Celebrity talk show host Dr. Mehmet Oz plans to respond aggressively Thursday to doctors who have criticized his medical advice and questioned his faculty position at Columbia University, a spokesman for the show said Monday.
In a strongly worded email sent last week to the university, 10 physicians wrote that Oz, the vice chairman of Columbia’s surgery department, had shown “an egregious lack of integrity by promoting quack treatments and cures in the interest of personal financial gain.” In particular, the doctors attacked Oz’s “baseless and relentless opposition to the genetic engineering of food crops.”
Oz will address the letter in the lead segment of his syndicated, daytime talk show, “The Dr. Oz Show,” on Thursday, a spokesman for the show said. Oz will question the credibility of the letter’s authors, several of whom have ties to the American Council on Science and Health, a pro-industry advocacy group that has supported genetically modified foods, the spokesman said.
Oz will also reiterate his position that genetically modified foods should be labeled, a point he has made several times on his show. The segment will not take all of the 60-minute show, but may run longer than is typical for a lead item, the spokesman said.
The episode will be recorded for broadcast Thursday.
Oz, a cardiothoracic surgeon, has faced a wave of scrutiny in the last year over health tips he has given on his show.
In June, for instance, a Senate panel questioned him about his promotion of weight loss products, including green coffee bean extract. And in December, BMJ, the British medical journal, released a report that said about half of the claims made on Oz’s show were not supported by evidence.
Sony emails posted on WikiLeaks last week suggest that Oz had used his show to promote health products, including Sony’s fitness and health tracking devices.
“The Dr. Oz Show” is co-produced by Sony Pictures Television and Oprah Winfrey’s company, Harpo Productions.
In a statement posted on his Facebook page Friday, Oz said: “I bring the public information that will help them on their path to be their best selves. We provide multiple points of view, including mine, which is offered without conflict of interest. That doesn’t sit well with certain agendas which distort the facts.”
The email to Columbia, sent by Dr. Henry I. Miller, a fellow in scientific philosophy and public policy at the Hoover Institution, to Dr. Lee Goldman, Columbia’s dean of the faculties of health sciences and medicine, contended that Oz was “guilty of either outrageous conflicts of interest or flawed judgments about what constitutes appropriate medical treatments, or both.”
Now in its sixth season, “The Dr. Oz Show” reached about 1.8 million viewers each weekday for the week ending April 5, according to Nielsen ratings.
Oz’s position at Columbia does not appear to be in jeopardy. When asked whether Oz would keep his job, Doug Levy, the chief communications officer at Columbia Medical Center, said, “The university is committed to the principle of academic freedom, which means our faculty are encouraged to participate in public discussion.”