Docs Want to Demote Dr. Oz

TV Host Mehmet Oz, MD has survived professionally despite criticism of his promotion of questionable weight loss remedies. In the latest assault, 10 physicians publicized a letter they wrote the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons' dean, protesting Oz's faculty appointment in the department of surgery.

Mehmet Oz, MD, the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons’ heart surgeon and megawatt television star has drawn much criticism for promoting unproven supplements and weight reduction methods.

Now, in an April 15 letter to medical school’s Dean Lee Goldman, MD, physicians are saying he promotes “quack treatments and cures in the interest of personal financial gain,” and are asking the university to withdraw his faculty appointment.

That appears unlikely.

In a statement from a Columbia spokesman, the medical school said only that it supported Oz’ right to freedom of speech. His “Dr. Oz” TV show has won Emmy awards, even as its contents have drawn fire from scientists. Nor have his surgical credentials or prowess been attacked. In addition to being a television host he is a board-certified thoracic surgeon.

He does make people angry though.

The April 15 letter of protest was signed by 10 physicians from across the US -- none from Columbia.

“I am writing to you on behalf of myself and the undersigned colleagues below, all of whom are distinguished physician,” wrote Henry Miller, MD, the Robert Wesson Fellow in Scientific Philosophy & Public Policy Stanford University’s Hoover Institution.

“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,” the letter continued.

Miller provided links to several online articles he said showed that “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.”

He continued: “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 facility of a prestigious medical institution unacceptable.”

The letter was first reported by the news site Vox. The site also showed earlier video reports it had done highlighting Oz’s grilling by a Congressional committee and a montage of Oz’s bogus product promotions. Those include promotions for various herbals and supplements that Oz claimed had “belly-blasting” properties and others he said were metabolism boosters. The site noted that while Oz is technically correct that caffeine and red pepper raise metabolism, they burn about ½ calorie of fat per hour, a rate that would have virtually no effect on weight.

The letter writers are Scott Atlas, MD, of the Hoover Institution at Stanford; Jack Fisher, MD, professor of surgery emeritus at the University of California, San Diego; Shelley Fleet, MD, and anesthesiologist in Longwood, FL; Gordon Gill MD, Dean Emeritus of Translation Medicine at UCSD; Michael Mellon, MD, a pediatric allergist in San Diego, CA; Gilbert Ross, MD, acting president and executive director of the American Council on Science and Health in NY, NY; Samuel Schneider, MD, a psychiatrist in Princeton, NJ; Glenn Swoffer, Jr., MD, retired director of the Will Menninger Center for Applied Behavioral Sciences in Topeka, KS; Joel Tepper, MD, a professor of cancer research in the department of radiation oncology at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine in Chapel Hill, NC.