HomeHealthHealth CareEllen Pompeo Cofounded BETR Remedies To Support Charitable Pharmacies, Closing The Gap...

Ellen Pompeo Cofounded BETR Remedies To Support Charitable Pharmacies, Closing The Gap In Healthcare

Charity pharmacies are the hidden secret for families who cannot afford the necessary medicines. Ellen Pompeo, along with her co-founders, Livio Bisterzo and Jennifer Hoffman, launched BETR Remedies to help mend the broken healthcare system. The company offers over-the-counter pharmaceutical products.

Every year, $10 billion worth of medicines are destroyed or sent to landfills, while one in four people live without life-saving prescriptions. Hospitals only Throw away $3 billion in remedies. As of September, BETR’s contributions have enabled the donation of 75,302 prescription drugs, resulting in an estimated patient savings of more than $3.38 million.

Pompeo, known for her role as Meredith Gray in ABC’s long-running hit drama Gray’s Anatomy, takes her role as chief impact officer seriously. By witnessing firsthand the differences in the pharmaceutical industry through stories shared with her by her fans, she is raising awareness of the issue. BETR’s mission is to close the gap between unused medication and people struggling with systemic poverty. For every box of BETR Remedies sold, the company donates money to a charity dispensary, which covers the cost of a person’s medications for a month.

“In the 20 years of playing doctor, I’ve become acutely aware that there are many inequalities in the health care system,” says Pompeo. “There is no shortage of health inequalities. And this was a way for us to address people’s access to medication. That’s a mammoth task to try to solve because you can’t compete with drug companies; they are too powerful. The lobbyists are too powerful. How can you tackle that problem? There are so many people in this country who really need help. They cannot afford 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 give-back component… How do you address the disparities in access to pharmaceuticals specifically in that area? It is very difficult. It’s such a big problem that nobody talks about it. People tend to keep it to themselves because it’s embarrassing to say, “I need this diabetes drug.” I can not afford it.’ We have recently taken some small steps with the legislature, but it is clearly not enough.”

Pompeo’s professional acting career began after he was discovered by an agent while bartending in New York City. She landed a few roles before being cast on the popular 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 from the role this season appearing in only eight episodes. Her farewell episode will be broadcast in February. While she remains a producer on the show, her focus will be on other productions and BETR.

“The character was incredible to me,” she smiles. “I have an incredible life. The show is in 200 countries and means the world to so many people. I’m happy to be Meredith Gray forever. I now have enough opportunities to do other things. And I have nothing but gratitude for the character and the show.

Pompeo’s fame has provided her with a platform to share and engage with ideas that matter. The more she and her co-founders learned about health inequalities, the more they wanted to be part of the solution. They started with the simple question, “What can we do?”

They’ve broken down what everyone else is buying: pain relievers, allergy relief, digestive supplements, and sleep aids; they had to be over-the-counter products and all the active ingredients in the drugs were FDA approved. In addition, BETR products are sold exclusively on Walmart.com.

The co-founders knew they couldn’t compete with big drug companies, so they looked at a give-back component in their business model. Through research, they got to know SIRUM’s co-founder, Kiah Williams. Developed at Stanford University, SIRUM harnesses the power of technology to save medicines and save lives. BETR partnered with the nonprofit to support the redistribution of both over-the-counter and prescription drugs to charity pharmacies across the country.

“It’s not an easy fix,” says Pompeo. “It is a tough road to compete against these huge brand names. But how do I want to spend my time? And how do I want to use my platform? With fame and celebrity, we have the ability to be influential. How do I want to use that influence? I could do something that’s probably easier. What is most meaningful to me about my time on Grays and my time playing this character is that people have really opened up to me and shared personal private stories with me over the years… There are a lot of people in this country that need help. And there is zero corporate responsibility. These giant corporations don’t care at all. So our goal is to be a company that cares about you and provides a service that helps another service to people.”

As Pompeo continues to transition in her career and help BETR expand, she focuses on the following critical steps:

  • Focus on how you can positively impact the world; use your influence to be a beacon of light to others.
  • Surround yourself with others who elevate your mission and complement your strengths.
  • Keep learning and be open to new opportunities.

“My life has always revolved around work,” Pompeo concludes. “So many actors say to me, ‘How have you been doing that 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 telling the stories. The same goes for BETR People’s personal stories have inspired me to keep going with this and keep doing what I need to do to try and put a dent in a broken system.”

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