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Teens are Next on Allergan's List

Allergan wants the FDA to approve the lap band for teens. From Allergan's 2009 Annual Report, page 7 (page 5 on Acrobat):

we were initially surprised by the weakness of the market and our sales of
obesity intervention products, particularly the LAP-BAND® Adjustable
Gastric Banding System...

In the United States, major regulatory files were submitted to the FDA in
2009: BOTOX® for chronic migraine, OZURDEX™ for a new indication
of uveitis and LAP-BAND® System for morbidly obese adolescents.

I don't even know what to say about this. Wait. Yes I do.

Teenagers, generally speaking,
• aren't done growing;
• have many, many years ahead of them to develop complications from nutritional deficiencies;
• haven't had kids yet, meaning that under-nutrition and deficiencies might affect future pregnancies
• think they're supposed to be perfect (and that "perfect" exists);
• are driven by a desperate need to fit in;
• are still learning how to think; and
• (as people have mentioned in the comments) can be pressured or even forced into surgery by parents and doctors.

And Allergan thinks it would be a good idea to tamper with their digestive systems in a way that will enforce semi-starvation and make a healthy diet difficult or impossible. "Oh," you say. "We're only talking about morbidly obese teenagers." And I ask you: are any of the points above less true of fat teenagers? No. No, they aren't.
I'd like to introduce you to Atchka, if you don't already know him. He's one of the founders of Fierce Freethinking Fatties and he's been more on top of the issue of expanded FDA approval for lap band use than we have at BFB, blogging about it on a regular basis since December, when he wrote an excellent background post detailing the dodgy way that the FDA came to approve the lap band for lower BMIs.

Now, check out this post on Allergan's plans. It notes that hearing dates are not yet set for approval of the lap band for teens. There's still time to do something about this one, folks.

Atchka is organizing opposition to expanded approval for gastric banding. He's set up a Facebook group to help keep people informed. This is a great idea. Let's back him on it.
Just for good measure, here's the homepage for the FDA advisory committees. It's the Gastroenterology and Urology Devices Panel of the Medical Devices Advisory Committee that's been making recommendations related to the lap band. The contact information for the department that oversees the committees and for the Center for Devices and Radiological Health, where the Medical Devices committees are based, are located on the pages I linked to above. If you feel inspired to write a letter or make phone calls, those would be good options. Alternatively, you could aim straight for the top.

Kathleen Sebelius
Secretary of Health & Human Services
U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
200 Independence Avenue
S.W. - Washington, D.C. 20201

Is SEO Hiding the Truth About Lap Bands? | Lonie McMichael: The Sisyphean Bind

BigLiberty's picture
March 8th, 2011 | Link | Ugh, this is horrible. I

Ugh, this is horrible. I don't know what to say, except that if the lap-band had been available when I was a teenager, I would have jumped at it, and so would my parents. And where would I be, now? I shudder to think about my health, the problems, neuropathy, bad nutrition putting me in a brain fog (my brain's the only thing that mattered to me as a physics/math student in college), and all the other horrible side effects.

This is bad new. Bad, bad news.

Bree's picture
March 8th, 2011 | Link | we were initially surprised

we were initially surprised by the weakness of the market and our sales of
obesity intervention products, particularly the LAP-BAND® Adjustable
Gastric Banding System...

This is really telling. Perhaps people are finally starting to get tired of the "fat kills, fat is the cause of all your problems" and aren't buying into the hype that Allergen is trying so hard to push. Maybe dieters still want to be able to eat without a fear of possible horrible and life-threatening side-effects. Whatever the reason their sales are down, diet products should not be pushed on or forced on anyone, especially teenagers, and the media needs to quit with their endless glowing reports on WLS and how it would be good for everyone.

Moody Blue's picture
Moody Blue
March 9th, 2011 | Link | Who was it again who wanted

Who was it again who wanted to create the Master Race?? Seems a lot of his ideas have seeped into our brains.

Alyssa March 12th, 2011 | Link | Peer Pressure

Making this available to teens is sick. I know as a teen I was bullied for being "fat." Now I realize I was normal weight according to medical charts. However,because of peer bullying, I continued to diet/starve myself in high school and college. I would have lept at the opportunity for a lap band to lose even more weight in an attempt to gain peer acceptance, and I have no doubt our fat-woman-hating family doctor would have approved it and encouraged my parents to have it done.

DeeLeigh's picture
March 12th, 2011 | Link | Well, to be fair, the FDA

Well, to be fair, the FDA approval that Allergen is seeking is for "morbidly obese" teenagers only (BMIs of 40+; 240lbs at 5'-5", for example). Using the bands on other BMI categories would still be off-label. So, if you were smaller than that as a teenager, it still wouldn't be an approved use.

vesta44's picture
March 12th, 2011 | Link | The problem with Allergen

The problem with Allergen getting approval for Lapband use in teens with BMI 40+ is that once that happens, you know that doctors are going to say "But this teen has a BMI of 35 and these co-morbidities, and it's approved for adults with those BMIs/co-morbidities, so let's let this teen have a Lapband too." Even if their parents' insurance won't pay for it, how many parents will refuse to pay for their teen to have this done when a doctor is telling them their teen will die before they hit the age of 21 if they don't have a Lapband? It's a slippery slope when this kind of crap is approved for adults with lower BMIs - it leads to eventual approval for teens with lower BMIs, through off-label use (the more teens have this done through off-label use, the more Allergen can say "See, we have proof it works and it's safe for teens at lower BMIs", even if that's not actually the case because they'll pick and choose the data they present).

WLS - Sorry, not my preferred way of dying. *glares at doctor recommending it*

Cordelia's picture
March 21st, 2011 | Link | This is very scary to me,

This is very scary to me, and I honestly don't care if it is just for the morbidly obese at the top of the BMI, it is sentencing teenagers to a lifetime of anorexia, bulimia, and a whole other mass of health problems. A person that young doesn't realize the choice they are making, and I know that so many people will pressure their children or young patients into having this and setting that person up for a lifetime of regret.

Very, very scary, and just a huge red flag that these companies don't really care about their patients, only their bottom line.

~*~ I support the radically simple idea that people should not be discriminated against, made fun of, restricted, or oppressed because of the size and shape of their bodies. Moreover, I believe that everyone has a right to dignity, respect, and self-love ~*~

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