Attention Dr. Oz haters: Get ready to set your DVRs.
Next week, “America’s doctor” plans to set aside a portion of his popular TV show to address critics who say he no longer deserves to be associated with a prestigious Ivy League university.
The detractors sent a letter this week to Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons — where Mehmet Oz is vice chair of the Department of Surgery — urging the school to cut ties to the man who promotes green coffee bean extract, raspberry ketones and other dubious treatments.
“Dr. Oz is guilty of either outrageous conflicts of interest or flawed judgements about what constitutes appropriate medical treatments, or both,” according to the letter, signed by 10 physicians. “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.”
The doctors are hardly the only ones who have taken note of some of Oz’s fantastical claims.
Members of the U.S. Senate took him to task in June for promoting unproven weight-loss products.
“I don’t get why you need to say this stuff, because you know it’s not true,” Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) said in chiding him at a hearing of the House subcommittee on consumer protection, product safety and insurance.
And in December, a study published in the journal BMJ concluded that fewer than 1 in 3 claims made on “The Dr. Oz Show” can find support in the medical literature, while nearly 40% of them can’t be backed up at all.
The doctors who sent the letter to Dr. Lee Goldman, dean of Columbia’s Faculties of Health Sciences and Medicine, registered many of the same complaints.
“Dr. Oz has repeatedly shown disdain for science and for evidence-based medicine,” the doctors wrote in their letter. “Worst of all, he has manifested an egregious lack of integrity by promoting quack treatments and cures in the interest of personal financial gain.”
Oz released a statement saying that his TV show simply offers viewers “multiple points of view” about health-related issues and that his own opinions are “offered without conflict of interest.” He accused his critics of distorting the facts to suit their agendas.
“I bring the public information that will help them on their path to be their best selves,” Oz said.
The letter was signed by two doctors based at Stanford’s Hoover Institution, two retired professors from UC San Diego, a cancer researcher from the University of North Carolina School of Medicine and five others.
Columbia, however, does not seem inclined to reconsider its relationship with Oz or to sanction him for what he says on his show.
Here’s how Doug Levy, the chief communications officer for the university’s medical center, put it to Dr. Henry I. Miller of Stanford, who spearheaded the letter: “Columbia is committed to the principle of academic freedom and to upholding faculty members’ freedom of expression for statements they make in public discussion.”
Oz is planning to discuss the matter on the air sometime next week, though which day has not yet been determined, according to a spokesman for his show.