David Shore (one of the writers) has said that the character of House is inspired by the fictional character Sherlock Holmes, particularly with regard to drug use and his desire (and capacity) to solve the insolvable. House uses Holmesian deductive techniques to diagnose his patients' problems. References to the sleuth range from the obvious (House's apartment number being 221B) to the subtle (his friendship with Dr. James Wilson and the similarities between the names House and Holmes, and Wilson and Watson).
Actually, what I was thinking was that House must've been based on Dr. Joseph Bell, the guy Sir Arthur Conan Doyle based Holmes on. But still, close enough.