José Navarro, Sr.




Country of origin: Cuba

Year came to U.S.: 1961

Education: BS, Pharmacy, Havana University

Business: Navarro Discount Pharmacies (1961)

Headquarters: Medley, FL

2014 revenue: $350 million (purchased by CVS in 2014)

U.S. employment: 2,000



  • José Navarro, Sr. opened his first pharmacy in Miami with $4,000 from an insurance policy.


  • Navarro Discount Pharmacies became the largest Hispanic-owned pharmacy chain in the United States.

José Navarro, Sr. originally wanted to attend medical school but had to change course when Cuban President Gerardo Machado shuttered the University of Havana. Instead, he opened a pharmacy. That first small neighborhood store became a staple to the local community, which led to the opening of a second store on the island.

The Cuban government confiscated the stores in 1961, which forced Navarros to escape to the United States. Navarro cashed in an insurance policy and used $4,000 to open a pharmacy in what would become the heart of Miami’s Little Havana.

Navarro Discount Pharmacies flourished and in 1988 Navarro was named the Latin Chamber of Commerce Entrepreneur of the Year. Both of Navarro’s sons became pharmacists and that first store grew into a chain of 28 stores in the Miami-Dade area. The company became the largest Hispanic-owned pharmacy chain in the United States and one of the most profitable pharmacies on a sales-per-square-foot basis. In September 2014, CVS Caremark purchased the company for an undisclosed amount.

To learn more about how immigrants have contributed to health care, explore The Immigrant Learning Center’s research report Immigrants in Health Care: Keeping Americans Healthy Through Care and Innovation.

Updated July 2022