Are Chains Bad for Community Pharmacy?


In a new book, a former pharmacist argues that chain pharmacies have sacrificed safety in the interest of higher profits.

Is there a place for corporations in America today? How about in health care? Dennis Miller, RPh, would probably suggest that at least in pharmacy, corporations are destroying community pharmacy. After 25 years in pharmacy, he quit because, as he puts it, “I was so fed up with slinging out prescriptions as fast as my hands and feet would allow.” He claims that “the big drugstore chains have embraced the McDonald’s fast food model with disastrous consequences.”

To expose the problem and to inspire efforts to bring about change, he wrote Pharmacy Exposed: 1,000 Things That Can Go Deadly Wrong At the Drugstore. I know that many community pharmacists probably agree with his perspective. They feel powerless to change things because, as I have heard stated many times, most chains are more interested in the bottom line than in having adequate staff to assure safe practices. That’s one of the charges Miller makes in his book. You can read more about the book here.

Do you agree with Miller’s position? Would community pharmacy be better off if there were no chain pharmacies? Didn’t most chain pharmacies start out as independents? How many stores under single ownership is OK? If we accept Miller’s position, when does a chain become too large? Wouldn’t decisions in life be much easier if everything were black and white instead of gray?

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