Hospitals begin gastric banding weight-loss surgery on patients with lower BMI

June 27, 2011 by MassDevice staff

Following the FDA's nod this winter of expanded use for Allergan's Lap-Band gastric banding system, the Davis Clinic in Houston, Texas announces that it will perform the procedure for patients with a BMI of 30 to 35.


Some hospitals are starting to promote gastric band surgery for patients with lower BMIs, in a sign that the recent Food & Drug Administration decision to lower the threshold of obesity that a patient must exhibit in order to fit the indication for gastric banding surgery could turn out to be a boon for Allergan Inc. (NYSE:AGN).

The Davis Clinic in Houston, Texas, announced that it will offer the weight-loss surgery for the newly included range of obese patients, using Allergan's Lap-Band device, which first won FDA clearance in 2001.

Prior to February of this year, gastric banding surgery was approved only for patients with a body mass index of 35 or higher. The FDA expanded the approved group to include patients with a BMI of 30 or higher who also exhibit a co-morbid condition like diabetes or hypertension, enabling about 26 million more people to opt for the surgery, according to a clinic release.

While the influx of candidates is a clear win for Allergan, the lower threshold of patients doesn't qualify for insurance coverage, meaning they'll have to pay cash for the procedure.

"We are hopeful that in the next few years, we will see that change," said Jamie Carr, clinical director at the David Clinic. "For the time being, the procedure must be done on a cash-pay basis, but of all procedures available today, the LAP-BAND is certainly the most affordable when an individual must pay for surgery themselves."