Report faults drug-handling practices at national lab

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A government report says Los Alamos National Laboratory's procedures for storing and tracking controlled substances used in experiments violated federal rules and might have left drugs unaccounted for.

The report released by the U.S. Department of Energy's office of inspector general said the New Mexico lab mislabeled drug purchases, failed to account for amounts used in experiments and kept substances long after research was complete.

It also said the lab used a database for substances that was not appropriate for tracking them and didn't have an official policy governing records or research.

The report released this week reviewed drug-handling practices at the lab between February 2017 and last month.

The report doesn't say there was evidence that anything illegal or unethical took place, but it does say that failure to manage inventories properly could have serious consequences.

The lab issued a statement saying a new process for managing controlled substances has been in place for nearly a year.

Department of Energy's office of inspector general said it wasn't recommending any action because the lab adopted a new policy.

Lab employees work with the drugs to help law enforcement agencies target trafficking organizations that produce and distribute illicit drugs and chemicals that go into their production.

Inventory errors during experiments led to a surplus of the synthetic opioid fentanyl that wasn't accounted for, inspectors found during their review.

In May 2015, the report said, records indicated 48.5 grams of fentanyl were used in experiments but weighing data on the day after the research work showed only 45 grams were used.

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