OBJECTIVE:To assess the distribution rate of legal suits according to drug (manufacturer), prescribing physician, and attorney fi ling the lawsuit. METHODS:A descriptive study was carried out to assess the lawsuits in the São Paulo State (Southeastern Brazil) courts registry in 2006, and amounts spent in complying with these lawsuits, and total costs with medication thus resulting. RESULTS:In 2006, the São Paulo State Administration spent 65 million Brazilian reais in compliance with court decisions to provide medication to approximately 3,600 individuals. The total cost of the medication was 1.2 billion Brazilian reais. In the period studied, 2,927 lawsuits were examined. These lawsuits were fi led by 565 legal professionals, among which 549 were attorneys engaged by private individuals (97.17% of the total legal professionals). The drugs scope of the lawsuits had been prescribed by 878 different physicians. By assessing the number of lawsuits fi led per attorney, it was found that 35% of them were brought before the courts by 1% of them. CONCLUSIONS:The data related to the lawsuits and to the medication classifi ed according to manufacturer, show that a small number of attorneys is responsible for the largest number of lawsuits fi led to obtain these drugs. The fi nding that more than 70% of the lawsuits fi led for certain drugs are the responsibility of one single attorney, may suggest a close connection between this professional and the manufacturer.
BackgroundIn Brazil, health is fundamental human right guaranteed by the Constitution of 1988, which created the Brazilian Universal Health System (Sistema Único de Saúde - SUS). The SUS provides medications for outpatient care via policy of pharmaceutical assistance (PA) programmes. Despite the advances in PA policies which include the improvement in access to medications, there has been a significant increase in lawsuits related to health products and services. This study aimed to characterize the medication processes filed between 2010 and 2014 against the Secretary of State for Health of São Paulo (State Health Department of São Paulo - SES/SP), in Brazil, following PA policies.MethodsThis descriptive study used secondary data on medication lawsuits filed against the SES/SP between 2010 and 2014. The data source was the S-Codes computerized system.ResultsIn the period evaluated, the number of lawsuits filed concerning health-related products increased approximately 63%; requests for medications were predominant. Approximately 30% of the medications involved in court proceedings were supplied via PA programmes. With regard to medications supplied via specialized component, 81.3% were prescribed in disagreement with the protocols published by the Ministry of Health. Insulin glargine was the most requested medication (6.3%), followed by insulin aspart (3.3%). Because there is no scientific evidence that either of these medicines is superior for the treatment of diabetes, neither of them has been incorporated into the SUS by the National Commission for Technology Incorporation. The judicial data showed that most of the lawsuits involved normal proceedings (i.e., individual demands), were filed by private lawyers, and named the State of São Paulo as the sole defendant, demonstrating the individual nature of these claims.The data indicate inequality in the distribution between the number of cases and lawyers and the number of lawsuits and prescribers, evidencing the concentration of lawyers and physicians in filing lawsuits.ConclusionThe judicialization of health in the State of São Paulo with the characteristics presented herein is a threat to the SUS.
The constitutional right to health in Brazil has entitled patients to litigate against the government-funded national health system (SUS), claiming access to various health treatments including those excluded from the health system's benefits package. Courts have tended to rely on a single medical prescription to judge these cases in favor of individual patients and against the health system. The large volume of cases has had a substantial financial impact on the government's health budget and has created unfairness in accessing healthcare. To change courts' behavior, a new health technology assessment (HTA) body – CONITEC – was created in 2011. Its creation was accompanied by an administrative procedure that made decisions about the health system's benefits package more transparent, accountable, participative and evidence-informed. It was expected that this HTA system would bring more legitimacy to the government's priority-setting decisions and promote deference from the courts. This study tests whether Brazil's new HTA system succeeded in encouraging judicial deference by analyzing a stratified random sample of 13,263 court decisions for whether the existence of a CONITEC report resulted in less frequent court orders to provide treatment for individual litigants. The results show that the creation of CONITEC did not change courts' behavior; courts still decide in favor of patients in most cases. Indeed, even when there was a CONITEC report recommending against government funding for a particular healthcare treatment, the vast majority of the relatively few patients who were unsuccessful in obtaining a health benefit at their first court hearing later obtained a favorable decision after appealing to a higher court. This finding was confirmed through an interrupted time-series analysis that did not find an impact of having a CONITEC report on courts' willingness to override a government priority-setting decision. In fact, CONITEC was rarely cited in court decisions, even when litigants mentioned the existence of a CONITEC report.
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