- Publix will now fill prescriptions for pet medications at its Florida stores, the company announced late last week. Medications are available for common conditions like allergies, bronchitis, motion sickness, dry eye and arthritis. These prescriptions are not covered by insurance.
- Delivery of most prescriptions filled though the program is available through ScriptDrop, and orders placed Sunday through Friday can be picked up the next day.
- Pet medications that don’t need to be refrigerated are also available for home delivery within a five-mile radius of the Publix in-store pharmacy for a $5 fee. Customers who opt in for text messaging will receive a notification when their prescription is ready as well as a link to let them pay and choose a delivery option.
Publix’s latest health service taps into the growing veterinary medicine market. According to PBA Health, the pet prescription market is booming, especially after policy changes allowed veterinarians to issue prescriptions to animal owners who requested them rather than just filling the medication at the office.
Sixty-seven percent of U.S. households own a pet, and many find it more convenient to get prescriptions, particularly those that need refills, at their local pharmacy. With over 800 locations in Florida, Publix’s pharmacy could be the go-to for many residents.
Veterinary medications are also more profitable than human medications. PBA Health noted that the margins are better because the majority of transactions are cash. For Publix, all its pet medications will be paid for in cash because it doesn’t accept insurance.
In-store pharmacies in the grocery industry have been struggling because of lower margins due to insurance and coupons like GoodRx. Last year, Lunds & Byerlys exited the pharmacy business and UNFI began closing all of its Shoppers’ in-store pharmacies. In the same year, Raley’s also closed 27 of its pharmacies and in 2018, Stater Bros shut down its pharmacies.
Offering pet medication promises to boost loyalty among pet-loving Publix customers. However, Walmart, which operates close to 400 locations in Florida, also offers pet medications and so does Winn-Dixie.
Walmart will be a major competitor for Publix in the pet space, particularly if Publix wants to expand pet medication services outside of Florida. According to Packaged Facts, Walmart claims more than 40 million pet-owning households in the country, more than other mass retailers like Target, Costco and Kroger combined. Walmart has also opened 100 in-store veterinary clinics.
More grocers are offering pet services outside of prescriptions to cash in on premium pet product sales. Pet owners in North America are expected to spend $281 billion on premium pet products by 2023, according to research from Edge by Ascential.