Published: 16/09/2004, Volume II4, No. 5923 Page 8

Pharmaceutical companies are being asked by the government to fund online patient guides on medicines for a range of chronic illnesses.

Chief pharmaceutical officer Dr Jim Smith told the Commons health select committee last week that the Department of Health' s medicines partnership was working with drug companies and the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency to publish drug information on NHS Direct's website.

Following publication of information on epilepsy and flu, the project will launch a guide on medicines for Hypercholesterolemia during November. The guides are part of information about conditions and treatment options on NHS Direct. They are being funded through levies on drug companies, but are authored by information company Tixel.

Dr Smith was appearing before the committee as part of its inquiry into the influence of pharmaceutical business on health policy.