It hasn’t been a good past few months for the once-storied Dr. Oz. Things started to take a turn for the worse last summer when Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill slammed Oz for touting a weight loss supplement called green coffee bean extract. On his show, Oz called the extract “a magic weight loss cure for every body type.” In a hearing on weight loss scams and deceptive advertising for weight loss products, McCaskill remarked that the doctor’s “credibility is being maligned by fraudsters and frankly being threatened by the notion that anybody can take an itty-bitty pill to push fat out of their system.” Oz’s hyperbolic claims were, it turns out, based on just a single small study that later turned out to be bogus.
Even more shocking than a prominent doctor hawking weight loss pills was the news that broke just a few month later. The BMJ, a British medical journal, found that less than half of the on-air recommendations on The Dr. Oz Show were supported by scientific evidence. Then, earlier this month, 10 doctors sent a letter to the dean of Columbia University’s department of surgery requesting that Oz be removed from his position as vice chairman. They claimed in their letter that “he has manifested an egregious lack of integrity by promoting quack treatments and cures in the interest of personal financial gain.” A new poll shows over 1,000 doctors feel the same way.
Now Oprah, the woman who gave Oz the spotlight to begin with, has weighed in by canceling his radio show. The Daily Dose With Dr. Oz, a “radio minute” produced by Oprah’s Harpo Productions, will end May 29. While the radio show is only a small part of the doctor’s empire, it may only be the beginning of his fall from grace.
For his part, Oz has denied receiving any personal gain for any of the things he has promoted and purports that many of his accusers have their own agendas, which in all likelihood is true (for one, some of doctors who signed the Columbia testimonial have vested ties to GMOs and Oz is a well-known advocate for GMO labeling). It’s also worth noting that many of the recommendations Oz highlights on his show are innocuous and related to things like cooking and workout demos. As Bill Gifford pointed out in The New York Times, “Do we really need double-blind clinical trials of Mr. DiSpirito’s recipes? Must The Bra Book be submitted for peer review?”
There really is no excuse for hawking a diet pill without credible scientific evidence to back it, but is this misstep worth bringing down a whole empire that has sprouted conversations about health and wellness that may have otherwise never taken place? One thing is for sure, when it comes to medical advice, it’s always a good idea to get a second opinion.
[via Daily News]