(Lap) Band on the Run

  • by: |
  • 07/31/2012

Doctors behaving badly -- very badly.

The FDA has sent a warning letter to Lap-Band VIP warning them to change their billboard and television marketing or face disciplinary action. Lap-Band VIP, based in Tarzana, has promoted its weight-loss surgery on television, the Internet and freeway billboards throughout Southern California. One billboard featured a photograph of a thin woman with the pitch: "Tiffany lost over 100 lbs. Actual patient. Results may vary."

Those ads were misleading, the FDA said in a June 25 letter, because they failed to include adequate warnings about the surgery's risks. The agency said Lap-Band VIP "should take prompt action to correct the violations" or risk "regulatory action."

Dr. Shahram Salimitari, a co-owner of Lap-Band VIP, told the Los Angeles Times that the company was pulling the billboards down. "Most of my patients come through referral," Salimitari said. "We don't need to advertise like that to get patients. We do it by taking care of patients."

It seems that Dr. Salimitari has an interesting way of taking care of thngs.

He’s described on the Lap-Band VIP website as a specialist in "gastric banding procedures," but the website does not mention that Salimitari was arrested by Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies in 2008 and charged with threatening to kill a sheriff's deputy and a flower shop owner.

Talk about violative behavior!

The trouble started after the store owner asked Salimitari to move his black BMW 323i, which he had double-parked outside her store in a Valencia strip mall, according to a sheriff's arrest report.

Salimitari swore at the woman and said, "If you do anything to my car, I'll kill you," the store owner, Myra Harbour, testified at a hearing in Los Angeles County Superior Court in San Fernando. The woman later obtained a restraining order, which is still in effect, that prohibits Salimitari from coming within 100 yards of her.

Sheriff's Deputy Thomas Babiracki said Salimitari threatened to kill him after he arrived at the flower shop. The deputy said he used pepper spray to control the irate surgeon and that he needed another deputy's help to handcuff the 220-pound Salimitari.

"I felt threatened," the deputy testified. "He's larger than I am."

Results, it seems, may vary.


Center for Medicine in the Public Interest is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization promoting innovative solutions that advance medical progress, reduce health disparities, extend life and make health care more affordable, preventive and patient-centered. CMPI also provides the public, policymakers and the media a reliable source of independent scientific analysis on issues ranging from personalized medicine, food and drug safety, health care reform and comparative effectiveness.

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