He has worked on a variety of research and evaluation studies for the past sixteen years focusing on the impact of provincial drug benefit policies on consumers and has specialized in examining how clinical research information on drugs gets communicated to policy-makers, prescribers and consumers.
Alan led the first ever evaluation of Canadian newspaper coverage of new drugs (published in April 2003 in the Canadian Medical Association Journal) and he has frequently reported on consumer issues relating to pharmaceuticals for magazines, newspapers and the CBC Radio program IDEAS.
He is co-author, with Australian journalist Ray Moynihan of the book, Selling Sickness, (Greystone books, 2005) about the role of the pharmaceutical industry in helping to create and market illness. He is a frequent lecturer and media commentator on current pharmaceutical policy issues in Canada and is the founder of Media Doctor Canada, a website devoted to improving medical reporting in Canada.
Commentaries by Alan Cassels:
The best health advice you’ll get today?
Celebrity endorsements and medical screening // L’appui des célébrités et le dépistage medical
New cholesterol guidelines mean many patients may reassess their use of statins
Why we need more ‘real world’ research on pharmaceutical drug safety
Caution this ‘Movember’ // La prudence de mise en ce mois de Movember
Designer drugs: You’re really paying for the name // Des médicaments hors de prix
Diabetes: Profits before evidence // Sauver notre système de santé, c’est mettre en évidence les faits
Do we really want to trust more of our health to the private sector?
Gene guilt by association // Les tests de dépistage génétique personnalisés moins éclairants que ce qu’on nous promet
How to save $690 and prevent unnecessary worry // Comment économiser 690 $ et s’éviter des inquiétudes inutiles
Mammography and the overdiagnosis of breast cancer
Medical screening has over-promised and under-delivered // Le dépistage médical : une réputation surfaite, des résultats mitigés
Movember moustache? By all means
Screening kids for high cholesterol – why stop there? // Dépister l’hypercholestérolémie chez les enfants : pourquoi s’arrêter là?
Some ideas can be bad for your health // Ne blâmons pas les baby-boomers
Posters by Alan Cassels:
“Early screening on its own, without the evidence to back up its usefulness in saving or improving lives, is not only costly to our public health system, but may actually cause patient harm.”
Read the commentary: Medical screening has over-promised and under-delivered
“A wide body of international research shows that physicians who are exposed to more drug-company-sponsored information tend to prescribe costlier drugs, more drugs in total and to have longer quality prescribing practices.”
Read the commentary: Toxic information
“Many scientists who have looked closely at the evidence have soundly questioned routine mammograms for healthy women — those with no extra risk factors for the disease — and particularly for younger women because of the very real problems of overdiagnosis and overtreatment.”
Read the commentary: The best health advice you’ll get today?
“Le dépistage précoce, dont l’efficacité pour ce qui est de sauver des vies ou d’améliorer la santé des gens n’a pas été prouvée, est non seulement coûteux pour notre réseau de santé mais peut aussi causer des torts aux patients.”