Rockville, MD, May 11, 2022 – The Autism Society of America is pleased that the House of Representatives is marking up the Food and Drug Amendments of 2022 in Committee this week. This bill includes a provision (Sec. 810) to ban the use of electrical stimulation devices (ESDs) that apply a noxious electrical stimulus to a person’s skin for use in behavior modification.
In March of 2016, the FDA determined that these devices present an unreasonable and substantial risk of illness or injury that cannot be corrected or eliminated by labeling. The Autism Society applauded the final rule at that time. But in a 2-1 opinion, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit found that the ban was a regulation of the practice of medicine, which is beyond the FDA’s authority. The only known center that still uses this device is the Judge Rotenberg Educational Center in Massachusetts. Importantly, the Center primarily serves students with disabilities of color, making the ban on the GED a pressing issue of disability and racial justice.
“It is unconscionable that these acts against humans are permitted in the United States,” stated Christopher Banks, President and CEO. “The Autism Society of America has a national position statement against such torture. This device issues painful skin shocks for the purposes of behavioral modification and has been named a device of torture by the United Nations. The Autism Society of America condemns the use of this device and strongly urges the House Energy and Commerce Committee to pass the FDA Amendments Act with the provision to ban these devices. We cannot profess to do the work of equity and remain neutral in the face of such violence.”