Whenever you feel a mild discomfort or catch a cold due to bad weather, you need some OTC medicine or painkillers. You may find the simple OTC medications either from your nearest drugstore or a pharmacy. Drugstore and pharmacy both sell OTC medications but there is a certain difference between pharmacy and drugstore that needs to be understood. A pharmacy is a dedicated store where all the prescribed and compounded medications are filled whereas the drugstore may be a side counter in a shopping mall or a supermarket that sells OTC medications as well as other cosmetic products. So, if you need to refill your prescriptions, you have to visit a pharmacy, not a drugstore. The drugstore vs pharmacy can be thoroughly explained by consulting the drugstore and pharmacy definitions.

What Is a Pharmacy?

Pharmacy LED lighting

Pharmacy is a place where the medicines and the prescribed drugs are prepared, dispensed, sold and filled. Remember that compounding pharmacy definition is different from a definition of a normal pharmacy. Compounding pharmacy also provides the compounding services of the manufactured drugs to make some customized prescriptions according to specific patients.

What Does a Drugstore Mean?

Drug store board

Drugstore is a place or counter in a shop, supermarket or a superstore where you may find pharmaceutical drugs as well as other cosmetic drugs. It can easily be managed by a single chemist because he just has to provide some basic OTC medications for flu, cold or headache.

Let's Look at Differences between Pharmacy and Drugstore

A pharmacist who sells prescription drugs at a pharmacy and talks to several customers

After checking the definitions of pharmacy and drugstore, let’s see drugstore vs pharmacy in depth by checking all the differences between pharmacy and drugstore.

1) Title

The title of ‘Pharmacy’ or ‘Dispensary’ can only be used for a pharmacy. A drugstore in a superstore cannot be called a pharmacy or dispensary because it is just a retailer shop selling OTC medications.

2) Rx Logo

According to Maryland pharmacy laws, the Rx logo can only be used by an authentic pharmacy. A simple drugstore selling some OTC medications is not allowed to use the Rx logo.

3) On-Duty Pharmacist

There must be at least one certified pharmacist present in a pharmacy everytime. That pharmacist is supposed to fill the prescriptions guided by the authentic health advisors. A drugstore can be managed by some compounders or chemists who have some basic knowledge about OTC medications because a drugstore is just  a retailer shop for medicines.

4) Prescribed Medications

Drugstore vs pharmacy can be easily identified as the pharmacy can also provide some prescribed medications while the drugstore has no such service but it only provides the common OTC medications.

5) Controlled Medicines

Controlled medicines are not easily accessible everywhere because they need authentic prescriptions to be filled. Only an authentic pharmacy can provide the controlled medications after the verification of the prescription and patient’s history. No drugstore can provide the controlled medicines. That’s one of the most important differences between a drugstore vs pharmacy.

6) Chemist vs Pharmacist

Any Pharmacy in Maryland, Kensington should be run under the supervision of a pharmacist. A chemist is an ordinary health technician who just fills the prescriptions under the guidance of a pharmacist. Only a chemist cannot run a pharmacy on his own while he can only manage a drugstore in any place where he can just sell the common OTC medications for flu and cold.

What Is the Difference between a Pharmacy and a Chemist?

Chemist man working on new remedy

Pharmacy is a place where all the OTC medicines are dispensed, prescribed or compounded. A chemist is a person that works in a pharmacy under the supervision of a pharmacist. A chemist should have a basic knowledge of the chemical formulas of OTC medications, so he can simply fill the prescribed medications. In simple words, a chemist only involves in selling the OTC medications but a pharmacy needs to be managed by a licensed pharmacist.


A drugstore and pharmacy both provide the common medicines for flu, cold or headache but they are different altogether according to drugstore vs pharmacy definitions, purposes and their managers. A drugstore is just like a retailer shop that sells common OTC medicines for flu or cold. A drugstore can be managed by a chemist or a compounder having basic knowledge of some basic formulas of common OTC medications. A pharmacy is a sophisticated and dedicated place where all the manufactured medicines are dispensed and they are only managed under the supervision of a licensed pharmacist. There are also different types of pharmacies like community pharmacies and compounded pharmacies where all the medicines and drugs are properly monitored and compounded further. The major USA community pharmacy services involve oversight of safe dispensing of medicines, clinical scrutiny of prescriptions and patients’ guide about medications and their proper usage.

Whenever you need prescribed medications, don’t go to a drugstore; instead, go to a certified pharmacy where at least a certified pharmacist is present to fill your prescription under the guidance of Maryland pharmacy laws and Maryland prescription assistance services.