The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Dr. Oz
—Part and Parcel of the Capitalist Medical System

Jan 3, 2022

Dr. Mehmet Oz has attracted more media attention since he recently announced he was running for Senate in Pennsylvania. He was already well known by many people across the country for his daytime TV show, “The Dr. Oz Show.”

Over the years, many people including political officials and other medical people have raised concerns about products and practices Oz has pushed, both on his own show and other news broadcasts. Early in the Covid-19 pandemic, Oz pushed the use of the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine as a “jaw dropping” therapy for Covid, “a game changer,” he said, based on one tiny study from France. He promoted the drug more than 25 times on Fox News in March and April 2020. Then President Donald Trump picked up on and echoed Oz’s support for the drug. A Veterans Affairs study eventually showed patients treated with the drug were more likely to die than those without the drug, and Oz stopped pushing it.

In 2014, the British Medical Journal analyzed 80 recommendations Oz had made on his show and found that less than half were based on scientific evidence, including some of his weight-loss claims.

Despite his support of dubious medical treatments, Dr. Oz remains very popular. He is a highly-trained experienced heart surgeon and is very good at explaining and illustrating complicated medical procedures to lay people. In a society in which many people have little access to a physician or other health professional on a convenient or regular basis, Dr. Oz provides some medical knowledge to many.

Obesity is a very common problem in this society. It is partly caused by the way the food most readily available to many people is manufactured. It is highly processed and packed with sugar, salt, and fat. Dr. Oz offers what appear to be weight-loss solutions involving natural cures based on vitamins and minerals, things people can get and are familiar to them. In any case, his televised presentations make use of a media the mainstream population is comfortable with.

Meanwhile the mainstream medical system in this society is inaccessible. Funded by the for-profit pharmaceutical industry, treatments for medical conditions very often revolve primarily around the prescribing of pills as the main cure. Take Oxycontin, for example. It is understandable that people seek out “alternative” medicines, but any medical treatment ought to be thoroughly tested in a truly scientific manner.

Dr. Oz simply reflects some of the best and worst aspects of capitalist medicine. Covid-19 has certainly brought these problems out into the light of day.