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Saudi Arabia orders probe into Lebanese academic accused of drug peddling

Probe comes after social media users learn Baalbaki is a lecturer at a Saudi university and call for her deportation

Image Credit:
Baalbaki - Okaz
Gulf News

Manama: Saudi Arabia’s education minister has ordered an investigation into the case of a Lebanese woman suspected of tampering with expired cancer drugs in her country and currently working in the kingdom.

Ahmad Al Eissa said he wanted the president of the Northern Borders University to set up an ad-hoc committee to look into how the accused, Mona Baalbaki, a pharmacist at Rafik Hariri hospital in Beirut and others were recruited to work in Saudi Arabia.

The case emerged after social media carried a report that Baalbaki who is under investigation in Lebanon for alleged drug peddling and reportedly caused the death of several patients, was teaching at a university in Saudi Arabia.

Social media users said that she should be deported and barred from re-entering Saudi Arabia until she is cleared by the security authorities in her home country.

Lebanese sources said that Baalbaki took advantage of her position as a pharmacist at the Rafik Hariri Governmental Hospital in 2008 to replace drugs and treatments for cancer patients with expired and ineffective ones and then sell the original medicines for personal financial gains that amounted to hundreds of millions of Lebanese Lira.

The substitution had resulted in the death of several cancer patients, and the Lebanese authorities launched an investigation into the matter.

According to Lebanese reports, disciplinary measures were taken against Baalbaki, including the revocation of her licence pending the probe.

Despite the investigation, Baalbaki was able to become an academic lecturer at the Northern Border University where she was hired years ago.

Her name is still mentioned among the academics on the university website, Saudi daily Okaz reported on Sunday.

In a statement to the daily, Baalbaki insisted denied all allegations against her.

“The investigation into the case has been going on for years and there is no new developments,” she said.

Baalbaki who is currently in Lebanon also denied there was a travel ban that prevented her from leaving her country.

“I have a booking to go back to Saudi Arabia following the Eid Al Adha,” she said.

The Eid, the Feast of the Sacrifice, is expected to be on September 1.

She added that she had not worked as a pharmacist for eight years and that she has been an academic at a Saudi university for the last three years.