Why is Dr. Oz Making News?
Did you see Dr. Oz get grilled by Congress? What was that all about? In case you missed it, on June 17 Dr. Mehmet Oz testified in front of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee. The Committee was holding a hearing on protecting consumers from false or misleading weight loss advertising. Dr. Oz agreed to testify probably not realizing that he was going to be served as the main course for the Committee. In a nutshell, he was heavily criticized for promoting weight loss supplements on his show, The Dr. Oz Show.
So why was Dr. Oz being attacked or singled out? Here’s my theory, and it is just a theory. Just like people flip houses, I think Congress is trying to “flip” Dr. Oz to support more regulation of nutritional supplements. There’s been a growing movement away from traditional or mainstream medicine. Traditional medicine offers two main forms of treatment – drugs and surgery. And, quite honestly, neither one is much appealing to the general public. So the public is beginning to look for other options.
In 2007, 38% of the population (NIH numbers) sought help from complementary or alternative medicine (CAM) providers for at least some of their health care concerns. And, that number is growing. Nutritional supplements are frequently used by CAM providers and that is a threat to the pharmaceutical industry – an industry that gives generously to political campaigns. I’m an internist and internal medicine has become nothing more than the practice of clinical pharmacology. Every sign and symptom must be prescribed a drug these days, it seems.
The Oz Effect
There have been increasing attempts to regulate the nutritional supplement industry more than it is already. Dr. Oz is popular and what he says on his show is taken as the “gospel truth”, and his influence has been dubbed the “Oz Effect”. I suspect the recent hearing was designed to roughen Dr. Oz up some, put him in his place, and “persuade” him to support more regulation of the nutritional supplement industry – kind of a Saul to Paul conversion on the road to Damasus. I suspect the government wants to use the “Oz Effect” to its advantage to garner support for more regulation of nutritional supplements in order to protect the pharmaceutical industry. So that’s my theory.
Pharmaceutical Drugs: the Fourth Leading Cause of Death
During the hearings Senator McCaskill questioned Dr. Oz about a study on green coffee bean extracts stating that the study was funded by the supplement company – suggesting that the results of the study might, therefore, be questionable. What? All studies on FDA approved drugs are funded by the interested drug company. So her point of impropriety doesn’t hold water. And, I’m surprised Dr. Oz did not mention that, but I think he was stunned that he was on the hot seat.
Guess what the fourth leading cause of death is in the United States today? Properly prescribed pharmaceutical drugs. Yes, the very drugs that have been determined to be safe and efficacious by the FDA. Read this article, or this article, or this article if you don’t believe me. FDA approved drugs like acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and naproxen have killed far more people than ephedra, an herb, that has been banned by the FDA. Read this article on how the FDA determines drug effectiveness.
Regulation of the Nutritional Supplement Industry
We can debate whether or not more government regulation is needed (some make it sound like there is no regulation at all, but that’s not true), but that’s not the purpose of this article. The purpose is to shed light on why Dr. Oz was being grilled when there are so many other pressing factors going on in this country and the world at the moment.
I predict in the near future we will see Dr. Oz tout more government regulation of the nutritional supplement industry. He will become a “spokesman” of the government. This increased need for regulation of nutritional supplements will be under the guise of protecting the consumers, but it is really for protecting the pharmaceutical industry.
Contrary to public perception, the FDA is not wholly supported by tax dollars. It receives about 60% of its funding directly from the pharmaceutical companies in the form of user fees. The fees are touted as a way to expedite the approval process of new drugs. But, at face value, the pharmaceutical companies pay the FDA to approve their drugs. If a drug doen’t get approved, the FDA does not get the user fee. Doesn’t quite seem right, does it?
Always follow the money!
That’s my theory, and I am sticking to it. And remember, you read it here first.