Pharmacists in India — all 850,000 of them — are going on strike to protest a law that allows consumers to buy prescription drugs online. So called e-pharmacies are obviously a threat to local brick-and-mortar pharmacy businesses. The pharmacists, represented by the All India Organisation of Druggists (AIOCD), are concerned they will get paved over by online competition, like so many bookstores in the US in the wake of Amazon’s early dominance.
Fear for livelihood is one factor driving the strike, but the sensitive nature of the products being sold lends a practical and ethical aspect to the resistance. High-powered drugs need human regulation and distribution, claim the pharmacists. Otherwise the risk to India’s youth, to name just one sector, is too great. During the one-day strike on October 14, pharmacies in hospitals will remain open. The US, by way of comparison, has 290,000 pharmacists.