21. May 2012 10:55
The life of the man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing may have been extended for two years by Janssen’s cancer drug Zytiga (abiraterone).
Released from a Scottish prison in 2009 on health grounds, Abdelbaset al-Megrahi has died from metastatic prostate cancer years later than was predicted.
The case, which has caused political controversy, highlights the availability worldwide of cancer drugs unavailable in the UK.
Ironically, al-Megrahi’s death came within days of NICE revising draft guidance to approve the use of Zytiga following a price deal with Janssen.
The decision to release al-Megrahi, whom doctors had judged to be within three months of death, was widely criticised – and more so as he remained alive through 2010 and 2011.
Controversy over the safety of his conviction added to the political embarrassment resulting from his extended survival, perhaps the only case in which prolonging life has been considered a negative outcome.
Oncologist Professor Karol Sikora examined Megrahi in prison in July 2009 and said he was at the “end stage” of cancer. He has since commented: “The care he received in Libya helped prolong his life.”
Zytiga is an oral medication for advanced prostate cancer that blocks the synthesis of testosterone in the body.