BCPS Employees for Freedom Society (BCPSEF) is pleased to announce we will be joined by internationally renowned independent health and pharmaceutical policy researcher, Alan Cassels, at our next member meeting on September 17, 2023.

Mr. Cassels has had a 30-year career investigating and writing about how clinical research on pharmaceuticals and medical screening is communicated to policy-makers, prescribers, and consumers. His work has focused on research and evaluation of public drug benefits policies, consumer drug information, marketing, and influences on prescribing. He has been a frequent lecturer, media commentator and contributor to newspapers, magazines and the CBC Radio program IDEAS.  In 2012, he was awarded the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal for his contributions to evidence-based communications on health issues.

BCPSEF members will hear from Mr. Cassels about his experiences and observations since the advent of COVID-19, the B.C. government’s public health response and rapid deployment of pharmaceutical interventions, including COVID-19 vaccines and vaccine mandates, as well as his work with UBC’s Therapeutics Initiative, an independent drug evaluation team funded by the BC Ministry of Health. He was terminated from his position in June 2022.  Reasons for his termination were inconclusive but it happened after he published the following letter to the editor of The Globe and Mail:

Re Driven By Misinformation (Opinion, Feb. 12): I don’t see my unvaccinated friends, neighbours or colleagues as misguided, misinformed ignoramuses who spout conspiracy theories and propagandistic clichés. Maybe I don’t get out enough.

They are mostly highly educated, a class that includes university professors, engineers, researchers, doctors, librarians and even some journalists. I find these are intelligent people with nuanced interpretations of science, who spend a lot of time reading the annoying small print of research studies and asking awkward questions. I therefore find it tiresome when they are labelled as misinformed ignoramuses who don’t “follow the science.”

In the drug-safety world there is a truism: Drug safety never leads, it always follows. It is a sentiment that might be best summed up by a line from the singer Tom Waits: “The large print giveth and the small print taketh away.”

Alan Cassels, Victoria, February 15, 2022.

About the meeting

Our meeting is open to BCPSEF members only. BCPSEF membership is open to any public servant, current or former, who has worked for a municipal, provincial, or federal government organization in B.C., or worked for a publicly funded non-governmental organization in the province. B.C. residents who are not public servants are also eligible BCPSEF as non-voting members. To become a member, visit our BCPSEF Membership page

Our meeting will take place via Zoom at 7pm on September 17. BCPSEF members will receive an invitation and login details prior to the meeting.

More about Alan

Alan Cassels is a health and pharmaceutical policy researcher, author and former Director of Communications for UBC’s Therapeutics Initiative. Throughout his career he has always worked on publicly funded research and evaluation projects and brags that he has never eaten a pharmaceutical company-funded sandwich though he has had many opportunities to do so. 

He served twelve years in the Canadian Armed Forces in both the east and west coast fleets and is a qualified military parachutist, ship’s diver, and bridge watchkeeper. He has participated in NATO missions with Canada’s east-coast fleet and has served in United Nations Peace-keeping missions in Cambodia and South Africa.  Alan has a bachelor’s degree in English Literature from the Royal Military College of Canada and a Master’s in Public Administration from the University of Victoria.

Alan is the author of four books including the international bestseller: Selling Sickness: How the World’s Biggest Pharmaceutical Companies are Turning us All into Patients, with Ray Moynihan (2005), The ABCs of Disease Mongering: An Epidemic in 26 letters (2007), Seeking Sickness: Medical Screening and the Misguided Hunt for Disease (2012), and The Cochrane Collaboration: Medicine’s Best-Kept Secret (2015), in addition to numerous works of journalism, book chapters and academic publications. 

Alan was born in Winnipeg, raised in Saskatchewan, and – at 18 years old – went west in search of a life of adventure.  He found it. 


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