Charity pharmacies are the hidden secret of families who cannot afford the necessary medicines. Ellen Pompeo, along with her co-founders, Livio Bisterzo and Jennifer Hoffman, started BETR Remedies to help fix the broken healthcare system. The company offers over-the-counter pharmaceutical products.
Every year, $10 billion worth of drugs are destroyed or sent to landfills, while one in four people go without life-saving prescriptions. Hospitals alone throw away $3 billion in cures. In September, BETR contributions facilitated the donation of 75,302 prescription drugs, saving patients more than $3.38 million.
Pompeo, known for her role as Meredith Gray in ABC’s long-running hit drama Grey’s Anatomy, takes its role as Chief Impact Officer very seriously. Witnessing the disparities in the pharmaceutical industry firsthand through the stories her fans have shared with her, she is raising awareness of the issue. BETR’s mission is to bridge the gap between unused medicines and those that fight systemic poverty. For every box of BETR remedies sold, the company donates funds to a charity pharmacy, which covers the cost of a person’s medication for one month.
“I realized in the 20 years that I played the role of a doctor that there are a lot of inequalities in the health system,” says Pompeo. “Health care inequalities abound. And it was a way for us to approach people’s access to medicines. It’s a colossal task to try to solve because you can’t compete with the pharmaceutical companies; they are too powerful. Lobbyists are too powerful. How can you solve this problem? There are so many people in this country who really need help. They cannot afford to buy their medicines. They don’t have access to it.
My two partners [Bisterzo and Hoffman] came up with the idea for this company to create an over-the-counter brand with a return component… How do you specifically address inequities in access to pharmaceuticals in this space? It’s really difficult. It’s such a big problem that no one talks about it. People tend to keep it to themselves because it’s embarrassing to say, “I need that diabetes medicine. I can’t afford it. We’ve made some small progress with the legislature recently, but it’s clearly not enough.
Pompeo’s professional acting career began after he was discovered by an agent while bartending in New York. She landed a few roles before being cast in the hit medical show.
Her role catapulted her to fame. Over the past 20 years, Meredith Gray has captured the attention of fans around the world. However, Pompeo stepped back this season from the role appearing in just eight episodes. Next February, his farewell episode will air. Although she will remain the show’s producer, she will focus on other productions and BETR.
“The character has been amazing to me,” she smiles. “I have an amazing life. The show is in 200 countries and means the world to so many people. I’m happy to be Meredith Gray forever. I have a lot of opportunities to do other things now. And I have nothing but gratitude for the character and the series.
Pompeo’s fame has provided him with a platform to share and engage with ideas that matter. The more she and her co-founders learned about inequalities in health care, the more they wanted to be part of the solution. They started with the simple question: “What can we do?” »
They broke down what everyone buys: painkillers, allergy killers, digestive supplements and sleeping pills; they had to be over-the-counter products, and all of the active ingredients in his drugs are FDA-cleared. In addition, BETR products are exclusively sold on Walmart.com.
The co-founders knew they couldn’t compete with big pharma, so they considered a component back to their business model. Through research, they met SIRUM co-founder Kiah Williams. Incubated at Stanford University, SIRUM harnesses the power of technology to save medicine and save lives. BETR has partnered with the non-profit organization to help support the redistribution of drugs, both over-the-counter and prescription, to charity pharmacies across the country.
“It’s not an easy fix,” Pompeo says. “It’s a tough road going up against these massive brand names. But how do I want to use my time? And how do I want to use my platform? With fame and fame we have the ability to be influential. How do I want to use this influence? I could do something that’s probably easier. What is most meaningful to me about my time on Grey’s and my time playing that character is that people have really opened up to me and shared personal stories with me over the years… There are a lot of people in this country who need help. And there is no corporate responsibility. These giant corporations don’t care at all. So our goal is to be a company that cares and provides a service that helps another service to provide people.
As Pompeo continues her career transition and helps grow BETR, she is focused on the following critical milestones:
- Focus on how you can positively impact the world; use your influence to be a beacon to others.
- Surround yourself with others who elevate your mission and complement your strengths.
- Always learn and open up to new opportunities.
“I always make my life around work,” Pompeo concludes. “So many actors say to me, ‘How have you been doing this show for so long?’ The truth is the fans. The fans – their reaction to me, their reaction to me when they see me… Everyone has a personal story. Those personal stories inspired me to keep doing the show and to telling the stories. It’s the same with BETR. People’s personal stories have inspired me to keep going and to keep doing whatever I need to do to try to make a dent in a broken system.
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