An international scheme to encourage pharmaceutical firms to develop vaccines against common diseases which blight poorer nations will receive £284 million in funding from the UK.
Finance ministers of the most powerful countries in the world launched the pilot scheme as they attended a G8 meeting this weekend.
The Advance Market Commitment guarantees the buying of vaccines at fixed prices once they have been developed, giving drug companies an incentive to produce them.
Chancellor Alistair Darling said: “The UK is pleased to support this initiative … which should ensure a sustainable and affordable supply of vaccines well into the future.”
More than £900 million will be invested in the project by Britain, Italy, Canada, Russia, Norway and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
It is being co-ordinated by a collaboration of the World Bank, UNICEF, the World Health Organisation and the international vaccine agency GAVI alliance.
As part of the scheme, drug makers will look into developing vaccines pneumococcal diseases, which are responsible for the deaths of up to 1.6 million lives each year – mostly children.
Firms that participate will also make legally binding commitments to supply the vaccines at lower and sustainable prices after the donor funds are spent.
Copyright Press Association 2009