Here's how to get something. So is it like, this is slightly higher, nobody's taking it that long or just sort of being put this out.
Well, thanks, everyone for being here with us today. My name is Dr. Benjamin and Bella. I'm an emergency physician here in Philadelphia. And I'm joined by four of my colleagues for physicians in Philadelphia as well, they will introduce themselves independently. The reason why we're here today is to talk about the political landscape for the 2022 election and in particular, the race for the Pennsylvania Senate between Dr. Oz and John Fetterman, Mehmet Oz and John Fetterman. An interesting phenomena that has occurred in this election cycle is that many more physicians have become engaged and active in speaking their mind about the landscape of politics, and the importance of some of the issues for our patients. You know, historically, physicians have not necessarily been so active in political endeavors. And I think there's been a sense of wanting to remain a little bit separate from it. But this election is very different. Because in this election, our patients are at risk. And physicians who care about patient care and hold his cherished values, that we want to provide safe, evidence based care are worried. Frankly, we're very concerned by what we see. And many of us are coming off the sidelines now to address these issues. I think also, importantly, in this particular election for the Senate race, Mehmet Oz has made a real point about the fact that he's a physician. And he's been using those credentials to give a sense of credibility and a sense that he speaks from knowledge and experience and respect. So therefore, I think it's fair game that we examine what that means when he says he's a physician, and how he has used his title of physician in this election cycle. And so with that, I'd like to allow my colleagues to introduce themselves Dr. Magda.
My name is Matthew Nida. I'm also an emergency medicine physician practicing in Philadelphia.
One of the things that I wanted to be here for was the very first thing that we swear as doctors is to do no harm, something that Dr. Oz is not taken very seriously based on the sorts of fraud and medicine that he's put forth on your show time and time again. So I'm here to try and set things better.
My name is Dr. Belinda Birnbaum, and I'm a physician in montgomery county. I'm a rheumatologist. And I want to say that no doctor here today works for the Fetterman campaign. No one here is getting paid by the Fetterman campaign. And like Dr. rubella said, We're here united and working together because we know that keeping Mehmet Oz out of office is vital to the health of Pennsylvania. Oz has made a career of lying to the American people about medicine. And we know that he will continue to lie to us as a legislator. And we object to him using our common professional title to advance his political aspirations and bring his lies to the to the Senate. The fact that he's practiced at a prestigious institution, and has a smooth and fluid command of medical jargon makes it even more frustrating that he has decided to use his platform to peddle falsehoods to benefit himself. And one mere example. And there's many is his investment in Sharecare, a website that offers users a chance to ask health and wellness questions and take quizzes under the guise that it will help them. And what it really is, is a robust data collection mechanism that sells and releases the results to pharmaceutical industry and Mehmet Oz profits. So I have grave concerns that he is going to continue to exploit the citizens of Pennsylvania, because he's made his career doing just that. We are also angry because we understand that we have a moral and civic obligation to our patients and our communities, to be truthful. When doctors give advice and recommendations, we know that we need our patients to trust us. And it's a real privilege to earn and have that trust. So we can't stand by and watch somebody who's already undermine that trust, who has caused physical harm and emotional stress that's inflicted by giving false hope. Rise to the position of Senator when I think that the same pseudoscience that we associate with his celebrity status can be what he brings to the table when voting on legislation. I'm not just frustrated or angry. But I along with my other colleagues here are terrified
The reality of a senator Oz is out there. And the decades he has spent manipulating the public as profiteer would no doubt carry over into office. And I don't believe for a second that he would be looking out for citizens of the Commonwealth.
