Case RE 399664/SP

Recurso Extraordinario, RE 399664/SP, Supremo Tribunal Federal [Federal Supreme Court] (2007).
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A Chief of Police contracted Hepatitis C while intervening in the attempted suicide of a prisoner. The the Court of Justice of São Paulo held that the state and its health system were responsible for providing him, an individual in financial need, with medications to treat his Hepatitis C. The State of São Paulo filed an extraordinary appeal against the decision of the Court of Justice of São Paulo. The state argued that court’s decision would violate articles 5 (right to equal protection) and 196 (right to health) of the Constitution and that the individual was not sufficiently financially needy, highlighting the notion that individual cases like the applicant’s could lead to the depletion of public health resources to the detriment of others in society.

The Court affirmed the lower court's decision, finding that the realization of the constitutional rights to life and health depended on the state's responsibility for providing medication free of charge to those in need. Further, the Court held that although the Chief of Police earned more than many other Brazilians, the unexpected expenses of R$420.00 a month for his treatment constituted a significant burden to the applicant that would negatively impact the applicant and his family. The Court observed that to reach any other conclusion, it would be necessary to reevaluate the evidence, which was not allowed in an extraordinary appeal. The Court also found that the state had abused its right to appeal, and ordered it to pay a fine.

"O Sistema Único de Saúde - SUS visa a integralidade da assistência à saúde, seja individual ou coletiva, devendo atender aos que dela necessitem em qualquer grau de complexidade, de modo que, restando comprovado o acometimento do indivíduo ou de um grupo por determinada moléstia, necessitando de determinado medicamento para debelá-la, este deve ser fornecido, de modo a atender ao princípio maior, que é a garantia à vida digna. O direito à vida e à disseminação das desigualdades impõe o fornecimento pelo Estado do tratamento compatível à doença adquirida no exercício da função."

"Assim, do conjunto probatório delineado pelo acórdão recorrido, que evidenciou não dispor o ora Agravado de meios suficientes para adquirir os medicamentos de que necessita, o recurso interposto não demonstra qualquer contrariedade entre a decisão recorrida e a jurisprudência predominante no Supremo Tribunal Federal."

"O entendimento adotado pelo Tribunal de origem não diverge da jurisprudência do Supremo Tribunal Federal quanto à obrigatoriedade de o Poder Público (União, Estados e Municípios) fornecer, gratuitamente, a pessoas carentes, portadoras de doenças graves, medicamentos destinados a assegurar condições do direito à continuidade da vida digna e a preservação da saúde."

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