Alan Cassels

Alan Cassels

Journalist and author

Alan is an internationally respected academic researcher, journalist and author, who co-authored “Selling Sickness” with Ray Moynihan. Alan has worked across radio, print, television and on-line, and his academic research has been published mainly in the CMAJ.

Since 1994 Alan has published over 400 letters, opinion pieces and articles on pharmaceuticals and consumer health issues in Canada and around the world. His work has appeared in the British Medical Journal, the Canadian Medical Association Journal, Consumer Reports on Health, the Calgary Herald, Common Ground Magazine,  the Edmonton Journal, the Financial Post (now National Post), Focus Magazine, the Georgia Strait, the Globe and Mail, the Hamilton Spectator, Monday Magazine, the Ottawa Citizen, Reader’s Digest, the Tyee, the Toronto Star, the Vancouver Sun, the Victoria Times Colonist, and the New Internationalist.

Q: What did you want to be when you grew up?
A: I wanted to be a mountain climber, a Naval officer and an English teacher. I have been all of those things.

Q: Who is/was your role model?
A: Ralph Nader–courageous underdog who took on the world’s biggest corporations, and won.

Q: Tell us about a meaningful moment in your career
A: Doing my first radio documentaries and interviewing some of the best people in the world on the subject of disease mongering, including Ray Moynihan, Steve Woloshin and Lisa Schwartz.

Q: If someone asked you to suggest a book to read, what would you recommend?
A: The Botany of Desire by Michael Pollan

Q: What do you like to do in your down time?
A: Play the guitar in a folk orchestra, ride a unicycle, garden, make beer, build treehouses and collect driftwood.

Q: What is your favourite cuisine?
A: Japanese

Q: What is your favourite place in the world?
A: Thetis island–part of the Gulf islands  on the West coast of Canada.

Q: Who would you most like to thank, and why?
A: Lynda, my wife and best friend for, well, pretty much everything.

Q: What are three things you would change in medicine?
A: I would build a firewall between prescribers and the pharmaceutical industry, I would promote research and practice in non-pharmacologic alternative medicine and I would put real patient engagement at the heart of any and all health reforms planned now and in the future.

Q: How do you want people to remember you?
A: As a fun-loving renegade and prankster who loved to comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.


Selected (representative publications):


  1. Alan Cassels, The Cochrane Collaboration: Medicine’s Best Kept Secret, Agio Press, 2015.
  2. Alan Cassels, Seeking Sickness: Medical Screening and the Misguided Hunt for Disease, Greystone Books, 2012.   (Short-listed for the Canadian Science Writers Association Science Book of the Year award)
  3. Ray Moynihan and Alan Cassels. Selling Sickness:  How the World’s Biggest Pharmaceutical Companies are Turning us all into Patients, Allen And Unwin, 2005