Hi, I'm Dr. Karen Isilon. I'm an obstetrician gynecologist practice in montgomery county. I'm here today, because I have followed Mehmet Oz's career for quite a while I found it interesting when I would see articles about him being this prestigious cardiothoracic surgeon who was trained in the most, you know, high, high ranking prestigious programs in the country, interested in complementary medicine, and then watching his downfall as he lost his moral compass and used his celebrity and his
fame to exploit people by peddling false medical treatments, in particular as an obstetrician gynecologist, his treatment for ovarian cancer, which is one that is quite terrifying to women, because it often presents so late. You're at advanced stage and peddling a product that he claims can prevent it is really irresponsible, and you'll prevent people from seeking care when they need it. So his platform is dangerous he is he lies, whether he realizes it or not. Whether he's doing it, he's doing it for a profit. And he he there's no place for him in governing our current governor in the Commonwealth is Senator
Mark Lowe Patton, I'm a retired rheumatologist and the author of a book on healthcare. In that book, I describe how the patient physician relationship is being destroyed by those who have profit motives. And that describes exactly what's happening with Dr. Oz. Consider the following statements. Following words, revolutionary miracle magic, miracle in a bottle, natural seven day miracle plan. Today is all about miracles. Stomach Fat instantly disappears, Weight Loss Cure for every body type, new scientific research.
These words have two things in common. One, they're all words that have been used by Dr. Oz to promote a product on his show. They are also buzzwords for quackery. These are the words we warn our patients about. When they look, they ask us about products and they talk talk to us about miracle cures. These are the clues that the product is not quite up to snuff and shouldn't be, we should be suspicious of them. Instead of hearings in 2014, he stated quote, I'm not going to argue it would pass FDA muster if it were a drug seeking approval in talking about Green Coffee Bean Extract. He also noted that the items he promotes do not have scientific muster. When asked whether or not he believed in the existence of a miracle pill that causes consumers to lose weight. He replied, there's not a pill that's going to help you long term lose weight, live the best life without diet and exercise. When asked directly, do you believe there is a magic Weight Loss Cure out there? His response was, quote, If you're selling something because it is magical, no, end quote. His spokespersons has said that it is idiotic and preposterous to imply that he shared the same beliefs as every guest on his show. My question is if that is the case, why have them on the show? It is one thing to have a scientific discussion about different treatments to weigh the pros and cons the risks and benefits and have an intellectual discussion on them. It's another to promote these products, bless them and endorse them. He said he wants to be a cheerleader when people do not have hope. However, promoting hope is one thing, promoting false hope is a completely different entity and promoting false hope with a profit motive is inexcusable.
Well, thanks to my colleagues for raising these important issues. And I think what we want to do really is have some discussion. So we can explain a little bit better to listeners today and to the American public why physicians are so concerned about Dr. Oz's candidacy and about the state of this race. So one of the issues, of course, is there's a well documented trail that Dr. Oz has promoted products, promoted services had guests on the shows that have promoted things that clearly have not been proven to have any benefit and may in fact, and there have been instances where they may in fact lead to some harm. But I think It's important for people to understand what we mean by this. Our some of the ways that promoting something that doesn't work can actually hurt people and harm the American public. Dr. Birnbaum, if you have thoughts on that,
I do, I think sometimes the best way to demonstrate things is to actually give an example. And I actually have a few, but I'll give you two. I had a patient who had high blood pressure, hypertension, and it was finely controlled. And I heard from the emergency room because he was there with chest pain and a terrible headache, because he had chosen on fixed limited income if you use medication. Instead of using the copay to pay his blood pressure medication, he used it to buy a natural oz remedy that didn't work. The emergency room was able to stabilize his blood pressure and send him home. And while he was better, he was so embarrassed by this. And I was so glad that his outcome wasn't worse. I have another patient who stays in my mind alive. a breast cancer survivor who developed a terrible autoimmune disease that caused inflammation of her lungs, her muscles and her skin to the point where she couldn't get out of a chair or lift her arms over her head. She couldn't walk down the hall without being short of breath. And I told her that she would get better and that it would take months. And the recovery would sometimes seem frustratingly slow. And she would experience some unpleasant side effects from the medications that she was going to feel better and eventually be on lower doses of medication. And I saw her frequently. And I watched her improve, she was going for walks with her husband. And she had a residual rash on her face. And it was pretty faint. And I walked into my office to see her one day. And there she was. And this was before the pandemic. So she didn't have a mask on Orange, orange face itchy, bumpy. And I looked at her and she burst into tears. And she says to me that she applied a papaya mask to her face, because she thought it would help her ration do wonders for her skin. And I looked at her and I said why would you think papaya on your face would do this? And she said, I saw it on the Dr. Oz Show. And so this strong, brave patient who had been fighting for so many months, who had already been through so much, was absolutely taken down and crushed. Crushed because this false hope that she had been given just broke her. And she was humiliated and she was angry. And she said to me, I thought I could trust him because he's a doctor. And I let her cry. And I sat there and ran late to see my next patients. And it hurt me to know my patient experience this. I know that success and happiness happens when expectations that we set for our patients are met or sometimes even exceeded. But they don't happen when patients have to abandon false hope. And I'm just one doctor telling you what happened on one encounter on one day in my exam room as his wishful miracle cures lead to disappointment, and so I have no doubts that a senator AWS will disappoint up to
that dramatic. Did you have thoughts on this issue of how how can promoting products that may not work? How can it cause harm?
