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Bone-Headed Move: FDA Panel OKs Lap-Band Rule Changes

Illustration for article titled Bone-Headed Move: FDA Panel OKs Lap-Band Rule Changes

Let me see if I understand this correctly: Allergan Inc., makers of the Lap-Band medical device, successfully petitioned the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to lower the weight limit for lap-band obesity surgery. In addition, the head of the FDA advisory panel petitioned by Allergan owns stock in (drum roll, please) Allergan Inc.


Maybe you’ve figured it out already, but here’s a little help in case you haven’t: If the FDA decides to follow the panel’s recommendation, the number of eligible patients for Lap-Band surgery will nearly double, from 15 million to 27 million.

CNN reported that the panel meeting was chaired by Karen L. Woods, an Allergan stockholder who was nonetheless granted a waiver by the FDA. She didn’t vote on the guidelines, but she certainly participated in the deliberations, dontcha think? Other news outlets reported that most of the health experts on the FDA panel had financial relationships with Allergan.


Anyway, under the new, proposed guidelines, the BMI requirement would be lowered from 35 to 30. The doctors who perform weight-loss surgery argued that this was a good idea because it would allow them to help more people.

What a load of crap. This is a classic money grab, with greed as the sole motivation. Good health is about eating well and being fit, not about the BMI – which has been proven to be consistently wrong when applied to African Americans – and not about the number on the scale.

And what about the surgery’s risks? There’s plenty of information about all the problems and even deaths that have resulted from Lap-Band surgery, but precious little about the overall safety of the device. It’s been marketed as being safe and effective, but it’s not. International studies have shown that over a 10-year-period, the rate of surgery complications went through the roof.

I’m sure a lot of women are excited about the possibility of qualifying for this surgery, since women are 80 percent of surgery patients.


Even though I’d no doubt be eligible, I would never recommend that anyone have surgery to lose weight. It’s painful, invasive and really unnecessary.

If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?  ~  Albert Einstein


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Leslie J. Ansley is an award-winning journalist and entrepreneur who blogs daily for TheRoot. She lives in Raleigh, NC.

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