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Independent pharmacies are vital link in healthcare system

MISSISSIPPI GULF COAST – Independent community pharmacies have always dispensed more than medication. They are vital links between physicians and patients, answering questions and passing along important healthcare information. These local stores offer services and goods as well as gathering places. But are they surviving against big, multi-state chain stores? And will their place in the system continue to exist?

French`s Drug Store has been in Gulfport for over 50 years and at the corner of Pass and Courthouse Roads since 1962. Pharmacist David Lawrence has owned French`s for 11 years and literally faces the chain store battle every day. One of those big, open 24-hours-a-day places located right across the street from him a few years ago.

“It had an impact on us for about six months and after that it`s had very little impact on our prescriptions,” he said. “We don`t have as much out-front stuff, but we’re still pretty comfortable here.”

Lawrence said his customers are second and third generation who are loyal and for the most part live in the neighborhood.

“It`s rare that we don`t know each customer by name and something about their families,” he said. “We’ve actually had some growth here and business is holding steady.”

He says for survival, independent stores must create a nich


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