Dr. Oz Responds to Criticism

In a video on his website, Dr. Oz responds to criticism that he promotes products for the advertising income. Ten doctors have called for Oz's removal from the faculty of Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, where Oz is the vice chairman of the surgery department. 

In a letter to the dean of medicine, the doctors questioned Oz's credibility. 

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 judgments [sic] 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.

In his rebuttal, Oz questions the doctors' ethics and stands by his approach:

"Figuring out how to talk about your health and how to talk to you about it can be difficult, and there's been a backlash to my approach in some parts of the medical community," Oz said. "The 10 doctors who attacked me got what they wanted: sensational headlines and soundbites. I've long believed that doctors should never fight their battles, or each other, in public. But now I believe that I must."

It doesn't help Dr. Oz's case that his 2:20 video starts with a 30-second commercial for Nasacort.

Oz also wrote an opinion piece for Time, defending alternative medicine: 

"My exploration of alternative medicine has never been intended to take the place of conventional medicine, but rather as additive. Critics often imply that any exploration of alternative methods means abandoning conventional approaches. It does not. In fact, many institutions like mine use the names 'complementary' or 'integrative' medicine, which is also appropriate."

Discussion Starters:

  • Assess the letter and Dr. Oz's video response. Which are the strongest and weakest arguments of each?
  • If you were the dean, what would you do?