Plans to increase access to essential medicines for the world's poorest countries have been unveiled by the UK Government.
Drugs are in short supply in many developing countries
New guidelines on how to tackle the problem have been approved by the British pharmaceutical industry.
The World Health Organization estimates greater access to medicines could save over 10.5m lives each year in the developing world.
It says up to 1.7bn people do not have access to the medicines they need.
People are denied access to drug by a variety of factors, including a lack of funding, and a lack of healthcare infrastructure.
Political will by leaders in developing countries is also vital.
The new guidance marks an attempt to identify practical ways in which the government and the pharmaceutical industry can work together to address the problem.
Suggested measures include:
- Differential pricing, where medicines are sold at lower prices in developing country markets
- Investing in research and development for diseases affecting developing countries
- Working to support health and development goals set by developing countries
The document says the private sector and multilateral organisations such as the World Bank and WHO must also play a role
Prime Minister Tony Blair said: "Improved access requires a contribution from all parties, not just the pharmaceutical industry.
"The UK Government will do its part by investing in health systems in developing countries and by supporting the framework needed to encourage companies to invest in R&D and to supply medicines at differential prices to the world's poorest countries."
The UK Government has pledged to increase its overseas aid budget to £6.5bn a year by 2007/08.
Dr Richard Barker, Director General of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry, said: "I welcome the launch of this document which provides a constructive framework within which we can all continue our work to help meet the health needs of people in the world's poorest countries."
Samir Khalil, of Merck & Co, is a spokesman for the American Pharmaceutical Group, which represents US pharmaceutical companies in the UK.
He said: "Access to medicines should not be an accident of geography of social status.
"There is growing international consensus on the need to move from talk to action."