I am not a hamster, there is a basic problem in the process where drugs get approved in the US. It comes from the fact that the drug companies themselves are expected to provide test results that the FDA is supposed to use to make the determination of whether it's safe or not.
Merck & Co. will pay $4.85 billion to settle thousands of lawsuits in one of the
largest civil cases ever, the company said today. Merck faced about 26,600 lawsuits by
plaintiffs who claimed the drug Vioxx proved fatal or injured its users.
Then people actually wonder why drugs like Vioxx manage to "slip through the cracks" and get approved anyway when later testing by independent people produce findings that, like in the case of Vioxx, prove that it shouldn't have ever been on the market to begin with.
I guess it comes down to two things... the FDA is seriously overworked and understaffed / underfunded. and the drug companies are a VERY powerful force on capitol hill.