San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Court OKs bill authorizing medical research on humans

In a second and final round of debate next week, the Legislative Assembly will discuss and vote on a bill that allows and regulates medical research on humans in Costa Rica.

Lawmakers plan to move the bill forward after a majority ruling on Thursday by the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court, or Sala IV, that found no constitutional violations in the proposal, as was alleged by a group of lawmakers last year. Assembly members sent the bill to the Sala IV following its approval in a first round of debate on Nov. 19, 2013.

Sala IV justices reviewed the legislation for four months before issuing a ruling that stated, “none of the articles violates any constitutional principle, procedure or interpretation.”

If passed, the bill would allow medical research on humans to be reinstated after the Sala IV declared the research unconstitutional in 2010. At the time, justices said the “matter must be governed by a law, not a regulation,” as was the case in 2010.

The new bill outlines all legal standards and requirements for human subjects to participate in medical and pharmaceutical research and experimentation.

Sala IV President Gilbert Armijo, who abstained, said the ruling was complex, and the court has received several inquiries regarding the constitutionality of several articles of the bill.

Citizen Action Party lawmaker María Eugenia Venegas, who supported a constitutional consultation, said she would respect the [Sala IV] ruling, but that she needed further analysis before deciding if she’d vote for the bill to become law.

Legislator Patricia Pérez on Thursday said she believes there are no major obstacles for the bill’s passage next week, as most lawmakers support it.

Contact L. Arias at

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