Carl Nathan has an interesting commentary in a recent edition of Nature, Aligning pharmaceutical innovation with medical need
He's basically advocating two fundamental reforms to the pharmaceutical industry and the patent system.
Firstly create open access drugs companies - free for service sites within the pharma industry to allow collaboration amongst technical experts and funded by government and users. Secondly a patent system that rewards patent holders in proportion to the impact the developed drugs have on major diseases and facilitating a pricing system that would give those in need access to the drugs.
Sounds simple in theory. Now why can't we do it?