On Tuesday, Los Angeles County supervisors voted in favor of calling for new state oversight of outpatient surgery clinics, the Los Angeles Times reports.
The move comes after FDA recently sent warning letters to eight surgical centers and the marketing firm 1-800-GET-THIN LLC in California about misleading ads of Lap-Band, a device used to treat obesity (Pfeifer , Los Angeles Times, 12/20).
According to FDA, the surgical centers and the marketing firm used billboards and advertising inserts that did not provide the required risk information about Lap-Band procedures, such as warnings, precautions and possible side effects. In addition, the agency said the font size used for risk information in the inserts was too small for consumers to read (California Healthline, 12/14).
Details of Supervisors' Meeting
During their meeting on Tuesday, supervisors tasked staff members to pursue legislation to boost regulation and oversight of clinics and hospitals that perform Lap-Band weight-loss surgery (Villacorte, Los Angeles Daily News, 12/20). Under current law, outpatient surgery clinics are licensed by private accrediting bodies. The board voted to seek a new statute that would give oversight authority of such centers to the state Department of Health Care Services (Pfeifer , Los Angeles Times, 12/20).
Supervisors also directed county attorneys to examine what legal options are available to ensure that ads for the weight-loss procedure are truthful. However, it is unclear whether the county has the authority to regulate such ads (Los Angeles Daily News, 12/20).
Advertising Agency Response
Also during their meeting on Tuesday, supervisors questioned Robert Silverman, president of 1-800-GET-THIN (Pfeifer , Los Angeles Times, 12/20).
Silverman said, "We are making every diligent effort to fully comply our advertising campaign with the FDA rules and regulations."
However, Silverman questioned whether the advertising agency falls under FDA regulations because the company does not perform surgeries or manufacture the Lap-Band device.
Prior to the meeting, Silverman sent a letter to Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas stating that the company had added warnings to its website and was revamping its ads on billboards, TV and radio (Pfeifer , Los Angeles Times, 12/20).
On Tuesday, KPCC's "KPCC News" reported on the board of supervisors' meeting about Lap-Band advertising (O'Neill, "KPCC News," KPCC, 12/20).