Senators Support FDA on Electric Shock Device Ban


An FDA rule to ban the use of electrical stimulation devices to combat self-injurious or aggressive behavior has been rejected by a federal appeals court. (FDA / Flickr)

A group of senators are urging the Food and Drug Administration to continue the fight after a federal court overturned the agency’s ban on devices used to administer electric shocks to people with developmental disabilities.

Seven Democrats sent a letter last week at the FDA asking the agency to continue its efforts to ban so-called electrical stimulation devices.

“We are disappointed with the recent decision of the United States Court of Appeals for the DC circuit to overturn the FDA’s ban on the use of electrical stimulation devices (ESDs), also known as electric shock devices, on people with intellectual or developmental disabilities. Reads correspondence from senators. “We appreciate your defense of the rule and ask that you continue to prioritize the protection of people with disabilities by ending this dangerous practice.”

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The letter is signed by Sens. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., Tina Smith, D-Minn., Tim Kaine, D-Va., Bob Casey, D-Pa., Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., And Maggie Hassan, DN.H.

Last year, the FDA decided to ban electrical stimulation devices, which send electric shocks through electrodes attached to the skin in order to condition people not to engage in self-injurious or aggressive behavior. . The move came after the agency found the devices to pose “an unreasonable and substantial risk of illness or injury.” Regulators cited evidence of psychological and physical risks, including burns, tissue damage, worsening underlying symptoms, depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

But in July, the DC Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the ban, ruling in favor of the Judge Rotenberg Educational Center, a facility in Canton, Massachusetts that serves children and adults with developmental disabilities as well as those with behavioral and emotional problems. The Rotenberg Center is the only place in the country known to use electrical stimulation devices, which the center says is a “treatment of last resort”.

This decision by the DC Circuit Court of Appeals came from three judges on the panel. In September, the FDA asked the court to reconsider the case before all of its 11 judges.

In writing the letter, Senators said they wanted to thank the FDA and show their support for the agency’s continued efforts to implement a ban.

“We encourage the FDA, as well as the DOJ, to continue to take all necessary measures to protect children and adults with disabilities,” the lawmakers wrote.

The FDA said it is not commenting on the pending litigation.


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