Scary Evidence

British Columbia's Deputy Minister of Health, Gordon Macatee, ordered a lunchtime presentation on disease mongering cancelled until a drug industry speaker could be added. University of Victoria health researcher Alan Cassels was surprised that the ministry was so sensitive about a discussion on the book he co-authored, Selling Sickness: How the World's Biggest Pharmaceutical Companies Are Turning Us All Into Patients. A ministry spokesperson, Marisa Adair, said the change "was all in the interest of presenting a balanced viewpoint." Cassels is unpersuaded: "I think my viewpoint is evidence-based. If they have a problem with the evidence-based viewpoint, what's the opposite? It's the marketing-based viewpoint?" Monday Magazine journalist Andrew MacLeod reported that an earlier presentation on obesity was given by a doctor who had received funding from the soft drink lobby group Refreshments Canada. MacLeod wryly noted that it was unclear "whether the ministry had anyone in representing the salad industry to balance his views."