Pharmacy drive-thru’s – a bad prescription for patient health?


As our society has become more sedentary, obesity and its many health complications have become more pronounced throughout the nation. Therefore, it seems wholly inconsistent for retailers who specialize in products to improve your health and for pharmacists abiding by their oath, to be building and/or retrofitting their locations with drive-thru windows.

Every little bit of exercise can be beneficial to reducing weight gain and the risk of obesity. So, the fact that freestanding pharmacies, grocery stores with pharmacies, and big box stores with pharmacies are now “promoting” sitting in your car instead of walking into and out of the store. This reverse logic advocacy is completely contrary to the primary purpose of a pharmacy.


I have yet to ever see one of these drive-thru pharmacies have more than one car in line. In addition, it usually takes at least 15 minutes to have a prescription filled, so that means either the customer sits there for an awfully long time or has to make two separate sedentary trips to the pharmacy, which only compounds the problem.
As planners, perhaps we should be more forceful in our questioning the need for drive-thru this and drive-thru that. Drive-thru windows certainly do not lend themselves to becoming or enhancing a walkable community, nor do they benefit the creation of third places. Requiring a health impact assessment is one way to at least get the applicant and the community discussing the issues related to sedentary lifestyles and obesity.
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6 Responses to Pharmacy drive-thru’s – a bad prescription for patient health?

  1. Jenny says:

    I enjoy a good rant as much as the next person, but this one is off base. Drive-thru pharmacies are a welcome convenience. Perhaps you would agree if you had a sick infant and an unruly toddler strapped into the backseat.

    A phone call is all it takes to get a prescription filled. In the time it takes to go from the doctor’s office to the pharmacy, the prescription can be filled. By the time I make it to the pharmacy, I’ve already endured a sleepless night with a sick kid and a long wait at the doctor’s office. It is a relief to be able to get what I need and get home without dragging my sick baby and my rowdy toddler through the store to stand in line. Ditto for picking up meds after an outpatient procedure or while my mobility is limited by a health issue.

    Save your righteous criticism for topics that are better targets.


  2. basil berchekas jr says:

    I agree; I’ve worked in supermarkets that have these, and the staff of the pharmacy would rather deal “face-to-face” with their customers; even a “walk up” window would be better than a drive-through window, and its still superior to come INTO the pharmacy to deal face-to-face, on the same level, with the staff; its good for everybody!


  3. C.D. says:

    Balance in all things. A limit to the number of drive through lanes for pharmacies in and near neighborhoods can help reduce the attractiveness of the drive through while still providing that option to those with little choice but to do a pick up or drop off after a medical procedure, those who are too sick to walk in, and/or those with small children — those are very legitimate needs for a drive through, but one drive through lane might be enough. I can walk to the Walgreens near my neighborhood and often do, but in a post operative situation or for midnight runs for medicines, the drive through enhances my safety and is a critical tool of assistance, not just a convenience. I witness multiple cars in the drive through but 5 to 6 times that many park and walk into the store. Far fewer walk to the store from their home like I do but some do have that option.


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