Pharmacies may join the pool of businesses changing under the widespread impact of the coronavirus pandemic. According to CivicScience data, there has been a significant decrease in shoppers getting their prescriptions from national chain pharmacies over the last two years.

Regarding how individuals buy their prescriptions, lower-income individuals are more evenly split between national chain pharmacies and pharmacies located inside super centers or grocery stores. The highest earners – those making more than $150K – have the largest percentage of drug takers using national chain pharmacies at 52%

Alternatives to national chain pharmacies have since increased in popularity by the same amounts. This change may indicate a growing trend of consumers seeking options outside of pharmacies like Rite Aid, CVS, and Walgreens. One of these growing alternatives is online pharmacies.

Those who fill their prescriptions online tend to visit the doctor more than those who get their prescriptions in-person. Those who fill their prescriptions through brick-and-mortar pharmacies, especially local or family-owned stores, are the least likely to have visited the doctor even once in the last year.

Despite online pharmacy users visiting the doctor the most, only 28% get their insurance through their employer. In fact, out of all categories, those who get their prescriptions online are the most likely to be uninsured. 

One explanation for this could be the ages of online prescription shoppers. By far, the largest demographic by age are those who are 55 or older. This would explain why so few online shoppers get their insurance through employment, as many of them are likely near retirement age. Therefore, many of those older online shoppers would be relying on government-assisted insurance, a combination of coverage, or paying for medical expenses without insurance.

The potential reasons for such growing popularity of online pharmacy services in an older population are multi-faceted. Older consumers would benefit most from online delivery. It’s more accessible to those with physical impairments, it’s a greater convenience to those in retirement or nursing residences, and it also presents a lower risk of contracting COVID-19 compared to going in-store to pick up a prescription. 

In-store pharmacies and national chains are going to be big competition for online pharmacies as the young generations get older and take on more health risks.