• Dr. Oz: What Goes Around, Comes Around

    The Start of the Dr. Oz Phenomenon

    Dr. Oz

    It’s all too commonplace these days for the makers of health supplements to big their products up as much as they can without actually breaking the law about it.

    That’s why claims are couched in language like ’this product *may* give you more energy, boost your brainpower or take inches off your waistline.

    But that doesn’t stop supplement manufacturers trying it on – and for the most part people who don’t trust them implicitly tend to at least glance at the small print.

    But there are always those few who just say ‘that’s the product for me’ and hand over their credit card details without thinking any more about it – until they discover that not only does the supplement not do what’s claimed it will (or may) do for them, but also that they’ve signed up for an autoship program which will keep firing supplies of that useless product at them – month after month after month.

    And however many times they call what’s inaccurately referred to as ‘customer service’ those credit card deductions just keep on happening – month after month after month.

    But, like we said, people are a lot more careful about offers from people they don’t fully trust. But what happens when those same people get advised to purchase an equally ineffective supplement, complete with monthly autoship program and corresponding credit card deductions by someone they’ve been trusting implicitly for years?

    Here’s the puzzling thing: for all those unhappy customers who swear never to listen to one particular trusted promoter again, many more will start listening to what he has to say.

    And that, we suppose, is why the good Dr. Oz is still using the airwaves to peddle his dubious health-related ideas and even more dubious health-related supplements like he’s been doing since 2004.

    And yes, he was trusted then… and for some unknown reason, he’s still trusted now.

    Back in 2004, Oz made his first appearance as ‘America’s Doctor’ on the Oprah Winfrey show and – whether through a case of trust by association we’re not here to confirm one way or the other, it only took four years before Time Magazine named Memet Oz (MD) as one of the ‘World’s 100 Most Influential People’.

    There were problems with being so influential, and therefore so trusted, though: one piece of advice the good doctor broadcast had to do with dealing with insomnia got him sued. Our tip: do not do what Oz advised the nation to do if you can’t sleep at night – you’ll burn your feet.

    That’s because that’s what’s going to happen if you follow his televised advice and pour uncooked rice into socks, heat them up in a microwave and wear them to bed.

    Fortunately for Oz, the judge threw out the case because he determined that Oz couldn’t ‘establish a physician-patient relationship through TV’.

    But because so many people trusted Oz and Oprah so much, they found themselves being falsely represented as endorsing various not-so-kosher products… and while Oz himself was busy pushing such useless non-supplements as:

    Green Coffee Bean – ‘the magic weight loss cure for every body type’.

    Garcinia Cambogia – ‘lose weight without modifying diet or exercising’.

    CLA – ‘the most powerful “1–2 punch” for shrinking fat cells’.

    …onto an unsuspecting public, both he and Oprah loudly shouted, ‘no fair!’ and went on the offensive against companies using images of the First Lady of TV and America’s Doctor to sell their own equally useless health and beauty products.

    The Dr. Oz Effect

    Let’s fast-forward to 2013, where during the last five months of that year American doctors pocketed the impressive sum of $3.5 billion from medical device manufacturers and drug companies. It’s amazing how well doctors can profit from a little product push here and there, and Memet Oz was no exception.

    Lucky him: he had the advantage of TV, radio and his own magazine to reach out to millions and tell them to invest in products such as:

    • Doctor Oz Complete Derma Cream
    • Dr. Oz Anti-Aging Face Cream
    • LifeHealth – even though later on they were found to be pretty well totally ineffective.

    However, earlier on that year a team of Canadian medical experts sat down in front of recordings of 40 episodes of the Dr. Oz Show with notebook in hand, and this is what they discovered:

    On average each episode of the Dr. Oz Show had 12 recommendations, roughly 2/3rds of which were made by guests, and just over a quarter made by the good doctor himself.

    And as for those recommendations given to millions of Oz fans, about half of them ‘had no evidence behind them’ or ‘actually contradicted… the best available science’.

