‘Magic’ Weight-Loss Pills and Covid Cures: Dr. Oz Under the Microscope – The New York Times

He has warned parents that apple juice contained unsafe levels of arsenic, advice that the Food and Drug Administration called “irresponsible and misleading.” In 2013, he warned women that carrying cellphones in their bras could cause breast cancer, a claim without scientific merit. In 2014, the British Medical Journal analyzed 80 recommendations on Dr. Oz’s show, and concluded that fewer than half were supported by evidence.

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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.

“Our jobs seemed to be endless fighting with producers and being overruled,” said one of the former researchers, both of whom are now physicians and insisted on anonymity because they said they feared that publicly criticizing him could jeopardize their careers.

Shirley watched daytime TV and didn’t want to exercise, the researchers said they were told.

Dr. Oz’s on-air medical advice on both his show and Fox News has taken on greater significance as he enters the political realm. His promotion of hydroxychloroquine grabbed President Donald J. Trump’s attention and contributed to early misinformation about the virus on the right.

“Information can harm — that’s the key thing we need to appreciate here,” said Harald Schmidt, an assistant professor of medical ethics and health policy at the University of Pennsylvania. “His track record is pretty concerning. What we’ve seen so far does not instill confidence that this will help reasonable politics.”

Dr. Oz admitted to the senators that his claims often “don’t have the scientific muster to present as fact.” A study he had cited about green-coffee bean extract was later retracted and described by federal regulators as “hopelessly flawed.” The supplier of the extract paid $3.5 million to settle charges by the Federal Trade Commission.

Dr. David Gorski, a surgery professor at Wayne State University and longtime critic of alternative medicine, said Dr. Oz’s emergence as a Fox News authority on the coronavirus was no surprise him.

“He could have gone the route of trying to be more reasonable and careful, vetting information, trying to reassure people where the science was still unsettled,” Dr. Gorski said. “But of course, that wouldn’t be Dr. Oz’s brand.”

Early in the pandemic, on March 20, 2020, Dr. Oz appeared on several Fox News shows trumpeting what he called “massive, massive news” — a small study by a divisive French researcher, Dr. Didier Raoult, who claimed a 100 percent cure rate after treating coronavirus patients with hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin, or Z-Pak.

At the time, with Covid-19 cases and deaths rising rapidly, hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malarial treatment, was being studied in multiple countries and adopted by hospitals without much evidence. Mr. Trump hyped it repeatedly at White House news conferences as part of his effort to minimize the crisis. Dr. Oz communicated with Trump advisers about speeding the drug’s approval to treat Covid. On March 28, the F.D.A. authorized its emergency use.

On Fox, Dr. Oz noted that the Raoult study, with just 36 participants, was not a clinical trial, but his enthusiasm overran his caution. The study was the “most impressive bit of news on this entire pandemic front,” he gushed.

On April 1, as Dr. Oz called on Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York to lift restrictions on hydroxychloroquine, a public health expert, Dr. Ashish Jha of Brown University, cautioned Fox viewers that “the facts are just not in” on the drug.

This content was originally published here.

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