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Consumer Reports: Best drugstores

April 5, 2011 4:16:16 PM PDT
Price is only one consideration when choosing a pharmacy. Good, quick service is important too, especially when you're sick. You don't want to have to wait a long time or, worse, be told the medicine is not in stock.

A Consumer Reports survey of more than 40,000 subscribers found that some stores deliver much better service than others. While most people were satisfied with their pharmacy, Walmart was at the bottom of the ratings. People complained of a lack of personal service and long waits.

The big drugstore chains like Walgreens and CVS didn't fare much better. Fifteen percent of those who shopped at chain stores complained that within the past year, their prescriptions weren't always ready when they were promised.

Far better was service at independent pharmacies, as well as two independently owned franchises?Health Mart and The Medicine Shoppe. Customers cited faster service and said the independents were much more likely to have medications ready for pickup when promised. But a Consumer Reports price check found that independents can cost you more.

If you're taking a generic drug, you can save money at big retailers and chains. For generics, they charge as little as $10 for a three-month supply. For brand-name drugs, Consumer Reports found the cheapest prices at reputable online retailers such as Healthwarehouse.com and Familymeds.com. For example, Nexium cost $172 for a month's supply at Healthwarehouse compared with $230 at CVS.

Many people also buy prescription drugs at supermarket pharmacies. Some did much better than others in the survey. B-Mart, Publix, Hy-Vee, Wegman's, Jewel-Osco, Albertson's, Raley's, and Winn-Dixie were among the stores that had top marks for helpfulness, courtesy, and pharmacists' knowledge.

However, customers at Giant Food, Giant Eagle, H.E.B., King Soopers, Kroger Food and Drug, and Smith's Food and Drug were more likely than others to experience long waits at the service counter. And Albertson's, Jewel-Osco, Smith's Food and Drug, Stop & Shop, and Winn-Dixie were the stores where customers were most likely to find a prescription out of stock.

Consumer Reports has no commercial relationship with any advertiser or sponsor appearing on this Web site.

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