- Doctors supporting John Fetterman accused his opponent, Mehmet Oz, of betraying the medical profession.
- "We take a pledge to do no harm," Dr. Marcelle Shapiro said. "It is clear that Dr. Oz has violated his pledge."
- Oz, a Republican, promoted dubious weight-loss treatments on his daytime television show.
PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania — Before he was a television star, Dr. Mehmet Oz was a renowned cardiothoracic surgeon. But at a press conference outside City Hall on Wednesday, medical professionals backing his Democratic rival for Senate accused him of betraying his responsibilities by promoting dubious treatments to his daytime viewing audience.
"Oz simply isn't trusted by real medical professionals," Dr. Val Arkoosh, who briefly sought the Democratic nomination for Senate, told reporters at the event, which was organized by the campaign of Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman.
Arkoosh singled out Oz's promotion of hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for COVID-19, despite studies showing it is not effective; the FDA has warned against its use for the coronavirus, citing reports of kidney damage and liver failure. She also pointed to the Oz campaign's attacks on the Democratic nominee.
Fetterman suffered a stroke in May, just before winning the Democratic primary, and has been recovering at home for the last three months. Oz's campaign, in turn, has blasted Fetterman as a "basement bum," citing his lack of public events. He returns to the campaign trail on Friday with a rally in Erie.
"No real doctor — or any decent human being, to be honest — would ever mock a stroke victim who is recovering from that stroke in the way that Dr. Oz is mocking John Fetterman," Arkoosh said. "It's disgusting."
Brittany Yanick, communications director for the Oz campaign, did not address the specific charges at the press conference but in a statement said Oz is a "world class surgeon, inventor, educator, and author in the field of healthcare." Fetterman, she said, is a "radical liberal supporting government takeover of healthcare."
As Insider previously reported, Oz — who won the Republican nomination for Senate after being endorsed by former President Donald Trump — used his television platform to promote a number of extraordinary but false claims. In 2012, for example, he told viewers that, according to scientists, green coffee extract was a "magic weight-loss cure for every body type." In fact, the study he cited, which claimed the extract reduced a consumer's weight without the need for exercise or changes to their diet, was retracted.
A study published by the British Medical Journal found that more than half of the medical recommendations Oz made on his TV show were either not supported by evidence or actively contradicted by it. A 2015 letter signed by 10 doctors at Colombia University, where Oz is a lecturer, accused him of promoting "quack treatments and cures."
At the press conference, Dr. Marcelle Shapiro, vice chair of the Medical Alumni Advisory Council at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania — which Oz attended — noted that, when the Republican candidate appeared before a Senate committee in 2014, "he received a bipartisan scolding for misleading claims."
His record, Shapiro argued, is disqualifying.
"As physicians, we take a pledge to do no harm as part of our Hippocratic Oath," she said. "It is clear that Dr. Oz has violated his pledge."
Dr. Lisa Perriera, chief medical director of The Women's Centers, which provides abortion care, said Oz's opposition to Roe v. Wade was a dealbreaker. Since the Supreme Court overturned the decision, Perriera said, she's been inundated with out-of-state patients seeking care in the commonwealth, where it remains legal.
"If Dr. Oz were elected, he would only make the struggle for my patients harder," she said.
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