There are undoubtedly other schemes that can be devised that pay for research without giving drug companies monopolies over the distribution of the drug. Obviously we do have to pay for the research, but we don’t have to use the current patent system. It is like paying the firefighters when they show up at the burning house with our family inside. Of course we would pay them millions to save our family (if we had the money), but it is nutty to design a system that puts us in this situation.
Let’s invest heavily in basic research, and offer a system of warrants for firms to pursue. This might incent collaboration as firms could work out arrangements for sharing the warrants, rather than worrying about IP ownership.