Independent Pharmacies Save You Money

By January 7, 2016Blog, Deals, Featured

New Consumers Union survey shows community pharmacies offer not only superior service, but lower prices compared to chain competitors

It probably surprises no one that independent pharmacies outperformed all chain competitors in customer service in a recent Consumers Union survey. But independents also beat major chain drugstores, supermarkets and big box discounters on price — and by a wide margin. In fact, among all national chains, only the pay-to-shop membership club, Costco, edged out independents on price.  Published in the January 2016 edition of Consumer Reports magazine, the Consumers Union report was based on results from “secret shoppers” who called the pharmacies of more than 200 stores for price quotes on five common generic prescription drugs.* The total averages of the price quoted (a one-month supply of each) were:

  • Costco: $117
  • Independents: $136 (i.e., Haitian-owned and operated K&Y Pharmacy, in Smyrna, GA)
  • Sam’s Club: $193
  • Target: $317
  • Walmart: $352
  • Kmart: $558
  • Grocery Stores: $561
  • Walgreens: $603
  • Rite Aid: $827
  • CVS: $855

The drugs in the survey included generic versions of Actos, Cymbalta, Lipitor, Plavix and Singulair.

The reasons to patronize independent pharmacists go far beyond price. Consumer Reports notes, “You’re much less likely to wait at an independent pharmacy than at another type of store.”  Just 4 percent of customers at independents complained of long waits compared to 21 percent of pharmacy chain customers. The Consumers Union report suggests this may be an intentional strategy by some chains to ensure customers have plenty of time to roam their aisles for other products. According to Consumer Reports, “At least 90 percent of shoppers at independents rated their pharmacy as Excellent or Very Good in speed & accuracy, courtesy & helpfulness, and pharmacists’ knowledge. No other type of drug store came close.”

Related Resources

How does CVS get away with charging seven times the price of independents? This investigation (6 min. video + print version) by a Minnesota TV station illuminates one component of the problem. See Truth RX for more on the problem of corporate Pharmacy Benefit Managers like CVS/Caremark.

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