    But that didn’t stop the phenomenon of sales of any product mentioned on the show rocketing into the stratosphere – a phenomenon quickly given the name, ‘The Dr. Oz Effect’.

    And that effect was very pronounced when Oz described products in glowing terms … and included such tempting phrases as ‘no need for dieting or exercise’.

    Try these glowing terms for size:

    Lose weight without modifying diet or exercising.

    That’s about Garcinia Cambogia.

    A miracle fat burner in a bottle.

    and

    A number one miracle in a bottle to burn your fat.

    And that’s about Raspberry Ketone.

    To some ‘nutritional experts’ with a product to market, these glowing terms – together with the Dr. Oz Effect – spelled cold, hard cash… and lots of it.

    How Well the Dr. Oz Effect Worked

    One prime example was ‘the magic weight loss cure for every body type’, otherwise known as pure green coffee extract.

    One particular ‘celebrity nutritionist’ – ‘Doctor’ Lindsey Duncan – who’d actually been sued by his home state because he was claiming to have earned a degree which was considered bogus there – was approached in 2012 by the producers of the Dr. Oz show with an invitation to appear as a green coffee bean expert.

    That was despite him knowing absolutely nothing about the product, while not one of the nutrition companies he had interests in stocked anything to do with green coffee.

    But not only did Duncan respond to that invitation claiming to be exactly the type of expert the show was looking for, he:

    • Bought up stocks of green coffee from everywhere he could find them.
    • Gamed search engines so they’d point people towards the only company he claimed to have found in his researches that sold the product (one of his own companies, naturally).
    • Wrote and rewrote the script Oz was given to introduce him and his product, to include terms like ‘miracle pill can burn fat fast, for anyone who wants to lose weight’…

    …and by persuading Dr. Oz to lend his name to a product that had been so badly researched and the clinical paper so obviously amended it had to be retracted, made himself a cool $50 million.

    On a happier note, Duncan didn’t actually profit from that little scam as much as he’d hoped: of that $50 million, $9 million was demanded by the FTC, who’d sued him because of how flawed that green coffee bean study was.

    Oz: Giving People Hope… Or Giving Companies Help?

    Not too long afterwards, Oz found himself ‘invited to’ (in other words ‘hauled up in front of’) a Senate panel on the strength of that and other irregularities, together with the increasing hostility towards him from pretty well everyone else in the medical and scientific community.

    During that Senate session, Oz was reminded of that hostility by Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), who put it thus: ‘People want to believe you can take an itty-bitty pill to push fat out of your body,’ but … ‘the scientific community is almost monolithically against you’.

    Oz didn’t really have any kind of response to the senator, but he explained that he agreed to testify before Congress because he wanted to ensure companies are held accountable for their product claims.

    ‘I strongly support the need to look at whether the products are safe or not,’ he said, adding that he used his show to give people ‘hope.’

    Giving people hope? Well, that was one way of putting it. Another, perhaps more honest way of putting it would be found in an email from Oz to the then CEO of Sony, which found itself in the public eye thanks to those nice folks at WikiLeaks. In it, it looked very much like Oz was more than a little interested in using his show to help ‘expand Sony’s health devices market’. Or in simpler terms, plug those health devices.

    Interestingly enough, the Oz media website states that although Oz has been careful to point out repeatedly that he does not ‘directly’ endorse any company or product, he is definitely available for, er, strategic partnerships.

    According to the Oz Media website:

    Our goal is for Dr. Oz to forge a direct and authentic connection between you and your demographic.

    A Little More Careful – But Just a Little

    2015 wasn’t a great year for Oz: in April a group of ten doctors wrote to Columbia University demanding he be removed from the medical faculty where he’d been for years, accusing him of promoting ‘quack treatments’.

