The name Walgreens has been a synonymous with pharmacies since 1901 and their iconic mortar and pestle trademark tends to conjure images of a bygone era. Nonetheless, they’ve more than kept up with the times, earning a spot in our top three in our pharmacy review.
• Versatile prescription ordering features
• Outstanding health information offerings
• Multi-lingual and large print prescription labeling
When making an initial online prescription drug order from Walgreens, whether a new prescription, a refill, or a transfer, the first step is the creation of an online pharmacy account. The process is secure, simple and quick. Accessing prescription information online requires signing up for Walgreens’ Prescription History Profile program. As an additional security level, verification requires calling Walgreens with a one-time activation code that is provided online. Once the account has been created, all prescription orders begin with logging onto it.
New prescriptions are most likely to be phoned in or sent by fax from the physician or other legally authorized prescriber. If that doesn’t happen, there are two ways that a new prescription order can be created. If no written prescription has been provided, the customer can complete a brief online form which requires just the doctor’s name and phone number and the medication required. A Walgreens pharmacist will then contact the prescriber for authorization to fill the prescription.
To fill a new prescription for which a written prescription has already been provided, the customer can print a prescription order form from the website, complete it and mail the form, together with the prescription, to Walgreens. This won’t be a good option if speedy filling of a new prescription is required.
Whether a new prescription, a refill, or a transferred prescription, customers can choose to pick up the order at a designated Walgreens pharmacy or to have it shipped. There’s no charge for standard shipping of prescription medications and delivery takes 5-10 days. Second day and overnight shipping are available for $10.95 and $17.95 per order, respectively.
Refilling an existing Walgreens prescription is extremely fast and easy and can be done in a couple of ways. The easiest is to log into the Prescription History Profile and select the medication to be ordered. The alternative is to just log into the online account and enter the prescription number that is to be refilled. This method can be used even by customers who have opted not to participate in the Prescription History Profile program.
Once logged into a Walgreens online pharmacy account, transferring a prescription from another pharmacy requires the entry of the name and phone number of the other pharmacy, medication name and dosage, prescription number, quantity and the prescriber’s name and phone number. The process could be made a bit easier for customers by adding a dropdown listing of drugs and dosages. More importantly, a dropdown list would reduce the possibility of errors or confusion on the customer’s part. The quantity entry, though a minor nuisance, is unnecessary since the information is already known given the existing prescription number with the other pharmacy. Nonetheless, the process is easy to complete.
Walgreens features a full complement of over-the-counter medications in addition to its prescription offerings. There is an enhanced search feature that automatically fills in terms that are likely to be sought and shows related products to help the customer along. For example, simply typing in ‘tyl’ offers not just Tylenol but also ten related Tylenol products. Even misspelling a word is likely to bring up the desired product. Shopping can also be done by categories such as First Aid, Health Appliances or Braces & Supports or by ailment like Allergy and Asthma, Joint and Muscle Pain or Stomach Remedies.
There’s also a wide variety of nutritional supplements. Herbal and homeopathic remedies are available, as are vitamins, minerals and other types of supplements.
Walgreens features a broader selection of home health care equipment than is typically offered by pharmacies. You’d likely have to consult a medical equipment specialty store to find a wider variety. They have a surprisingly broad array of health appliances, furniture and mobility aids as well as specialty products for geriatric care, weight related issues and chronic conditions such as diabetes. Walgreens Home Care even provides home-delivered services including respiratory and infusion therapies, services that are not often available through a pharmacy. Such services, of course, require a doctor’s order.
Walgreens' web site is a virtual library of health care information…which is probably why they named it the Health Library. There is a wide selection of topics dedicated to specific health conditions like allergies, asthma, hypertension, diabetes and cholesterol as well as extensive features dedicated to a healthy lifestyle. The Health Encyclopedia addresses specific diseases and conditions, injuries, nutrition, surgery, symptoms and many other topics with helpful articles that go into detail beyond that which we’ve come to expect from websites. There are care guides for a variety of conditions and in-depth reports on many of them. The site has extensive information about drugs including their uses and side effects.
Many of the features of the Health Library are designed to encourage a lifestyle that promotes good health. This includes recipes aimed at specific conditions as well as general well-being, health risk assessment tools and calculators, and an interactive anatomy tutorial. Customers can also sign up for a monthly Health and Pharmacy Newsletter by email.
Much of the information in the Health Library is offered in Spanish as well as English.
Ease of Use
Walgreens’ Health Library is well organized and logical. Any given topic can be found via multiple routes enabling users with varying research methods to gain the needed information. We were impressed by the depth of the information provided. It’s presented in a way that is easy to understand but does not talk down to the reader.
Using the web site to refill or transfer prescriptions could not be easier. Registering for the Prescription History Profile is a little more awkward than we’ve observed for similar services, though we recognize that the extra efforts are to ensure the security of private customer information. Just a bit of tweaking could also improve the process of ordering a new prescription. For maintenance medications and others that allow for refills, Walgreens offers email reminders for when it’s time to reorder or even automatic refills that can be picked up at the store or shipped as the customers chooses.
The Walgreens Prescription Savings Club allows people who have no or inadequate prescription insurance to save money on many medications. The cost is $20.00 per year per person or $35.00 for a family for a year. It provides discounts for a formulary of more than 5,000 medications and offers over 400 generic medications for $12.00 for a 90-day supply.
Help & Support
We were particularly impressed by Walgreens’ efforts to support customers who aren’t very comfortable with the English language. Prescription labels can be printed in one of fourteen different languages including Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Tagalog, Vietnamese and, not surprisingly Spanish and English. For those whose eyesight makes reading prescription labels difficult, Walgreens offers large type labels in either English or Spanish.
Customer support is offered by both telephone and email. The Ask a Pharmacist feature can be particularly helpful in getting answers to specific questions from a professional. The Health Library also contains an extensive archive of previously asked questions and their answers that is likely to satisfy a majority of inquiries.
It’s gratifying to see a company with a long, respected tradition excel in the realm of online retailing. Walgreens has done just that and established itself as one of the top online pharmacies. To see how it compares to other top rated pharmacies, take a look at our reviews of drugstore.com and CVS/pharmacy.