Medicating normalness: saying “know” to drugs

Are we over-medicating ourselves and our children?
Video with Alan Cassels 1/6

Are we over-medicating ourselves and our children? Drug policy researcher Alan Cassels discusses the drug industry; the methods and practices on how they operate and he questions whether or not we need to take as many prescription drugs as we are lead to believe for that ‘quick fix’ in our lives.

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How Medical Screening turns Healthy People into Patients

The chasm between what the market says and what science does in modern healthcare

A drug policy researcher for the University of Victoria, Alan Cassels is a known for having a knack for finding and describing the chasm between what the market says and what science does in modern healthcare. Over the past two decades Cassels has spent much of his research energy studying clinical research and the marketing tactics of the pharmaceutical industry, including overdiagnosis and screening, turning some of that research into journalism and books, including an international best-seller

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How do we save money on our prescription drug bill?

A New Year’s manifesto in the war on prescription drug waste

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Drug bust by Alan Cassels.

People ask Alan Cassels: how do we save money on our prescription drug bill?
His short answer is: do not pay for drugs:

  • that are higher cost drugs when there are lower cost drugs that are equally as effective.
  • that are the newest, most shiny drug when there is an older, safer equivalent.
  • which are useless.
  • with black box warnings if there are alternatives.
  • that have no proof they will actually help you.
  • that are likely to make a patient feel worse even if it makes your doctor or caregiver feel better to give it to you.
  • prescription-only when there are equally effective over-the-counter drugs.
  • that are likely to lead to additional problems, thus requiring more drugs to deal with the side effects of the drugs you’re currently taking.
  • when there are equally effective non-drug alternatives.
  • if they haven’t been tested or approved for the disease you have.
  • out of ignorance.
  • when you’re already taking too many.

Read The “12 Principles of Don’t Pay”, A New Year’s manifesto in the war on prescription drug waste, by Alan Cassels, commonground, 2015/01/12.

Champions of Medicine’s next Revolution

Alan Cassels at TEDx Victoria 2013

A drug policy researcher for the University of Victoria, Alan Cassels is a known for having a knack for finding and describing the chasm between what the market says and what science does in modern healthcare. Over the past two decades Cassels has spent much of his research energy studying clinical research and the marketing tactics of the pharmaceutical industry, turning some of that research into journalism and books, including international best-sellers Selling Sickness: How the World’s Biggest Pharmaceutical Companies are Turning us All into Patients and The ABC’s of Disease Mongering: An Epidemic in 26 Letters.

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Dr Mercola Video Interview of Alain Cassels about Mammography Medical Screening

Does Medical Screening Turn Healthy People into Patients?

Natural health physician Dr. Joseph Mercola interviews Alan Cassels, a drug policy researcher at the University of Victoria in British Columbia, about medical screening.

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Seeking Sickness, Medical Screening and the Misguided Hunt for Disease

Medical screening: are you ready for all the things that could go wrong?

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Alan Cassels says promoters of #screening overpromise on its benefits and downplay its harms, which can range from the merely annoying to the life threatening…

Why wouldn’t you want to be screened to see if you’re at risk for cancer, heart disease, or another potentially lethal condition? After all, better safe than sorry. Right?

Not so fast, says Alan Cassels. His Seeking Sickness book takes us inside the world of medical screening, where well-meaning practitioners and a profit-motivated industry offer to save our lives by exploiting our fears.
He writes that promoters of screening overpromise on its benefits and downplay its harms, which can range from the merely annoying to the life threatening. If you’re facing a screening test for breast or prostate cancer, high cholesterol, or low testosterone, someone is about to turn you into a patient. You need to ask yourself one simple question: Am I ready for all the things that could go wrong?

