LOS ANGELES, Nov. 21, 2016 /PRNewswire-iReach/ -- Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR), a mental health industrywatchdog group, is urging the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to protect children against the use of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) after initial results from the group's nationwide survey revealed that five year olds or younger have been administered
The FDA and American Psychiatric Association (APA) both rely upon the figure that 100,000 Americans undergo electroshock each year, but this statistic is more than twenty years old.1 The statistic doesn't isolate how many of those are children and adolescents. The lack of transparency about the use of the controversial mental health treatment, which emits up to 460 volts of electricity through the brain, prompted CCHR to take it upon itself to get the facts. CCHR wrote to each state Department of Health and insurance companies, including TRICARE, the military health insurance company, requesting the information—something, CCHR charges, the FDA should have done.
The Defense Health Agency (DHA) provided CCHR its TRICARE statistics that revealed that between 2010 and 2016, children in the "zero to five" age group have been electroshocked. It's unknown if any children of veterans covered by the VA Health Care Benefits have been given ECT. Kansas and Michigan were able to pull statistics of ECT's use under Medicaid only, confirming adolescents were given ECT, but this is limited information. Other states simply admitted they don't collect such statistics.
California, Texas and Tennessee collect ECT statistics but each has banned pediatric use of it.
Jan Eastgate, the international president of CCHR, said, "ECT device makers have never conducted clinical trials proving the device's safety and efficacy, which should have then required stringent monitoring of its use by FDA, APA and state governments. However, this has not been done and, minimally, violates the FDA's mandate to protect the public's health."
Eastgate points out that the FDA does not regulate medicine, so if the ECT risk category is lowered, even though FDA claims this would be for those 18 and older, FDA has no control over its use were this to occur. "More five year olds could be put at risk of electroshock," Eastgate said. CCHR's submission earlier this year in response to the FDA's "Proposed Rule" to Reduce the Classification of the ECT Device, highlighted how already ECT is given "off-label" (unapproved use), including to autistic children.
"The FDA must take the step to protect children from the administration of ECT on- or off-label and must do its due diligence, as CCHR is, to collect the statistics on ECT use in children and adolescents," Eastgate said.
Experts Speak Out
Many support CCHR's request. Former Army Colonel and psychologist, Dr. Bart Billings, Ph.D., was appalled to hear that the children of our military are given ECT. He stated: "Any treatment that destroys healthy brain cells; i.e., ECT, is criminal; it's child abuse. There are many integrative treatment alternatives that can be effective with children that do not destroy brain cells."
CCHR calls for anyone whose mother, wife, sister, or father, brother, son, child or friend has been killed or damaged by electroshock treatment or any staff or former staff of such facilities with knowledge of such damage to please write CCHR full particulars with any documentary evidence.
About CCHR: CCHR is a non-profit, non-political, non-religious mental health watchdog, established in 1969 by The Church of Scientology and Thomas Szasz, M.D., professor of psychiatry. Its mission is to eradicate abuses committed under the guise of mental health and enact patient and consumer protections. CCHR has helped to get more than 180 laws that protect individuals from abusive or coercive psychiatric practices.
1 "Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT)," Mental Health America, mentalhealthamerica.net/ect.
2 Jonathon Emord, et al., Citizens Petition to FDA, 24 Aug. 2016, p. 9, http://emord.com/blawg/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/1-ECT-Citizen-Petition.pdf
Media Contact: Media Dept., Citizens Commission on Human Rights International, 323-467-4242, [email protected]
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SOURCE Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR)
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