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FDA approves wider Lap-Band use for less obese

A graphic of Allergan's Lap-Band.

TEXT OF STORY

JEREMY HOBSON: You know that lap band surgery that some people use to lose weight? Well yesterday, the FDA approved the surgery for a whole lot more people. People who aren't as heavy. The decision could have major financial implications for the company that makes the technology -- California-based Allergan and for health care costs.

Let's bring in Marketplace's Eve Troeh for more on this story. She's with us live from Los Angeles. Good morning.

EVE TROEH: Hi Jeremy.

HOBSON: So tell is about the financial implications here Eve.

TROEH: Well, they're pretty big -- for Allergan especially. The new rules double the number of people who can get lap band surgery to about 26 million. That means lots more sales. The band itself is this inflatable silicon ring that blocks off part of your stomach. What Allergan asked the FDA to do -- and it did -- was lower the body mass index, or BMI, that patients need to qualify. BMI is a complicated so you can think of it this way: Someone who's 5'6" and has diabetes used to have to weigh 216 pounds to get a lap band. Now they only have to weigh 186.

HOBSON: Wow so a big change there. What are the implications, Eve, for the health care industry?

TROEH: Well, some experts say this tips the scale in favor of surgery to deal with obesity, rather than medications. The lap band is only prescribed for people who've tried diets, exercise and drugs to lose weight. But some people say the FDA is actually driving people toward surgery with this move because it hasn't approved very many weight loss drugs.

HOBSON: Marketplace's Eve Troeh in Los Angeles. Thanks Eve.

TROEH: Thanks.

About the author

Eve Troeh is News Director at WWNO-FM in New Orleans, La., helping build the first public radio news department in the station’s 40-year history. She reported for the Marketplace Sustainability Desk from 2010 to 2013.
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Wow! I would avoid disparaging the FDA. The decision on the Lap-Band was based on science.

This device has a 20+ year track record. It was approved in EU years before being approved in the U.S.

I don't need to defend the FDA.

Just visit the largest online community at www.lapbandtalk.com

There are hundreds of thousands of members who've successfully undergone the Lap Band surgery.

They're people who got their life back because of the lap Band Surgery.

There is a lot of dis-information that is just so far from the truth in this comment section and all over the place.

Wow! I would avoid disparaging the FDA. The decision on the Lap-Band was based on science.

This device has a 20+ year track record. It was approved in EU years before being approved in the U.S.

I don't need to defend the FDA.

Just visit the largest online community at:

http://lapbandtalk.com

There are hundreds of thousands of members who've successfully undergone the Lap Band surgery.

They're people who got their life back because of the lap Band Surgery.

There is a lot of dis-information that is just so far from the truth in this comment section and all over the place.

Whatever works. If you cannot stop yourself from eating too much crappy food, it's better than being obese.

Your brother should be seeing his doctor to tighten the band and a nutritionist who can help him with his diet. With the band, you learn how to eat smaller portions and healthier food. This is not a quick fix by any means. My surgery was 18 months ago and have lost 40 pounds and dropped my cholesterol substantially. This is a fabulous surgery and now it will be available to help people even more.

My brother had the lap band surgery, and while it didn't do as much damage to him as my father's gastrointestinal bypass surgery did to him, it has been ineffectual. He is approximately the same weight he was when he had the surgery, more than 2 years ago. Should this really be approved if it is unable to solve problems? I don't think so.

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