Dean Baker of CEPR
After finally following @jdcmedlock on Twitter, I saw him mention a proposal for publicly funding drug development by Dean Baker.
It's always nice to find one's pet theories out there; having not seen it before, people might not be talking about it because it's original, or people might not be talking about it because it's obviously stupid. At least now I have some evidence against the latter.
Medlock quotes a plan from chapter 5 of Baker's book Rigged. It's well thought out, including ways to help keep from falling into public-choice traps (e.g. contracting the research in a way similar to defense contracting). He calculates much more savings: $300 billion a year as a conservative estimate.
So go check it out.
Proposal from 2004
Baker's references pointed me to a proposal along these lines from 2004, from some dude named Dennis Kucinich.