FDA’s 1-800-GET-THIN warning follows L.A. County official’s complaint


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The Food and Drug Administration has ordered 1-800-GET-THIN, the company behind the ubiquitous advertising campaign for Lap-Band weight-loss surgery, to take better steps to warn consumers about risks associated with such procedures.

The move, in an FDA letter to eight California surgical centers and the marketing firm 1-800-GET-THIN, comes one year after Los Angeles County’s public health chief, Dr. Jonathan Fielding, asked the FDA to take action.


In a December 2010 letter, Fielding said ‘advertising of this medical device by 1-800-GET-THIN ... inadequately informs consumers of potential risks.’

Since 2009, five patients have died following surgeries at centers affiliated with the ad campaign. A series of lawsuits blamed the deaths on mistakes by the surgery centers and doctors who performed the surgeries.

An attorney for 1-800-GET-THIN filed a complaint against Fielding with the county, contending that the county official had a conflict of interest because he’s a former executive and a shareholder of Johnson & Johnson, which competes with Lap-Band manufacturer Allergan Inc. in the gastric-band market.

Fielding said he wasn’t aware when he wrote to the FDA that Johnson & Johnson, where he worked in the 1980s, makes gastric bands. Regardless, he said, he would delegate any issues related to weight-loss devices to members of his staff.


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-- Stuart Pfeifer and W.J. Hennigan and