Health and human services chief says there were ‘serious lapses in oversight’ at state lab in drug scandal

Massachusetts Health and Human Service Secretary JudyAnn Bigby says there were “serious lapses in oversight’’ at the now-closed state drug testing lab in Jamaica Plain that is at the center of a scandal that has cast into doubt thousands of criminal cases.

“My review found the lab maintained outdated operating procedures, lacked any type of independent accreditation, and lab supervisors failed to properly monitor their direct reports,’’ Bigby said in remarks prepared for delivery at a State House hearing of the Public Health, Public Safety, and Post-Audit Oversight committees.

She also said lab management became aware of a “serious breach of protocol’’ by chemist Annie Dookhan in June 2011 but failed to alert the public health commissioner’s office.


Dookhan, who is facing criminal charges, “admitted to malfeasance’’ in handling drug samples, “unthinkable acts,’’ Bigby said.

“We have asked the questions, ‘What happened?’ and ‘How could one chemist have caused so much damage?’’’ she said. “There are no good answers.’’

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