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Safeway, philanthropic arm launch annual breast cancer-fundraising initiative

BY Michael Johnsen

PLEASANTON, Calif. Safeway and The Safeway Foundation on Thursday launched their annual chain-wide October Breast Cancer Awareness fundraising initiative. Funds used from past campaigns helped to create two new research projects.

Safeway and its Safeway Foundation philanthropic arm partnered with cancer scientists from government, the pharmaceutical industry, patient advocacy groups and cancer centers to address major stumbling blocks that medical professionals say hinder the development of new breast cancer treatments: faster, more efficient clinical trials and medicines that are designed to work better in individual patients.

“It is gratifying to see our fundraising dollars bear fruit,” stated Larree Renda, Safeway EVP, chief strategist and administrative officer and chair of the Safeway Foundation. “We have teamed up with some of North America’s premier cancer centers and we are beginning to see some encouraging results.”

The first project, the I-SPYTRIAL (Investigation of Serial Studies to Predict Your Therapeutic Response with Imaging And moLecular Analysis) is managed by the Biomarkers Consortium in conjunction with the National Cancer Institute. The Consortium is a public-private partnership led by the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health that includes the Food and Drug Administration, the National Institutes of Health and a large number of partners from major pharmaceutical companies, leading academic medical centers, nonprofit and patient advocacy groups. Scientists from NCI, FDA and major cancer research centers helped develop and will participate in the conduct of the trial. In the course of the trial, women with locally advanced breast cancer will be given drugs in development that are individually targeted to the biology of each woman’s tumor. Researchers will use data from one set of patients’ treatment to treat other patients, and thus more quickly eliminate ineffective treatments and drugs. In addition, the I-SPY trial will test the concept of personalized medicine by leveraging the molecular tools that have been developed over the last decade with the potential to identify and test new biomarkers as well.

The second Safeway Foundation-funded research initiative comes from the University of California, which is launching an unprecedented statewide collaboration for breast cancer patients with the goal of designing and testing new approaches to research, technology and health care delivery. The project, the ATHENA Breast Health Network, will initially involve 150,000 women throughout California who will be screened for breast cancer and followed for years through the five UC medical centers. The Safeway Foundation provided a $4.8 million grant, which will be coupled with a $5.3 million grant from the University of California.

The medical centers involved in this initiative are UC San Francisco, which will serve as the host campus, UC Davis, UC Los Angeles, UC San Diego and UC Irvine. Also participating in the collaboration are the UC Berkeley School of Public Health, the Northern California Cancer Center, Quantum Leap Healthcare Collaborative, the National Cancer Institute’s BIG Health Consortium and the Center for Medical Technology Policy.

Last year Safeway joined with UCSF to enable the nationwide launch of BreastCancerTrials.org, an online clinical trial matching service dedicated exclusively to breast cancer. Using part of a $2 million grant from Safeway and The Safeway Foundation, the University of California at San Francisco’s Carol Franc Buck Breast Care Center developed BreastCancerTrials.org which is now operated as a program of QuantumLeap Healthcare Collaborative, a non-profit corporation. BreastCancerTrials.org provides patient-friendly descriptions and information for over 160 trials now underway at more than 1,500 medical facilities across the country. During October, Safeway will publish messaging about BreastCancerTrials.org on its paper grocery bags and through brochures at the company’s pharmacies to raise awareness of this service.

Safeway has raised nearly $60 million for breast cancer research since 2001, the company stated.

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CVS Caremark to distribute free seasonal flu-shot vouchers to the unemployed

BY Allison Cerra

WOONSOCKET, R.I. In response to the current economic state, CVS Caremark announced it has begun to provide 100,000 free seasonal flu shots to the unemployed as part of its efforts to help keep Americans healthy this flu season. The initiative kicks off Thursday at The Work Place, a member of the Massachusetts Career One-Stop Initiative in Boston.

In more than 20 markets across the country, CVS Caremark will offer vouchers for free seasonal flu shots worth a total of $3 million. The vouchers will be distributed at participating One-Stop Career Centers and other select employment training agencies that offer career resources, training, and workforce information to job seekers, students, and businesses.

Beginning the week of Oct. 5, participating employment centers will offer free flu shot vouchers for distribution to their unemployed clients. The vouchers can be redeemed at CVS/pharmacy stores during a scheduled flu shot clinic or at MinuteClinic health centers located within select CVS/pharmacy stores during their regular hours of operation; no appointment necessary. Free flu shot vouchers will not be available at CVS/pharmacy or MinuteClinic.

Participating employment centers are located in California, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island, Texas, Virginia and Washington, D.C.

“The unemployed are particularly vulnerable this flu season, as many lack health insurance or employer coverage for a flu shot. We are excited to get this program underway and to start providing protection for this group as early in the flu season as possible,” said Troyen A. Brennan, M.D., chief medical officer for CVS Caremark.

More information on contacting the individual employment centers participating in the free flu voucher program can be found at www.cvs.com/flu.

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Walgreens opens 7,000th store in Brooklyn, N.Y.

BY Allison Cerra

DEERFIELD, Ill. Walgreens is celebrating the grand opening Thursday of its 7,000th store.

Brooklyn, N.Y. state and local officials will welcome the retailer to another New York neighborhood during a ribbon-cutting ceremony at noon Eastern time. The new store in the Gravesend neighborhood, near iconic Coney Island.

As part of the grand opening, the AARP/Walgreens Wellness Tour is offering free health screenings to all adult attendees and flu shot vouchers to uninsured adults in the store’s parking lot today. The appearance by the customized, traveling health-screening bus is part of a nationwide tour of nine vehicles to deliver free health screenings across the country for early detection and prevention of diseases, as well as health education. Screenings test for total cholesterol level, blood pressure, bone density, glucose levels and body mass index.

The Coney Island-themed grand opening will feature a ribbon cutting ceremony, food, music and entertainment. Guest speakers include Brooklyn borough president Marty Markowitz and other state and local officials. Walgreens also will donate $7,000 to Lenny’s Lighthouse, a Brooklyn charity that provides support to people with disabilities.

“For the last decade we have focused on finding the best corners in America to provide consumer goods and pharmacy and health and wellness services,” said Walgreens president and CEO Greg Wasson. “Today, more than 50% of the U.S. population lives within two miles of a Walgreens and close to 75% lives within five miles.”

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