1-800-GET-THIN

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1-800-GET-THIN was an American marketing company with headquarters at Beverly Hills, California. It sold weight-loss products and was a vanity 800 number as well as a trademarked brand name used to market "insurance services, namely, insurance eligibility review and verification in the health industry."[1]

Company president[edit]

1-800-GET-THIN was incorporated by Robert Silverman in February 2010. Robert Silverman resigned as company president on February 28, 2012 "to pursue other career opportunities."[2]

Advertisements[edit]

In 2011, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said that 1-800-GET-THIN's advertisements were misleading and failed to provide proper information about the potential risks involved in using the product.[3][4]

Lap-Band[edit]

On February 2, 2012 Allergan, Inc., the Lap-Band manufacturer announced it would no longer sell the weight-loss device to companies affiliated with the 1-800-GET-THIN marketing company.[5][6][7] On February 7, 2012 two clinics affiliated with 1-800-GET-THIN said they have temporarily halted Lap-Band surgeries.[8][9]

Controversies[edit]

U.S. House members called for a congressional investigation in 2012 into 1-800-GET-THIN.[10][11][12] The California Department of Insurance is investigating, surgery centers who are contracted with 1-800-GET-THIN, for alleged insurance fraud.[13][14][15][16] Published reports and lawsuits speculate that Michael Omidi owns and controls all of the surgery centers, as well as the 1-800-GET-THIN marketing firm. The documents also speculate that ownership of the centers and the marketing firm, 1-800-Get-Thin, are in part controlled by Kambiz Beniamia Omidi.[8][9][16][17] In October 2012, the FDA confirmed that members of the 1-800-GET-THIN ad campaign, are the subjects of a criminal investigation,involving several federal and state law enforcement agencies, according to a court filing. The investigation is focused on numerous, "Potential violations of federal law, including conspiracy, healthcare fraud, wire fraud, mail fraud, tax violations, identity theft and money laundering," Samanta Kelley, a special agent for the Food and Drug Administration's criminal division, said in an affidavit filed at the federal courthouse in Los Angeles. She also stated the FBI conducted an investigation of blackmail against 1-800-Get-Thin.[18]

A former 1-800-GET-THIN client testified in a deposition for a lawsuit that he knew about six or seven deaths that occurred prior to Oct. 6 2010, when he says he quit.Two of the reported deaths occurred after that date, including one still under investigation by the Los Angeles coroner." [19] The death still under investigation was that of Paula Rojeski, who died on Sept 8 2010, after she underwent a Lap-Band operation at the Valley Surgical Center in West Hills.

In 2011, a class action lawsuit was filed by relatives of two patients who died after Lap-Band surgeries at clinics affiliated with the 1-800-GET-THIN campaign. The complaint alleged false advertising and sought damages from the owners and several companies allegedly controlled by them. In April 2013, a settlement was reached to pay approximately $1.3 million to fund compensation for members of the plaintiff class as well as to fund a billboard campaign warning of the risks of the surgeries. Other lawsuits remain unresolved.[20]

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://tess2.uspto.gov/bin/showfield?f=doc&state=4010:40d8go.6.1
  2. ^ Pfeifer, Stuart (March 2, 2012). "President of 1-800-GET-THIN marketing firm resigns". Los Angeles Times. 
  3. ^ FDA issues Warning Letters for misleading advertising of Lap-Band (U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Dec. 13, 2011)
  4. ^ FDA accuses 1-800-GET-THIN of using misleading Lap-Band ads (Los Angeles Times, December 14, 2011)
  5. ^ Lap-Band makers would not sell it to 1-800-GET-THIN (Associated Press, February 2, 2012)
  6. ^ Allergan halts Lap-Band sales to surgery firm (Orange County Register, Feb. 2, 2012)
  7. ^ Allergan halts Lap-Band sales to 1-800-GET-THIN clinics (Los Angeles Times, February 2, 2012)
  8. ^ a b Lap-Band surgeries to be cut at West Hills, Beverly Hills centers (Los Angeles Daily News, February 7, 2012)
  9. ^ a b Clinics halt Lap-Band surgeries (Los Angeles Times, February 8, 2012)
  10. ^ House members requested an investigation into Lap-Band safety, marketing (Los Angeles Times, Jan 20, 2012)
  11. ^ Congress questions 1-800-GET-THIN ads (United Press International, Jan 21, 2012)
  12. ^ U.S. House of Representatives letter, January 20, 2012)
  13. ^ Insurance Company Targets 1-800-GET-THIN (NBC News, Jan 27, 2012 )
  14. ^ State launches Lap-Band investigation (Los Angeles Times, Jan 26, 2012)
  15. ^ State Launches Lap-Band Surgery Fraud Investigation (KTLA, January 27, 2012)
  16. ^ a b Legal Problems Pile Up for '1-800-GET-THIN' Surgeons (Medscape Medical News, February 2, 2012)
  17. ^ Whistleblower complaint vs. 1-800-GET-THIN (Superior Court of California)
  18. ^ GET-THIN brothers in fraud inquiry (Los Angeles Times, October 23, 2012)
  19. ^ Hiltzik, Michael (2012-01-22). "Inaction by regulators as weight loss surgery allegations mount". Los Angeles Times. 
  20. ^ Stuart Pfeifer, "Lawsuit over GET-THIN ads is settled", Los Angeles Times, April 18, 2013.

External links[edit]