Study: To reduce heart disease risks, gastric banding beats drugs

Gastric banding still works better than drugs in reducing risk factors for heart disease in obese patients, an evaluation of 73 existing studies concludes. The finding, published in the U.K. journal Heart, is a shot of good news for Allergan's ($AGN) Lap-Band anti-obesity device and other manufacturers in the space.

Bloomberg highlights details of the Cleveland Clinic-led research, which also cited bariatric surgery/gastric bypass as another option better than drugs in reducing heart disease symptoms from high blood pressure to diabetes and high cholesterol.  But as the article explains, weight loss surgery carries a number of safety and health risks. Gastric banding isn't immune to controversy, either, because as many as half of patients who receive the implant have to have it taken out because of product problems.

Allergan's Lap-Band anti-obesity device has led the market here, with hundreds of thousands of successful implants over 18 years. But the company itself has had some pushback, in part from the recent gastric banding study, and its controversial bid to expand Lap-Band's use into the U.S. teen market. Allergan abandoned those plans after facing a number of safety concerns and lawsuits.

Adding to the pushback, some in Congress want hearings on whether the FDA probably concerned safety issues regarding the Lap-Band approval.

But the researchers acknowledge all of these risks and say both procedures should still remain in play, particularly for select patients with a high cardiac risk. And until drugs can produce better results, those options will continue to remain in play.

- read the Bloomberg story
- here's the journal abstract