Yeah, I think the central theme that even came out of some of your stories of desperation, that promoting things like this preys on the desperation that people have when they have trouble affording their medicines when they're suffering, the symptoms that won't immediately go away. And when we offer people something to help escape their desperation, that's not real, that doesn't help them, it actually takes away from their ability to seek real care. And it could be something actively dangerous, like promoting, you know, 500 calories a day, which are entirely too few for someone to truly survive on. Or just something that distracts people from seeking their care like a pie a mass. And it's an extra barrier for us when we're really trying to help people with what's going on. One of the hardest things for us to do is sit down with people and help them navigate the difficulties of meeting the real world challenges of the rest of their life and trying to take care of their often very complicated health problems. And it's hard enough to understand the problem without someone else, adding fairy tale esque miracle cures that don't do anything to the picture and then having to take them back from that crazy fairy tale and back to reality.
Dr. questlines your thoughts on this?
Yes. One of the things that really, the first thing that comes to mind when I think about these cures that he's promoting is, as physicians were taught To practice evidence based medicine, and that is rooted in the gold standard for proving something as evidence based and actually helpful. And it's not just happens by chance, or you know, it doesn't work at all. It's something called a randomized control trial. And when we take the results of that we you apply it to our care of patients, and Mehmet Oz should know better that, you know, these cures that he's promoting or not, they have not gone through the rigorous study that is expected when we give care care to care for our patients and treat them. And, you know, as you mentioned before, about the 500 calorie diet using HCG supplements, which is your what a body produces during pregnancy, to help with weight loss, it's just, you know, there's no proof that any of that works, and it could be harmful. And there's just no, there's no excuse for that.
Thanks for that, Dr. lopat. And you have thoughts on this as well. Yeah.
Let's talk a little bit about evidence, because you've just heard about evidence based medicine. There was a study in the British Medical Journal that looked at claims made by TV doctors, and Dr. Oz was one of them and the doctors was another show. And when they looked at the evidence supporting his claims, what they found is that of his claims, they looked at at claims that he made on his show, evidence supported only 46% of them. And only 33% had believable, or somewhat believable evidence 15% of His claims were contradicted by the evidence, and 39% of his claims, had no evidence when they could not the authors could not find evidence for it. That means that more than half of the claims that he made on his show, according to this article, either had no evidence or evidence that contradicted you've heard about trust. Trust is a huge issue. In healthcare. I talked about the patient physician relationship, when a doctor on TV violates that trust that carries through to other physicians as well. And patients must ask the question, Can I trust the doctor who's treating me destroy that trust? That is the crux of health care. Dr. Oz has contributed to the erosion of that crux of health care.
Thank you for that. And I think it's really important to remind everyone who's listening. We're not here representing the Fetterman campaign. We're not here representing our institutions, or not being paid. We're here because physicians and we're amongst a Physician's Group, cared deeply about honesty. We care deeply about integrity. And most importantly, we care about our patients safety. And I think this is one of the things that's really motivating us to become more active and speak out, because our patients are at the core of what we do. And so I think I'd like to turn now to another important question, which is, how does this issue of integrity and honesty play out if you're an elected representative? I think that many of us as Americans have become used to politicians, not necessarily always speaking from the same hymnal on any given day. Some issues they they vacillate, they go with issues that are relevant for the day, and so we worry about their integrity. So why why does this matter for Dr. Oz? Why should we care that he's violated the trust of patients and violated sort of an ethical value of medicine? And why would that play? How would that play out with him as an elected representative? Dr. Birnbaum?
