Last year, when Dr. Mehmet Oz sat in front of the camera for a promotional video for Walmart, it seemed it was to inform his fans and viewers about the best way to improve their immune health. .
“You might not realize that a quality probiotic is a proven immune booster,” Oz says to the camera, before holding up a small green and blue packet containing one supplements called TruBiotics, which aim to improve health by introducing good bacteria into the gut.
“Two strains of probiotics can boost your digestive and immune system health,” says Oz. “These two additional strains can be found in TruBiotics.”
It’s a signature piece of advice from America’s Top Television Doctor, who has built a national brand on how to concoct effective – and surprisingly simple – remedies for common health concerns. And fittingly, for a doctor whose daily show is a promotional cash cow, this venue has been clearly labeled as sponsored by TruBiotics.
Viewers may have surmised that Oz’s video plugging in TruBiotics is essentially an advertisement. What they don’t know, however, is that Oz was once on the board of directors of the brand’s parent company, PanTheryx. He holds shares in the business worth up to $1 million.
The full extent of Oz’s financial relationship with PanTheryx – along with several other health supplement companies – was revealed for the first time thanks to the personal financial disclosure forms he was asked to filed as a Republican Candidate for US Senate in Pennsylvania.
In a number of other cases, Oz platforms promoted PanTheryx products without disclosing Oz’s personal financial relationship with the company. For example, in 2018, videos run on Dr. Oz Show The site is sponsored by DiaResQ, another PanTheryx add-on. No PanTheryx Oz plug-in products have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration; One study found that DiaResQ was “no better than a placebo”.
In his forms, Oz revealed that, from 2017 to December 2021 – at the launch of his Senate campaign – he was a board member of PanTheryx. As of February, Oz is a consultant to the company, according to his disclosure form, and will be awarded more than 700,000 restricted shares in the company in exchange for three years of service.
In 2019, a press release from PanTheryx announced Oz would join the company’s board of directors. But viewers of Oz’s advertising may not know that doctors have a direct financial stake in their buying or selling of the product that Oz’s interests are celebrating.
Oz has long used his platform — and the trust of his audience — to trade in specific products, although he has previously stated that he has never personally profited from the operation. there. Under oath at a US Senate committee hearing in 2014, Oz testified that he “never” endorsed “a particular brand” and that “doctors should not endorse”.
But according to Arthur Caplan, a leading expert on medical ethics at NYU Grossman School of Medicine, Oz’s actions in this case represent a “mountain of conflicts of interest.”
“It has to be said, ‘I have an ad on my show promoting a product and I’ll flag that.’ It’s very different to say, ‘Take this, and I won’t tell you, I own it,’ says Caplan. “You simply couldn’t do what he revealed he did.”
“It’s not illegal,” Caplan continued, “but certainly, morally, it’s completely questionable.”
The American Medical Association’s code of ethics discourages doctors from selling or getting paid to endorse any health products other than drugs. If they choose to do so, the AMA said doctors have a moral obligation to disclose “the nature of their financial interest in the sale of the product(s),,” among other things.
Oz’s campaign did not respond to requests for comment from The Daily Beast, including questions about his business deals with companies whose products he promotes.
Oz, who is running in a must-win battlefield state for the GOP, has a background arguably unlike any other political player. Leverage his medical expertise to create compelling TVs that capture Oz’s fame, wealth, and power.
But Oz has amassed a lot of baggage along the way, raising questions about who is really served by his medical advice and massive background. While Oz has long faced scrutiny, running for the Senate has prompted a deeper examination of his record and raised a new set of questions about how he will wield power. Rare for a US senator.
For example, Oz’s colorful financial disclosure forms list a number of assets and complex arrangements that stem from his fortune in entertainment. Those entanglements have proven to be complex; they can become more if he is elected and in a position to help regulate the additional industries in which he is invested.
“It doesn’t do any good when you’re willing to be non-transparent about your recommendations,” says Caplan, thinking he would be an honest broker in regulating things in the medical field that he doesn’t care about. It can affect your position. doctor-senator. “
PanTheryx is not the only company that generates undisclosed income for Oz while he trades his products. He also worked extensively for Usana Health Sciences, a multi-level marketing company based in Utah that calls itself a “cell nutrition company.”
Usana markets products as the “CellSentials Pack,” which contains “a triple-action cellular nutrition system formulated to nourish, protect, and regenerate optimal cellular health.”
According to Oz’s disclosure filing, Usana had two separate indemnification agreements with Oz Media LLC, a shell company affiliated with his business ventures.
One paid him to give “live and virtual speeches and presentations at Usana events and appear at photo opportunities and other Usana events.” Another said he has acted as a “Brand Ambassador” for the Usana brands through public appearances, “creating promotional content”, interviews and other activities.
In February, months before Oz’s financials were filed, Politico cites court records including allegations that Oz and his show were paid $50 million to promote Usana’s production on air.
Oz’s campaign rebuts that claim, saying only that $50 million is an “incorrect and inflated figure” and denies that Oz profited directly from deals with Usana.
“Usana is an integrated advertising partner with The Doctor Oz ShowBrittany Yanick, Oz campaign spokeswoman, said.
But the new documents tell a different story, showing a direct connection between Usana and Oz.
They don’t disclose how much Oz Media LLC was paid to promote their brand, but that money almost certainly went to Oz’s pocket; Elsewhere on his financial disclosure form, he reported earning $7 million in income through Oz Media LLC.
There are several instances where Oz hawking Usana products in his show. The Dr. Oz Show For example, the site showcases Usana products in promotional giveaways.
In a 2015 episode, he advertised an unregulated and untested liver tonic called Hepasil, manufactured by Usana. When asked by an audience member if her past partying could cause long-term liver damage, Oz encouraged her to take a supplement. “I’m going to show you something that I really like,” he said.
It’s Hepasil, of course, which Oz claims can help “reverse many things that could have happened” to her liver by stimulating “liver enzymes” through “patented olivol.”
That segment led to criticism at the time – without which the full extent of Oz’s relationship with Usana is known. Michael Hitzlik, a business columnist at LA time, write about lack of evidence for Oz’s claims.
“If he thought it might be wise to warn people to be careful about putting large amounts of unregulated nutritional supplements into their bodies, he wouldn’t say so,” says Hitzlik.
Noting that Usana was mentioned in the show’s credits as a “reliable sponsorship partner,” Hitzlik wrote that “it was hard for Oz away personal financial gain from this relationship. “
Caplan, NYU’s medical ethics expert, notes that the broader problem stems from the use of Oz supplements. “He pushed a lot of nonsense over the years into the show,” he said. “I fear he will do more damage by being there blessing all the unproven, unproven interventions for people who are really at risk for serious illnesses.”
The last time Oz appeared in the spotlight of a Senate hearing was in 2014, he is fending off that exacting scrutiny from lawmakers who may now be future colleagues of the House. he.
Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), now a senior member of the Senate Commerce Committee, subjected Oz to a lengthy barbecue, which included a question about why he didn’t. sell specific health products.
“You wouldn’t trust me if you came to me for advice,” said Oz, “and I said, “Oh, you’re going to have a clumpy toe here, get my version of a soothing cream.” decide”.