The Lockerbie Bomber's final lesson

There are many lessons to be learned from the evil of Abdel al-Megrahi, but one particularly nuanced...

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Health care in Libya - better than the UK?
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George Noga
On 20 July 2012 09:30

In May of this year Abdel al-Megrahi, a.k.a. the Lockerbie Bomber, departed this earth and none too soon for his victims and their families. He was released from a Scottish prison in 2009 purportedly for compassionate reasons and allegedly with less than three months to live.

The real reason for his release was Gordon Brown’s shameful lust for Libyan oil and trade. Surprisingly, it turns out Megrahi’s release contained a valuable and unintended lesson.

Scottish National Health Service (“NHS”) cancer specialists who treated Megrahi correctly concluded he had less than three months to live according to NHS treatment protocols for prostate cancer.

A decade ago (2003), Taxotere, a new chemotherapy drug for prostate cancer, was found to significantly improve survival and quality of life. In 2005 the Scottish rationing board acknowledged the proven benefits of Taxotere but nonetheless concluded that its “cost effectiveness has not been demonstrated”. 

Later, the rationing board for the entire UK modified this ruling but continued to severely ration Taxotere, limiting its use only to a few highly specific circumstances – which did not include Megrahi.

When Megrahi returned to Libya he immediately received advanced chemotherapy treatment likely including Taxotere. He also received radiation treatments. Moreover, he was given Abiraterone, a new drug approved by the FDA in 2011. Unsurprisingly, the Scottish rationing board insisted Abiraterone also was not cost effective and prohibited its use by NHS.

Nothing Megrahi did can blot out even an infinitesimal amount of the evil he promulgated. However unintended it was, Megrahi reinforced a lesson all of us should long ago have absorbed, i.e. socialized health care is vastly inferior in terms of both saving and prolonging life and also in maintaining patients’ quality of life. Patients receive better care in Tripoli than in Glasgow for crying out loud. Let’s summarize.

- Megrahi’s life expectancy was not misdiagnosed; shamefully, it was accurate under the protocols extant in the UK. Of course, either way it reflects discredit on the NHS.

- The most compassionate act Megrahi received was being freed from the NHS.

- In the UK the Lockerbie Bomber’s survival was three months; in Libya it was three years – an improvement of 12 fold, or 1,200 percent. If Megrahi had gone to Libya sooner, he might have lived even longer, or perhaps even beat the cancer entirely.

- In 2012 Scotland, Taxotere is only rarely available and Abiraterone is disapproved.

For Gordon Brown and his Labour government to release the Lockerbie Bomber while lying about the real reason is a scandal majeure – but it is not the biggest scandal. The far bigger scandal is that law abiding UK citizens receive vastly inferior care to that of a terrorist in Libya.

This rightly should make Americans terrified of socialized medicine and the inevitable rationing boards it spawns. The Lockerbie Bomber imparted a final valuable lesson; will we learn from it?

George Noga is a certified public account and the Chairman of the More Liberty, Less Government Foundation. He serves as the co-Chair for the Central Florida Centre Right Coalition

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