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Import-reform bills could rewrite business, labels

BY Michael Johnsen

NEW YORK —On May 14, several industry leaders testified before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce’s Subcommittee on Health, regarding the potential impact the yet-to-be-filed but widely anticipated Food and Drug Administration Globalization Act could have on the business of everything from lipstick to pharmaceuticals—to say nothing of every ingredient, active, inactive and fillers.

It was the third hearing regarding the proposed piece of legislation, which, in the wake of the deaths of more than 80 Americans poisoned by contaminated heparin, is backed by strong bipartisan support, and many expect it could be enacted before the end of they year.

The bill also is being debated in the halls of Congress in an attempt to address many of the safety concerns of goods imported into the United States that have arisen in the past two years, safety concerns that have prompted recalls of everything from lens care solutions and pet foods to anticoagulant pharmaceuticals.

It’s a broad-sweeping piece of legislation that would address the regulation of just about every product imported into the United States that falls under FDA purview.

On its face, the two biggest impacts on manufacturers of food products, dietary supplements, over-the-counter medicines, beauty supplies and both branded and generic pharmaceuticals will be the additional mandated fees associated with the increased inspection requirements of foreign-based production facilities and the labeling mandates that would require manufacturers to list countries of origin for their active ingredients. The resulting increased costs to import goods come at a bad time, many fear, as rising fuel costs already figure to significantly raise the prices manufacturers have to charge and consumers have to pay.

The new labeling requirements likewise may increase manufacturing costs, some say, especially as raw ingredient sources are not always static, and each change in raw ingredient manufacturer could necessitate a change in labeling. More important, listing the country of origin on product labels could influence consumer purchase decisions—especially those consumers who might be afraid to buy and use products manufactured in a developing nation, or even a big emerging market country, such as China or India.

“This will be significant, I think,” Larrie Short, a partner at Arent Fox, told generic drug manufacturers and retailers gathered at an April 25 supply chain symposium sponsored by Anda, the country’s fourth-largest generic drug distributor. “This ingredient listing raises a whole different way of competing that has not been a part of the generic market, where generic drugs compete only on price and service. That really has the potential to differentiate certain products in the minds of consumers,” she said.

And while some consumers may want to know from whence their products originated, it may not add up to a hill of beans as it relates to safety issues, some argued. Listing countries of origin neither guarantees safety nor does it necessarily indicate questionable safety.

And while some form of FDA import reform act appears imminent, nothing is set in stone, just yet. “It’s important for us to communicate immediately the concerns we have about the current draft,” noted Andy Fish, senior vice president of legal and government affairs and general counsel for the Consumer Healthcare Products Association. “And I think that our [collective industry] concerns will be reflected in future drafts.”

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Michaelson to leave FreshDirect for Supervalu

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK FreshDirect has announced that chief executive officer Steve Michaelson will leave the company to join Supervalu as chief marketing officer.

He previously worked for Weis Markets, where he began working in 2002.

His replacement will be Richard Braddock, who became chairman of the Internet grocery company in 2004. He had previously worked at Citibank and Priceline.com. “I chose to increase my involvement with the company because I love the business and I think it has great growth potential,” Braddock told Crain’s New York. “Over the past years I’ve developed a deep respect for the FreshDirect team and am looking forward to helping unlock the potential of this company.”

Based in Long Island City, N.Y., FreshDirect delivers groceries around the New York area. It is a private company. Supervalu has headquarters in Minneapolis.

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CVS Caremark employees to take part in Easter Seals events

BY Antoinette Alexander

WOONSOCKET, R.I. This year, thousands of CVS Caremark associates nationwide are expected to participate in Easter Seals Walk With Me events as part of the CVS Caremark All Kids Can program.

Since 2006, the company and its private foundation have contributed more than $4 million to Easter Seals, including CVS Caremark All Kids Can Fund gifts to support Easter Seals autism services, and a commitment to Easter Seals Metropolitan Chicago’s Therapeutic Day School and Center for Autism Research, scheduled to open this fall. In addition, each year CVS Caremark has been a sponsor for Easter Seals Walk With Me events and employee teams have shown their support through Walk With Me pledges and local Easter Seals fundraisers.

On Saturday, hundreds of CVS Caremark employees in Providence, R.I., will converge at Roger Williams Park Zoo to raise money for local children with disabilities. Walkers in Saturday’s event will include about 350 CVS Caremark employees and their families, who expect to raise more than $75,000 to expand Easter Seals’ early intervention services in the state.

Since 2006, some 7,000 employees have raised more than $1 million through walks for local Easter Seals affiliates.

“In Rhode Island, 14 percent of children under 18 have a disability, and nationally, 9.2 percent of American families with children have at least one child with disability,” stated Eileen Howard Dunn, senior vice president of corporate communications and community relations at CVS Caremark. “CVS Caremark is committed to improving the lives of children with disabilities through our All Kids Can program. We are very proud that so many of our employees are helping us support Easter Seals in expanding its extraordinary services to even more children.”

Inspiring employees during Saturday’s walk is a local girl named Lily May, who was born with disabilities, but who has succeeded far beyond through Easter Seals’ early intervention services.

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