So many ways. I'll give you one. Oz has walked around saying he is in favor of lower drug prices. But he is heavily invested in and has received corporate sponsorship from the large pharmaceuticals that manufacture the drugs. So which one is it? Because it can't be both. He says he favored lower insulin prices. But he oppose the inflation Reduction Act that caps the cost of insulin to $35 a month for those with Medicare and act by the way that was passed by a Democratic Senate majority. And so which one is it lower costs are personally benefit from investments? Again, it can't be both. So can I trust him to make the decisions, best decisions for my patients when he's personally thinking about his own investments? I don't think so.
Dr. America, how do you see this issue of integrity and medicine, impacting someone who might potentially serve us as a senator?
I think it shows you what someone will do when they have someone's wellbeing in their hands. When we take care of people and are trying to do what's right for them. Our integrity affects a single person. But when you ascend to an office like the Senate, suddenly you control public policy that affects millions of people. And someone who shows such disregard for individual people's lives, don't trust will show any more deference or thinking or empathy really for the entire nation, if that's what ultimately is, under the purview of the sorts of things you'd be able to do as a senator. I think that someone who shows that they can't be trusted with decisions like that is certainly not the kind of person who I want getting sensitive information or making decisions about how we should be implementing the vast power of the United States.
That first one, what do you think about this issue of integrity in office and physicians integrity?
Well, the patient, physician relationship is everything. It's built on trust. You know, if you're have a long term relationship with a patient, they, you know, they can come to you, and they can tell you anything, they'll trust you with anything. And when you have someone on television that you see who's you know, undermining that, that there, you have nothing left. And I was relieved to see the article in the Washington Post that exposed causes, you allies and his, you know, his charlatan ways. Because we, as doctors know, that what he's saying is not, you know, legitimate, but you know, to see it in the newspaper and to have links to prove, you know, to back up the claims that what he's selling is fraudulent and to refer back to when he was, he had to testify to the consumer protection hearing several years ago. You know, this is important information to let people see him who he really for what he really is, and you know that he has no integrity, and you know that he has no place in leadership in Pennsylvania or anywhere else.
Thanks for the pattern. What do you think?
Well, on the issue of integrity, I'm going to bring up the controversial issue of abortion, and not from a pro choice or pro life or a woman's right to choose or life begins at conception, not those issues. We're talking about integrity here. Let me take you back to 2019. When he was interviewed, on a radio show, he was asked about the stringent abortion ban in Alabama. His response was, quote, I'm really worried about it. These are his own words. These are not interpretations of his words. These are this is what he said. When asked about women getting unsafe abortions in the setting of the abortion ban, his response was, quote, it's a big time concern. I saw women who had coathanger events. Finally, he said, quote, at a personal level, I wouldn't want anyone in my family to have an abortion. But I don't want to interfere with everyone else's stuff. Cause it's hard enough getting through life as it is, in quote, that was a statement in 2019. Fast forward three years later, he says, quote, I'm strongly pro life, life starts at conception, why do you care? When the heart starts beating? It is still murder when the heart is beating or not. So which is is he pro life? Is the pro choice? Or is he whatever it is that suits his purposes at the moment? Why has he changed his opinion so dramatically in three years? The only reason I can think of is that he's running for office. He's never given an explanation for why that was, why he changed his viewpoint. I have to question that. The other issue is, he says that abortion is murder. But he also says he would not criminalize doctors or women. So it sounds to me like he wants to have his cake and eat it too. He doesn't want to take the unpopular position, banning abortion. But he also wants to say that he's pro life. If you view life, if you view life starting at conception, and you view Abortion is murder, why do you not criminalize doctors? And if you're not going to criminalize doctors, how can you say that abortion is a crime? He's trying to feed both sides of the aisle. It doesn't work. It speaks to his lack of integrity. He will not say what his true feelings are, He has not spoken on what His thoughts are regarding Lindsey Graham's proposal for a national abortion ban. He's trying to play both sides of the aisle. It doesn't work, and it speaks to his lack of integrity.
