The decision by Dr. Mehmet Oz to make a run for the Republican Party's nomination to fill an open Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Pat Toomey (R) has opened the popular television doctor to fresh scrutiny over medical claims he has pushed over the years, reports the New York Times.
Oz, whose surprise decision to jump into the race has disrupted GOP plans, appears to be hoping that his television celebrity will carry him into politics in much the same way that Donald Trump did and, like Trump, Oz carries with him a considerable amount of baggage that could come back to haunt him.
As the NYT's Trip Gabriel wrote, recently the TV doctor jumped on using chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine to treat Covid-19 over 25 appearances on Fox News between March and April 2020, only to pump the brakes after "a Veterans Affairs study showed that Covid-19 patients treated with hydroxychloroquine were more likely to die than untreated patients," at which point he backed off.
Claims such as that are likely to be used against him should he survive the primary.
The hydroxychloroquine controversy is just one Oz moment that is facing a deeper look and questions.
"Over the years, Dr. Oz, 61, has faced a bipartisan scolding before a Senate committee over claims he made about weight-loss pills, as well as the opposition of some of his physician peers, including a group of 10 doctors who sought his firing from Columbia University’s medical faculty in 2015, arguing that he had 'repeatedly shown disdain for science and for evidence-based medicine,'" the report states. "Dr. Oz questioned his critics’ motives and Columbia took no action, saying it did not regulate faculty members’ participation in public discourse."
According to two associates who worked with Oz, some medical topics were chosen because of interest on the internet -- but little work went into what went on the air.
"Two researchers who worked on “The Dr. Oz Show” for a year during a break from medical school in the 2010s said in interviews that the show’s producers had originated most of its topics, often getting their ideas from the internet. But the researchers, whose job was to vet medical claims on the show, said that they had little power to push back, and that they regularly questioned the show’s ethics to one another and discussed quitting in protest," Gabriel reports with one of the researchers explaining, "Our jobs seemed to be endless fighting with producers and being overruled."
According to Harald Schmidt, an assistant professor of medical ethics and health policy at the University of Pennsylvania, Dr. Oz is deserving of scrutiny, explaining, "Information can harm — that’s the key thing we need to appreciate here. His track record is pretty concerning. What we’ve seen so far does not instill confidence that this will help reasonable politics.”
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