Since the beginning of time, or at least since the 1960s, an ancient war has been brewing on the streets of Manhattan and New Yorkers have taken sides: Duane Reade versus CVS.
The argument has always revolved around which pharmacy is cheaper, since they sell the same products. The Walgreens Company acquired Duane Reade in 2010, so I thought it would be interesting to take a look at the prices at Walgreens Pharmacy as well. I took a trip to the Duane Reade, Walgreens, and CVS closest to the ValuePenguin offices, and checked it out for myself.
I chose the basket of goods based on what someone would typically shop for exclusively at the pharmacy. For each product type, I chose to compare the prices of three or four brands that were popular household names and a generic brand if available.
And the winner is …
We looked at a total of 32 products, and CVS proved to be the cheapest of the three.
- 50% of the products were cheapest at CVS
- 38% of the products were cheapest at Walgreens
- 19% of the products were cheapest at Duane Reade
- The reason the numbers above don’t add up is because 16% of the products were the same price at Duane Reade and Walgreens
While much of the time, there was only around a $US1 difference between products at the three stores, that can really make a difference in the long run. All of the generic products at Duane Reade were Walgreens Well products (the generic brand of Walgreens).
Interestingly enough, despite the fact that Walgreens owns Duane Reade, much of the time products were more expensive at Duane Reade, including the Walgreens’ generic brand products. In terms of Walgreens versus CVS, Walgreens definitely has a larger and more diverse generic line.
Duane Reade definitely has the monopoly, with 164 stores in New York City. Most Walgreens have transitioned into pharmacies with the Duane Reade name, but there are still a few left. CVS only has 24 stores in New York City. Hopefully if all Walgreens pharmacies transition to have the Duane Reade name, the Duane Reade pharmacies will adopt Walgreens’ cheaper prices for both name brand and generic products.
Even then, CVS would win as the cheapest pharmacy in NYC.
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