Did you know there are over 8,500 Walgreens drug stores in the U.S.? No doubt you drive past several on your daily commute to work. But just because they’re ubiquitous, does that mean they are automatically better than your neighborhood Mom & Pop pharmacies?
In our parents’ generation, Mom & Pop shops were the preferred, and sometimes only, choice in getting prescriptions filled. In today’s world of never ending choices and rising medication costs, it’s important to weigh the benefits of both big chain and family-owned pharmacies.
Mom & Pop Shop Pros
- One-on-one service: Many do about ¼ the number of scripts per day than larger chain pharmacies do and generally hire people who grew up in the community which means they often have a more personal relationship with the customer. When your pharmacist knows you personally, they can give more personalized care and may even save your life by alerting you to potential negative drug interactions.
- More time per customer: Since the clientele is generally smaller, the pharmacist may be more apt to take time to explain your medications. This can include a willingness to help find prescription discount programs you might never have been aware of otherwise.
- Unique services such as compounding: Should you have an allergy, or need the dosage form changed from a pill to a liquid, pharmacists trained in traditional compounding can customize medications to more thoroughly meet your individual needs.
- Desire to make a difference: Their family business likely takes up a large portion of their lives. With the level of commitment needed to keep it running, knowing that at the end of the day they’ve helped their communities stay healthy is a major win.
Chain Store Pharmacy Pros
- Technology: With big-time marketing budgets, many large chain stores have additional resources such as mobile apps and websites to help you understand your medications, refill your prescriptions with a click, and even set up reminders to take your medication.
- Inexpensive prices and larger selections: Think about the $4 generic prescription program at Walmart. The selection is often much wider and more readily available, and the number of accepted insurance plans may also be broader.
- Accessibility: How often are you sitting in front of a Walmart, and on either corner of the street you can throw a stone and hit a CVS or a Walgreens? In addition to the sheer numbers, many chains also offer drive thru options, allowing you to stay in your vehicle when you’re not feeling well.
- Variety of Services: With one stop you can knock out several of your honey-dos including your weekly grocery run and be more productive while waiting for your prescription to be filled.
- Larger OTC inventory: While the antibiotics run their course you may still need over-the-counter medications to ease some of your symptoms. At chain stores, the selection is large enough to help you treat a variety of ailments without having to make a second stop.
Medications add up quick! Perhaps the biggest determinate in choosing a pharmacy is making sure they accept your particular insurance plan/carrier. Beyond that, you have lots of options when filling your scripts. Doing your homework and deciding what is most important to you before committing to a pharmacy can help you save big and ensure your experience is a pleasant one.
*Photo Credit: Affirm Care