Drugs with Less - Design Bureau

Drugs with Less

Tuesday, April 10th, 2012

By Aryn Beitz

New York-based Help Remedies believes that less is more when it comes to over-the-counter drugs. According to its website, the brand is about less ingredients, less dyes, less coatings, less waste, less confusion, and less greed. From its line of uncomplicated products, each named after the symptom itself—help I have a stuffy nose and help I can’t sleep, and so forth—to its commitment to reducing waste, Help’s on a mission to revolutionize the drug industry one paper pulp and bio plastic package at a time.

Each drug is made with a single active ingredient. And likewise, Help’s identity and packaging design aims to keep things simple through streamlined typography, cheerful color palette, and biodegradable packaging materials. Made of paper pulp from 100% post-industrial waste and a corn starch bio resin, Help’s no nonsense packaging stands out amongst its competitors. 

Help's Creative Director, Nathan Frank, tells us how Help arrived at the near-generic look. "We started from the premise that when people are just a little bit unwell they would rather be taken care of by a friend than a doctor. We wanted everything to reflect that idea. It led us to select a soft tactile paper, and a familiar typeface," he writes. 

And Help isn’t stopping at curing common ailments such as headaches and stuffy noses, either. In March, Help launched help I’ve cut myself & I want to save a life, which supplements Help’s standard bandage with a bone marrow registry kit. “Each year thousands of people with leukemia and other blood related cancers need a bone marrow transplant to live, yet fewer than half receive one,” explains Richard Fine, Help CEO. “This is a simple and smart idea: By making registration a part of what people are already doing, we think we can get people to register, and in doing so, help save lives,” says Fine. The help I want to save a life kit is super easy to use. The potential donor swabs the blood from their cut, and then mails the swab in a postage-paid envelop to DKMS, the world’s largest bone marrow donor center, and the donor registration process begins.

The only-what-you-need approach in product and packaging is certainly refreshing in an confusing marketplace. Frank is well aware of this, "As far as 'take less,' everybody else in the drug aisle seems to think that the more information that they can deliver to people on the packaging the better, of course this just makes people ignore everything. We want to communicate what is essential and nothing else. This is a constant struggle, because everybody thinks they have something essential to say." Whether Help catches on or not may say more about our sanity and susceptibility to over-the-counter remedy hype than it says about the quality of the medicine inside.


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