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  • In this 2013 file photo, a person holds pharmaceutical tablets and capsules in a picture illustration taken in Ljubljana.

    In this 2013 file photo, a person holds pharmaceutical tablets and capsules in a picture illustration taken in Ljubljana. | Photo: Reuters

World leaders from the G7 countries will meet in Japan to discuss ways to lower the cost of life saving medication. 

France will press its G7 partners this month to launch an "irreversible" process to control the price of new medicine, part of a global drive to make life-saving drugs more affordable, sources have told Reuters.

President Francois Hollande has said he would push for international regulation on drug prices when he meets other G7 leaders in Ise-Shima, Japan on May 26-27.

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The issue will now be discussed in Japan and later in Kobe in September where other parties, including pharmaceutical companies, could potentially be involved.

"We need to initiate this process with firmness, and the president wants it to be irreversible," said a source close to Hollande.

The rising cost of ground-breaking medicine has been criticized around the world, with campaigners in developing countries demanding reforms of the patent system in order to make treatment more affordable.

The G7 nations are home to many of the world's leading drug makers. But while governments are keen to tackle rising health costs they may be reluctant to pitch themselves against their own pharmaceutical industries.

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Regulation would have to balance the need of keeping costs down with the desire of pharmaceutical companies such a U.S group Pfizer, France's Sanofi or Britain's GlaxoSmithKline to retain financial incentives for "innovation."

G7 delegates have already begun initial talks on the issue but no one expects a breakthrough in the near future, one of the sources is reported to have told Reuters.

A United Nations panel is discussing ways to improve access to medicine while GlaxoSmithKline said in March it would adopt a gradual approach to patenting its medicines depending on the wealth of different countries.

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