Republican U.S. Senate candidate Mehmet Oz greets supporters after the primary race resulted in an automatic re-count due to close results on May 17, 2022 in Newtown, Pennsylvania.
Stephanie Keith/Getty Images
Dr. Mehmet Oz had a “medical advisory board” to support claims he made on “The Dr. Oz Show.”
The 43-member board included people with no medical training who promoted extreme and debunked treatments.
Claims they supported included drinking onion juice for the flu and subscription meal plans for curing cancer.
Republican candidate for US Senate representing Pennsylvania and former talk show host Mehmet Oz relied on a medical advisory board to support claims he made on “The Dr. Oz Show.”
Among practicing oncologists and certified psychologists, the board included people who had no formal medical training and promoted debunked treatments, a Democratic group supporting his opponent told Insider.
Dr. Ben Abella, an emergency physician in Philadelphia, told Insider the 43-member board projected an “aura of legitimacy” on Oz and his show, which ran for 13 seasons and was canceled last December after Oz decided to run for office.
Abella helped organize an event called “Real Doctors Against Oz” in support of Oz’s political opponent, Democratic candidate for US Senate John Fetterman.
Abella said Oz used the show and his advisory board in ways that preyed upon viewers’ desire to be healthy and instead supplied them with “misleading” home remedies and treatments. Treatments that at best, he said, were unhelpful and, at worst, dangerous.
Among the board members listed for the show was a self-described “medicine hunter” who promotes the “ritual use of hallucinogens” to achieve wellness and an acupuncturist who sells herbal remedies to fight COVID-19 and an energy therapy called “Infinichi” to treat ailments from upset stomach to fibromyalgia.
“The Medical Advisory Board sounds very authentic and rigorous, but not so many people are going to take the time to peel back the layers of the onion and say, ‘Well, where are these people?'” Abella told Insider. “‘What are their credentials? What did they do?’ And perhaps even peel back further and say, ‘What are their financial conflicts with maybe some of these products?'”
Some of the alternative treatments promoted by the advisory board, like acupuncture or petroleum jelly in the nostrils, may not necessarily directly cause harm, Abella told Insider.
Others, he said rely on flimsy or non-peer-reviewed science that may distract or prevent a patient from seeking legitimate medical treatment because they’re doing something they believe is effective.
Oz is running for a Senate seat representing Pennsylvania against Democratic candidate John Fetterman. The Oz campaign has faced controversies over whether he actually lives in the state and Asplundh Tree Experts’ (his wife’s family business, in which Oz is a shareholder) massive fine for hiring undocumented workers despite his anti-immigration stance.
In April, a group of ten physicians at Columbia University, where Oz was a lecturer on campus, wrote a letter to university officials indicating they were “dismayed” that the celebrity physician was on the school’s faculty.
CNN reported they accused Oz of “manifesting an egregious lack of integrity by promoting quack treatments and cures in the interest of personal financial gain” and that he demonstrates in his show “either outrageous conflicts of interest or flawed judgments about what constitutes appropriate medical treatments, or both.”
Columbia University Medical Center cut ties with the Senate candidate in May.
“Every revelation that emerges about Mehmet Oz shows voters who he really is: a self-serving fraud who got rich as a TV scam artist,” David Bergstein, a democratic senatorial campaign committee spokesman, told Insider. “He’s shown over and over again he doesn’t care about anyone but himself, and that’s exactly why Pennsylvanians will reject him in November.”
The Oz campaign did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.