Oz's specious medical claims raise questions of financial integrity

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette editorial board (TNS)

U.S. Senate candidate Mehmet Oz has, rightfully, hammered his Democratic opponent, Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, for a lack of transparency about his health following a serious stroke. To his credit, Oz released his medical records, after a Post-Gazette editorial urged both candidates to do so. Fetterman has not.

But the celebrity doctor also has questions he needs to answer concerning the health claims he made to his millions of viewers. On his long-running television show, Oz enthusiastically promoted cures and remedies that either lacked scientific evidence, or had been proven ineffective.

Voters deserve to know whether a candidate unabashedly used his celebrity to enrich himself. They should know how — and to what extent — Oz profited from the claims he made.

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Mehmet Oz talks to the media after accepting an endorsement from the Fraternal Order of Police on Sept. 26, 2022, at the FOP headquarters in Philadelphia. (Jose F. Moreno/The Philadelphia Inquirer/TNS)

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Oz has said his enthusiasm for everything from green coffee bean extract for weight loss to the rare element selenium for cancer prevention — both debunked — came from a desire to give his viewers hope. But of what ultimate benefit are false promises and empty hopes to desperate people? And to what extent did Oz know he was making spurious claims?

Like any federal candidate, Oz submitted a financial disclosure when he entered the race. Last year, his primary income came from three sources, all associated with his television show and controlled all or in part by him and his wife, Lisa. From Zoco Productions, LLC, he received about $2.2 million for his roles as host and producer of the "Dr. Oz Show." From Oz Works, LLC, another production company, he received $350,000 as a consultant. And from Oz Media, LLC, he received about $7 million through his ownership stake.

Those disclosures, however, don’t show where his companies got their money, or whether companies that produced the supplements and other products he hawked paid any of his companies for the privilege. Transparency about whether Oz personally profited from the hopes he engendered speaks to his integrity, just as transparency about Fetterman’s health does to his.

Financial transparency and integrity are especially important, given the ongoing scandal of congressional stock trading. There are ample opportunities for members of Congress to profit from their privileged knowledge — all of which should be restricted by a strengthening of the STOCK Act. We hope Oz and Fetterman plan to support it as a U.S. senator.

Meantime, Oz can raise the standards of trust and transparency by disclosing financial records that show to what extent, if any, he profited from his often controversial medical claims.

– From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette editorial board (TNS).