@I look forward (201011010542)
The patents that have real merit are, in general, what I call "hard" patents, patents on stuff you can see and touch, such as the drugs you mention, or the patents on the telephone, or K.C. Gilette's patent on the double-edged razor blade, or the patentee of the brassiere who earned the gratitude of a generation of young ladies who could toss out their whalebone corsets.
Correct me if I'm wrong, please, but my recollection of such patents is that they require some tangible proof that the patent filing wasn't merely the product of a bit of musing under a tree in the park, but that some actual, visible work has been done on the product.
Software patents, and their even more ridiculous cousins, business-model patents (are they real?) seem to depend only on how cleverly you can package simple ideas in complex packages consisting of impressive titles and even more impressively obfuscatory descriptive claims. You can almost see reviewers' eyes glaze over when they read "Method and Intelligence for Commerce-Oriented Human-to-Merchandise-Container Interface Employing Digital Techniques on Both Sides of Interface to Effect Reliable Commercial Exchanges of Merchandise and Corresponding Remuneration" and fail to realize that it's the logic in a vending machine and the "digital techniques" on one side mean fingers and there's prior art going back to Hero for it.
One problem with patents like those in this article is that they undermine the respect for and credibility of the ones that really have merit to them, including, I suppose, a small number of software patents. It's these damn-fool patents on every clever (or not-so-clever) idea that makes everyone scared to put their ideas into practice for fear someone else patented them last month.