OC Firm To Cut Supplies Of ‘Lap-Band’ Weight Loss Device After Patient Deaths

IRVINE (CBS) — A popular weight loss device seen and heard on advertisements throughout the Southland will no longer be available for sale as regulators investigate the Orange County firm that makes the devices.

KNX 1070’s Mike Landa reports the move could signal that the ubiquitous diet “hotline” 1-800-GET-THIN will soon be out of service.

Irvine-based Allergan Corp. announced it will no longer supply the “Lap-Band” to surgery centers affiliated with the marketing company in the wake of five patient deaths in Southern California since 2009.

Attorney Alexander Robertson has filed two wrongful death lawsuits on behalf of relatives of patients who died following Lap-Band surgery.

“Both of those patients were unable to eat or swallow any fluids at all,” said Robertson. “Finally, they went to the emergency room, and emergency room doctors said in both cases they essentially showed up on death’s door.”

The Food and Drug Administration had approved the stomach-shrinking device for use for non-obese patients back in February of last year.

KCAL9’s Stephanie Abrams reports one of the patients, John Faitro, lost his wife Laura in July 2010 just days after her Lap Band surgery — an operation for which the firm was criminally negligent, according to Alexander.

“Not telling patients like John’s wife that they cut her liver three places during the surgery and put her in a wheelchair and sent her home to die,” he said.

John recalled how Laura became his provider and caretaker after John lost his eyesight.

“She helped everybody out, she was a serving lady,” he said. “She was doing the Lap-Band for herself.”

Faitros’ case is set to go to trial in September.

Surgery centers affiliated with the devices and 1-800-GET-THIN responded to the lawsuit by saying,” “In past years, thousands of patients served by our centers have achieved weight loss with positive results after receiving Lap-Bands.”

“Every surgery has risks — the Lap-Band is no exception,” the statement added.


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