Consumers still prefer independent pharmacies, according to Consumer Reports' ratings

Consumer Reports' most recent ratings of walk-in pharmacies found that when it comes to filling prescriptions, consumers still prize the friendliness, courtesy, and expertise of the community pharmacy. Independent pharmacies earned high scores on such measures as courtesy, helpfulness, and speed of checkout and filling prescriptions, as well as pharmacists' knowledge and accuracy. Some experts warn the recent spate of mergers in the health care arena could make it harder for some people to fill prescriptions at independent pharmacies. For example, people insured by Aetna may be steered to a CVS for their prescription drugs or even one of the chain’s in-house clinics for vaccinations and other basic health care needs, says Douglas Hoey, president and CEO of the National Community Pharmacists Association. Also, last year some 4,000 independent pharmacies refused to join "preferred networks" of pharmacies in Medicare Part D drug plans. Chris Antypas, PharmD, co-owner of independent Asti’s South Hills Pharmacy in Pittsburgh, says his pharmacy was among those that opted out of being a preferred pharmacy. While he acknowledges that people on Medicare may now have to pay more for their drugs at his pharmacy, he hopes the personal care and extra services will still set him apart from the big chains. "People want to be treated as individual as possible," he says, "so independent pharmacists are focused on the relationship."

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