Pharmacy Report Card

Establishing a good relationship with a pharmacist you trust is the No. 1 reason to choose a drugstore, says Lucinda Maine, CEO and executive vice president of the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy. “You can and should expect your pharmacist to be both accessible and knowledgeable,” she says. “If he or she is not, then you should take your business elsewhere.”

How long have you been using your pharmacy for and why have you given them such loyalty?  We, as humans, are creatures of habit.  We have all been there.  We have been doing some particular thing for an extended period of time.  It may not be the easiest or best way to do it; however, it is what we are comfortable with and we know what to expect.  We all have busy lives and the simple act of considering and evaluating a new method brings on an uncomfortable feeling of the unknown.

As a pharmacist, I am here to tell you, today is the day to evaluate your pharmacy and your pharmacist.  Consumer Reports just posted an interesting and well researched survey which offers 10 reasons why you may want to switch drug stores.  

As of 2009, there were over 56,000 pharmacies in the United States.  While many pharmacies are independently owned or hospital/clinic pharmacies, the overwhelming majority (upwards of 70%) are in a retail setting such as a chain pharmacy (i.e.; CVS, Walgreen, Rite Aid), supermarket (i.e.,; Safeway, Raleys, Albertsons), or big-box retail outlet (i.e.; Costco, Wal-Mart). 

While I am not going to discuss all 10 reasons you may want to switch pharmacies, (they are outlined and ranked quite well in the Consumer Reports article), I think it is important to review the #1 reason you may want to consider changing pharmacies. 

If your pharmacist is not readily available for discreet and educated consultation about your prescription and over-the-counter medications, you should consider taking your business to another pharmacy.  As noted in the Consumer Reports survey, “Customers at independents were much more likely than others to have discussed prescriptions with their pharmacist”.   

Maintaining a relationship with your pharmacist is important so that you have a medication information resource that is also familiar with your medical history.  This knowledge of your medical profile will help your pharmacist answer your prescription and over-the-counter medication questions, taking into consideration your entire medication history.  Your pharmacist will look out for drug and food interactions, missed refills, cost saving issues, and will gladly call your doctor for you to discuss your clinical situation whenever necessary.

Take a moment and review the Consumer Reports survey on “Finding the right pharmacy, 10 reasons why you may want to switch drugstores”.

Then, do yourself a favor and visit three or four local pharmacies.  Include an independent pharmacy, chain store, supermarket and big box retail store.  Stand back and watch the pharmacy for 5 or 10 minutes and take in what you see.  Do the pharmacists look like they have enough time do the work in front of them, is there a patient counseling area that appears relatively private, are the clerks at the front counter pleasant with the customers, and how many patients are in line or waiting for their prescriptions?

Next, step up to the counter and ask to speak with the pharmacist.  Explain to the pharmacist that you are considering transferring prescriptions to their store and you would like to know what sort of service they offer.  Believe me; if you visit four different pharmacies and follow through with this little exercise, you will have a clear idea of which pharmacy is the one for you.


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