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On Flickr®

Selling Sickness, Lots of Money made from Healthy People who believe they are Sick

How the World’s Biggest Pharmaceutical Companies are turning Us All into Patients

image of Selling Sickness book
A lot of money can be made from healthy people who believe they are sick… by @AKECassels

A lot of money can be made from healthy people who believe they are sick. Pharmaceutical companies sponsor diseases and promote them to prescribers and consumers. Thirty years ago, Henry Gadsden, the head of Merck, one of the world’s largest drug companies, told Fortune magazine that he wanted Merck to be more like chewing gum maker Wrigley’s. It had long been his dream to make drugs for healthy people so that Merck could “sell to everyone.” Gadsden’s dream now drives the marketing machinery of the most profitable industry on earth. Drug companies are systematically working to widen the very boundaries that define illness, and the markets for medication grow ever larger. Mild problems are redefined as serious illness and common complaints are labeled as medical conditions requiring drug treatments. Runny noses are now allergic rhinitis, PMS has become a psychiatric disorder, and hyperactive children have ADD. When it comes to conditions like high cholesterol or low bone density, being “at risk” is sold as a disease. Selling Sickness reveals how widening the boundaries of illness and lowering the threshold for treatments is creating millions of new patients and billions in new profits, in turn threatening to bankrupt health-care systems all over the world. As more and more of ordinary life becomes medicalized, the industry moves ever closer to Gadsden’s dream: “selling to everyone.”

Summary

Ray Moynihan, Iona Heath, and David Henry give examples of disease mongering and suggest how to prevent the growth of this practice. Selling sicknes book is organized as a series of case studies, each focused on a particular drug. Each chapter explores a different aspect of drug marketing, with evidence drawn from published editorials, news reports, academic journals, and, most interestingly, original interviews with physician-spokespersons and pharmaceutical sales experts.

More Information

  • amazon book reviews.
  • Newsweek Interview with Ray Moynihan.
  • Selling sickness: the pharmaceutical industry and disease mongering, BMJ, PMC1122833, Apr 13, 2002.
  • Drug companies profit hugely from creating “diseases,” then the “cures”, CCPA, publications/monitor, September 1, 2005.
  • The Fight against Disease Mongering: Generating Knowledge for Action, PLoS Med., PMC1434508, Apr 2006; 3(4): e191.
  • Our posts tagged Alan Cassels and DrugMoney.
On Flickr®

Misinformation about Breast Cancer Screening is still a Problem

Read “The worst health advice you’ll get today”
by Alan Cassels

image of Alan Cassels' avatar
Alan Cassels is a researcher/ journalist examining medication, medical screening & disease mongering. Author of ABCs of Disease Mongering and Seeking Sickness

It is easy to promote mammography screening if the majority of women believe that it prevents or reduces the risk of getting breast cancer and saves many lives through early detection of aggressive tumours. We would be in favour of mammography screening if these beliefs were valid. Unfortunately, they are not, and we believe that women need to be told so

Misinformation about Breast Cancer Screening is still a Problem…
Read The worst health advice you’ll get today
by Alan Cassels on TroyMedia, 2014/05/09.

Influence of Pharmaceutical Sales Reps in keeping patented Brands in Doctors’ Minds

Why do doctors prescribe the most costly drugs?

Why do doctors prescribe the most costly drugs?
Did our governments leave the education of our doctors to the pharmaceutical industry?

Selling pharmaceuticals is an extremely competitive business and companies know that they need to put their best face forward. That face is usually a smiling drug representative whose job it is to teach your physician about the newest medicines being produced today.
In Canada the drug industry spends roughly $3 billion per year marketing its products, two-thirds of which goes towards the salaries of the sales reps who visit our physicians regularly, and the drug samples they use to enhance their one-on-one learning sessions
. “

Read Why do doctors prescribe the most costly drugs?
by Alan Cassels, Feb 28, 2012.

Pharmaceutical Sales Reps not informing Doctors about promoted Drug Side-Effects in 60% of Visits

Doctors not informed of harmful effects of medicines during sales visits

Doctors not informed of harmful effects of medicines during sales visits
In Vancouver and Montreal, two-thirds of the promotional visits involved absolutely no mention of a drug’s potential harmful effects

Last month a study concerning the world of prescription drug information identified a new and potentially deadly hazard: the pharmaceutical sales rep visit. The study asked the question: When a drug sales rep has a private one-to-one conversation with a doctor, what kind of drug information does the physician actually receive? … The study found that in nearly 60 per cent of promotional visits, sales representatives failed to provide any information about common or serious side-effects of the promoted drug, and also failed to inform doctors about the types of patients who should not use the medicine…

Read Doctors not informed of harmful effects of medicines during sales visits

Read The sinister side-effects of drug marketing
by Alan Cassels, 22 Apr 2013