    That May, Oprah Winfrey terminated the Dr. Oz radio spot, which had been airing on 150 radio stations. Although there wasn’t an official reason, it’s not that difficult to guess it was related to the barrage of criticism levelled at him for his support for medical treatments that weren’t exactly science supported – or for the supplements which weren’t as good as he said they were – if they were any good at all in the first place.

    However, his TV series continued, but this time it leaned towards the scientific side of things, and Oz, after all the problems he’d had, appeared to be a lot more careful about the claims and recommendations he was making. For example, there’s no mention anywhere of microwaving rice in socks to help with insomnia.

    So perhaps he’d learned his lesson… but then again, maybe not. Some of his ‘expert’ guests may have their own agendas, like, say the managing directors of a cryotherapy company who just happened to be on the show when Dr. Oz was discussing the benefits of submerging your body in extreme cold for faster recovery after exercise, and – somehow – doing so to lose weight.
    That process, coincidentally, is called ‘cryotherapy’.

    They’re Using the Dr. Oz Name Again

    Online, it almost seems the whole internet is crammed to capacity with websites and Facebook pages and YouTube offerings all promoting products that seem to have been endorsed by the good doctor himself.

    Nothing – according to his website, his Facebook page and his show – could be further from the truth, even though it’s not hard to find are full-screen skincare ads featuring Goldie Hawn and her daughter, Cher and her flawless over-seventy complexion, and if you look hard enough you’ll find the doctor and Christie Brinkley.

    And don’t be surprised if next time you see Judge Judy online she looks years younger – that, apparently, is all thanks to Dr. Oz. Oh, and let’s not forget Nicole Kidman, who features in what looks like an article about her but which turns out to be an ad for Dr. Oz Miracle Phytoceramides.

    The doctor also appears in people’s email inboxes several times a day – whether they want him there or not – advising people on products they need to look younger or thinner.

    And customer reviews for all of these products aren’t exactly favourable: one review website has pages and pages and pages of negative offerings from unhappy people.

    Some reviewers sent off for what they thought was a free sample and found themselves paying for it… and paying … and paying, like this review we’re quoting here:

    I decided to order a free trial of Dr. Oz recommended Allure skin miracle products and made sure I unchecked the box where it said I wanted to be a continuing customer. I was charged twice, despite this, to the tune of over 200 dollars.

    And,

    I ordered free samples of tru belleza which you stood behind. I trusted you so I ordered it. Surprise I got charged 500 plus dollars.

    Other Oz-related reviews include, quote:

    Took part in both eye and skin “free” trial, only to be billed 89.95GBP for each!

    Escante Face Serum and Eye Cream scam! I bought these products for a charge of 5.95 each for S+H one week later they auto-debited over two hundred dollars from my account.

    Oz recommends Regenere Facelift Complex and Eye and Neck Serum. Order the trial and in 14 days your credit card gets billed $89.92.

    There are so many others on pissedconsumer.com that we can’t help thinking yes, some people did get taken in by an association – however valid – with Dr. Oz and decided ‘this is the product for me’ before handing over their credit card details without a second thought.

    But even those who’d carefully gone through the small print found themselves getting shafted, like this unhappy customer:

    I decided to order a free trial of Dr. Oz recommended Allure skin miracle products and made sure I unchecked the box where it said I wanted to be a continuing customer. I was charged twice, despite this, to the tune of over 200 dollars.

    Getting ripped off by companies pretending to have the approval of Dr. Oz is one thing, but suffering actual harm from these bogus products is another – and it happens a lot.

    Here’s one customers’ verdict:

    Doctor Oz – Free Trial is not FREE!!! Product caused itching and flaking, I had the same problem! I don’t have sensitive skin at all. But this stuff made me red and flaky and itchy.

    And then there are products which cause damage to both skin and bank balance, like this one reviewed here:

    I saw an ad on my computer for face cream recommended by Dr. Oz and sent for samples. The cream caused a break out on my face of red blotches and itching. Had to go to my doctor and get a prescription to clear it up. Cost me a lot of money also did not know that by ordering samples they would send me more and bill me for over $80.00.

