Dr. Mehmet Oz , whose “The Dr. Oz Show” makes him, arguably, America’s best-known doctor, says he won’t be silenced by a group doctors who question his TV promotion of “quack treatments” for “personal financial gain.”
The doctors sent an email to Columbia University last week challenging Oz’s position as a faculty member at the university’s college of physicians and surgeons. The 10 physicians, surgeons, and professors from across the country also attacked the TV celebrity for “baseless and relentless opposition to the genetic engineering of food crops,” or so-called GMOs. Some of the writers of the letter have ties to the genetically modified food industry.
Oz asserts that he’s not against GMOs, but rather tells his viewers that more thorough labeling of them are needed.
Health care consumers — primarily Dr. Oz’s regular 2 million viewers — are left to ponder the veracity of their celebrity physician. But all consumers should keep in mind that this week marks the start of the May “sweeps” season. That’s when television ratings are measured much more closely than usual. This controversy gives Dr. Oz a potentially bigger audience than usual.
The letter from the physicians states: “Dr. Oz is guilty of either outrageous conflicts of interest or flawed judgements about what constitutes appropriate medical treatments, or both. Whatever the nature of his pathology, members of the public are being misled and endangered, which makes Dr. Oz’s presence on the faculty of a prestigious medical institution unacceptable.”
Oz: They’re Attacking My Freedom of Speech
Oz lashed out at the doctors. “This month, we celebrate my 1000th show,” Oz says in a preview clip of a coming episode of his show that was released Tuesday. “I know I’ve irritated some potential allies in our quest to make America healthy. No matter our disagreements, freedom of speech is the most fundamental right we have as Americans. And these 10 doctors are trying to silence that right.”
Oz is a cardiothoracic surgeon who is vice chairman of the surgery department at Columbia. He is a strong advocated for labeling of genetically modified foods.
Taken to Task by Lawmakers
Last year, Oz appeared before the Senate’s consumer protection panel and was scolded by Chairman Claire McCaskill, D-Missouri, for claims he made about weight-loss aids on his TV show.
McCaskill took Oz to task for a 2012 show in which he proclaimed that green coffee extract was a “magic weight loss cure for every body type”.
Dr. Oz told the panel that he would modify his presentations in the futures. He said he never endorsed specific companies or brands on his show, but more generally praised some health supplements as fat busters.
Within weeks of Oz’s televised comments about green coffee, a Florida-based operation began marketing a dietary supplement called Pure Green Coffee. It claimed that the chlorogenic acid found in the coffee beans could help people lose 17 pounds and cut body fat by 16 percent in 22 weeks, and charged $50 for a one-month supply.
The company, according to federal regulators, featured footage from ‘The Dr. Oz Show,’ to sell its supplement. Last year, the Federal Trade Commission sued the sellers behind Pure Green Coffee and accused them of making bogus claims and deceiving consumers.
“He has manifested an egregious lack of integrity by promoting quack treatments and cures in the interest of personal financial gain,” the 10 doctors wrote in their recent letter.