Seife suggests the FDA is trapped in a co-dependent relationship with the pharmaceutical industry, and needs strong legislative support to end its bad behavior.
This is clearly the case, and this not only means that some drugs that should not be on the market are approved. It also means, and in my mind this is more important, that the big Pharma are using the FDA as a barrier of entry against startups. Getting a new drug on the market costs an average of $2.558 billion in 2013 dollars.
This days are the early days of the biotech revolution where we will gain enormous control over our health are just starting, and progress is slow due to regulation capture. If some of this money would be given back to researchers instead of lawyers and bureaucrats, we would get better treatments available sooner.
As an example, big pharma companies get old drugs whose patents are about to run out, change their chemical formula and improve them just a bit and then go to market with them so the can reap huge margins with basically the same compound. This is safer business than trying to produce a breakthrough with a completely new compound. And the reason for this is the way the FDA operates. This results in very valuable resources being used with little benefit to the public.