Saturday, July 2, 2011

Whatever Happened to....?

I'm thinking of making this a regular feature as my interest in blogging regularly has totally disappeared.  I'm really trying to keep going, but it's a struggle.

So, today I'm asking whatever happened to....the family pharmacy?  This may date me a little quite a lot, but today's "corporate" pharmacy is too sterile; too impersonal.

When I was a kid (and dinosaurs roamed the earth....), the pharmacy was often referred to as the "corner drugstore."  I can remember there only being a small few in town - Rite Aid (called Payless Drugs then, with two locations), Service Drug, McLain's, and Grants Pass Pharmacy.  Rite Aid was the "big box" store, and was our first introduction to the superstore-type drugstore.  In addition to the pharmacy, you could buy feminine products, makeup, cleaning supplies, shoes (this was the early evolution of Payless shoes), and small electronics.  The other pharmacies had just medical supplies and gifts.  I don't think any of them even had a drive-thru, but most did have a delivery system.  I think Service Drugs still does.  In fact, up until the early 90's, there were still drugstores that would "run a tab" for you.  Imagine that today!

Going to the pharmacy was a treat.  I loved the people behind the high counter in their white coats, counting multi-colored pills and counseling patients on everything from heart disease to athlete's foot.  You could ask them anything and they would answer honestly without having to worry about stepping on a doctor's toes or losing their license.  They knew your name and all your family's information off the top of their heads.  I thought they had such great jobs.

Over the years, we've seen the evolution of the mega-super chain drugstore and the integrated "pharmacy in a grocery store."  The corner drugstore began slowly being bought out by big chain suppliers (CVS, Walgreens, Rite Aid, etc.), leaving very few independent pharmacies.  Increased demand for medications and policies of the big box stores has turned pharmacy into a business, not a service.  Pharmacists no longer have time to offer much advice on problems.  Prices have sky-rocketed with demand.  Insurance has become so complicated that filling prescriptions can take days upon days to wade through the red tape.  All of these things have made being a customer harder to bear as well.  I read a lot of pharmacy-related blogs, and can see both sides suffering from this change.

While the independent pharmacy does still exist, they are being edged out by convenience and price cutting.  The only saving grace (it seems) for the independent is custom-compounding.  It's rarely offered at the corporate-owned stores (too time-consuming for their interest), so the independent can meet their margin with compounding.

It would be so wonderful to see the small pharmacy make a comeback, but unfortunately with a tanking economy and high demand for fast, cheap doesn't seem likely.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.