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Officials Waited to Investigate Drug Lab

According to a Boston Herald report, state health officials did not launch an investigation into the Hinton Drug Lab until Aug. 31, after Gov. Patrick ordered the lab be shut down.

The former Jamaica Plain drug lab mired in controversial decisions and poor oversight was not immediately investigated after it was discovered that Annie Dookhan had been mishandling evidence.

The Boston Herald reported Wednesday that state health officials waited seven months to launch a full investigation into the Hinton Drug Lab despite finding out that Dookhan, the state lab chemist who mishandled thousands of state police criminal drug samples, had already mishandled 90 cases.

Secretary of Health and Human Services JudyAnn Bigby and former state Department of Public Health commissioner John Auerbach launched the investigation Aug. 31 following Gov. Deval Patrick’s decision to shut the lab down, according to emails obtained by the newspaper.

Auerbach and Bigby did not think anyone at the lab should have been disciplined, according to an Aug. 30 email the Herald reported.

Poor lab oversight as well as lack of accreditation were contributing factors in Dookhan’s malfeasance, according to testimony by Bigby at a joint audit committee hearing Nov. 28.

Five convicts, formerly imprisoned on drug distribution charges, have been arrested since being released because Dookhan handled evidence in their cases.

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