Alan Cassels: Gives a lecture on prescription drugs

Pharmaceutical expert shares his knowledge at Langara


Reported by Adam Levi

The answer to combatting Canada’s overuse of prescription pills could be as simple as increasing your sense of healthy skepticism, said a health policy expert at a lecture put on by the Langara College Retirees Committee.

Last Thursday, Alan Cassels, a pharmaceutical policy expert, made two things clear at his Say “Know” to Drugs: Questions Anyone Should Ask About Prescriptions talk: Do your own research about prescribed medications and don’t hesitate to question your doctor when being prescribed a medication.

“I think skepticism is healthy,” Cassels said. “Especially when you’re dealing with the pharmaceutical industry.”

Using acronyms as reminders

For nursing student Jelise Friesen who attended the event, Alan’s BRAN acronym, which stands for benefits, risks, alternatives and nothing, is a great way for healthcare professionals and their patients to start thinking about prescribed medication in a more constructive way.

“Advocating for your own health is a big thing,” said Friesen. “As a nurse I think advocating for your patients is very important. I really liked the BRAN acronym. I think that will be easy for people to remember.”

Reaching individuals at all ages

It was the hope of Roy Sinn, Chair of the Langara College Retirees Committee, that students, not only the elderly, would learn something from the talk.

“In part I was thinking that this would be good for students,” Sinn said. “Particularly students that are involved with health.”

“We want them to see that there is an organization out there that can function at an arm’s length from the pharmaceutical companies and from organizations that have a special interest,” he said.


Listen to an interview with Alan Cassels in our latest episode of Langara’s Voice podcast

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