The maker of the Lap-Band has announced that it will no longer sell its product to the numerous 1-800-GET-THIN clinics that have saturated Southern California's weight-loss market, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Five Southland patients have died since 2009 after undergoing Lap-Band surgeries in 1-800-GET-THIN clinics in Beverly Hills and West Hills, according to the Times. Allergan Inc., which is based in Irvine, announced its decision to split from 1-800-GET-THIN amidst state and federal investigations into these deaths.
David E. I. Pyott, CEO of Allergan, made it clear that the decision was because of 1-800-GET-THIN, which he accused last year of having misleading ads, not because of his product. He reiterated today that the Lap-Band is safe and effective, with a mortality rate of 1 in 2,000, the Orange County Register reports.
KCAL 9 spoke with John Faitro (video above), who lost his wife Laura in July 2010 just days after her Lap-Band surgery, and Faitro's attorney, Alexander Robertson. Robertson said of the two wrongful death lawsuits he is carrying, "Both of those patients were unable to eat or swallow any fluids at all. Finally, they went to the emergency room, and emergency room doctors said in both cases they essentially showed up on death's door." He continued that it is criminal negligence to "Not tell 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."
1-800-GET-THIN issued this statement in response to Allergan's announcement:
While we are disappointed by Allergan's decision, we remain committed to the health and welfare of our patients interested in weight loss solutions. Our surgery centers are staffed with experienced bariatric surgeons, trained by Allergan on the proper procedures for implanting the Lap-Band. Patients interested in weight loss solutions have a range of options, of which the lap band is only one. We will continue to work with our patients to find the best healthcare options for their medical needs.