NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Columbia University has not agreed to the demands from a group of 10 prominent doctors who want TV celebrity doctor Mehmet Oz kicked off the faculty.
The doctors cited Oz’s “egregious lack of integrity” for promoting what they call “quack treatments.” The letter to Dr. Lee Goldman, Columbia dean of the Faculties of Health Sciences and Medicine, read in full:
“We are surprised and dismayed that Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons would permit Dr. Mehmet Oz to occupy a faculty appointment, let alone a senior administrative position in the Department of Surgery.
“As described here and here, as well as in other publications, Dr. Oz has repeatedly shown disdain for science and for evidence-based medicine, as well as baseless and relentless opposition to the genetic engineering of food crops. Worst of all, he has manifested an egregious lack of integrity by promoting quack treatments and cures in the interest of personal financial gain.”
“Thus, Dr. Oz is guilty of either outrageous conflicts of interest or flawed judgements about what constitutes appropriate medical treatments, or both. Whatever the nature of his pathology, members of the public are being misled and endangered, which makes Dr. Oz’s presence on the faculty of a prestigious medical institution unacceptable.”
The author of the letter, Dr. Henry I. Miller of the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, told CBS News that in his view, “a person who endangers patients and is a menace to public health should not be on the faculty of a prestigious medical institution.”
Columbia responded Thursday, issuing a statement to The Associated Press saying only that the school “is committed to the principle of academic freedom and to upholding faculty members’ freedom of expression for statements they make in public discussion.”
The doctors who sent the letter were led by Dr. Henry Miller of California’s Stanford University. The nine other doctors from across the country included Dr. Joel Tepper, a cancer researcher from the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, and Dr. Gilbert Ross of the American Council on Science and Health — based on the Upper West Side.
Oz first came to public attention as a frequent television guest of Oprah Winfrey. For the past five years, he’s been the host of “The Dr. Oz Show.”
Last year, he appeared before a U.S. Senate panel that accused him of endorsing products that were medically unsound. At the time, Oz acknowledged that some of the products he advised his viewers to use “don’t have the scientific muster to present as fact.”
A show representative did not immediately return a call Thursday for comment.
As vice chair of Columbia’s surgery department, Oz still occasionally teaches, said Douglas Levy, spokesman for the Columbia University Medical Center.