When your doctor prescribes you medication, having a pharmacy close to home to fill that prescription is a great asset. Have you ever wondered, though, about the different names associated with pharmacies? The two most common terms you’ll hear are “drugstore” and “pharmacy.” What exactly do these two terms mean? Are drugstores and pharmacies the same thing? How do you decide which one you need to visit? By learning what these two terms mean, you’ll be empowered to take even better care of your health. The following guide will help you understand the differences between the two and determine when you’ll need to use each. 

What’s a Pharmacy?

A pharmacy refers specifically to a store that dispenses drugs. This can either be a standalone store that only dispenses drugs or a store that only dispenses drugs that are located inside a larger store that sells other items. Pharmacies can be located in drugstores, supermarkets, hospitals, on ships, and a variety of other places. Typically, a pharmacy staffs one or two pharmacists aided by multiple technicians. A pharmacy will handle prescriptions you receive from your doctor or dentist. If you visit the doctor and leave the appointment with a prescription for medication, you will need to find the nearest pharmacy near you to fill the prescription. 

What’s a Drugstore?

Unlike a pharmacy, a drugstore sells other items besides drugs. The difference between a drugstore and other types of stores is that the pharmacy is usually one of the most important departments in a drugstore. A pharmacy that’s located in a large supermarket may only make up a small portion of that store’s business, whereas a drugstore would likely not see much business without having a pharmacy located inside. Drugstores also tend to be smaller and carry items that are often focused on health, wellness, and beauty. Drugstores will carry over-the-counter medication. If your health condition isn’t an emergency, you will likely be able to find what you need at a drugstore. They will carry medications for the common cold, flu, allergies, and pain reducers. 

Larger Selection

Thanks to their focus on health and wellness, drugstores often carry more over-the-counter health products than do supermarkets. Therefore, if you have a specific health need and want to treat it in a certain way, a drugstore should be your first stop. Plus, drugstores frequently have sales on various products so that you can find great deals on items you use every day. Pharmacies, on the other hand, will have a much larger selection of specialized products. They will carry any type of medication you might need for your specific ailment. 

How Do You Choose?

Except for potential insurance restrictions, the pharmacy you choose essentially comes down to personal preference. Since drugstores are smaller, there tend to be more of them in a town than there are supermarkets. This means that a pharmacy in a drugstore may be more conveniently located than other types of pharmacies. At the same time, the prices of other items in a drugstore may be higher than the prices for other items in a supermarket, meaning that if you need to do other shopping, it may make more sense to utilize a pharmacy located in a supermarket.

Determine Your Needs

Another factor that will determine whether you visit a drugstore or a pharmacy is the type of medication you need. If you have a bacterial infection, you won’t be able to find anything that will cure it at a drugstore. You will need antibiotics from a pharmacy. Most of the time you will need a prescription from your doctor for certain medications, but sometimes you can get quick access to medications like antibiotics or contraceptives. If you are in doubt about the type of medication that will be best for you, make sure you talk to your doctor first. They are knowledgeable about all the different types of medications available and will suggest ones that are best for you. They might recommend filling a prescription, or they might recommend something over-the-counter you can get at your local drugstore. 

Personal Service

Regardless of which pharmacy you choose, it’s important to find one that can provide the personal service you deserve. After all, drug dispensation is a very personal and serious business that can have negative effects on your health if done incorrectly. Therefore, it’s vital to find a pharmacy that truly cares about you and your health needs so that you can have an ally in keeping you healthy for the long haul. If you frequently need prescriptions filled, it’s a good idea to build a relationship with your local pharmacy. Get to know the pharmacists so they understand what type of medication you need and how frequently you need it. This will make staying on top of getting your prescriptions filled much easier. 

Both pharmacies and drugstores have their important uses in today’s modern healthcare system. Both prescription medications and over-the-counter medications are necessary for everyone. Understand the difference between pharmacies and drugstores to make sure you visit the right one when getting your medications. Also, make sure you always know where your local pharmacies and drugstores are. This will make it easier for you to get the medicine you need in an emergency. Talk to your doctor for more information about medications, what is safe for you, and how often you should be taking them. 

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