Dr. Oz plans to strike back at the doctors who wrote a letter (see below) to the Dean of Health Sciences and Medicine at Columbia calling for his resignation. Oz’s response will apparently be in the form of an episode of his show this Thursday. CNN is reporting that an Oz spokesperson had the following statement:

“We plan to show America who these authors are, because discussion of health topics should be free of intimidation.” 

Say what? 

Let me get this straight, some doctors who most people don’t know (I had to Google every single one) but claim they are distinguished wrote a letter to Oz’s sort of boss (because he makes most of his money from his TV show and product partnerships) and that’s intimidation, but being called a quack by a Senate Panel isn’t??????

Dr. Oz is tenured, so he isn’t going to get booted off the faculty. There is a professor at Berkeley who believes that HIV is a harmless virus, but he’s tenured so he can say whatever he wants. Besides attention I have no idea what exactly Miller et. al. hoped to accomplish with their letter except get attention.

Why respond now after so many have questioned Oz’s methods and recommendations?

Just Google “Dr. Oz” and “quack” and any number of articles and posts come up taking Oz to task, like this recent one  on Vox or this one in The New Yorker.

So really, why is Oz upset now? Well, maybe he’s taking some heat because the Dean of Medicine at Columbia is getting a little fed up fielding calls over the health benefits of talking with the dead or is still fuming over the whole Senate thing or maybe this letter was just the set up Oz and his PR team had been waiting for…

The doctor who believes in miracles gets one

Oz can’t really respond to anyone who complains that his weight loss miracles are anything but miraculous or detractors who point out that communicating with the dead isn’t healthy because we’re right. There is no defense for made up mumbo jumbo and unproven supplements that sell for $29.99 for one month’s supply. Just look at how he “defended” himself to the Senate.

However, this letter is a PR gift from the Gods because it provides excellent ammunition for a counter offensive as many of the signatures come from people with industry ties and thus have their own conflicts of interest (if you want to know more about them check this Al Jazeera post and this one by Orac). One of the signatures is from Dr. Gilbert Ross who lost his medical license (it was apparently reinstated in 2004) and was sentenced to 46 months in prison for defrauding New York’s Medicaid program of about $8 million.

All this plays right to Oz’s strong suit – an implied mistrust of Western medicine, Big Pharma, and Big Food. Oz is only tied to Big Placebo so he’s pure as the driven snow and thus obviously unbiased.

The letter focuses a little more on GMOs than the actual harmful medical misinformation that we doctor’s hate making it much weaker than it could be. I understand Oz isn’t exactly against GMOs he says he just wants them labeled. Apparently only food needs labeling, the supplements he endorses talks about while holding in front of several million people can contain whatever. Hey, truth in labeling only goes so far!

My issues with Oz have very little to do with his GMO stance. I’m a doctor, not a food scientist (and I could say the same thing about him), so GMO safety discussions are not really up my alley. I’ve detailed what I think of him and his recommendations several times.I think his use of the word miracle with regard to products is unethical and I find many of his recommendations so laughable that I have to pinch myself while watching a clip to make sure I’m awake and not in some medical Twilight Zone.

I look forward to Oz’s show on Thursday (a statement I never thought I’d make) but he’s in a big glass operating theater when it comes to saber rattling over conflicts of interest. If he’s going to address “agendas” and “distorted facts” then he has to turn that same eye on himself and disclose all his strategic partnerships and products that he doesn’t endorse but mentions in a positive way for money. [Oz can’t technically endorse products while on faculty at Columbia, but the conflict of interest statement doesn’t say anything about calling them miracles and holding online giveaways]. And distorted facts? Well, let’s talk about cleaning your liver for starters.

I don’t work with Pharma and my currently research funding isn’t from industry so I doubt that I’ll register with Oz as intimidation, but anytime he wants to debate liver cleansing supplements, ways to bust belly fat, Reiki, or the health benefits of communicating with the dead I’m game.

Link to the letter, but I have copied it (without its links) here”

Lee Goldman, M.D.
Dean of the Faculties of Health Sciences and Medicine
Columbia University
Dear Dr. Goldman:

I am writing to you on behalf of myself and the undersigned colleagues below, all of whom are distinguished physicians.

We are surprised and dismayed that Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons would permit Dr. Mehmet Oz to occupy a faculty appointment, let alone a senior administrative position in the Department of Surgery.

As described here and here, as well as in other publications, Dr. Oz has repeatedly shown disdain for science and for evidence-based medicine, as well as baseless and relentless opposition to the genetic engineering of food crops. Worst of all, he has manifested an egregious lack of integrity by promoting quack treatments and cures in the interest of personal financial gain.

Thus, 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.

Sincerely yours,
Henry I. Miller, M.D.
Robert Wesson Fellow in Scientific Philosophy
& Public Policy
Hoover Institution
Stanford University
Stanford, CA

Scott W. Atlas, M.D.
David and Joan Traitel Senior Fellow
Hoover Institution
Stanford University
Stanford, CA

Jack Fisher, M.D.
Professor of Surgery (emeritus)
University of California, San Diego
La Jolla, CA

Shelley Fleet, M.D.
Longwood, FL

Gordon N. Gill, M.D.
Dean (emeritus) of Translational Medicine
University of California, San Diego
La Jolla, CA

Michael H. Mellon, M.D.
Pediatric Allergist
San Diego, CA

GIlbert Ross, M.D.
President (Acting) and Executive Director
American Council on Science and Health
New York, NY

Samuel Schneider, M.D.
Princeton, NJ

Glenn Swogger Jr. M.D.
Director of the Will Menninger Center for Applied Behavioral Sciences (retired)The Menninger Foundation
Topeka, KS

Joel E. Tepper, M.D.
Hector MacLean Distinguished Professor of Cancer Research
Dept of Radiation Oncology
University of North Carolina School of Medicine
Chapel Hill, NC

Join the Conversation


  1. Dr. Gunter, I sincerely appreciate and applaud your (and others) efforts to have Mr. Oz censured, as well as removed from the modern and scientific practice of medicine. Hearing more and more news about this faker and clown does bring credence to any effort to have him removed from broadcasting as a charlatan. If I had a question, it would be: what can the average citizen do to expedite his removal?

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