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Pharmaceutical firm advocates using less OTC meds

Boutique pharmaceutical company Help Remedies encourages simplification of OTC drugs; launches at Walgreens with national distribution.

Help Remedies, the New York-based creator of minimalist over-the-counter medicine, is communicating the message that less--less drugs, less dyes, less coatings--is sometimes more. The company's statement, "Take Less," calls out "big pharma" for its excesses and promotes the idea of moderation in over-the-counter drugs.

A company press release notes, "Help isn't an anti-drug company; in fact they are a drug company; one that understands and values the importance of medicine, yet thinks that simplicity and moderation are desperately needed in the industry."

Founded in 2008 by former advertising executives Richard Fine and Nathan Frank, Help began as a response to personal distrust and confusion with OTC products, packaging, and language. The brand quickly amassed a cult following for its sleek, eco-friendly packaging, product monikers, and online wit.

After its initial launch, Help discovered some problems bigger than packaging. "Drug companies' ongoing need to make more and sell more results in a proliferation of complicated and unclear products--mixed active ingredients, higher dosages, unnecessary dyes and coatings. All of this nonsense makes for a confused consumer, who very often has little idea what drugs they are actually consuming when they reach for a bottle of pain medicine," says Help co-founder and CEO Richard Fine.

OTC confusion and overdose is a concern among pharmacists, says the company. Help's Medical Director, Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.), David Pompei, says, "Some people think that by adding more warnings to the label you solve the problem of confusion in the drug aisle. But the truth is, the longer the label, the less likely people are to read it."

The company's Website notes that Help Remedies uses 100% post-industrial waste for its paper pulp, and uses Plastastarch bioplastic based on corn that biodegrades in a composting environment.

The "Take Less" message and Help's seven OTC products debuted in October in more than 8,000 Walgreens stores nationwide. The company's current retail distribution includes Duane Reade, Pharmaca, select Target stores, and boutique hotels.

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