    Finally, one customer, who, when talking about bogus advice heard on the Dr. Oz Show, quoted his own doctor as saying,

    Never, never, never get your medical advice from a person who makes a living scaring people.

    And that’s something many, many people should bear in mind.

    Oz’s “Trusted” Partners?

    Now these products, says Dr. Oz, have nothing to do with him – just like he said all those years back when he and Oprah went after companies falsely claiming their products had been endorsed by the First Lady of TV and “America’s Doctor”.

    And just like when he and Oprah went after companies using them to promote their products, he’s gone all out against them again, but this time with Shark Tank multimillionaire star Barbara Corcoran who’s had her name and image used to sell face cream.

    Some would say he’s teamed up with her to create the impression of innocence by association, or that the two of them have been treated extremely unjustly and perhaps there’s an element of truth in there, somewhere.

    However, if you look at his website, you might remember those words “our goal is for Dr. Oz to forge a direct and authentic connection between you and your demographic” because he’s been very selective about the companies he takes on as his “Trusted Partners”.

    Looking through Amazon reviews (there’s no point in looking for them on the company websites because, well, let’s say there’s an element of bias there) made some interesting reading.

    For example, there’s Aquaphor, about which we read, “I am shocked that a doctor actually recommended this ointment while appearing on the Dr. Oz Show. I would gladly return it for a refund, if I could.” and “So much for believing what you hear on the Dr. Oz TV show.”

    Or there’s Eucerin, whose purchasers say: “Eucerin creme contains methylisothiazolinone and methylchloroisothiazolinone, both of which are controversial because they’ve been linked to nerve damage and neuron destruction in studies, one of which was conducted by the University of Pittsburgh.” and “Eucerin changed the preservatives in this product causing burning on application and a terrible rash on my face.”

    Or how about Omron, who makes wearable blood pressure monitors? They offer special savings ($20) for viewers of the Dr. Oz Show on their website, but the Amazon reviews tell a less than happy story: “Don’t trust your life to this machine… I tried to return it and seller will not take returns. I didn’t see this in the product description, it’s probably there in fine print. Don’t buy this and don’t buy from this dealer. Rip off.” and “Not even close to accurate! When compared with doctor’s office in same setting – Dr. 178 over 76 Omron 206 over 111. item is worthless. Have had less than 2 weeks and cannot return!”.

    Another Trusted Partner is No7, whose Lift and Luminate Triple Action Serum was said to be “pretty pricey and didn’t do anything, not even moisturise as good as cheap moisturisers”.

    There’s more, but you get the idea.

    Now, what kind of commission Dr. Oz gets for forging that direct and authentic connection between those companies and their demographics is between him and the IRS, but we’re pretty sure he’s not selecting these partners out of the goodness of his heart – after all, that would be a huge amount of free publicity for them merely being visible on his website… and, as we all know, there’s no such thing as a free lunch.

    Back to the Start Again

    So now we seem to have gone full circle: Dr. Oz is promoting dodgy products once again, while once again claiming to be a victim of unscrupulous companies using his name to promote shoddy goods.

    And all the while he’s doing a pretty damn good job of dishing out dodgy medical advice – and products – to his millions of adoring fans who still, for some unknown reason, trust him implicitly.

    Our advice to you? By all means enjoy the entertainment aspect of the Dr. Oz Show, but don’t ever take any notice of him when he starts pushing any kind of product… and never, ever let him persuade you to microwave rice in your socks.

    Disclaimer: Our reviews and investigations are based on extensive research from the information publicly available to us and consumers at the time of first publishing the post. Information is based on our personal opinion and whilst we endeavour to ensure information is up-to-date, manufacturers do from time to time change their products and future research may disagree with our findings. If you feel any of the information is inaccurate, please contact us and we will review the information provided.



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