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Investment group says Spartan’s board election process should change

BY Alaric DeArment

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. A supermarket operating company’s practice for electing members of its board of directors needs to change, an investment group said at the company’s annual meeting and in an accompanying letter.

CtW Investment Group called on the board of Spartan Stores to elect members of its board every year, while also expressing concern over auditor independence and executive pay, urging Spartan’s board to “declassify” the board in time for next year’s shareholder meeting.

“The annual election of directors is a predicate for accountability to Spartan shareholders,” CtW executive director Bill Patterson said at the company’s annual meeting.

Under its current election system, Spartan has a “classified” or “staggered” board, whereby board members are elected for different periods of time depending on their position.

“Classified boards such as Spartan’s are an outdated governance practice that serves to protect entrenched boards and prevent shareholders from holding accountable the directors charged with safe-guarding their investments in the company,” Patterson wrote.

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Cardinal Health announces expansion of training resource, succession planning

BY Michael Johnsen

WASHINGTON Cardinal Health late last month announced that it would add 14 new modules for its proprietary myPharmacyTrainer online training site, which helps retail pharmacies coach employees on how to deliver better patient care, improve business operations and increase sales.

The myPharmacyTrainer application invites pharmacy staff to interact with virtual patients – each with a unique health care need. By consulting with the patients and answering their questions in an interactive, video game-like environment, staff can quickly learn how to connect patients with pharmacy products and services for their specific needs, and how to improve store sales, productivity and profitability.

Since its launch in September 2008, nearly 2,000 retail pharmacies have used myPharmacyTrainer as a quick, convenient, on-demand training resource.

In other news, Cardinal Health also announced at its annual Retail Business Conference that it has expanded its succession planning and acquisition services for independent pharmacies.

Cardinal Health’s Transition Strategy and Management team can help independent pharmacists to determine the best timing to buy or sell a pharmacy, learn how to structure the sales transaction and understand what kind of additional outside counsel they need.

Since initially launching these services in October 2008, Cardinal Health’s Transition Strategy and Management team has worked with more than 125 pharmacists interested in buying or selling an independent pharmacy. Because Cardinal Health serves more than 5,000 independent pharmacies throughout the United States, the company is uniquely positioned to match potential buyers and sellers and to help develop acquisition and exit strategies that take into consideration the specific challenges these owners face.

“Cardinal Health understands that to many independent pharmacists, planning for the future of their businesses is much like planning for the future of their families,” said Jimmy Neil, VP Transition Strategy and Management for Cardinal Health. “It’s extremely important – but it can also be a complicated, lengthy and emotional process. Studies show that ownership of more than 60 percent of community pharmacies will change hands within the next 10 years, so we’re committed to making sure that independent pharmacies have all of the information and expertise they need to buy, sell or create a long-term exit strategy for their business.”

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Sandoz introduces immunosuppressant in U.S. market

BY Alaric DeArment

HOLZKIRCHEN, Germany A Swiss generic drug maker has introduced a drug for organ transplant patients in the United States.

Sandoz, the generics arm of Novartis, announced Tuesday the introduction of tacrolimus capsules in the 0.5-mg, 1-mg and 5-mg strengths, a generic version of Astellas Pharma’s Prograf. The drug is an immunosuppressant used to prevent rejection of transplanted livers and kidneys.

“Tacrolimus is an important new product for Sandoz, further strengthening our diverse portfolio of affordable medicines in the key U.S. market,” Sandoz CEO Jeff George said in a statement.

Prograf had sales of $929 million for the 12 months ended in April, according to IMS Health data.

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