Rep. Ayanna Pressley blasts Walgreens on House floor for closing Roxbury pharmacy

Local News

Pressley said in her speech the closure is “not innocent” and an act of racial and economic discrimination.

Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff

Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley condemned Walgreens on the U.S. House floor Tuesday for closing another pharmacy in Roxbury, an act Pressley said will deepen racial, economic, and healthcare inequalities for marginalized groups.

Addressing the U.S. House Speaker, the state’s Democratic representative for District 7 said the pharmacy store chain is “abandoning” low-income communities in the district and leaving communities without access to essentials like medication and baby formula. 

“These closures are not arbitrary and they are not innocent,” Pressley said in her speech. “They are life-threatening acts of racial and economic discrimination.”

The Walgreens in Roxbury is slated to close Jan. 31 after the closure date was delayed in early January. The decision to close the pharmacy, one of 18 locations across Boston, sparked a public outcry from residents and activists, who said the closing of the pharmacy would make it harder for people in the community to access food, prescriptions, and other necessities. 

“Why was there no community input? No adequate notice to customers? And no transition resources to prevent gaps in healthcare?” Pressley said on the House floor. 

Roxbury is a majority-minority community, with over 30% of residents identifying as Black. Walgreens has announced additional location closures in Hyde Park and Mattapan – both majority Black-communities. 

“This closure is a part of a larger trend of abandoning low-income communities like the previous closures in Mattapan and Hyde Park, both in the Massachusetts 7th,” Pressley said. 

Senator Edward Markey and Elizabeth Warren and Pressley released a joint letter earlier this month warning of “insurmountable” and possibly “deadly” consequences of losing the pharmacy. 

When the closure was announced, Walgreen said patient files would be transferred to the nearest open location. But the nearest Walgreens is a mile away, complicating transportation for seniors, those with mobility restrictions, or those without access to cars, the letter from the representatives said. 

“Shame on you, Walgreens,” Pressley said in her speech. “Having a website with talking points about health equity and underserved communities is not enough. Walgreens is a multi-billion-dollar corporation that needs to put their money where their mouth is and stop divesting from Black and brown communities.”