The drugs payment scheme – DPS – replaced the drug cost subsidisation and drugs refund schemes in 1999. It was initially introduced on an administrative basis, with the intention that regulations to underpin its operation would be introduced following amendment of the relevant section of the Health Act 1970. However, amendment of the Act was delayed and, following further consideration and legal advice obtained from the Attorney General's Office in October 2000, regulations made under section 59 of the 1970 Act, fixing the threshold for the new scheme at €53.33, came into effect on 1 March 2001.
Given that, as has been pointed out previously, claimants derived greater overall benefits under the new scheme, as reflected in the significant increase in spending, the issue of possible refunds was not addressed at the time. Following a review by my Department of the position in relation to this issue, it has now been decided that a process should be put in place for assessing applications for refunds to people who may be owed money arising from the introduction of the DPS.