Thank you, Doctor LePen. And I think that these opinions are shared by many in the medical world. We're seeing more and more physicians around Pennsylvania becoming active and speaking up because our patients are at risk. And this is really a red line for us that must not be crossed. And so this is engaging us with the political process, whether we want it or not. And so I think A final topic for our discussion. I personally am truly offended by the things that I see on television from Dr. Oz and from his campaign. One of the issues for example, that really has bothered me and made me more active in this issue is the shaming of patients for medical problems. It is no no secret that John Fetterman has survived a stroke. He's been very public about it. We're not as physicians, I'm not his physician, I am not privy to his medical records. And I think all of us as physicians truly hold sacred patient, physician relationships and privacy. So what do we see Dr. Oz doing and his campaign doing, making fun of Mr. Fetterman, and making fun of the fact and blaming him for his medical problems? Now, I'm sure many of you listening have family members with serious medical problems. Many of us ourselves have chronic medical conditions. So the thought that a physician that someone who took the Hippocratic Oath would make fun of someone would shame someone for their medical problems is beyond my beyond the pale. In my mind, it's it's really very troubling. And it speaks to, again to his integrity to his compass. And I'd be curious to hear for some of my colleagues what they think about, at a personal level, what the things Dr. As does has, how it has affected them. Dr. Magda,
I mean, to go off of your point, it's incredibly shameful to see someone who knows the importance of privacy to know the Hippocratic oath to have taken it to not take it seriously. One of the hardest things that sometimes happens at my job is that I meet people the very first day on a horrible day in their life in their emergency room. And I need them to trust me to tell me what's going on with them to trust me when I'm suggesting something that maybe they didn't think they were coming here for. And it's really hard to do that when people come in with shame when people come in with a lack of trust and having such a famous charlatan. So publicly bullying someone for their medical problem that was in no way their fault. It's unthinkable. I mean, it's beyond a breach of professional ethics. It's personally shameful. One of the hardest things we have to do is sit down with people and say, Look, this is the situation that I have. These are the tools that I have to help you. And having that honest, frank conversation with someone who's terrified, is hard to do. It's so much harder to do it when there's famous examples of people showing the worst thing a doctor could be. And that's what people get exposed to before. They mean, I don't know my patients before they meet me often. Their exposures to people in mass media like Dr. Oz.
Thank you, Dr. Birnbaum.
Again, I'll go back to that moral and civic obligation we have. And it's not just to our patients, it's to our communities. And what's been getting me is watching Mehmet Oz go into some of the more marginalized and vulnerable communities pretending that he cares, pretending that he cares about opioid addiction, pretending that he cares about gun violence. You know, Dr. Bell and Dr. Magnus see the problems with gun violence encountered, they encounter it daily in their, in their emergency rooms, there's doctors all over Philadelphia, all over the country, er, doctors, trauma surgeons, pediatricians or child and adolescent psychiatrists, we're in the middle of a giant mental health crisis for kids, and for Dr. Oz to go into these communities and say that he cares about them. And be opposed to common gun safety measures like red flag laws. Again, you can do both. You can't speak out of both sides of your mouth. You can't look at a community devastated by gun violence and say, I care about what happens to you, and I'm going to work to make things better, and then turn around to your conservative base and say, you don't want to support that liberal gun agenda.
And you're eating and to elaborate on one of Dr. Burns points. So Dr. Magnin, our emergency physicians, and we work within Philadelphia, and we serve communities that are ravaged by the opioid epidemic and gun violence, and that's our devotion. That's our passion. We care about these communities and we want to serve them. And I agree with Dr. Birnbaum that from our own perspective as emergency doctors, it's offensive to see communities being used as props as political props, and especially on the gun violence issue. There were a number of local politicians who were very upset when they came to realize that Dr. Oz's attentions were really just for a photo op, and not really for frank and honest conversation with community his rhetoric to improve the gun violence problems that we all live through on a day to day basis. Dr. presland, your thoughts on this?
And I just say one thing, because, you know, again, we're doctors, it speaks to how gullible it seems sometimes that the media can be to be so excited to grab these photo opportunities and publish them. Because you guys are the ones sometimes pushing out this misinformation. The Philadelphia Inquirer had an article about us speaking to clergy members in Philadelphia, about gun violence, and he pulled in a physician from another country to talk about guns and violence. You don't need to look not even to another, you can look right here in this city for another physician. And yet, look, there are no physicians that joined him on this endeavor. And that's for a reason.
