Updated: Jun 1, 2021
“There are many reasons why local independent pharmacies are better, they provide great personalized care, help you save on medications, and have a high level of customer satisfaction. Try one today, you will not be disappointed."
Major pharmacy chains such as CVS, Walgreens, and Rite Aid do not always provide great service.
Independent pharmacies provide a wide range of services and help you save money.
To get the best health care when it comes to your prescriptions, it's better to visit an independent pharmacy.
By: Allan R Kirby
Forget using a big pharmacy chains if you can
I admittingly go to a major pharmacy but it's only because there is no independent pharmacy  close to my location. One glaring difference I have seen over the years when dealing with major chaines over an independent pharmacy is the level of service you get. Take my last visit just the other day at a major chain pharmacy, I dropped off a prescription and asked to have it ready in three hours, when I came back it was not ready, and the place was busy. They did fill the prescription and when they did, it was just handed to me, no instructions nor any information about the medication. The pharmacist took the next customer immediately and did not give me the opportunity to ask a question. I had to look it up!
"Independent pharmacy reviews: I have seen dozens of independent pharmacies with ratings between 4.5 to 5 from multiple customers compared to major chain pharmacies. It has become clear the independent pharmacies have a high level of satisfaction."
Full-service pharmacy chains do have a number of conveniences but when it comes to customer service, care of patients, and savings I firmly believe independent pharmacies are the ones that excel. In fact, if you do a simple search and review of most independent pharmacies you will likely see a level of high customer satisfaction. I recently did a check and found several with perfect 5 out 5 with multiple reviews. Customers speak highly of independent pharmacies and it's not surprising given the poor experience myself and many others I know have had with the major chains.
Independent Pharmacies are doing well
The Pharmaceutical Care Management Association (PCMA) which represents America’s pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) recently published an article using National Council for Prescription Drug Programs, (NCPDP) data, that clearly showed that the number of independent pharmacies has increased by over 2600 independent pharmacies since 2010. Although the report does not go into the causes for the increase, it is clear that in terms of absolute numbers, there are more independent pharmacies today while the number of chain pharmacies has stayed relatively flat. This was great news and is contrary to what I thought was happening with the independent pharmacies, which I believed were in decline. This is obviously not the case.
"Can independent pharmacies survive? Since 2010 the absolute number of independent pharmacies has increased by over 2600 stores across the USA in 2019. Clearly independent pharmacies are surviving and thriving in today's market."
The myth about independent pharmacies
One of the biggest myths I have found is the fact they do not provide the same level of services as a major chain, This is incorrect, but do not take it from me, as shown in the NCPA DIGEST, independent pharmacies provide a depth and breadth of services not just dispensing medication. The 2019 NCPA census found the following with Independent Pharmacies;
76% Offer Home/worksite delivery.
97% No longer sell tobacco products.
80% Offer compliance packaging.
93% Provide medication adherence/synchronization services
78% Give flu and immunizations.
71% Provide drug disposal services.
60% Provide Hemp-based products.
Note: The 2019 NCPA Digest findings are based on pharmacies that self-identify as full-line, apothecary, compounding, long-term care, or specialty stores. These data are for the full-line stores only.
"Why are independent pharmacies better? because they will help you save money and provide incredible customer care."
They will help you save
One of the most interesting facts that I found with the NCPA census finding in the Digest report is the fact that independent community pharmacists provided generic drugs to their customers 85% of the time. This to me is incredibly good news as it shows independent pharmacies do help their customers by leveraging generic drug products. Generic drugs are cheaper and will likely encourage more compliance since customers are saving on their medication costs.
As a quick note after seeing this report and doing a little digging I found most of the drugs I have received are not generic but named brands, It turns out required to ask the pharmacists to provide me with options for cheaper alternatives. This something I just figured the pharmacist would do automatically but this is not the case. I now see that for a major chain, it's all about numbers and maximizing margins while providing as little services as possible.
"Consequences of Not Taking Your Medication Properly? Poor medication compliance can be serious and cause additional complications, hospitalization and even death. This is why its very important to ensure you work with an independent pharmacist to ensure medication is taken correctly."
Going above and beyond
I have found a few pharmacists who will actually do Home/Residence visits by the pharmacist as well as 24/7 consultation with a pharmacist who will answer questions or concerns customers may have. I was pleasantly surprised by this and felt this again shows you can get great personalized customer services with an independent pharmacist. Incidentally, I did call my pharmacist back but had to leave a message but not surprisingly my call was never returned.
"Which pharmacy is the best? Simple, your local independent pharmacy is the best place to go to get your prescriptions dispensed while receiving high quality service. You will also likely save more because independent pharmacies are more likely to find cheaper generics to dispense over brand named drugs."
Customer Care vs Convenience
Look there is no question it can be much more convenient to go to a major chain and get your medication but I have found that convenience comes at a cost, which is poor customer care I received from a major chain. I have not always had a bad experience with major chains but it has been inconsistent and at some point, it would be nice to meet a pharmacist who actually knew who I am. I do like the sales and great deals when I go to a major chain, but keep in mind, I care more about my health and ultimately that needs to be the focus of a pharmacy, to help people understand and adhere to their medications. It can be dangerous to take medications without fully understanding all of the requirements while taking them.
"Delaware saw an almost 100% increase in the number of independent pharmacies between 2010 and 2019.
How do independent pharmacies compete?
It's very clear Independent pharmacists compete by being razer focused on providing high-quality services that go beyond just filling your prescriptions. They offer a depth and breadth of services that ensure a high level of personal care when it comes to your health and taking your prescriptions. They are perfectly sized to develop a customized approach that fits best for the communities they serve. Many customers, especially older customers would be best served to visit an independent pharmacy to ensure they get the best care they deserve.
Give an independent pharmacy a try today and you will quickly learn how they work to provide high-quality customer services. The great news is newer upstarts such as NowRx are opening up that provide unique on-demand pharmacy delivery. See our review.
1. Periodically Mysmallbank.com will review and name an independent pharmacy as a top choice based on a number of criteria such as customer reviews, satisfaction, locations, brand, and social responsibility. We only select the best independent pharmacies, so they must meet minimum standards of excellences (Excellent Choice) in order to be reviewed by Mysmallbank.com
2. An independent pharmacy is usually a small one-store retail pharmacy that is not directly affiliated with any major chain of pharmacies such as Rite Aid, Walgreens, and CVS. It's usually a locally owned privately held business.
This is a MySmallBank.com Article written by Allan Kirby, who writes and produces Personal Finance and Money Management articles. Mysmallbank.com also has a section called My Independent Pharmacy that provides articles and reviews relating to Independent pharmacies and medication discount savings.