One of the reasons why Sovaldi, for example, costs so much is that competitors cannot copy the pill and just churn it out at a lower price. It is protected by patents. Clearly patents have costs, and this blog has discussed alternatives.
No alternative has demonstrated that it can do what patents do: Attract R&D capital investment to pharmaceutical development. Will Rinehart of the American Action Forum has written a primer on the role of patents in pharmaceutical innovation:
Read the entire column at the National Center for Policy Analysis Health Policy Blog.