Gun violence also affects my patients and OBGYN I, every day, there are patients who've lost a sibling, a brother or a partner to, to gun violence, it's it's you actually become like, you know, not indifferent to it. But it kind of just, you know, becomes you become numb after a while, because it's just it encompasses every, it affects every patient. But the thing that I really wanted to talk about was his stance on abortion. And speaking to his integrity, you know, not being consistent with his message. And as a physician, he should know better and know that politics has no place in the exam room, the patient doctor relationship is sacred. There should be no interference from politics, pulp from politicians, and you know, they're not the best. They're not the best people to be making these decisions when they really don't understand the complexity of medical issues.
There's a pen. Yeah, I can't address the gun violence issue as a rheumatologist. But one of the issues I want to touch base that you're talking about, again, with integrity and so forth his motivation? What is the motivation for doing the things that he does and saying the things that he says when he was questioned at the Senate hearing back in I think was 2014 or 2015 by Claire McCaskill and talked about how the claims he made really didn't have any scientific back backing. He made the statement that well, prayer doesn't have any scientific backing, and nobody has a problem with promoting prayer. And prayer might help. And we don't know. And it's okay to promote that. And as Senator McCaskill pointed out, yes, but people don't have to pay for prayer. And it was a very striking statement, because it raises the question as to how much of what is going on, is motivated by money? In the current environment, how much is motivated by power, desire for power? Where's the truce gone? You know, are you willing? Is he willing to say, whatever, for the sake of getting votes? I have to question these things. When I see the people he aligns himself with a question that, you know, he, again, as has been said, it appears that he will say, whatever needs to be said, to try to attract those without any regard for the truth, or moral compass.
Well, today, you've heard from five physicians in southeastern Pennsylvania, about our perspectives, and we speak to you from the heart as physicians. It should be noted that we are shoulder to shoulder with hundreds of physicians who become active in the last few months around this campaign. And around this election. We have regular meetings where we talk about these issues. And I can tell you, that we're all very concerned, we're concerned about our practice. We're concerned about our patients. And we're concerned about our communities, which is why we felt emboldened to speak up. And I'm very proud and grateful to the hundreds of other physicians who work with us on a weekly basis to get out speak to voters, do media appearances, and this is very uncomfortable for us. This is not something we do on a regular basis, quite honestly. But we feel motivated. We feel we have no choice because our patients come first.
Dr. Bell, if I can add one other thing. You're talking about doctors standing shoulder to shoulder back in 2015. There were a number of doctors at Columbia University, who sent a letter to the dean there, requesting that Dr. Oz's faculty appointment be removed. They stated. Worst of all, he has manifested an egregious lack of integrity by promoting quack treatments and cures in the interest of personal financial gain. Dr. Oz is guilty of either outrageous conflicts of interest or flawed judgments 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. This is not news. This is not new, I should say. We're talking about this in terms of a Senate campaign. But this was documented about seven years ago, where physicians noted his lack of credibility in the claims he was making and requested his faculty appointment be removed.
So thank you, all of you. I think now maybe we can have discussion and questions. I don't know if how this whole work on the live stream. But if people have questions that we can address, or have more discussion about these issues, we're happy to do so.
Question for, share a couple of your experiences with patients with you know, try some of those treatments, so speak it as a show. For any of you who have had similar situations with was there anything you did at the time to speak out against it or file some sort of complaint against Dr. Oz in the show and just curious. And then what were the outcomes of that?
When you have 20 patients to see in a day, and you've already spent 12 of your 15 minute visit, trying to console a devastated patient about something that had gone wrong in their lives, you really don't have time, at the end of the day, by the time you're done. Refilling medications, getting prior authorizations, closing your charts, and calling patients back to think about filing a complaint about the nonsense on TV that Dr. Oz is skewing.
