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Dr. Oz responds to Columbia doctors' criticism: 'The show will survive it'

Dr. Mehmet Oz, who has been under fire by fellow physicians seeking his dismissal from Columbia University's surgery department, says his TV show will outlive the controversy.
/ Source: TODAY

Dr. Mehmet Oz, who has been under fire by fellow physicians seeking his dismissal from Columbia University's surgery department, says he is confident that his TV show will outlive the current controversy.

"Without question, the show will survive it," Oz told TODAY's Matt Lauer in an exclusive interview. "I want to keep doing the show for as long as I can because I think we played an important role in making America a better place.”

Last week, a letter signed by 10 physicians urged Columbia University to cut ties with the surgeon. On Friday, USA Today published an op-ed penned by Oz's Columbia colleagues who attacked the “Dr. Oz Show” for its promotion of weight-loss products and other items they view as questionable.

Oz said he stands by using words like “radical” and “miracle” while discussing all but one health topic on his show.

“I’m proud of all those words. There’s only one time that I have not been proud of and that’s the understandable frustration that has been expressed about weight-loss supplements,” he said. “I wish I could take back the words I said about them. This is a flawed area with lots of fraud, both in the research and in products. And we no longer talk about them. I haven’t talked about them in a year.”

In the op-ed, Oz's colleagues from Columbia claimed to spend "a significant amount of our clinical time debunking Ozisms regarding metabolism game changers."

"Irrespective of the underlying motives, this unsubstantiated medicine sullies the reputation of Columbia University and undermines the trust that is essential to physician-patient relationships," they wrote. They also encouraged Oz to begin each show with a disclaimer that the opinions expressed are not "evidence-based" or endorsed by Columbia University.

During an earlier interview with NBC’s Stephanie Gosk, Oz defended his show, saying its purpose was to discuss “the good life,” not medicine.

He emphasized the point with Lauer, saying his show is “much broader than a medical lecture series.” Oz said his show embraces “unconventional practices” like the power of prayer or how wellness is practiced in China.

“My whole life has been about pushing boundaries, looking around the corner, both high tech solutions but also some low tech approaches,” he said.

He said last week’s letter from doctors criticizing him as careless came from individuals who “have agendas,” specifically biases against genetically modified organisms, an areas he has supported.

“I think they were unfair in not wanting us to have that conversation,” he said.

But Oz said welcomed the letter from his colleagues at Colombia and was "very proud to have that feedback."

“You’re not going to please everyone, that’s not my goal. My job is to help America understand the opportunity towards health,” he said. “The show has to be much broader than what might take place in a doctor’s office...I completely respect why so many of my colleagues might have a difficulty with that, but I’m also appreciative that many of them do understand why that’s important."

Follow writer Eun Kyung Kim on Twitter.