Judicialization of the right to health in the Brazilian Northeastern region: dimensions and challenges

Abstract Introduction The legalization of the right to health has unknown actual magnitude and profile, hindering the planning of the Judiciary and the Executive. The study aimed to characterize the legalization of the right to health in the state Ceará, to calculate their magnitude and describe the subjects, disease and the demanded objects profiles. Methods This is cross-sectional, quantitative and descriptive study, using lawsuits records in judicial information systems between 1998 and 2012. Results We identified 1,757 cases and selected 965 for a second analysis. The research revealed that the median authors’ age is 57.8 years, which are mostly, retired (32%) and sponsored by private lawyers (68%); a single lawyer is responsible for 25% of the demands. The request for medicinal product represents 74% of applications. Lymphoma, COPD, myeloma and diabetes alone represent 31% of all diseases. Medical prescriptions in most cases come from the public service (76%). The most required asset is MabThera, Spiriva ®, Lantus and other supplies for diabetes. Conclusion There is a clear expansion of legalization trend of in Ceará, raising the hypothesis of a new access door that amplifies inequalities in health.