Deciding body (English)
Deciding body (Original)
Type of body
Type of Court (material scope)
Type of jurisdiction
Type of Court (territorial scope)
- People with chronic diseases
Outcome of the decision
A 74-year-old person with several illnesses filed a writ of amparo against the Costa Rican Social Security Fund because he indicated that although he had four doses of the vaccine against COVID-19, it did not prevent him from getting COVID-19.
The Claimant indicated that the Ministry of Health had authorized the sale of Paxlovid in Costa Rica, a medicine produced by Pfizer that efficiently fights COVID-19 in patients at high risk of COVID-19. The Claimant requested information from the Fund to know how the negotiations for this drug were going and when it would be available but did not receive an answer.
The person pointed out that having access to Paxlovid in case of getting COVID-19 was the way to make the right to health effective since vaccines were not enough to prevent infection, and this drug was effective in treating people with serious diseases who got COVID-19.
He requested that the appeal be declared admissible and that the Fund be ordered to purchase the medicine and make it available to those who, by medical prescription, needed it, as in his case.
The Court rejected the request because it indicated that the claim was based on the criteria and recommendation of the Claimant’s private doctor, and not one from the Fund, and that it was not up to the Court to determine which medicines should be acquired by the Costa Rican Social Security Fund for the treatment of COVID-19 or any other illness since that was a technical, medical decision, which corresponded to the entity that administered the health services, the Fund.
Facts of the case
A 74-year-old man with multiple risk factors for COVID-19 such as chronic ischemic heart disease, myocardial revascularization surgery, chronic heart failure, and mixed hyperlipidemia, among others), was vaccinated against this disease.
However, he pointed out that due to his illnesses, he was very vulnerable to COVID-19, which he could catch even if he were vaccinated.
The Claimant indicated that there was a drug produced by Pfizer called Paxlovid, recommended by his treating physician to treat people infected with COVID-19 and who had serious illnesses. In his opinion, having access to the drug in case of COVID-19 was how his right to health would become effective since vaccines were insufficient to prevent disease. He indicated that the Fund should understand that the cost-benefit of supplying Paxlovid on time would save the institution millions of Colones, the currency of Costa Rica.
He also pointed out that the Ministry of Health had authorized the drug sale at the beginning of 2022. Therefore, he requested information from the Costa Rican Social Security Fund to know how the negotiations for the drug were going and when it would be available but did not receive an answer.
The Claimant indicated that the Fund was under a constitutional obligation to make the approved drugs available to people when they needed them.
Therefore, the Claimant filed an amparo action for this drug to be acquired by the Fund and made available to the people who needed it under a doctor's order.
Type of measure challenged
Measures, actions, remedies claimed
Individual / collective enforcement
Nature of the parties
Type of procedure
Reasoning of the deciding body
First, the Court noted that by Costa Rica's constitutional and international obligations, the State was required to provide citizens, through the Costa Rican Social Security Fund, with at least the essential services in the event of illness, disability, maternity, elderly, and death.
It also added that this right derived from the State's obligation to maintain a public social security system for all citizens, guaranteeing and providing the necessary social conditions to preserve the right to life and health.
Regarding the case under study, the Court indicated that the Claimant's request should be rejected for two reasons:
Firstly, the Court has stated that the State must provide the medicines requested by the Fund's physicians for the care of their patients since the right to health is involved. However, this case did not comply with that requirement since the Claimant indicated that his request was based on the criteria and recommendation of his private physician.
Secondly, it pointed out that it did not correspond to its functions to determine which medications should be acquired by the Costa Rican Social Security Fund for the treatment of COVID-19 or any other disease since this was a technical-medical decision corresponding to the Fund.
Conclusions of the deciding body
The Court rejected the request because it indicated that the claim was based on the criteria and recommendation of the Claimant’s private doctor, and not one from the Fund, and that it was not up to this Court to determine which medicines should be acquired by the Costa Rican Social Security Fund for the treatment of COVID-19 or any other illness since that was a technical, medical decision, which corresponded to the entity that administered the health services, the Fund.
Fundamental Right(s) involved
- Right to bodily integrity
- Right to health (inc. right to vaccination, right to access to reproductive health)
Fundamental Right(s) instruments (constitutional provisions, international conventions and treaties)
- Right to health, Art. 46, Costa Rican Constitution
- Right to social security, Art. 73, Costa Rican Constitution
- Right to social security, Art. 11, American Declaration on the Rights and Duties of Man
- Right to social security, Art. 9, International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights