This morning while perusing the Wall Street Journal, I came across an article that caused me to pause for a moment. It had to do with Abdel Baset al-Megrahi, the convicted Lockerbie bomber, who died in Libya on Sunday. Mr. al-Megrahi was released from jail in Scotland three years ago when doctors declared that he had only three months to live (he was suffering from prostate cancer).
The article reports:
Karol Sikora, a leading cancer specialist who examined Megrahi shortly before his release, explains that predicting how long a patient with end-stage prostate cancer has to live is a “value judgment of probablility,” not an exact science. But Dr. Sikora also writes that his initial three-month prognosis was “based on his treatment as an NHS patient in Glasgow at the time, when not even standard docetaxel chemotherapy was offered.” by contrast, “Mr. Megrahi almost certainly had excellent care in Tripoli.”
The article further points out that “standard docetaxel chemotherapy” did become available to some Scottish patients in certain circumstances in 2006, but was not available to Megrahi. When Megrahi arrived in Libya, he received advanced chemotherapy as well as abiraterone, a drug approved by U. S. regulators in 2011. The treatment he received in Libya is still largely unavailable through the British medical system, although next year abiraterone will be available to the English and Welsh (but not in Scotland due to the price).
The article concludes:
Prime Minister David Cameron has often said that Megrahi should never have been released, and that’s right. But perhaps the Libyan’s longevity should spark a different line of questioning: whether the most compassionate aspect of his release was freeing him from government health care–and whether nonterrorists deserve similar succor.
Something to think about as the Supreme Court debates Obamacare…