New Device Seeking Approval in Fight Against Obesity

As many as twelve million Americans may soon be eligible to have surgery to implant a small and flexible stomach band into their abdomens in order to help them lose weight. The Food and Drug Administration is still examining the efficacy and side effects of such an implant, and is scheduled to reach a final decision within the next few months.

Lap-Band, as it is known, is a product produced by Allergan Inc. It is already being used by about 100,000 people a year who are considered morbidly obese, and has been shown to help them lose about 50 pounds or more on average.

On Friday a panel of FDA advisors decided to recommend the expansion of the use of the device to patients who are less obese, deciding in an 8-2 vote that the benefits of offering this device to less overweight patients outweighs the risks.