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Virgin Healthcare makes first attempt to get doctors interested in clinics

BY Adam Kraemer

LONDON The Virgin Group, owned by Sir Richard Branson, launched its first foray into Britain’s National Health System primary healthcare market Thursday with a call to family doctors to join them in establishing a network of branded clinics, the Financial Times reported.

After two years of planning, Virgin Healthcare’s decision embarked on its first advertising campaign Thursday to stir interest among family doctors in joining one of six “one-stop-shop” health centers, the first of which is set to open later this year. The centers would offer services from homeopathy to therapy, as well as typical general practitioner services.

Under the business model, Virgin would manage funds the doctors receive for staff costs and rental. Virgin would then offer a range of additional NHS and private services to visiting patients, including dentistry, screening, a pharmacy “and a range of conventional and complementary therapies,” according to the Times

Mark Adams, Virgin Healthcare chief executive, was quoted as saying that while GPs would retain their existing contracts, “it would change the delivery model from something designed in 1946 to something that better serves today’s world.”

The government has stated that it is looking to open 250 new GP practices and health centers over the next few years, 100 surgeries in under-doctored areas, and 150 other new health centers with extended opening hours elsewhere in the country. Mark Britnell, director of commissioning at the department of health, said ?250 million ($489 million) per year had been earmarked for the new services, “and we are very pleased that Virgin and others are prepared to offer them”.

Virgin’s plan differs from existing models in the U.K. by its use of the Virgin brand name. Assura, another company involved in the health centers, simply provides capital and project management, while Alliance Boots just leases space in its Poole store to the NHS.

Virgin is planning a “road-show” through 26 U.K. towns and cities to explain its plans in more detail to doctors. The group is recruiting dentists, therapists and hygienists, dental nurses and health center managers.

Ben Bradshaw, health minister, welcomed the launch. “I am pleased that Virgin Healthcare is proposing to work with GPs to help develop more integrated services for patients,” he was quoted by the Financial Times as saying. “We want to see the fullest possible range of service providers, including independent sector partners, developing innovative proposals to promote better health, improve patient access and develop more personalized care for patients”.

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Industry companies go eco-friendly

BY Michael Johnsen

New York A highlight of green-friendly companies and what they’re doing:

Whole Foods—The chain last month ditched plastic in its Austin, Texas-area stores in favor of planet-friendly bags, giving consumers a choice between free 100-percent recycled paper bags or the purchase of either a reusable canvas bag or plastic tote. “Austin is serving as a test market for the company with steps in the direction for a companywide ban at checkout early next year,” stated Whole Foods spokeswoman Kate Lowery.

Wal-Mart—In addition to stocking environmentally friendly products in its aisles, Wal-Mart recently introduced reusable shopping bags. The bags, which will be available at all Supercenters, Neighborhood Markets and discount stores, are offered at $1 each and are made of recycled polyethylene terephthalate, a woven fabric derived from recycled plastic bottles. According to Wal-Mart’s Live Better Index survey last year, 43 percent of Americans think they will be “extremely green” in the next five years. To help appeal to this growing green consumerism, Wal-Mart has introduced a store-brand compact fluorescent light bulb, which consumes less energy and tracks the adoption of CFCs state by state. Also, Wal-Mart has retooled its laundry detergent planogram to present only concentrated-liquid detergents. The changeover is currently underway in the Southern region, will extend to the North and Midwest regions by the end of next month and finish in the retailer’s East Coast locations by April 2008.

Safeway—Safeway last year converted its truck fleet to B20 biodiesel fuel—fuel that is 20 percent biodiesel made from domestically manufactured virgin soybean oil. The conversion will reduce Safeway’s carbon dioxide gas output by 3,603 metric tons — equivalent to 780 passenger cars not being driven for one year. And the grocer was awarded last year with California’s 2007 Environmental and Economic Leadership Award for Climate Change in recognition of all of the chain’s green-friendly initiatives.

Abbott Laboratories—Abbott last year received the annual Illinois Governor’s Pollution Prevention Award for outstanding environmental excellence for the sixth time in the last seven years. Abbott has been recognized for implementing pollution prevention projects at its pharmaceutical fermentation manufacturing operations in Chicago in 2006. The company also has committed to going “carbon neutral” with its U.S. auto fleet through the use of hybrids and other fuel-efficient vehicles, and implemented an energy policy with specific goals that include reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 30 percent by 2011.

S.C. Johnson—Named one of the top 10 leading green companies by Forbes, the company recently instituted its Greenlist process, a classification system that evaluates the impact of thousands of raw materials on human and environmental health. By using Greenlist, S.C. Johnson eliminated 1.8 million pounds of volatile organic compounds from Windex and 4 million pounds of polyvinylidene chloride from Saran Wrap. The company licenses Greenlist royalty-free to other firms that want to use it.

Pentel—The company features a line of products under its Recycology banner, made from at least 50 percent, and up to 100 percent, of recycled content or post-consumer recycled content. The line of products includes pens, markers, pencils, lead, tape and, most recently, umbrellas.

Physicians Formula—The cosmetics company last year introduced a new organic line called Organic Wear. “It is important to note that we will be the first to introduce a 100-percent natural certified organic makeup line to the food, drug and mass channel,” said Ingrid Jackel, Physicians Formula’s chief executive officer. Organic Wear will be the first eco-certified, colored cosmetic line in the United States, she said.

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Alejandro Silva named to Walgreens board of directors; executive promotions announced

BY Adam Kraemer

DEERFIELD, Ill. Alejandro Silva, chairman and chief executive officer of Chicago-based Evans Food Group, has been elected to Walgreens board of directors as an independent director, effective Jan. 9, according to reports.

“We welcome to the board Alejandro’s experience in building a successful consumer products company over the past 22 years,” said Jeffrey Rein, Walgreens chairman and chief executive officer. “His ideas and insight will help us stay abreast of changing consumer habits.”

Seven years after entered the food business in Mexico in 1972, Silva founded a business venture, Alimentos Finos del Norte, in Saltillo, Mexico. In 1985, he acquired Evans Food Group with his brother and another partner, turning it into the world’s largest pork rind snack manufacturer and the largest Hispanic-owned business in Chicago.

Silva has been awarded the Double Eagle Award from the United States-Mexico Chamber of Commerce; the Latino Globalist Award; Chicago United Business Leaders of Color member; Chicago Area Entrepreneurship Hall of Fame member; and the U.S. Department of Commerce Minority Enterprises Development Agency Award.

The company also announced that James Howard is retiring from the board.

Walgreens also announced the following executive promotions:

  • Stanley Blaylock, 44, previously Walgreens corporate vice president and senior vice president of specialty pharmacy and home care for Walgreens Health Services, the managed care division of Walgreens, has been promoted to a corporate senior vice president and president of Walgreens Health Services. Blaylock replaces Trent Taylor, who has left his position at Walgreens.
  • David Van Howe, 49, has been promoted from vice president of purchasing to a corporate vice president. Van Howe joined Walgreens in 2000 as general merchandise manager of beauty and fashion. He was promoted to a divisional vice president in 2004 and oversaw the purchasing department’s health and wellness division before being named vice president of purchasing last April. He has more than 30 years of retail experience, including operations and purchasing positions with Kmart, Arbor Drugs and CVS/pharmacy.

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