on Amazon, which also discounts, so that is usually stop number two, with strong national coverage. So as it becomes more popular you will find more of the line in more places. Bottom line right now is that I don't believe they have the budget to roll out TV ads like GSK is doing with Biotene, so this is very much a word of mouth campaign.
Disclaimer: OCF will be endorsing the new products in the near future. This is because the evidence which built the original Biotene formula, which does not exist any longer because of profit issues for GSK to put all the enzymes in it, (shareholders first patients second), is well established. Had they left the product formula alone, we would still be endorsing it. Also having worked with Laclede years ago and getting to know the people at the top of the food chain there, I became a believer not just in the idea of the product formula, but also in the ethics and motivation of the management team that drove the formula. It was always cheaper to put some glycerine in a stock Crest type formula and call it a dry mouth product. They were always driven by what would work the best, not be the most profitable as a privately held company that did not answer to shareholders, which they still are. I don't know if they will support OCF's efforts as a sponsor in the future, whether they do or do not will not impact our desire to see the best information put out in the world, and recommendations for the most useful, and scientifically sound ideas to be things that OCF promotes.
Given that we do not have a great funding stream, there is always the temptation to endorse something in a quid pro quo for money. OCF has a history of turning down big dollars from companies where the conflict would be clearly a compromise. We do this in spite of the fact that at the foundation lives in a quarter by quarter financial existential challenge to stay funded and keep the doors open. The most obvious example of this posture is that we historically have not applied for grants from Merck, the manufacturers of the vaccine that we promote the use of heavily, and fought with the CDC for vaccination of boys with, for three years (successfully) until it's approval for that use. This a multi-billion dollar a year firm that is generous with their grants to non profits. But I never want to be at a HPV
lecture, or arguing an oral cancer prevention point at the NCI, and have someone ask me if we are getting money from them. True or not, there would be a belif that I am saying what I am saying for money. We do not. Our vaccine position is science based. GSK has taken their HPV
vaccine to market just in Europe, leaving Merck alone in the US space. Anything that I argue would be in jeopardy if I take Merck's vaccine division money now that they are the only player in the US market.
We have, but not successfully, applied for a grant from a division of Merck recently that is involved in the immuno therapeutics for treatment of head and neck cancers environment. We have also supported through funding from OCF's donors, researchers working in the immuno therapy field at various institutions from MD Anderson to Johns Hopkins. Those researchers that your donations helped support, are providing information to both BMS and to Merck. These are both PDL-1 pathway immune checkpoint inhibitor drugs which you are now seeing advertised on TV that have come to market. We are proud of our ability to financially support them, which no other head and neck / oral cancer charity has done. We worked hard to help fill their clinical trials on these breakthrough drugs, which I have been watching go through the process in my position on the Immuno Therapeutics in Head and Neck Cancers Oversight Committee position at the NCI. Given that this is a different division of Merck than their vaccine division, and that we are actually giving the same researchers they are supporting money, I find any support that we might get from them in the future, to clearly be free from conflict. Because all of you that visit the forums often become OCF's most ardent donors and supporters, it is important for me to explain to you the nature of these relationships, so that you have the confidence in our ethics and the manner in which the foundation operates whether talking about a toothpaste or a vaccine.