As a parent, I’m always thinking of my six year old son and how to keep him healthy and safe. I was surprised to hear of the idea of “clean medicine” – and learn more about how common medications oftentimes contain ingredients which could be harmful.
Genexa is a “clean medicine” company that is on a mission to get us to “Ditch the Dirty.” I caught up with cofounders David Johnson and Max Spielberg to find out more.
Afdhel Aziz: Max, David, welcome. Please tell us how the two of you came to start Genexa?
David Johnson: I grew up in a “nuts and seeds” type of household. My parents, both chiropractors, were particularly cognizant of everything health related. They always tried to choose natural and organic foods. In having my own kids now, I want to raise them similarly, using the cleanest ingredients whenever possible.
Max Spielberg: I have dealt with allergies my entire life. Only a few years ago I discovered that many of the OTC medicines we all know and use routinely, are, surprisingly, full of common allergens. I experienced adverse reactions from some of these allergens, one of which was even in my allergy medicines! David and I are longtime friends and when we both had kids, we became increasingly frustrated by the fever reducers or cough medicines on shelves that were full of synthetic and artificial ingredients. The medicines we trusted to make our kids feel better were actually full of artificial additives, frequently including synthetic dyes, flavorings, as well as common allergens.
Johnson: We decided we had to do something about this. With the rise of organic, clean label products in other industries (food, beauty, personal care and cleaning products), we thought the pharmaceutical industry – the industry making products intended to heal people – should have been at the forefront but was instead lagging behind. We got to work on creating a new kind of pharma company and found a way to make medicine with the same ingredients people need, but without the artificial ones they don’t. We launched Genexa in 2017 after two years of research, development and fundraising, and tremendous partners around us, namely Brian Perkins, former Worldwide Chairman, Consumer Pharmaceuticals & Nutritional’s at Johnson & Johnson. We’re 3 years in and have so much in store for the next few years!
Aziz: Thank you for sharing that. How would you articulate the purpose and the mission of the company?
Johnson: Genexa is on a mission to revolutionize the medicine aisle by making what we think of as real medicine clean. That means making products that have the same active ingredient – the ingredient that helps you feel better – but removing all of the artificial inactive ingredients. We replace the common allergens, synthetic dyes and artificial sweeteners with wholesome ingredients. For flavoring, we use organic blueberries instead of high fructose corn syrup. For coloring, we use