New Report: Community Pharmacists Beat Chains in Every Measure of Service

by | Mar 15, 2019 | Pharmacy

Last year, the Consumers Union published research showing independent pharmacies consistently sold prescription drugs for less than any U.S. pharmacy chain (see Independent Pharmacies Save You Big Money Over Chains). Now a new survey of more than 78,000 people shows independent pharmacists also outperformed the chains in every other measure! And it wasn’t a close contest.

Independents were rated superior in:

  • Helpfulness
  • Cleanliness
  • Courtesy
  • Accuracy
  • Knowledge of Pharmacists
  • Speed (both in fulfilling prescriptions and checkout)

The only surprise to AMIBA staff was just how poorly the specialty drug chains rated — well below not only independents but almost every supermarket and big box discounter with a pharmacy counter (the few exceptions: Safeway and Walmart scored lower than Rite Aid and Walgreens).

The survey also indicated the lower prices charged for common prescription drugs at community pharmacies are compounded by their knowledge and willingness to help customers find the best deal. Independent pharmacists were more than twice as likely to suggest a less expensive option than their chain counterparts.

The Consumers Union story includes several pieces of helpful advice,  including: “At least once a year, sit with your pharmacist for a complete medication review, a 15-minute checkup of everything you take, including vitamins, herbals, and over-the-counter drugs, along with any prescription medications. That can help you eliminate duplicate or unnecessary drugs.”

While this is a reasonable suggestion for people doing business with a community pharmacist, we’re eager to publish the findings of anyone who tries this at a large drug store chain!



“Independent pharmacists were more than twice as likely to suggest a less expensive option than their chain counterparts.”

The report also includes notable anecdotes about the service offered by local pharmacies, including Milwaukee‘s Hayat Pharmacy, which has staff who collectively can serve customers in 19 different languages among it’s several stores!

Finally, the survey found personal attention was far more than lip service at indie pharmacies: a majority of customers said their community pharmacist “knows me by name” — compared to just 14% of chain customers who said this.

The full report by Lisa Gill appears in the March issue of Consumer Reports magazine.