Alan Cassels has been immersed in pharmaceutical policy research for the past 20 years, studying how prescription drugs are regulated, marketed, prescribed and used. Most of the time he dissects the large gap between the marketing and the science behind prescription drugs, medical screening and other forms of disease creation. His interest in the quality of consumer drug information and its effects on prescriber and consumer behavior has increasingly lead him to study and practice health journalism with a critical eye on overprescribing, disease mongering and medical overdiagnosis. His book, Selling Sickness: How the World’s Biggest Pharmaceutical Companies are Turning us All into Patients (co-written with Ray Moynihan) was an international bestseller and published in 12 languages. His 2012 book about medical screening entitled: Seeking Sickness: Medical Screening and the Misguided Hunt for Disease was described in the medical journal The Lancet as “a useful addition to the armamentarium of sensitizing the general public and health-care professionals about unnecessary screening.”
Alan Cassels has published a column called Drug Bust for Common Ground Magazine every month for the last ten years, where he reports on current issues in the world of pharmaceutical misinformation. Alan is also co-director of a consulting firm that advises unions on drug benefits issues and is an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Human and Social Development at the University of Victoria.
In all of his writing and public lectures Cassels frequently weighs in on the folly of practitioners and profiteers increasingly selling us tests, treatments and theories of disease that threaten to turn more and more of us into patients. His belief that humans need clean health information as urgently as they need clean water, led him to study and then write a book about the Cochrane Collaboration, one of the world’s best sources of quality medical information. His new book, launched in October 2015 is called The Cochrane Collaboration: Medicine’s Best Kept Secret.