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Commission v. Germany , Case 62/90, 1992 E.C.R. I-2575

Facts: the claimant was a German national who tried to import medicinal product in Germany from another Member State where he was prescribed the medicine. He was prevented from doing so by a German law prohibiting imports of medicinal products prescribed by a doctor in another Member State unless ordered through a German pharmacy. Germany claimed that while the statute was a restriction on the free movement of goods and was incompatible with Article 30 of the EC Treaty, it was "essential to guarantee effective protection of the health and life of humans."

Complaint: the German law violated the right to privacy in individuals' medical information

Holding: the ECJ held that the German law was illegal because incompatible with the EC Treaty and with the right to privacy and the right to protection of medical secrets, and Germany had failed to show that it would be impossible to implement controls which would protect public health without also excessively interfering in the privacy of medical secrets

Reasoning: the right to privacy and the right to protection of medical secrets in particular are fundamental within the Community, they are not absolute rights. A restriction on those rights may be justified by the objective of the protection of public health only if it promotes the objectives of the general interest and is not disproportionate to the extent that it would interfere with the very substance of those rights. The ECJ ruled it was not the case with the German law.

 

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