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How a local, independent pharmacy helps me with migraine care

Having trouble affording your meds or getting advice? Try your local pharmacy!

For many years, I was like a lot of people in that I automatically went to chain pharmacies (I hesitate to say “a majority of people,” though that may very well be the case).  Apart from one very red-faced experience at a chain grocery/pharmacy where I swear the pharmacist had a mission to make me feel like a drug addict for trying to fill my painkiller script, I had good to great experiences at all these places.

It wasn’t until I started doing research on opening my own business that I realized how important it was to vote with my dollars at businesses I wanted to preserve for a long time. For me, that meant shifting my spending to as many locally-owned enterprises as possible, from grocery stores to clothing boutiques to—you guessed it!—pharmacies.

There were a couple of misses (places that were just fine but nothing special for me) before I scored a hit, but a few years ago finally found a really amazing, locally-owned pharmacy in town.  Before I had insurance, the pharmacist manager always did his best to make sure I was paying the lowest possible price for my prescriptions. When the staff realized that my psoriatic arthritis biologic drugs (which I’m no longer on) were available for close to free using the pharmaceutical company’s economic assistance program, they pointed me in that direction when I could’ve been spending a ton of money at their place.  In short, they look out for me and are always helpful.  Once in awhile, I know that their prices are nominally higher than what my friends pay online or at a chain store, but I think the value of working with pharmacists who know me and are familiar with my health issues is worth the extra few bucks.

Like many Americans, I have long held the assumption that chain store prices are cheaper, and I of course assumed that gigantic corporations not only could but would price their medical supplies and medications lower than would locally-owned, independent places.  Well, I’m here to tell you that that’s not always the truth.  In fact, chain stores and online massive retailers often  put very low price stickers on a few key items that people buy the most (toilet paper, milk, etc.) to give shoppers the impression that they are cheaper on all fronts.  But if you do a quick analysis, however formal or anecdotal, you’ll find similar or even higher prices on the other items on the sales floor.

This is all not to make you stop shopping at the places you like. Instead, I just want to encourage those who, like me, have a tough time paying all their medical expenses—including prescriptions—to explore other options in your town/city.  If you’re a chain pharmacy shopper, go into your locally-owned, independent pharmacy and tell them a little about yourself and mention that you’re interested in switching to them for some of your scripts but want some price quotes first.

My opinions here are presented with the caveat that the pharmaceutical industry (which I worked in for years) is one of the most confusing industries out there, from logistics to drug trials to sometimes unbelievable pricing schemes.  To me, I sometimes feel as if I’m playing a perpetually losing hand, but I find that I have a greater sense of agency and autonomy when I work with my local pharmacy.

Have you had any experiences you want to tell us—positive, negative, or in-between—about working with a pharmacy of any kind or type?  I’m interested to hear your stories!

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • mmjardel
    5 years ago

    I live 2 hours away from civilization, including my pharmacy. I use a small pharmacy owned and operated by two brothers. They are AWESOME. If I can’t get to town for a script or refill they fedex it out to me- no extra charge and let me pay for it the next time I come it. They have made recommendations to my doctors that have really helped me while stopping side effects I was having. I pray I never have to go back to large chains.

  • JanetH
    5 years ago

    I try to patronize a small, local and independent pharmacy whenever possible. DH likes a chain, however, so sometimes it’s just easier if he’s picking up his prescriptions to have him get mine at the same time with my benny card.

  • Lisa Robin Benson moderator
    5 years ago

    Hi Janet,
    Thanks for sharing! I had a similar experience when I was living in NYC. The independent pharmacy had lower prices which was a lifesaver in times of no insurance and needing a lot of abortive medications, which as we know are pricey. Also my pharmacist was the nicest, warmest person on earth.

    Now living in MA I looked up local pharmacies in my town and there aren’t any. However, the local walgreens is full of wonderful and helpful people. That being said, if I am ever without insurance again, I will be sure to call around to local pharmacies in other towns to see their prices. It’s always good to know that this is an option.


  • RobertCan
    5 years ago

    Great article, Janet. I wish more people would embrace shopping at small businesses. I’d use an independent pharmacy in a heartbeat, but sadly there are none in may area. Chain pharmacies are my only option. My local Walgreens has turned out to be my best choice. Wonderful pharmacists that are incredibly supportive and helpful and make no judgements about my need for painkillers. So for those of us without independent pharmacies, it comes down to doing business with good people, regardless of the name on the building.

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