And I just want to add that, you know, we don't know about a lot of the patients who have taken his treatments, we all know that there are so many barriers to patients making it to the office, they may not have adequate insurance, they may not have transportation, if they're older, if they're, you know, if they have children at home, that they don't have anybody to watch, you know, they may not even come in to the office, and they may be seeking these treat us seeking these medical advice from these television shows. And, you know, I think far more of these patients never, you know, cross our cross into our office because they're just, you know, they haven't even been they haven't reported it or they haven't been seen by a doctor,
I think an important point to make to the question of Doctor has is false claims and whether individual physicians have spoken out, you know, the life of a physician is a very busy, very stressful, one where we're really overwhelmed a lot of the time. And so we look to public policy experts, and we look to our national organizations and our medical societies to often safeguard our patients that safeguard these sort of claims. And I have to say that many of us are really disappointed, actually, in many of the society's medical groups and organizations for not speaking out enough. We feel that our patients are our North Star, there are compass, and many of the medical societies around the country claim the same, but have not been as active as they should be. And I think many physicians are realizing that that's why we're here today speaking out, because we can no longer so easily count on them to safeguard the interests of patients around the nation and in our communities. I would also give as a personal example, I'm an emergency physician, as all of us know, the COVID pandemic ravaged many communities and was a major stressor in emergency medical care. And myself and Dr. Magda lived through the pandemic really as frontline providers. And it was very stressful, and had a big emotional impact on us as we tried to care for our communities. Well, on numerous occasions, I saw patients who are taking hydroxy, Chloroquine, and said I'll take hydroxychloroquine I don't need to have a vaccine, I don't need to have a mask. And Dr. Oz, of course, was one of the promoters of hydroxychloroquine is a prevention and treatment for COVID-19. And I'm here to say that I was part of a group that actually did a randomized controlled trial to generate scientific evidence around hydroxychloroquine. And we found that it indeed did not prevent COVID 19. The evidence is overwhelming. And so we saw this on a frequent basis and real patients were harmed by these national figures stating falsehoods about this drug working. Again, though, we look to our societies, we look to emergency medicine groups across the nation to speak out and some did at the time. But sometimes it gets overwhelming as a physician to manage all these things and still have the time to make a fuss about it.
The issue with hydroxychloroquine First of all, I'm a rheumatologist as as Dr. Birnbaum, we have a lot of experience prescribing hydroxychloroquine. It's used in rheumatic diseases, it's used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, it's used to treat lupus. I actually gave grand rounds on hydroxychloroquine. So I looked at the research in great depth, the issue of hydroxychloroquine, there's a couple issues. One, it's not so much that hydroxychloroquine hurt patients who got COVID. It's a relatively safe drug. But it meant that many patients use that as an alternative to other treatments. There was a group of doctors who promoted hydroxychloroquine as a cure for COVID. You don't need masks, and this was at the height of the pandemic in July of 2020. The other thing that we see are the downstream ramifications. Because hydroxychloroquine was touted so much as a cure for COVID. I had trouble getting hydroxychloroquine for my patients who needed hydroxychloroquine to treat the rheumatoid arthritis and their lupus, I had one patient with a condition called sjogrens syndrome, who had been on the drug for seven years, whose insurance company told me we're not authorizing it for that it's off label. Now, it's a drug that is commonly used to treat that condition. It is off label, there are no drugs used to treat sjogrens that are immunosuppressive drugs. But he was a patient on a drug for seven years, who had difficulty getting the drug. And I had a fight a battle, because of the nonsense that was going on promoting hydroxychloroquine. So one thing that people don't realize is, there are initial effects of this kind of nonsense. But there's a lot of downstream effects, a lot of ramifications that occur to other patients who don't have COVID, who are struggling just to get their routine conditions managed. And that's the things that people don't think about that harm patients.
And we won't even begin to mention the financial investment that Mehmet Oz made in hydroxychloroquine.
Other questions? Yeah.
One of you had mentioned that Oz's team is clean. You know, he doesn't believe all of the things that the people on this shows were saying. So kind of along those lines, how do you differentiate between investigating alternative treatment versus advocating for an unproven product?
