Ricardo Lachman, et al. v. Caja de Seguro Social (Amparo de Garantías Constitucionales – No. 199812)

Ricardo Lachman, et al. v. Caja de Seguro Social (Amparo de Garantías Constitucionales - No. 199812), Corte Suprema de Justicia, en pleno, Panamá [Supreme Court of Justice of Panama] Diciembre 31, 1998 (Pana.).
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The petitioner, Ricardo Lachman, brought action on behalf of  La Fundación Pro Bienestar y Dignidad de las Personas Afectadas por el VIH/SIDA (Foundation for the Well-Being and Dignity of Persons with HIV/AIDS) and his patient Jorge Nelson Moran Jaen against the Social Security Fund for denying Nelson Moran HIV/AIDS treatment medications prescribed by Lachman. The Social Security Fund claimed that the prescribed medications were no longer part of the Official Medicines List. The petitioners claimed that the Social Security Fund’s denial of access to his medications violated his right to health under articles 17 (obligation of the government to ensure the enjoyment of rights of persons in its jurisdiction), 105 (right to health), 106 (government’s obligation to undertake set of activities for the protection of health) y 107 (government’s obligation to institute national plan that guarantees the production, availability, accessibility, and quality and control of medicines the whole population) Constitution of Panama.

The Supreme Court acknowledged that the Social Security Fund had willingly denied drugs for HIV/ AIDS treatment. However, in accordance to law, the Court noted that the Social Security Fund is obliged to only provide those drugs that are included in the Official Medicines List. Therefore, the Court concluded that the petitioners claim was purely of administrative nature insofar as the dispute concerned State policies on medical materials. Additionally, the Court found that the requirement to exhaust previous judicial remedies was not fulfilled because the petitioners had not brought the case before an administrative litigation forum. Accordingly, the Court dismissed the appeal for legal protection.

"Ello evidencia que nos encontramos en todo caso, ante un reclamo de prestaciones médicas,poniéndose de manifiesto el carácter eminentemente administrativo del asunto, lo que permite su impugnación a través de alguno de los remedios contemplados en la llamada vía gubernativa y en jurisdicción contencioso administrativa, gestión que no consta haya realizado el amparista en vías de reparar la violación legal que acusa."

"Y es que, de ser ciertos los cargos formulados, ellos configuran objeciones que pueden debatirse en el ámbito administrativo y legal, pero que no vislumbran vicios constitucionales, máxime cuando las normas cuya inconstitucionalidad se acusa dictan directrices o políticas del Estado Panameño particularmente en lo atinente al sector salud, seguridad y asistencia social, por lo que gozan de contenido programático."

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