You would think that a high priority of the NHS would be to make people better. However, just as the banks seemed to move, en masse, to risky behaviour, there seems to be at least potential for a similar group-think amongst health providers.
I have just found a very interesting article  about how Prozac does not work. It is understandable with so many people suffering depression that doctors feel pressure to offer them something. We all like to feel that we are making a difference and providing a fix would fit that. However, this pressure should not lead to people to provide a treatment because of a “general perception” that it might work.
Drugs are big money. Big money and group-think make a bad combination. I am not saying that doctors cannot do experimental work but please let it be labelled as such.
If Prozac is being used and does not actually work, this is diverting money away from things that might be better.
We need to learn lessons from this if we can. One idea that has occurred to me to try to tackle the inherent conflict of interest involved in having the same company research a drug as would benefit from its use is to insist that drug companies fund replication of their results in trials that they do not control.
Only if those trials are successful, would a drug be used by the NHS as a non-experimental drug. Drug companies would still do initial trials but the aim of such trials would be to gather data for a proposal for the independent trial. Since the company would lose out financially if the independent trial fails, there would be an incentive to only put forward solid proposals.
With millions riding on having a drug deemed useful and human nature being what it is, companies will find it irresistable to take short cuts and make leaps of faith. Often short cuts are quite harmless and get you to where you want to be sooner.
However, when one is relying on a quite slim margin between success and failure, the omission of certain data (deemed irrelevant) could make all the difference.
This is not to say that drug companies are dishonest. Research can be a painful process and humans do not like pain. The feeling that one has actually discovered something of value after a number of previous failures could quite easily override the caution one might normally have.