1-800-GET-THIN warns of Lap-Band death risk
Earlier this month, the Food and Drug Administration said it had warned 1-800-GET-THIN that its advertisements for Lap-Band weight-loss surgery were misleading because they did not adequately disclose the risks of the surgery.
Five Southern California patients have died since 2009 after Lap-Band procedures at surgery centers affiliated with 1-800-GET-THIN, according to autopsy reports, lawsuits and other public records.
The 1-800-GET-THIN ads are plastered along Southern California freeway billboards, as well as on television, radio, buses, the Internet and direct mail.
The marking company’s president told the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors last week that it had made changes to the website to address the FDA’s concerns and would work with the agency to make changes to the rest of its advertising.
The 1-800-GET-THIN website contains a lengthy warning on its home page about risks of Lap-Band surgery. Among the warnings:
"Placement of the Lap-Band system is major surgery and, as with any surgery, death can occur. Possible complications include the risks associated with the medications and methods used during surgery, the risks associated with any surgical procedure, and the patient’s ability to tolerate a foreign object implanted in the body.
Band slippage, erosion and deflation, reflux, obstruction of the stomach, dilation of the esophagus, infection, or nausea and vomiting may occur. Re-operation may be required.”
Manufactured by Allergan Inc. of Irvine, the Lap-Band is a ring that is surgically implanted around the stomach to discourage overeating. Allergan is not affiliated with 1-800-GET-THIN.
-- Stuart Pfeifer
Photo: Billboard advertising by 1-800-GET-THIN. Credit: Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times