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John Fetterman campaign’s ‘Real Doctors Against Oz’ tour hits TV doctor over weight-loss advice

Val Arkoosh, a physician and chair of the Montgomery County Commissioners, said Mehmet Oz "is the wrong prescription for Pennsylvania."

Val Arkoosh, a physician and chair of Montgomery County Commissioners, talks about her opposition to Senate candidate Mehmet Oz.
Val Arkoosh, a physician and chair of Montgomery County Commissioners, talks about her opposition to Senate candidate Mehmet Oz.Read moreALEJANDRO A. ALVAREZ / Staff Photographer

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate John Fetterman’s campaign on Wednesday launched an effort to attack his Republican opponent, Mehmet Oz, for promoting dubious medical treatments during his years as a celebrity physician on daytime television’s The Dr. Oz Show.

Speaking at a “Real Doctors Against Oz” news conference outside City Hall, physician and Montgomery County Commissioners Chair Val Arkoosh criticized Oz for “making his fortune as a TV scam artist providing reckless medical advice” and hawking “miracle” drugs that are not embraced in the medical community, as well as questionable COVID-19 treatments like hydroxychloroquine.

“Oz simply does not care about the health of Pennsylvanians,” said Arkoosh, who ran against Fetterman, the lieutenant governor, in the Democratic primary. “As a physician, I can tell you with certainty that Dr. Oz is the wrong prescription for Pennsylvania.”

» READ MORE: Mehmet Oz has peddled ‘fat burners’ and other pseudoscience. Now he’s running for Senate in Pa.

Oz was a renowned cardiothoracic surgeon before becoming famous as a recurring guest on The Oprah Winfrey Show and then getting his own show. His celebrity from daytime television is his primary strength as a candidate, helping him win former President Donald Trump’s endorsement and eke out a narrow win in the GOP primary.

But he lost standing with many in the medical community for using the show to promote unproven treatments, including some weight-loss products.

“Early in his career, Dr. Oz was respected and considered an upstanding member of the medical community,” Marcelle Shapiro, vice chair of the Medical Alumni Advisory Council at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine, said at the event. “Sadly, he fell from grace and lost respect from the medical community once he endorsed miraculous powers of green coffee extract and other potentially harmful supplements to promote weight loss.”

Oz spokesperson Brittany Yanick defended Oz’s record, noting that he was an accomplished physician and “has designed devices that have made healthcare more affordable and safer.” She contrasted Oz’s lengthy resumé with that of Fetterman, pointing to the financial support Fetterman received from his parents while he was mayor of Braddock and saying he “would be a rubber stamp for the failing Biden Agenda.”

“Dr. Oz is a world class surgeon, inventor, educator and author in the field of healthcare,” Yanick said in a statement. “Dr. Oz is a doer, which is more than John Fetterman can say.”

» READ MORE: John Fetterman will hold his first public event in the Pa. Senate race since having a stroke

Criticism of Oz’s TV career is neither new nor isolated. In 2014, he spoke at a congressional hearing and was attacked by lawmakers from both parties over his on-air advice. Arkoosh pointed to a 2013 Georgetown University study that found that 78% of the advice on Oz’s show “did not align with evidence-based medical guidelines, society recommendations, or authority statements.”

She also criticized Oz for mocking Fetterman’s absence from the campaign trail since his stroke shortly before winning the Democratic primary. Fetterman was not at Wednesday’s news conference and hasn’t attended an in-person campaign event since May. He is scheduled to speak at a rally in Erie on Friday.

Oz has maintained a “John Fetterman Basement Tracker” chronicling how long his opponent has been off the campaign trail.

“No real doctor or any decent human being would mock a stroke victim,” she said.