FDA May Ban Electric Shock Devices Used at JRC

The majority of members on a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advisory panel appeared to conclude Thursday that the risks of devices used to deliver painful electric shocks to students with disabilities at the Judge Rotenberg Center (JRC) outweigh the benefits.  This is the criterion FDA uses when deciding whether to ban devices, and the panel met Thursday to weigh the benefits of electric stimulation devices and decide whether to make such a recommendation to the FDA.

NASDDDS was one of fourteen organizations invited to testify before the panel. Thirteen of the organizations supported banning the devices; only the JRC’s Parent Association spoke for retaining them. The panel of experts will make several recommendations to the US Food and Drug Administration regarding the use of the shocks, which are only used at the JRC, for treatment. JRC defended the devices, known as Graduated Electronic Decelerators (GEDs), saying they can be the only thing stopping severely disabled students from engaging in destructive, self-injurious behavior.

An FDA spokesperson said the FDA “will consider all available information, including the advisory committee’s input, when considering any future regulatory action.” In a 126-page report issued this week in advance of the panel, the federal agency said it is currently reviewing the devices and could move to bar their continued use.