Drugstores Still Dominant Source of US Prescription Drugs

June 18, 2007

This article is included in these additional categories:

Boomers & Older | Pharma & Healthcare | Retail & E-Commerce

Despite the rise of mail order as a retail channel for prescription medications, drugstores are still the predominant vendors of prescription drugs in the United States, according to consumer research data from Mediamark Research Inc. (MRI).

Some 41.9% of all US adults report they filled a prescription in the previous 30 days. Among them, 70.8% report purchasing medications at a drugstore in the previous year, followed by 17.4% of all adults who say they filled a prescription by mail order in the previous year.

Supermarkets are third at 12.5%, followed by discount/department stores (6.3%) and internet/online (1.6%).


The mail order channel has shown the greatest growth, increasing 20% from 2004 to 2006, according to MRI data.

Among all adults who used mail order as a retail channel, nearly two-thirds (61.7%) were 55 or older, and only 6.8% were 18-34.


“One of the reasons for mail order’s growth and popularity among older Americans may be that many health insurance plans encourage mail purchase for so-called ‘maintenance drugs’ – medications prescribed for chronic, long-term conditions that are taken on a regular basis,” said Anne Marie Kelly, VP of marketing and strategic planning at MRI.

“Retail drugstores provide faster prescription drug service, but mail order can represent a price savings for maintenance drug users. Hence this channel’s strength with the older consumer and relative weakness with younger Americans.”

About the research: MRI interviews approximately 26,000 US adults in their homes each year, asking about their use of media, their consumption of products and their lifestyles and attitudes. MRI releases data from Survey of the American Consumer (adults 18+) twice yearly, in the spring and fall.

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