The U.S. and Canadian systems of new drug approvals are perhaps the most rigorous in the world. On average, it costs a company $359 million to get one new medicine from the laboratory to the pharmacist's shelf, according to a February 1993 report by the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment. It takes 12 years on average for an experimental drug to travel from lab to medicine chest. Only five in 5,000 compounds that enter preclinical testing make it to human testing. One of these five tested in people is approved.