Gwyneth Paltrow backs clean cold medicine

The cold and flu medicine category is a $3.2 billion industry.

The medicine aisle is getting a cleanup.

With cold and flu season underway, health industry executives are investing in clean over-the-counter medication driven by consumer demand for all-natural, healthy ingredients in drug store products.

Gwyneth Paltrow, founder of wellness empire Goop, former Johnson & Johnson executive Brian Perkins and Equinox founder Lavinia Errico are backing organic, non-GMO, over-the-counter medicine brand Genexa, the company announced Friday.

"You have current formulations that have been out there now for years, while they're all perfectly FDA-approved, Genexa has come up with a much better healthy alternative – why wouldn’t you want cleaner medicines?" Perkins told FOX Business. "Why do consumers need these legacy formulations when there is an alternative health path forward?"

Gwyneth Paltrow, founder of wellness company Goop, is investing in clean over-the-counter medicine brand Genexa. 

And with the health and wellness movement sweeping through the food and beauty industries, consumers are looking for products with natural ingredients, particularly at the pharmacy. The cold and flu category is seeing growth among holistic products. Last year, the $3.2 billion industry saw 9.5 percent growth, according to the Nutrition Business Journal as reported by Pharmacy Times. And big companies are investing in clean medicine. Johnson & Johnson, which owns Tylenol, Zyrtec and Benadryl, acquired natural cold and flu medicine brand Zarbee’s last year.

Over-the-counter brand Genexa bills itself as "cleaner medicine." (Courtesy of Genexa).

While it’s rare for most people to get side effects or get seriously sick from traditional over-the-counter drugs, the vast majority contain at least one inactive ingredient like artificial dyes or hard-to-digest sugars that can cause a negative reaction. A study from the medical journal Science Translational Medicine found that 75 percent of average over-the-counter meds such as pain relievers, fever reducers or antacids, contain inactive ingredients such as dyes, fillers, gluten, lactose and chemicals, which can cause allergic reactions like stomach pain or bloating.

"Overall, the consumer is looking for a product label they can read, and understand what it is they’re putting in their body," David Johnson, co-founder of Genexa, said.

Johnson started Genexa with co-founder Max Spielberg when his kids experienced allergic reactions to negative side effects from common over-the-counter medicines.

"I couldn’t believe every time I went to the over-the-counter shelf that there were really no clean options in the medicine aisle," Johnson said. "There were clean options from an active ingredient and medicinal standpoint, but not from inactive ingredients, basically the majority of products on shelves."

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The line, available at Whole Foods and big-box stores like Walmart and CVS and on Amazon, features cold, flu, allergy, pain relief and digestive health medicine made without artificial dyes, flavors and preservatives. Instead, palatable flavors like blueberry extract, red beet extract and organic tapioca dextrose (subbed in for sugar) are used in products. Each is physician-formulated and USDA-certified organic.


Genexa, which launched in 2017, has grown 150 percent since its first year, and 170 percent in 2018, Johnson said. Now, the products are in 30,000 stores nationwide.