The Minister for Health has said the Government is considering introducing a prescription charge for medical card holders.

Speaking on RTÉ's The Week in Politics, Mary Harney said that the charge could be 'something like' 50 cent per drug prescribed.

She said everything in the health service is being looked at ahead of the Budget and this is one of the options on the table.

The charge would raise money and also discourage the overuse of medication, the Minister said.

She said that one in six medical card holders are prescribed 10 or more drugs and that 'is not good for patient safety'.

Ms Harney also said that those lending money to the country at the moment will stop doing so unless tough decisions are taken in the Budget.

The two main Opposition parties have said they would be opposed to the possible introdution of a prescription charge for medical card holders in next month's Budget.