So this is where the discussion of evidence based medicine comes up. All of us in medical school are taught certain paradigms about how to look at data to decide is this worthy, or is this not because when we're trained, they know that discoveries are coming down the pipeline, and we're going to have to be able to investigate that. And Dr. Oz got this training the same as all the other doctors, and we're supposed to look at evidence and say is this high quality evidence has just been steady? Do we know what's going on and to look at claims critically, because once we start using our credentials, to say, this is safe, this isn't safe, try this, I would do this, I wouldn't. It starts having real life consequences for people. And so if he didn't share the belief of those people, he still had an obligation to make sure that people on your show the audience members who were trusting Him, to show them the truth of what was going on, and to have a critical discussion of what was happening not to just let people make claims, and say nothing about it, tacitly approving those things, and giving them a platform is totally abandoning the commitment to evidence based medicine that all of us should pledge to do.
I was wanting to make that statement that came from one of the staff members. And the answer is in words, words matter, miracle, revolutionary, new discovery, all these words, it's magical. All these words are promotional words. They're not objective words. They're not words that says, hey, let's look at the pros. Let's look at the cons. You know, this is dramatic. This is TV, this is entertainment. But it sends a message of this product is good. This product has my blessing. You don't use words like miracle for products that you are equivocal on, or for products that you don't believe in, or for products that are not going to benefit you in some way. So if he didn't believe in the products, and it's definitely it's ludicrous to assume that he does the math questions. Why is he using those types of words to promote them?
I would also ask, Where's his integrity in hiding behind statements such as Oh, they were just guests on my show. Or he did this when he was when his campaign was speaking about John veterans medical conditions. He said, Oh, well, I don't speak for my campaign. He sort of distanced himself. And I'd say, Where's the integrity there? where's the where's the honesty? Where's the bravery to speak and own your positions or own your show? I'll give you an analogy. I'm an emergency physician. And when I'm on shift, I supervise residents I supervise a whole team. I would never say if one of them said something incorrect, or if one of them did something incorrect. Oh, it's on them. No, I'm the supervisor, I, it's when I'm on shift. I'm the commander, I own it. And I will say we said this, or we did this, or if they made a mistake, I will say, we apologize, we made a mistake. So so this is a classic maneuver he's doing where something gets said, it doesn't play well, and he's trying to shove it off on other people. It's his show, he booked the guests. He's a physician, if they say something that he doesn't believe in, he has an obligation to tell his listeners what he thinks. I don't think that's really the issue here. I think he's just saying it's on them.
And he has no consequences either. Like if we were to practice a Oh, fraudulent medicine and prescribe people treatments that, you know, we were improving or didn't work, we would be, you know, medically liable, like, what are his patients who are what are the viewers who follow his recommendations are going to do if they get sick, and we have to, you know, we're we deal with the collateral damage for patients who come in, and, you know, have you taken these, you know, harmful if, you know, worst case scenario, or just not helpful treatments. But, you know, he has no consequences.
And that's not to say that we dismiss all supplements and all vitamins, I have patients come to me all the time. And they'll put out, pull out the bottle that they already bought, or show me a newspaper clipping or show me a picture on their phone that they took of something that they'd like to try. And they asked me, What do you think? And the answer that I give them is, I don't know. I don't know what's going to happen if you take this. And I look at it sometimes. And I, you know, I say I'm not sure if it will help. But if you want to try it, we'll monitor you and see how you do. I'm not going to dismiss something completely, but I'm not going to also tell them that I overwhelmingly believe in something when I don't have information. I think saying that you don't know is actually sometimes the best thing to do.
But we weigh the pros and the cons Yes. Even in areas where we may not have knowledge, will we not? We may not know the pros and cons. But we own it and we got to find someone talked about ownership and accountability. I read a story about a patient who tried to sue Dr. Oz for one of the claims that he tried. And the suit was thrown out because no patient physician relationship was established through through TV. So it's one thing to make statements and not have accountability for them. We don't deal with that accountable for what we do.
Other questions? I don't know, for example, if anyone on the Livestream, if there's someone there that can they transmit questions? Yeah, okay. Maybe Maybe that's it. And I think in closing, I just want to say that physicians, nurses, the broader community of healthcare providers are becoming more politically active and I think correctly so because we're really at a pivotal time this election cycle is going to determine a lot about our patient safety, our family's safety and our options to get medical care. And so we will continue to speak out and we will not remain silent.