Costco's Burnett wins Pratt Award, NACDS' highest honor

BOSTON Wholesale club pharmacy pioneer Charles “Charlie” Burnett, who over the past two decades has patiently built a major presence in retail pharmacy at club store giant Costco Wholesale, has won the Harold W. Pratt Award, chain pharmacy’s highest honor.

Burnett, Costco’s senior vice president of pharmacy, was presented the Harold W. Pratt Award Aug. 14 during the closing dinner of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores Pharmacy and Technology Conference. NACDS president and CEO Steven Anderson presented the award to Burnett as his family—including his wife Barbara, daughter Vicky, son-in-law Mike, and two grandchildren, Lizzie and Jake—looked on.

Burnett, a former U.S. Navy Corpsman who graduated first in his class at the Naval Hospital Corps School in San Diego, began his career in pharmacy after being honorably discharged in 1955. After graduation from the University of Arizona school of pharmacy and stints with several independent and hospital pharmacies, he joined Fed Mart Corp. as a staff pharmacist, working his way up to regional supervisor.

During his tenure at Fed Mart, Burnett also earned a law degree from the University of San Diego in 1970. After a brief stint at practicing law, he became Fed Mart’s vice president and general manager of pharmacy, leading the growth of pharmacy at the chain to a 75-unit, high-volume operation that pioneered value-priced pharmaceuticals. He also founded his own independent chain, Save Mart.

Given his extensive background, it was no surprise that in 1986 Costco came knocking when the club store chain was looking for someone to develop a pharmacy division for its wholesale operation. The division Burnett helped create at Costco—the first pharmacy operation within the wholesale club industry—has grown into a major force in retail pharmacy, with more than 430 in-store prescription centers in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

Burnett also remains active in community endeavors. He and his wife Barbara founded the Northwest Academy for Exceptional Children, a non-profit organization that provides educational, residential and lifelong support for people with Autism and other developmental disabilities.

"It is individuals like Burnett that give the field of pharmacy a sterling reputation in communities throughout the nation," said Anderson. "This award acknowledges only a small portion of what this distinguished individual has accomplished. We are extremely fortunate to have such a man of his character in our business."

Named for the former director of professional services at Walgreen Co., the Harold W. Pratt Award was established in 1985 by the NACDS board to honor leaders who have contributed significantly to the advancement of community pharmacy, either directly through pharmacy operations, or through supporting the advancement of community pharmacy.

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