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Hydroxychloroquine hawking hack a natural fit for the GOP

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From Senate Hearing 113-547 – Protecting consumers from false and deceptive advertising of weight-loss products, June 17, 2014. Sen. Claire McCASKILL addressing Mehmet Oz, MD.

Lemieux’s post on Dr. Oz failing the How Much Can a Banana Cost? test prompted me to do a little ferreting. Was my memory of things I’d heard about the guy over the years still accurate?

Yep. And in retrospect Oz going on Fox to spout liquid garbage like this was inevitable.

As President Donald Trump flips through the cable news channels, one doctor in particular has caught his eye: Dr. Mehmet Oz, the celebrity cardiac surgeon whose medical advice has been called into serious question in the past.

Trump has been intrigued by Oz’s appearances on Fox News in which he has talked up the potential effectiveness of the anti-Malaria drug hydroxychloroquine as a way to treat the novel coronavirus, a White House official told CNN.

The White House official added that Trump has mentioned Oz’s television appearances to aides when discussing the drug.

Oz is a shameless quack with a bloated ego. How else do you explain his decision to put aside all of the time and effort that went into becoming a cardiothoracic surgeon to hawk get-thin-quik snake oil on TV?

Critics of Dr. Mehmet Oz, an accomplished cardiac surgeon with degrees from two Ivy League universities, complain that his show is little more than an hour-long infomercial for weight-loss fads like green coffee bean extract. (The Federal Trade Commission has sued the company that hawks this dubious product.) A spokesman for the Center for Inquiry accused him of selling “snake oil.” In June, a Senate subcommittee took him to task for telling his viewers (who number 2.9 million on any given day) things like: “I’ve got the No. 1 miracle in a bottle to burn your fat. It’s raspberry ketones.”

I read this 2017 article in the AMA Journal of Ethics that used the failure to censure Oz to discuss the wider problem of self-regulation in the medical profession and thought “You ain’t seen nothing yet.” (Quick aside: The AMA isn’t a licensing body. The worst they can do to a physician is cancel their membership, if they have one.)

A recent, unsuccessful attempt to censure Dr. Oz raises the issue of whether the medical profession can effectively self-regulate at all. It also raises concern that the medical profession’s self-regulation might be selectively activated, perhaps only when the subject of professional censure has achieved a level of public visibility. We argue here that the medical profession must look at itself with a healthy dose of self-doubt about whether it has sufficient knowledge of or handle on the less visible Dr. “Ozes” quietly operating under the profession’s presumptive endorsement.

In other words:

He’s built a tremendous following around his lucrative but evidence-free advice. So, are we surprised that Oz is running as a Republican for the U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania? No, we are not. Misinformation-spouting celebrities seem to be a GOP favorite. This move is very on brand for both Oz and the Republican Party.

Welcome home, Dr. Oz.

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