France's Hollande to seek regulation of medicine prices at G7, G20 summits

LYON, France, March 23 (Reuters) - French President Francois Hollande said on Wednesday he would push for international regulation of medicine prices at a G-7 summit in Japan in May and a G-20 meeting in China in September.

“The idea is to be able to fight soaring medicine prices and allow for regulation to take place at an international level,” he said the sidelines of a World Health Organization meeting in Lyon, eastern France. Hollande did not elaborate.

A source close to the French presidency had told Reuters on Monday Hollande was planning to address the subject during the next G-7 summit due to be held on May 26-27 in Ise-Shima.

The rising cost of drugs has come under fire around the world as campaigners in developing countries demand reform of the patent system to make treatments more affordable, while U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has promised to rein in prices in the United States.

A high-level United Nations panel is now discussing ways to improve access to medicines, with experts trying to square the circle between offering companies incentives for innovation and ensuring patients can afford life-saving drugs.

Although the cost of some medicines, such as basic AIDS drugs, has fallen dramatically in the past 15 years following pressure from activists, therapies for other diseases including cancer remain out of reach for many people around the world. (Additional reporting by Ben Hirschler; Writing by Matthias Blamont; Editing by Leigh Thomas/Mark Heinrich)