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Independent pharmacies earn top scores from Consumer Reports readers


NEW YORK — An overwhelming majority of Consumer Reports readers are highly satisfied with their independent pharmacy experiences, as compared with experiences at some of the national chains, a report to be published in the May issue found.

While customers said they generally were satisfied with their pharmacies, some were irked by long waits and lagging service at some big-box stores. "Chalk one up for the little guy," stated Tod Marks, senior editor of Consumer Reports. "We found that the independents made fewer errors, offered swifter service at the pharmacy counter and were more likely to have medications ready for pickup when promised."

More than 90% of Consumer Reports readers gave independent drug stores top scores across the board for pharmacists' knowledge about drugs and other products, helpfulness and courtesy, speed, accuracy and personal service. Included in this group were McKesson’s HealthMart franchise group and Cardinal Health’s The Medicine Shoppe. Readers who shopped at independents were twice as likely as chain drug store shoppers to characterize their pharmacist as easy to talk to and able to give them a one-on-one consultation.

Almost 1-in-4 Consumer Reports readers fill their prescriptions at big-box stores, up from 14% in 2002, with price cited as an important reason for shopping there. One-in-4 mass merchant shoppers complained of a long wait at the service counter. And when a store was out of a drug, 33% waited for two or more days to get their prescriptions. Almost as many readers reported their pharmacy was out of stock on the medicine they needed at least once in the past year.

More than 1-in-5 cited slow service at the big-box counter as a complaint; and 15% of those surveyed complained that their medicine wasn't ready for pickup when promised.

Convenience was a key factor in customer satisfaction — almost half of readers surveyed reported that the ability to get in and out quickly with medicine in hand was an important consideration when choosing a drug store.

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