Who runs the largest pharmacy chains in the United States? What makes them great? Why do they become your go-to stores and why should you expect them to offer you cheap prescription drugs? This article will answer all your queries. Before we begin, let’s have a look at the table below that shows the five largest retail pharmacy chains in the United States in 2017 ranked by total prescription dispensing revenues.
5 Largest Retail Pharmacy Chains In the USA
*Source: Drug Channels
** Note: This list does not include any large mail and specialty pharmacies.
CVS Health boasts one of the largest pharmacy chains in the United States. In addition to the pharmacy drugstores, the company runs an ‘Rx benefit management division’ called ‘CVS Caremark’ with 75 million plan members; Minute Clinics, a chain of retail clinics where nurse practitioners and physician assistants diagnose and treat minor health conditions, administer lab test and vaccines and also provide wellness services; CVS specialty pharmacy (handling medications for individuals requiring complex and expensive drug therapies); Provide infusion services and long-term care pharmacy services.
With 9800+ locations and substantial savings with an ExtraCare rewards card, you will rarely have to go out of your way to pick a prescription. It also offers store brands for various over-the-counter drugs.
Also, recently it introduced a new drug tool called “Rx Savings Finder” to pharmacists who staff its stores in order to help find patients the cheapest option for their prescription drugs. The company is also working hard and steering its efforts to providing physicians with more visibility into patient costs when they are writing prescriptions.
2. Walgreens Boots Alliance
After taking over Alliance Boots, a leading international pharmacy-led health and beauty group, Walgreens is now the biggest competitor to CVS in the race of becoming the largest pharmacy chain in the United States.
Much like CVS, Walgreens is far more than a drugstore. It operates a mail-order pharmacy and also offers home care and specialty pharmacy services.
At Walgreens, you will find relatively low prices on immunizations and their prescription savings program also help in saving money on common medications. Another great thing about Walgreens is the convenience of drive-thru prescription pickup found almost on all their locations.
3. Walmart Stores
Walmart is the third largest pharmacy chain in the U.S retail industry with 2017 sales as high as $20.5 billion. What makes it a go-to pharmacy for many consumers? Affordability and convenience. Yes, Walmart offers many generic prescription drugs for just $4. Also, when your pharmacy is located in such a huge discount store, you can easily shop for just about anything else while you wait for your prescription to fill up.
Walmart also offers the lowest prices on various immunizations, over-the-counter drugs, and other personal-care/beauty products.
However, there are some drawbacks too:
- The pharmacies are not huge, and you will not find as many as CVS and Walgreens.
- Few locations offer services like in-health clinics.
- The customer service is limited and not so great because the pharmacies found in Walmart stores are not often huge and are quite busy at times.
4. Rite Aid Corporation:
Although Rite Aid had some good sales last year, it is not long until this drugstore will lose the race unless it comes up with a strategic plan.
The Plenti Rewards program that offered substantial discounts and rewards for loyal customers, including savings at Exxon and Mobil gas stations is no longer available. Also, you will find every product in the store, from prescription drugs to personal care and beauty items highly priced. With a limited selection of items, unorganized stores, and fewer locations, Rite Aid will have a hard time competing with the largest pharmacy chains in the United States.
The merger that was about to happen between Albertsons and Rite Aid is no longer happening. This means that Rite Aid is on its own once again. The only thing that can help Rite Aid recover its losses and brand image is to be quick in identifying its niche in the drug store space.
Kroger has been an active competitor in supermarket chains and specialty pharmacies. Although it’s the seventh largest pharmacy chain in the U.S. yet, it is still struggling. Most people choose Kroger mainly because it offers lowest prices on generic prescription medications. Another reason is their popular fuel program where customers earn fuel rewards when they shop at Kroger including their pharmacy.
Areas where Kroger really needs to work:
- High prices on over-the-counter drugs and other personal care/beauty items.
- Limited availability of products.
- Fewer locations with only 2,200 retail Pharmacies and presence in only 37 states.
- Customer service.
What Do Customers Look for When Choosing a Pharmacy Chain?
Affordability and Discount Savings
Pharmacy departments within supermarkets like Walmart and Kroger are often cheaper than drugstores like CVS and Walgreens. If you compare the prices of over-the-counter drugs, you will see that Walmart has more affordable options available. However, the discounts from the loyalty cards and rewards programs are more prevalent in drugstores and can offer significant savings and benefits for customers.
Money Saving Tip: It’s always best to look up the pharmacy that offers the lowest price on your prescription before choosing one. You can use this free drug pricing tool to look up the lowest price for your prescription in your local area.
Many Shoppers choose pharmacies that are near their home or workplace so that they can pick and drop their prescriptions with ease. Almost all pharmacies now offer services like online/phone prescription management, email/phone/text reminders, drive-thru prescription pickup and automatic prescription refills. The ones that do not offer even one of these services see fewer customers than their competitors.
Some people also look for walk-in health clinics in their pharmacy. No doubt you will find more of these in drugstores like CVS and Walgreens. With so many locations across the States, and all these amenities, its no surprise they are the largest pharmacies in the whole United States.
I hope you found our article “5 largest pharmacy chains in the USA” useful and informative. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment.