Independent Pharmacy vs. Chain Pharmacy: What’s the Difference?


Michael Comber, PharmD | Director of Pharmacy

According to data from IBISWorld, there are nearly 28,000 pharmacies and drug stores in the United States today. Odds are, you’re just around the corner from one. A pharmacy is a store where prescription drugs (ordered by a healthcare professional) are dispensed and sold by a pharmacist—a medical doctor who is specially trained to prepare and distribute medications. A pharmacist can also administer vaccines and answer drug-related medical questions, such as what medicines to avoid with alcohol and how to avoid potentially dangerous drug interactions.

With thousands of pharmacies out there, it goes without saying that not all offer the same level of service, convenience, and professional care. For instance, do you know the differences between an independent pharmacy and a chain pharmacy? If not, keep reading to learn why you may want to consider switching to a local, independent pharmacy like Florida Medical Clinic Orlando Health.

What Is a Chain Pharmacy?

“Chain” pharmacies refer to those large, nationwide drugstores that dot street corners around town. In addition to picking up your prescriptions at this type of pharmacy, you can also purchase a random assortment of goods—ranging from seasonal candies, deodorant, wine, and even stuffed animals—at a marked-up price.

It is hard to deny the convenience of big chain pharmacies that are located close to home, but the positives of these corner stores seldom outweigh the negatives. The primary goal of any large, corporate pharmacy is to fill the most prescriptions with the fewest number of employees as possible. The corporation’s headquarters closely monitors the number of prescriptions filled and they may push for increased productivity. Volume tends to be their driving force. Patients then become metrics within these systems, which often results in long wait times, rushed service, and impersonal care.

What Is an Independent Pharmacy?

Florida Medical Clinic Orlando Health is an independent pharmacy.  It is not owned by a publicly traded company and it is not affiliated with a chain of pharmacies. Some people may refer to an independent pharmacy as a local pharmacy or a “mom and pop” drug store. Whatever you decide to call it, an independent pharmacy offers plenty of advantages over the big chains, including:

  • More personalized service
  • Shorter wait times to get scripts filled
  • Easier access to pharmacists for questions and advice

Independent pharmacies are typically small operations with a handful of dedicated employees. Often, pharmacists at these locations know their patients by name and can take the time to fully explain medications and answer questions. Some independent pharmacies may also offer a selection of healthcare products for purchase, such as over-the-counter medications and supplements.

The Advantages of Choosing FMC As Your Independent Pharmacy

Florida Medical Clinic Orlando Health is a multispecialty medical provider that enhances and simplifies healthcare for families throughout the Tampa Bay area. Our practice locations in Zephyrhills and Wesley Chapel also serve as independent pharmacies, helping patients avoid the hassles associated with those big chain pharmacies and easily access the prescriptions and professional, connected guidance they need to achieve their best health.

FMC pharmacists are pleased to offer:

  • Competitive cash pricing and brand name copay assistance programs
  • An in-house generic medication discount program to reduce costs
  • Unit-dose packaging that clearly defines correct dosages
  • Individualized medication therapy management services
  • Time-saving prescription synchronization
  • Flu shots and other important vaccinations for children and adults

Of course, we understand that patients in today’s busy world need a convenient way to receive their medication. When life gets hectic, it can be difficult to make a trip to a pharmacy, whether it is independent or part of a chain. That is why FMC offers a low-cost, next-business-day delivery service, for an unlimited number of prescriptions, throughout the state of Florida. Let us bring your medication directly to your doorstep!

Another way FMC makes patients’ lives a little easier is by incorporating helpful technologies into everyday practice. We partner with Good Neighbor Pharmacy to offer a simple-to-use app that allows patients to request refills and medication reminders from anywhere at any time. You can also opt in to receive text or email notifications you are your prescriptions are ready to be picked up or overdue to be filled.

Finally, our patients enjoy the benefits of FMC’s integrated network of care across all practices. This means your pharmacist will have easy access to your medical records from FMC providers, thereby eliminating the frustrating back-and-forth you have likely experienced between a chain pharmacy and your doctor’s office. The FMC team includes a diverse group of physicians and clinicians who specialize in:

  • Family and internal medicine
  • Cardiology
  • Dermatology
  • Endocrinology
  • Gastroenterology
  • Medical oncology
  • Neurology
  • Orthopedics
  • Rheumatology
  • Urgent care
  • Urology
  • Several other medical disciplines

Simply put, FMC is an excellent choice for comprehensive, connected medical care, from routine check-ups and pharmacy services to specialized treatment for complex conditions.

Experience the Difference for Yourself

To learn more about Florida Medical Clinic Orlando Health’s independent pharmacy services and what sets us apart from the big chains, we encourage you to connect with a pharmacist at our pharmacy locations in Zephyrhills at (813) 751-3377 or in Wesley Chapel at (813) 715-0354. You can also browse our locations and schedule an appointment with a medical provider in your neighborhood by visiting our website. We’re pleased to accept most health insurance plans, including Medicare, Medicaid, and Tricare, and are here to answer any questions you may have.

Meet Michael Comber, Pharm.D.

Dr. Michael Comber is the Director of Pharmacy at Florida Medical Clinic Orlando Health and an integral member of our care team. A University of Florida graduate with nearly two decades of pharmacy experience, Dr. Comber provides expert guidance to FMC patients with a wide range of health needs at our convenient locations in Zephyrhills and Wesley Chapel.



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