If you live in Southern California, you’ve no doubt seen the signs. There was a time when they were inescapable. 1-800-GET-THIN promotions dominated the landscape, advertising the Lap-Band weight loss procedure to the denizens of California. But the company behind those signs is now being investigated for possible breaches of the law.
The 1-800-GET-THIN clinics are being investigated both by state authorities and the Food and Drug Administration. Allergan, Inc., the producer of the actual Lap-Band device, has stopped making their product available to these clinics.
A litany of alleged breaches in the law initiated the investigation. An affidavit shows a member of the FDA’s criminal division stating that the agency is currently looking into whether the company violated laws pertaining to money laundering, wire fraud, healthcare fraud, and identity theft. The owners of the clinic are also under scrutiny.
Earlier this year, the company was told by the FDA that their ads failed to disclose the risks of the lap-band procedure. The ubiquitous ads were removed, but the trouble had only begun. Between 2009 and 2011, it was ascertained through public records that five persons experienced a fatality in the wake of getting a surgery at one of the clinics associated with 1-800-GET-THIN.
In June of this year, a nurse who worked at one of the facilities was arrested. It has been alleged that she sought to sell two of the deceased’s medical records.
Stay tuned as more facts of the case see the light of day.