Lap-Band Deaths Pile Up As Sales Decline

Last Updated Sep 8, 2011 9:41 AM EDT

You don't need a crystal ball to see that Allergan (AGN) has run into trouble on its Lap-Band stomach shrinking device: Its obesity intervention revenues sank 12 percent to $54.4 million in Q2 2011, making it an almost negligible part of the Botox-maker's business.

Allergan has already discontinued one of its gastric banding devices, the EasyBand, and there are reasons to believe the company might consider axing the Lap-Band, too: It keeps killing and injuring people. Consider:
Allergan is not a defendant in all those case. In fact, CEO David Pyott previously expressed reservations about the way weight-loss clinics like 1-800 Get-Thin were advertising the product.

But Allergan has funded doctors who have produced some less than medically sound marketing, notably DoctorsofWeightLoss.com, which at one point suggested the Lap-Band could help women attain their bikini weight. It is only approved for seriously obese people, not folks who want to look buff on the sand.

The product is inherently risky. Allergan's own research shows that one third of all patients require follow up surgery. Meanwhile, 1-800 Get-Thin continues to advertise the device with pro-anorexia messages such as, "Nothing tastes as good as being thin feels."

This situation has all the appearances of a product discontinuation waiting to happen.

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