The quote below is from a Wall Street Journal editorial yesterday, but as set up, there was a lot of media hand-wringing when Governor Sarah Palin referred to “Death Panels” in ObamaCare. But what do you call an unaccountable group who makes system-wide decisions on the allocation of medical services? Would not a patient-doctor decision, made on a case-by-case basis for the allocation of those medical services, be better than some “panel” — death or otherwise? Mr. al-Megrahi lived 3 years longer because choices were made on his personal health care not by an unaccountable “panel”. As a murder, terrorist & thug, in his case, I would’ve have rather he died quickly at the hands of the “panel” if only to eliminate him sooner from the planet.
The death Sunday of Abdel Baset al-Megrahi, the convicted Lockerbie bomber, has prompted renewed controversy over his August 2009 “compassionate” release from Scottish prison. At the time, British doctors claimed he had three months to live. He survived nearly three years.
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 probability,” 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.”
Think about that one: Get treated for cancer by the U.K.’s National Health Service, and you’ll be dead by Christmas. But get treated for the same cancer in Libya, and you may have years to live. No wonder Americans are terrified of government-run medicine and rationing boards.
Consider “standard docetaxel chemotherapy.” As early as 2003, a Cancer Weekly report described docetaxel, alone or in combination with other drugs, as “the most widely used chemotherapy agent for prostate cancer in the United States.”
In 2005, the Scottish Medicines Consortium—the rationing body that advises which treatments should be made available through the Scottish NHS—acknowledged that the drug (widely known as Taxotere) improved median survival-rates, pain control and quality of life for prostate cancer patients. Even so, the consortium concluded that “the cost effectiveness of docetaxel . . . has not been demonstrated.” Only after Britain’s rationing body overrode that decision in 2006 did the drug became available to some Scottish prostate-cancer patients in certain circumstances—though still not to Megrahi.
After Megrahi arrived in Tripoli, he benefited from advanced chemotherapy as well as radiation treatments and abiraterone, a new type of testosterone inhibitor approved by U.S. regulators in 2011. Most of that pillbox remains unavailable through the NHS, though next year English and Welsh NHS patients will be able to access abiraterone after drug-maker Janssen reduced the price. Not so in Scotland, where the Medicines Consortium insists the pill isn’t worth its £3,000-per-patient-per-month price tag.
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.