Dr. Oz: 'I bring the public information… to be their best selves'

Thursday's show will address doctor's latest critics

Dr. Mehmet Oz is responding to critics who last week sent a letter to Columbia University questioning his medical expertise and calling for the university to drop the prominent TV doctor from its faculty.

Background on the letter

Last week, a group of 10 doctors sent a letter to Lee Goldman, Columbia's dean of the faculties of health sciences and medicine, addressing concerns about Oz's controversial health recommendations and potential conflicts of interest between his medical advice and business affiliations.

They wrote, "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." Oz serves as vice-chair of the department.

The letter contended that Oz has "shown disdain for science and evidence-based medicine," and "manifested an egregious lack of integrity by promoting quack treatments and cures in the interest of personal financial gain."  

A Columbia University spokesperson responded to the letter, saying, "As I am sure you understand and appreciate, Columbia is committed to the principle of academic freedom and to upholding faculty members' freedom of expression for statements they make in public discussion" and did not indicate the university would take administrative action.

In January, a former faculty member sued his university after it fired him for controversial comments he made on social media.

Oz responds

In a promotional segment taped yesterday for a show that will air Thursday, Oz said, "I know I've irritated some potential allies in our quest to make America healthy," adding, "[but] no matter our disagreements, freedom of speech is the most fundamental right we have as Americans. And these 10 doctors are trying to silence that right."

In a statement released through a representative of The Dr. Oz Show, Oz said, "I bring the public information that will help them on their path to be their best selves," noting that the show provides "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," he added.

Oz also responded directly to the letter's claim that he is opposed to genetically modified foods (GMOs). "I do not claim that GMO foods are dangerous, but believe that they should be labeled like they are in most countries around the world," he said.

An Oz spokesperson noted that an upcoming show will focus on individuals' rights to know what's in their food (Lenahan, USA Today, 4/18; Stelter, CNN Money, 4/21; Moyer, Washington Post, 4/22).

The takeaway: Dr. Oz, in a show set to air Thursday, will address critics who say he gives unsound medical advice and has potential conflicts of interests. Oz says a group of 10 doctors is trying to "silence" his freedom of speech.

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