Pharmacies are a necessity in modern society. Not only do they provide important prescriptions and medicines, but some also act as a small grocery store, offering goods and other services, and they can tremendously benefit the communities they serve. And since this is a multibillion dollar industry that I happen to be a part of, I figured I would go through and list the three largest pharmacies in the country.
Founded in 1963, CVS has become the largest pharmacy corporation in the country, with an approximate revenue of $150 billion annually. Interestingly enough, the very first CVS stores were not pharmacies; they were simply value stores that sold a random assortment of items. It wasn’t until 1967 that the company incorporated pharmacies into its stores. Afterwards, the company grew almost exponentially in the following decades. In 2015, CVS announced that it had purchased the Target Corporation’s in-store pharmacies and that it would be rebranding each of them using the store-within-a-store format. Including these Target store pharmacies, CVS now has well over 9,000 stores in the United States.
The Walgreens Company, founded in 1901, is 116 years old and has managed to become the second largest pharmacy chain in the country behind CVS. The company was originally founded as a small drugstore in Chicago by Charles R. Walgreen, Sr. An interesting fact about the company is the fact that, although it was seeing healthy growth from the beginning, what really helped the company thrive was the prohibition. The company was able to sell prescription whiskey, and this made the company very popular and profitable. Although CVS is the number one pharmacy in the country even though it is far younger than Walgreens, I believe it is a testament to the sheer endurance and legacy of Walgreens to have remained relevant for so long; few companies have.
Rite Aid has an interesting story. It was founded one year before CVS as the Thrift D Discount Center in Scranton, Pennsylvania. The company is a hit, and by 1968, the company had changed its name to the Rite Aid Corporation and had officially began trading on the American Stock Exchange; two years later, the company began trading on the New York Stock Exchange. The company was originally very large in Northeast states, but it has since grown to cover both coasts fairly well. What is most interesting about Rite Aid is that, in late 2015, it was almost purchased by Walgreens. For unexplained reasons, Walgreens instead opted to purchase over 2,000 of Rite Aid’s stores for almost $6 billion dollars.