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Lap-Band sales fell 16% in third quarter, Allergan says

Get-thin photo

Sales of Allergan Inc.’s Lap-Band weight-loss device dropped 16% in the third quarter of the year, the company said.

The Lap-Band is familiar to many Southern California residents because it is marketed extensively by a company called 1-800-GET-THIN on freeway billboards, television, radio and the Internet. The ad company is not affiliated with Allergan.

In a Wednesday conference call with analysts, Allergan Chief Executive David E.I. Pyott blamed the slump in Lap-Band sales on the sluggish economy, high unemployment and steep insurance co-payment requirements. In a statement, the company said it “remains committed to the Lap-Band business, as we strongly believe it represents an important tool in addressing the obesity epidemic.”

Since 2009, five Southern California patients have died after undergoing Lap-Band procedures at clinics affiliated with the 1-800-GET-THIN ads, according to lawsuits, coroner’s records and interviews.

Several lawsuits have been filed against the advertising company, clinics at which the surgeries were performed and the doctors involved in the surgeries. Through their attorneys, the marketing company and surgery centers have denied wrongdoing.

The Lap-Band represents just a small fraction of Allergan’s sales. The Irvine company also markets Botox wrinkle treatment, breast implants, an eyelash lengthening drug and a number of eye medications. Allergan reported $1.31 billion in sales for the third quarter, down slightly from the $1.33 billion that analysts had expected. Its shares fell $3.22, or 3.7%, to $83.74 on Wednesday.

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-- Stuart Pfeifer

Photo: An advertisement for Lap-Band surgery. Credit: Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times

 
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