Why Dr. Oz is the bane of every pharmacists existence

Posted on May 6, 2014


It usually starts with “I saw this on Dr. Oz, do you have it in your pharmacy?”

“What do you mean you don’t have it?…he said I could find it at any pharmacy!”

{Insert pharmacist face palm}

If I had a dollar for every time someone came in to ask for a Dr. Oz concoction, I may now be retired on a private island somewhere in Greece. Its bad enough that most times we have never heard of such plant or root, and have to do a Google search to make sure that it even exists (therefore making us look incompetent), but most times my inner voice just wants to scream “Stop watching Dr. Oz!”. However my mama raised me right, and the customer must not be yelled at, so my manners always win. I grin and say “No ma’am/sir, we don’t have it in stock but maybe Walmart down the street does” (Sorry Walmart Rph’s). I then go on to ask a few questions on what results they hope to achieve with the product, and what other medications they are on…for counseling purposes.

For the benefit of those who don’t know, Dr. Mehmet Oz is a cardio-thoracic surgeon and teaching professor at Columbia University American who became famous for his appearances on The Oprah Winfrey Show. He then went on to host his own daily television talk show called The Dr. Oz show.

Now I love a good TV show just as well as the next American, however the hard-core fan following of TV celebrities in the U.S. is truly something to be marveled at. If a celebrity says it, wears it, or talks about it, it must be genuine and that is why brand sponsorship deals are so lucrative. 

Let’s face it, Dr. Oz is a cardio-thoracic surgeon and from what I hear, a darn good one. Therefore if I needed consult on my heart or lungs, his expert opinion would be very much valued. However, if I needed advice on weight loss, vitamin supplements or allergy symptoms, he would not be the first person on my call list. Just like if I needed a mechanical engineer, I would not be asking the advice of a petroleum engineer.

What I’d like to know is this – why is no one questioning his recommendation of Garcinia Cambogia for weight loss and other alternative therapies? On what basis is his recommendation? Don’t get me wrong, I also believe in alternative therapy and every now and then I recommend echinacea for colds or peppermint oil for allergies. However, I also believe in the placebo effect. And what I don’t do (and every health professional shouldn’t either) is swear that any alternative therapy is a miracle product that will instantly cure your ailments and make you lose 100’s of pounds.

The alternative medicine industry is a $34-billion-a-year industry that peddles treatments that are sometimes beneficial, sometimes harmful, and for the most part unproven. There really isn’t any true evidence to support anything Dr. Oz claims, he uses what are called “case reports” made by people who sell or manufacture those products. We must remember that Dr. Oz is a medical doctor backed by modern medicine, and the only treatment he should be able to 100% recommend is one that is also backed by medical science.

Furthermore, the revelation of his daily miracle treatment is delivered in a sensationalized “sham-wow” method – typical salesman delivery. “WOW…this product is amazing and awesome! You have to be a fool not to try it out”. I also find it ironic that he claims “I will never be a spokesperson for any product, so if my name is on it, it’s a fake”…but uhmm Sir, isn’t that what your whole show is about? 

Lastly, lets not forget Dr. Oz’s show for what it truly is – a TV show. TV shows need ratings; ratings high enough for the host to stay employed and for the show to stay on air. For a show that comes on daily, it needs to put in a lot of “work” to stay relevant and entertaining. There is just not enough content for daily TV without adding a few “stretches” here and there. There cannot really be THAT many “miracle supplements of the week”.

That said, this is by no means a Dr Oz bashing post…far from it. He actually does give out some good advice, and he motivates people to change to a healthier lifestyle. The objective of this post is to help you recognize that while watching his show, you have to be able to separate the “wheat from the chaff”. 

I have all the respect for medical doctors as well as for my peers, but I also believe that we must work together as a unit. Just because your doctor says it, doesn’t mean it must be true; especially if it is not his field of expertise. Remember that green coffee beans and raspberry ketones could have a drug interaction with some of your medications, so before you go spending your hard-earned money on a celebrity endorsed plant, check with your primary care doctor (the one you pay your co-pay to) or your pharmacist. And while you are running around your local pharmacies looking for a miracle cure, Dr. Oz is running all the way to the bank.