Companies behind gastric bypass bands refuse to sell to SoCal surgery centers

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The second of the two companies that manufacture the only adjustable gastric bands approved in the U.S. for weight loss surgery says it will not sell its device to the eight surgery centers marketed by 1-800-GET-THIN.

A spokesman for Johnson & Johnson, which owns the company that manufactures the device marketed as the Realize Band, says it has never sold its device to the centers and has no plans to do so.

That news follows an announcement this week by Irvine-based Allergan Inc., maker of the competing Lap-Band, that it will stop selling its device to the surgery centers, effectively cutting off their supply.

The decision by both companies comes in the midst of investigations and wrongful death lawsuits against the eight surgery centers associated with the 1-800-GET-THIN marketing campaign.

The centers have found themselves targeted by the FDA, the Department of Insurance and various members of Congress.

Five southern California residents have died after undergoing surgery at the centers, which are also under investigation by the California Department of Insurance for alleged fraud.

Attorneys who represent the surgery centers did not respond to a request for comment.

With contributions from Paige Osburn

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