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L.A. County to address Lap-Band ads

MarketingFood and Drug AdministrationEconomy, Business and FinanceZev YaroslavskyMark Ridley-Thomas

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors has scheduled a hearing to consider steps the county can take to address concerns about the 1-800-GET-THIN advertising for Lap-Band surgery.

Supervisors Mark Ridley-Thomas and Zev Yaroslavsky said they wanted to direct county lawyers to study whether the county could take steps to ensure "truthful advertising" on billboards within unincorporated areas that would comply with 1st Amendment free speech guarantees.

They've also asked their colleagues on the board to ask county health officials to launch a public awareness campaign about ways for people to maintain healthy weight, without surgery.

A hearing on the issue is scheduled for Tuesday.

The Food and Drug Administration said this week it had accused the 1-800-GET-THIN marketing company of misleading advertising in its massive campaign for Lap-Band weight-loss surgery. The FDA said the company and eight affiliated surgery centers had failed to adequately warn prospective patients about risks of the surgery, which is performed under general anesthesia.

Since 2009, five patients have died following Lap-Band surgeries at clinics affiliated with 1-800-GET-THIN, according to lawsuits, autopsy reports and other public records.

An attorney who represents 1-800-GET-THIN has said the company would work with the FDA to address its concerns.

stuart.pfeifer@latimes.com

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