Concerned with the public health impact of Dr. Mehmet Oz’s health advice, in 2013 University of Rochester medical student Benjamin Mazur asked state and national medical associations to take action. However, though for over a hundred years the federal government has passed legislation and created agencies to prevent consumers from being deceived or harmed by “bad medicine,” the situation is a complicated one. For instance, though the Federal Trade Commission has the legal authority to prosecute people who mislead and injure consumers, they can’t do anything about Oz since he’s not actually selling the products he talks about.
With regard to his concerns, Mazur noted: “I’m definitely not the only one.” Sen. Claire McCaskill, for instance, told Dr. Oz during a Capital Hill hearing: “The scientific community is almost monolithic against you in terms of the efficacy of…three products that you called miracles.”
Mazur explains his concerns:
This issue was brought up by a number of physicians I worked with during my family medicine clerkship. We had all of this first-hand experience with patients who really liked his show and trusted him quite a bit. [Dr. Oz] would give advice that was really not great or it had no medical basis. It might sound harmless when you talk about things like herbal pills or supplements. But when the physicians’ advice conflicted with Oz, the patients would believe Oz.
Mazur is not entirely anti-Oz, of course; as he explains, “I would probably say that he does have the health interest of his viewers in mind. But in the long term, undermining good science and the relationship patients have with their current physicians is probably doing much more harm than good. If they’re not going to listen to advice from physicians—who are providing good, evidence-based advice—if they’re going to listen to other doctors on the show, it’s going to do more harm than good.” Read more…
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