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Drugstore bonuses

If you're only using your local drugstore to fill prescriptions, or to pick up the occasional greeting card, you're missing some of the best reasons to stop in.  Jody Rohlena, Senior Editor for ShopSmart Magazine lets us in on some of the new services many pharmacies are offering that could save you time, money and even a trip to the doctor.

Private consultations with your pharmacist may now be an option. If you have an ongoing condition such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease or high blood pressure, your pharmacist may be a good partner to enlist in helping you to identify triggers and manage your condition more effectively.  The consultation may not be free, but a growing number of health insurers, plus Medicare, will cover the cost.

Screening tests, such as bone-density and skin-cancer screenings at special store events are perks some drugstores offer.  Those tests aren't usually offered everyday, so look for notices of screenings in your local newspapers, posted in stores and on drugstore websites.

Supercheap drugs are available at many chains who offer flat-rate pricing on hundreds of commonly prescribed generic drugs.   Pay just $4 for a 30 day supply of many generics at Walmart and Target.   For an even better bargain spend $10 to get a 90 day supply.  Similar programs are offered by CBS, Kmart, Kroger, Rite Aid, Sam's Club, and Walgreens.  Some mom-and-pop pharmacies will match those super-low prices, but you have to ask.

If you're too sick to pick up the prescription your doctor phoned in, your drugstore might be able to deliver it.  Most independent pharmacies offer the option, but some chain pharmacies offer the service too.

Another perk of shopping at independent drugstores is that some allow customers to open a charge account and pay one bill at the end of the month, or on some other schedule.  Charge accounts may not be publicized, so if you'd like to open one, ask at your local drugstore whether it's an option.

Some independent pharmacies are offering complimentary personal shopping services to distinguish themselves from chains.  If you need to buy a gift, the personal shopper will pick something in your price range, wrap it and have it ready when you visit the store or even deliver it to your home.  Many independents also offer another personalized service called compounding, which means that they can customize a medication to suit your needs.  For example, if you have trouble swallowing large pills, you may be able to get your medication in liquid or lozenge form.

For more information on new drugstore services and other consumer topics, click here.

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