Early Retirement Due to Mental Illness Exacts Hefty Economic Toll

Early retirement due to depression or other mental illness exacts a high economic toll on individuals and governments, a new study from Australia shows.

Efforts to prevent and treat mental illness are likely to prove cost-effective for governments “and in the long term save on the costs of financially supporting those who are forced to exit the workforce early because of their ailment,” according to the study, which is published in the February issue of the British Journal of Psychiatry……..

Megan Brooks
Medscape Medical News

FDA Panel Wants Electroconvulsive Therapy to Retain High-Risk Class III Status

The US Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) Neurological Devices Panel has told the FDA that it wants electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) machines to retain their class III classification as high-risk devices.

The FDA had been seeking advice and recommendations from the panel as to whether regulations on ECT machines should be relaxed, but it did not ask the panel to formally vote on the matter.

Retaining their current class III classification means that the devices may be subject to a more stringent premarket approval process and that the 2 current manufacturers in the United States — MECTA and Somatics — might have to seek a premarket approval (PMA) and conduct the appropriate clinical trials to provide new evidence showing that the devices are indeed safe and effective for the treatment of severe, drug-resistant depression and other severe psychiatric illness…..

Fran Lowry
Medscape Medical News

Is Electroconvulsive Therapy on Its Way Out? FDA Panel Recommendation Causes APA to Fear for the Future of ‘Life-Saving’ Therapy

After a US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) panel’s recommendation that electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) devices retain their high-risk class III classification, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) fears that the future of ECT for the treatment of severe, drug-resistant depression and other serious mental disorders is now in jeopardy.

If the FDA decides to follow the advice of its Neurological Devices Committee, it means that the 2 companies that currently manufacture ECT machines would have 30 months to submit a premarket approval to show that the devices are safe and effective.

ECT has been in use since before the FDA enacted new, more stringent laws for device approval, and psychiatrists fear that the logistics of conducting new trials will pose insurmountable problems for the manufacturers.

They also doubt whether data from any new trial would be sufficient to convince a subsequent advisory panel of the efficacy and safety of the devices, long considered by the APA to be life-saving.

“It hasn’t been yanked from the market right now,” said Sarah H. Lisanby, MD, head of psychiatry, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina, and chair of the APA Task Force to Revise the Practice of Electroconvulsive Therapy.

“But the continued availability of this life-saving treatment in the long term lies in the hands of the FDA right now. We’re pleased it wasn’t taken off the market instantly, but if new trials are going to be required, it’s not clear who will fund them and whether they will in fact even be done. This is the concern,” she told Medscape Medical News……

Fran Lowry
Medscape Medical News

Psychiatric Care Shortage: What the Future Holds (Video)

Hello. This is Dr. Jeffrey Lieberman of Columbia University speaking today for Medscape. Recently I saw a news report that stated that of all medical subspecialties it’s projected that the greatest need in the future to meet the healthcare needs of the US population is in psychiatry. That is of all of the medical subspecialties, there is a shortage of psychiatrists to meet the needs of the population in the future. This is interesting because I’ve long felt that there was really an understaffing of the workforce of mental health professionals to meet what we know to be the public mental health need for mental illness. This is something that would be apparent to anybody who understands the epidemiology of mental illness…….

Jeffrey A Lieberman, MD
Medscape Psychiatry & Mental Health