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What is the Difference between a Privately Owned Pharmacy and a Chain Brand?

According to IBISWorld data, the United States boasts more than 25,000 pharmacies and drug stores. It is important to recognize that not all pharmacies share the same characteristics due to this substantial quantity. Pharmacies are different in terms of the services they offer and the type of professional care provided. In the United States, you will encounter two prevalent types of pharmacies: privately owned pharmacies and chain brands. Familiarizing yourself with the distinctions between these two is beneficial, as this knowledge will prove valuable when acquiring your next medication.

What is a Privately Owned Pharmacy?

A privately owned pharmacy means that one or a few individuals own it. Therefore, it cannot be said to be a public traded company, who usually form chain brands. The setup for a privately owned pharmacy is usually a small operation location with a few dedicated employees. Because of its smaller scale in comparison to chain brands, a privately owned pharmacy can provide a more personalized service, reduced waiting times, and more convenient access to pharmacists should you have any questions or concerns.

Local pharmacy gives you personalized attention and care

What is a Chain Brand?

Unlike privately owned pharmacies, chain brands are quite huge. Their primary motivation is volume, and they strive to maximize sales. In addition to obtaining prescription drugs from a chain brand, you can also purchase a variety of other goods. Due to this, they offer great convenience, especially to those that live close to them. Nevertheless, chain pharmacies such as CVS and Walgreens experience extended waiting periods and do not provide customers with sufficient access to pharmacists.

Differences between a Privately Owned Pharmacy and a Chain Brand

Customer Service

Just like in any other industry, a privately owned business offers better customer service compared to a public company. This is just how things are as the owners of a business try their best to ensure they give the best service possible. This is no exception to pharmacies. You can therefore expect better customer service at a privately owned pharmacy. The consideration extends beyond mere business implications, as underscored by a recent comprehensive study, which brought to light a noteworthy disparity: over 50% of patients who fulfilled their prescriptions at a privately owned pharmacy expressed that the pharmacist had a personal acquaintance with them by name. This starkly contrasts with a meager 14% reported by those patronizing chain brands, emphasizing the distinct relational dynamics between patients and pharmacists in these differing healthcare environments. Due to their operational nature and large customer volume, chain brands struggle to provide a level of customer service comparable to privately owned pharmacies.


Since they are huge companies, chain brands are located almost everywhere. Through this, they are able to offer great convenience to those who live around them. On the other hand, privately owned pharmacies might not be located everywhere. However, they add to the convenience factor by offering their customers with home delivery services. This willingness and flexibility to deliver makes them loved and adored by community members.


Another difference that we can look at is efficiency, especially in terms of wait times. As previously mentioned, chain brands serve quite a large number of people. Despite their considerable size and capacity, chain pharmacies struggle to provide services with optimal efficiency. In contrast, Consumer Reports indicate that privately owned pharmacies consistently have significantly shorter wait times. In addition to this, they still find time to offer direct consultations. This is quite beneficial to customers, as medicine can be quite a confusing subject to many.


Since they are huge and have better purchasing power, chain brands can easily offer discounted prices. However, this is not the actual case. They still offer higher prices, similar to and at times, higher than privately owned pharmacies. Indeed, it is the small privately owned pharmacies that endeavor to provide lower prices to their customers. The readiness of privately owned pharmacies to accept narrower profit margins distinguishes them from chain brands. Even though insurance handles most drug purchases, this aspect makes them more community-driven.

Research indicates that patients typically visit the pharmacy 20 times annually, in contrast to just 4 visits per year to a primary care physician. Given the frequency of pharmacy visits, it is crucial to ensure you receive the best possible service. You should go for a pharmacy that cares about you. There are two prevalent categories of pharmacies available to you, namely privately owned establishments and chain brands. This article has elucidated and provided a comprehensive understanding of the distinctions that set these two types apart. You are now therefore well informed about the best pharmacy to go and get your next prescription drugs.

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