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CVS Caremark receives Pioneer Award for employer-assisted housing

BY Antoinette Alexander

WASHINGTON Homes for Working Families, a national nonprofit organization focused on improving home affordability, has announced that CVS Caremark was one of 14 award recipients of the 2008 Pioneer Awards for leadership in employer-assisted housing.

CVS Caremark was recognized for its employer-assisted housing program Prescriptions for Homeownership launched in Washington in 2005, and in Los Angeles in 2007. So far, it has helped more than 50 employees close on their homes. The company plans to expand the program to Chicago, Cleveland and Detroit this year.

“We’re proud to be able to help our employees take their first big steps toward homeownership,” stated Steve Wing, director of workforce initiatives for CVS Caremark. “Innovative programs such as Prescriptions for Homeownership provide us the opportunity to support our workforce, promote employee recruitment and retention, and improve the communities in which we do business.”

Immediately following the Feb. 11 award event on Capitol Hill, representatives from CVS Caremark and Harley-Davidson Motor Co., another award recipient, participated in a congressional staff briefing hosted by the National Housing Conference titled “Employer-Assisted Housing: Expanding Opportunities for Homeownership, Business and Community Development.” The briefing provided insights into employer programs and local implementations, as well as information on pending federal legislation that would provide federal tax credits to employers offering EAH programs.

Other recipients of the 2008 Pioneer Awards included the City of Seattle, John Hopkins University, The Schwan Food Co., and the University of Chicago and University of Chicago Medical Center.

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NACDS Successful Selling hosts nearly 200 vendors

BY Antoinette Alexander

LINCOLNSHIRE, Ill. New and emerging consumer packaged goods companies and brokers and sales and marketing executives battled the frigid Chicago weather to attend the NACDS Successful Selling & Walgreens New Vendor Days event held here this week.

The sold out event attracted just over 400 people, including nearly 200 vendors, more than 60 brokers and sales and marketing companies and about 40 Walgreens executives. The program, held at the Lincolnshire Marriott, officially kicked off Monday morning with an “Industry Overview” by Jay Forbes, vice president of Lebhar-Friedman, the parent company of Drug Store News. It concludes Tuesday.

The program was provided as a service of the NACDS Advisory Board through the Outreach and Business Development subcommittee to emerging niche manufacturers and others interested in entering or gaining additional traction at food, drug and mass.

Forbes’ presentation was followed by a robust lineup of speakers, many from Walgreens headquarter office, who shared unique business practices and the expectations of Walgreens as niche players work to bring their products to market.

“I think it is a very valuable industry service. We want to brand NACDS as a resource for learning how to bring product to market and want to take it to the next level,” Fitz Elder, NACDS chief member relations officer, told Drug Store News.

NACDS held its first such event, then dubbed Successful Selling to Drug, Food and Mass Retailing, last March in Chicago.

This year’s event afforded new and emerging companies with 20 minute meetings with Walgreens executives. It also enabled brokers and vendors to meet.

To help niche players gear up for their meetings with Walgreens executives and learn how to successfully bring their new products to market, the event featured a lineup of speakers. Among the highlights was a presentation by David Van Howe, corporate vice president of purchasing for Walgreens, who offered “The Retail Perspective.” Catherine Lindner, divisional vice president of marketing development of Walgreens, and Carrie Merritt, consumer marketing manager of Walgreens, discussed “Building Consumer Awareness and Consumption—Getting it Rung at the Register, The Role of Advertising and Promotion.”

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Pharmacy gets reprieve in side-effects rules

BY DSN STAFF

ALEXANDRIA, Va. —Pharmacy leaders are breathing easier after the Food and Drug Administration agreed last month to postpone a new patient-information mandate.

The National Association of Chain Drug Stores hailed the FDA’s decision, which effectively gives pharmacies some breathing room in their efforts to comply with the regulation.

In an interim final rule published Jan. 3, 2008, in the Federal Register, the FDA reported it will give pharmacies until Jan. 1, 2009, to comply with a requirement to provide patients with an FDA-maintained toll-free number to report drug side effects. Pharmacies also will have to provide patients with a statement to contact their doctors for advice about side effects.

The newly published rules also give pharmacies some flexibility as to how they distribute the side-effects statement to patients.

The original rule, as proposed by the agency, required that information on a medication’s side effects be included in FDA-approved Medication Guides. “We also proposed that the side-effects statement be distributed with each prescription drug product…and dispensed to consumers by pharmacies and authorized dispensers in an outpatient setting,” the agency noted.

However, the FDA acknowledged the difficulties pharmacies and other health stakeholders would have implementing the new rule, and said it would hold off on the mandate until Jan. 1, 2009. “The FDA continues to anticipate that affected entities, including manufacturers of drug products, authorized dispensers and pharmacies, will need time to comply with the new requirements,” the agency reported last month. “Therefore…the agency does not intend to take enforcement action with regard to this interim final rule before that date.”

The FDA’s change of course perhaps reflects an improved climate for more effective dialogue between the chain pharmacy organization and federal health agencies. “NACDS worked closely with the FDA on the impact of this rule, and we are very appreciative of the agency’s sensitivity to pharmacies in complying with a measure that would impact the millions of prescriptions they fill each year,” said association president and chief executive officer Steve Anderson. “We look forward to continuing to work with the FDA to help chain pharmacies meet the requirements by next January.

“We also emphasize the need to raise awareness among patients that the toll-free number is for the sole purpose of reporting side effects, and that it provides no mechanism for patients to obtain medical advice,” Anderson added.

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