National Consumer Survey: More than 8 in 10 Adults Prefer their Local Pharmacist over Mail Order

Most people value personal relationship over perceived convenience, says consumer poll

NCPA March 4, 2021

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (March 4, 2021) — A large majority of American adults prefer to get their prescription drugs from a local pharmacist instead of a mail order service, mainly because of the personal relationship, according to a new national survey released today by the National Community Pharmacists Association.

“Most Americans clearly are not willing to substitute personal care for the perception of convenience,” said B. Douglas Hoey, pharmacist, MBA, NCPA CEO. “When they need medicine, they want to talk to a health care provider who knows them.”

According to a national survey of 1,390 adults, conducted Feb. 26-27 by Public Policy Polling, 85 percent prefer getting prescription drugs from a local pharmacist instead of a mail order service. When asked why, 36 percent say their pharmacist knows them better than a mail order company. Thirty-two percent say their pharmacist answers questions and provides counsel on how to use the drugs. Another 15 percent worry their drugs will get lost in the mail, exposed to the elements, or stolen.

“Americans have been ordering many more things in the mail because of the pandemic, but they are still reluctant to get their prescriptions that way. COVID-19 has changed many consumer behaviors, but it doesn’t seem to have changed the basic relationship between patients and local pharmacists,” said Hoey. “There’s a trust factor that mail order companies can’t replicate.”

In fact, many Americans rely on pharmacists for more than prescription drugs. According to the survey, nearly half say they’ve consulted their local pharmacist for minor ailments, like bee stings, cold sores, or diaper rash.

“That goes back to the trust factor,” said Hoey. “Most Americans visit their pharmacist more frequently than they visit their primary care physician. For many Americans, the local pharmacist is the only accessible health care provider. And it’s now very common for pharmacists to provide a full range of health care services beyond filling prescriptions.”


Founded in 1898, the National Community Pharmacists Association is the voice for the community pharmacist, representing more than 21,000 pharmacies that employ 250,000 individuals nationwide. Community pharmacies are rooted in the communities where they are located and are among America's most accessible health care providers. To learn more, visit