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A celebrity doctor says he has been flooded with alarming social-media messages about medical scrubs startup Figs — and now he’s calling on the authorities to intervene, The Post has
A celebrity doctor says he has been flooded with alarming social-media messages about medical scrubs startup Figs — and now he’s calling on the authorities to intervene, The Post has learned.
Dr. Mikhail Varshavski — who was named People’s “Sexiest Doctor Alive” in 2015 and who has since become popularly known as “Doctor Mike” — wrote a letter to New York Attorney General Letitia James and California Attorney General Xavier Becerra this week saying he’s been inundated with complaints on social media about Figs, known for fashionable scrubs it sells directly to consumers.
Varshavski called for a probe into Figs’ “overall business practices,” including its advertising, its pricing practices and its “Threads-for-Threads” charitable initiative, which vows to give away one pair of Figs scrubs to a medical professional in need for each one sold in the US.
“I believe the integrity of their Threads-for-Threads program … could warrant an inquiry,” the letter says, adding, “the many messages I have received from people familiar with Figs — those who have been customers and those who have worked there — signal larger problems.”
“Should your office have any interest in reading the messages or contacting the individual(s) who personally messaged me as part of any formal investigation, please do not hesitate to get in touch,” the letter says.
Varshavski, a family doctor in New Jersey with 13 million social media followers, says the complaints started flooding in after he blasted Figs on YouTube and Instagram last month following a controversial ad that featured a female doctor reading a medical book upside down. Figs apologized for the ad.
“Past employees reached out to me and said this is the tip of the iceberg,” Varshavski told The Post, which reported last week that Figs has been gearing up for an initial public offering, likely slated for early next year.
The 31-year-old doctor declined to provide specifics about the messages he’s received, telling The Post that he’s merely acting as an intermediary for the medical professionals who’ve reached out to him.
“I’m a practicing physician and I don’t have the resources to look into these claims,” Varshavski said.
But Figs’ charitable program is separately being challenged in Los Angeles court legal documents filed this year by rival scrubs maker Strategic Partners Inc.
In an amended complaint filed in August, SPI claimed Figs hasn’t been donating the same antimicrobial scrubs that have made it popular on a one-for-one basis. “Rather, Figs has donated, if at all, lower cost scrubs that are different than the scrubs consumers are purchasing in the US.
Figs has called SPI’s lawsuit, which also claims that Figs stole its trade secrets, “completely without merit.”
On Thursday, Figs also blasted Varshavski’s criticisms with a statement saying, “We are challenged to respond to a letter and allegations that we have not seen. Specifically regarding our Threads for Threads initiative — any accusation that this program operates in anything less than a gold standard is factually inaccurate.”
Varshavski says the company tried to work with him once after his brand skyrocketed on the “Sexiest Doctor Alive” award — an incident he raises in the same Oct. 13 YouTube video that he says prompted so much feedback.
Figs reps had reached out about using his social media platform — where he shares information about his life, alluring selfies, and medical advice — to sell its scrubs, he said. They couldn’t reach a deal, but Figs used his image anyway.
“My lawyer sent them legal paperwork to stop,” he told The Post, pointing to an Oct. 7, 2016 post that The Post confirmed was still on Figs’ Facebook page as of Wednesday. The post, of “Doctor Mike” in a Figs top, was captioned: “Proving our scrubs tops fit even the biggest of muscles.”
Figs on Thursday removed the post.