Industry mourns Costco pharmacy pioneer Charles Burnett

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ARLINGTON, Va. — Veteran Costco Wholesale Corp. pharmacy executive Charles Burnett has died, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores reported.

NACDS said Friday that Burnett passed away in the early morning on June 1. Funeral arrangements are pending.

Charles Burnett_Costco

Charles Burnett

Burnett was a pioneer in the retail pharmacy arena and held a unique honor with NACDS as the only person to receive both the Sheldon W. Fantle Lifetime Achievement Award (2010) and the Harold W. Pratt Award (2007), the association’s highest accolades.

Most recently senior vice president at Costco, Burnett was instrumental in opening the warehouse club chain’s first pharmacy in 1986 and later in overseeing the opening and operations of nearly 500 other Costco pharmacy locations.

“Although he retired from Costco in 2013, Charlie’s pioneering work for our pharmacies continues to contribute to our company’s success,” wrote Vic Curtis, senior vice president of pharmacy at Costco, in notifying the industry of Burnett’s passing. “It has been an honor and a pleasure to have known and worked with Charles Burnett for the past 26 years, and I often reflect on his unique contributions to our profession and his ethical and honest style of conducting business.”

Burnett started his pharmacy career in 1955 after leaving the Navy. He earned his pharmacy degree from the University of Arizona and worked for independent and hospital pharmacies before taking a position as a pharmacist at discount chain Fed Mart. He became a pharmacy manager and a regional supervisor and, after earning a law degree and a stint practicing law, rose vice president and general manager of pharmacy at Fed Mart. He later opened his own chain, Save Mart. Burnett went to Costco in 1986 when the wholesale club chain called on him to develop a pharmacy operation.

“I distinctly remember how it felt to see Charlie win the Fantle Award in 2010 and the Pratt Award in 2007,” NACDS president and chief executive officer Steve Anderson said in a statement on Burnett’s passing. “Both presentations were true celebrations of extraordinary dedication, accomplishment, friendship and class. The loss of Charlie will be felt by so many people whose lives he affected so positively and so deeply. We stand with Barbara and their family, with the extended Costco family, and with their dear friends, in remembering Charlie warmly and giving thanks for his amazing life.”



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