Mar 26, 2024 - Health

FDA tries again to ban electric shock devices

A photo of FDA headquarters

Photo: Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images

The Food and Drug Administration is moving to ban use of electrical stimulation devices meant to reduce self-injurious or aggressive behavior, which it says come with an "unreasonable and substantial" risk of injury.

Why it matters: The FDA, which rarely bans medical devices, warns that these devices that send electric shocks through electrodes attached to the skin raise significant psychological and physical risks and that they're often used on people with intellectual disabilities.

Catch up quick: The agency previously tried to ban the devices in 2020, but it was overruled a year later after the only facility in the U.S. using the devices successfully sued to block the move.

  • A federal court found the agency didn't have the authority to ban devices just for specific uses, but the FDA says power Congress granted it since then clearly allows the agency to issue the ban.

What they're saying: About 50 students at the Judge Rotenberg Educational Center in Canton, Massachusetts, now have treatment plans that include — or potentially include — use of the devices, according to the FDA.

  • The agency said treatment options for this population have evolved toward positive behavioral interventions, sometimes with drugs.
  • Rotenberg in a statement to local outlets suggested it could again sue if FDA moves forward with the ban.
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