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Duly Noted

Friday, Jul 13, 2012, 1:02 pm

You Mean the “LipoTron 3000” Isn’t On The Up-and-Up?

By Lindsay Beyerstein

Another day, another sketchy medical device:

But there's a problem: The LipoTron, which targets fat with radiofrequency waves, has never been cleared or approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which would make it illegal under federal law to sell or promote it for weight loss.

The FDA is aware of the activity. But an investigation by FairWarning found that the agency has not taken enforcement action – even though it has known about the situation at least since January 2010. At that time, two whistleblowers, one a former LipoTron distributor, provided sales records and a trove of other documents to an FDA criminal investigator. [OC Register]

The LipoTron isn't FDA-approved, though some spas that offer the treatment falsely claim that it is. This isn't some harmless butt massager, this is potentially serious:*

Selling for as much as $85,000, the LipoTron passes radiofrequency waves through the body to heat, and destroy, fat cells. According to Reveco, the procedure targets subcutaneous fat, which is just below the skin, as well as visceral fat surrounding the vital organs, but without harming adjacent tissues. Spas typically recommend six to eight treatments for about $400 each.

The FDA is aware the un-approved fat-zapper, but it hasn't moved to shut down the company that makes it.

*Assuming it works as advertised, which it may not.

Lindsay Beyerstein is an award-winning investigative journalist and In These Times staff writer who writes the blog Duly Noted. Her stories have appeared in Newsweek, Salon, Slate, The Nation, Ms. Magazine, and other publications. Her photographs have been published in the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times' City Room. She also blogs at The Hillman Blog (http://www.hillmanfoundation.org/hillmanblog), a publication of the Sidney Hillman Foundation, a non-profit that honors journalism in the public interest.

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