Most of the entries in our TopTenREVIEWS pharmacy review are well known retailers that expand the reach of their physical store locations with the addition of an internet presence. drugstore.com, on the other hand, was built as an online pharmacy from the ground up. Perhaps it’s that orientation that has led to creating a website that is the very definition of user friendly and is so well attuned to the internet customer.
Placing a new prescription with drugstore.com has a unique, more fluid feel than with other online pharmacy sites. Though it accomplishes the same things, i.e. establishing the patients identity, medication details and obtaining the prescribing physicians identity, it’s done in a way that flows more easily from the users standpoint. With other pharmacies, creating an account is the first step and is an entirely independent operation from placing an order. drugstore.com’s procedure seamlessly integrates account creation with ordering.
The first step in the process is to select the medication. The name can be typed in or selected from an indexed, alphabetical listing. Subsequent screens allow the customer to select the dosage and quantity to be dispensed. An unusual feature at this point is that the cost is displayed, something that pharmacies are notoriously famous for masking. Here also, customers are offered the option to have the prescription automatically refilled and also to indicate whether insurance will be paying for the medicine or if the patient will pay.
Now here’s another critical difference in the way drugstore.com’s process works. With other pharmacies, the customer has to choose which ordering route to follow based on how the prescriber will be furnishing the prescription to them. drugstore.com’s system simply allows the customer to check one of four options:
1. That he has a written prescription and will be mailing it
2. That the doctor will call in or fax the prescription
3. That drugstore.com should contact the prescriber
4. That the prescription is being transferred from another pharmacy
Standard shipping of prescription medications is free if the order exceeds $99.00. Customers can anticipate that standard delivery times can vary from 8-12 days depending on the method of prescription subscription, e.g. fax, phoned in by physician or mailed. Three day, two day and overnight shipping is also available at additional cost.
As easy as it is to create a new prescription order, refills are even easier. Simply log into the drugstore.com account, enter the prescription number and that’s about all there is to it.
The process for ordering prescription transfers is covered in the New Prescriptions sub-section, above. The process is so integrated and comprehensive that a separate procedure for transfers is completely unnecessary.
drugstore.com’s selection of non-prescription products is vast. Fortunately, the organization of the options makes it easy to find what you’re looking for. The medicine cabinet is a good bet for shopping around since it’s arranged by types of medications such digestive health, coughs & colds, allergy & sinus and many other such categories. Throughout the site, items that can be purchased using FSA (Flexible Spending Account) debit cards are specifically identified.
Through a strategic alliance with Rite Aid, drugstore.com offers that company’s store branded products which can cost significantly less than brand name equivalents. A similar arrangement exists with GNC so that drugstore.com offers their nutritional supplements and wellness products on the site. Beauty.com is a unit of drugstore.com and its rather high-end cosmetics and skin care products are available through the site.
drugstore.com sells a full line of personal care products and beauty essentials. It has nutritional supplements and a product grouping called Green & Natural that includes not only natural supplements and homeopathic remedies but also an extensive line of other items that are designed to be eco-friendly.
The Ask Your Pharmacist section of the drugstore.com website allows current customers to ask questions directly of the pharmacy team. To be considered a current customer, one must have filled a prescription or purchased another item from them within the previous year. Non-customers have access to the Ask Your Pharmacist archives which is essentially an extensive FAQ section and a collection of questions from customers that have already been addressed. The site also features an extensive section dedicated to explaining the myriad of medications in detail and a health center that gives in-depth information on a variety of conditions.
drugstore.com features a drug interaction tool which can help identify conflicts that could occur among prescription medications, over-the-counter medicines and even herbs, vitamins and other nutritional supplements. There are also special sections for men’s and women’s unique health concerns and extensive information regarding generic medications.
In addition to the extensive features included on the website, drugstore.com offers a free heath newsletter that offers health advice from their pharmacists, health news and information and pricing on medications.
We found drugstore.com’s online prescription ordering process to be the easiest of all the pharmacies in this review. Additionally, they offer a great online chat feature that puts customers in contact with a customer support representative for any assistance that may be needed. Chat is available weekdays from 6:00 AM to 2:00 PM Pacific time. We were consistently connected with an agent within seconds and each time they proved to be very helpful and well informed.
Managing prescriptions online is exceptionally simple once an account has been established. The process for ordering refills is simple, as discussed above, but can be made even easier by selecting the option of having refills processed automatically. Customers can also sign up to receive an email when it’s time to refill or renew prescriptions.
We particularly like the eMedAlert feature which provides critical and timely information regarding product warnings, updates, and recalls of specific products that a customer has ordered. While the website lists all such warnings, customer specific bulletins can be accessed by logging onto the drugstore.com account, thus cutting through the clutter of numerous non-applicable warnings.
We were particularly pleased with the online chat support provided by drugstore.com. It’s fast, easy and very useful for web oriented users. Customer support is also provided by toll-free telephone and email. The website is replete with valuable information about health generally, specific conditions and medications. The Ask Your Pharmacist feature gives a whole new meaning to the term FAQ as well as offering customers the opportunity to pose their own, unique questions.
The differences between drugstore.com and other highly rated pharmacy websites are subtle but significant. Perhaps the fact that the company was conceived and built specifically for internet use gives it the edge over the competition in the online world. For top notch pharmacies that offer both online and brick-and-mortar store locations, take a look at our reviews of CVS/pharmacy and Walgreens.