Drugs companies to increase by 700 percent under a plan to fund the development of a vaccine aimed at saving millions of children's lives in developing countries.

Under an "advance market commitment" governments in the developed world pay production costs, plus an agreed margin, to help provide incentives for the pharmaceuticals industry to develop such drugs. The plan is to produce a vaccine for pneumococcal disease, which causes pneumonia, Africa's worst child-killer.

Wyeth,  the US drugs company has already manufactures the vaccine for Europe and America, creating a A31bn market in which it is about to be joined by Britain's GlaxoSmithKline. Since both companies have already developed vaccines to cover the strains most prevalent in Africa, critics say their costs will be negligible.