FDA First: Agency Approves Video Game Treatment For ADHD, Requires A Prescription

from the dr.-mario-will-see-you-now dept

Way back in 2013, when the world was still a logical and sensical place, we wrote about a group of Finnish doctors experimenting treating those afflicated with ADHD with video games. This certainly must have struck many as an odd path to take, what with my generation being raised largely by parents that insisted that video games were bad for us. Specifically, at least in my household, there was great concern that these games would shorten attention spans and cause us to get ADHD in the first place.

We didn't hear a great deal more on this novel use of video games until recently, but it's still heartening to see that the FDA made a small bit of history recently by approving gaming treatment for those with ADHD. In this case, a game specifically designed to improve cognitive functioning can be prescribed by a doctor.

A new game designed to treat some ADHD symptoms in kids aged 8-12 has been officially approved by the The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, meaning that anyone who wants to attempt treating children with the game needs to get a prescription first. As AP report, it’s not only the first time the organisation has approved the use of “digital therapy” for the treatment of ADHD, but it’s also “the first time the agency has ever authorized marketing of a game-based therapy for any condition”.

The game, called EndeavorRx, uses a combination of sensory and motor challenges to “help the player improve cognitive functioning”.

Now, it should be noted that the game was created by a developer based on a study performed by several doctors who were on the developer's payroll. That certainly sucks. But, still, given that the application of certain games to help cognition in people suffering from ADHD is not entirely new, this probably calls into question the science on how effective this game is, not games in general.

What it doesn't do is call into question what is becoming a more common interest in utilizing engaging gameplaying to address certain medical afflictions. And it isn't just video games, either. In fact, lots of things parents used to worry about are now being used as therapeutics. For instance, Dungeons and Dragons underwent its own infamous moral panic episode, only to be turned years later into a form of therapy.

The real lesson here, or one real lesson, is that we should all beware a trendy moral panic.

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Filed Under: adhd, digital therapies, endeavorrx, fda, prescription games, prescriptions, video games
Companies: akili


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  • icon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 22 Jun 2020 @ 6:36pm

    Panicking about panic is a trend in itself

    Moral panic wouldn't be as popular if it weren't trendy. Have they started looking for a cure for moral panic? Or trendiness?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 22 Jun 2020 @ 8:35pm

      Re: Panicking about panic is a trend in itself

      Yes, but the cure itself has been found able to cause moral panic. Discussion of any cure can cause moral panic as well.

      <S> There's nothing you can do about it. </S>

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 23 Jun 2020 @ 2:21am

      Re: Panicking about panic is a trend in itself

      No, moral panic is evergreen for some types of people, they just occasionally shift the target.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 23 Jun 2020 @ 3:32am

        Re: Re: Panicking about panic is a trend in itself

        Moral panics are frequently jealousy that youths are having fun in a way that they did not have available when they were young.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 23 Jun 2020 @ 3:56pm

        Re: Re: Panicking about panic is a trend in itself

        There is nothing about which to panic, except panic itself.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    OGquaker, 22 Jun 2020 @ 10:14pm

    Children got to get out of the house

    Like almost everything in the PDR, the physiology of the human body gradually accommodates the changes forced by a therapeutic agent, kids will adapt to this "solution". Why not critic and change the context that has produced the https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/big-pharma-s-manufactured-epidemic-the-misdiagnosis-of-ad hd/

    NYTimes 2013 *The number of diagnoses of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder has ballooned over the past few decades. Before the early 1990s, fewer than 5 percent of school-age kids were thought to have A.D.H.D. Earlier this year, data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that 11 percent of children ages 4 to 17 had at some point received the diagnosis — and that doesn’t even include first-time diagnoses in adults. That amounts to millions of extra people receiving regular doses of stimulant drugs to keep neurological symptoms in check. For a lot of us, the diagnosis and subsequent treatments — both behavioral and pharmaceutical — have proved helpful. But still: Where did we all come from? Were that many Americans always pathologically hyperactive and unable to focus, and only now are getting the treatment they need?

    Probably not. Of the 6.4 million kids who have been given diagnoses of A.D.H.D., a large percentage are unlikely to have any kind of physiological difference that would make them more distractible than the average non-A.D.H.D. kid. It’s also doubtful that biological or environmental changes are making physiological differences more prevalent. Instead, the rapid increase in people with A.D.H.D. probably has more to do with sociological factors — changes in the way we school our children, in the way we interact with doctors and in what we expect from our kids.*

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Jun 2020 @ 1:57am

    But seriously, it requires a prescription. Because reasons.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Flakbait (profile), 23 Jun 2020 @ 4:30am

      Re:

      Reasons being insurance. No sane insurance company would cover the cost a video game without a prescription...they'd lose their shirts paying for GTA and the like. And if insurance is going to pay for it, then the manufacturer (if that's what you would call the developer of a Rx video game) can charge much, much higher prices than the open market, with online games and game apps that have no baseline cost, would bear.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        JoeCool (profile), 23 Jun 2020 @ 5:06am

        Re: Re:

        Doctor: I prescribe $1000 of micro-transactions this month, and make it $2000 next month - I'm going on vacation and need the spending money.

        Patient (shrugs): It's covered by insurance, so why the hell not.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 23 Jun 2020 @ 3:59pm

        Re: Re:

        This, i realize. But a thing can be available by prescription, without also requiring that it can be dispensed only by prescription. (Excepting, of course, the whole profit angle. I.e., because reasons.)

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Jun 2020 @ 2:16am

    Personally, I'm panicking about this one, because it was bankrolled by the cartoonishly evil mess that is Autism $peaks, but yes. Moral panic over things is generally not good.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Rocky, 23 Jun 2020 @ 4:04am

      Re: Moral panic

      In most cases when there's a "moral panic", stupid things ensue because someone desperately must be seen doing something about it.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Code Monkey (profile), 23 Jun 2020 @ 7:38am

      Re:

      ".. cartoonishly evil mess that is Autism $peaks..."

      In what way(s) are they evil and do you have proof?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 23 Jun 2020 @ 10:15am

        Re: Re:

        Supporting the literal torture of children with electric shocks until they stopped being visibly autistic is absolutely cartoonishly evil, and they supported that to the bitter end, last I checked. Their widely-touted "Applied Behavior Analysis" is something a literal dog trainer wouldn't use for ethical reasons. They refuse to listen to prominent autistic advocates, and want to eradicate autism from the face of the earth like it's a deadly disease. It is not.

        Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go find a herd of kittens to cuddle, because I did not want to be thinking about these evil people at 1:14 PM on a Tuesday.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 23 Jun 2020 @ 4:01pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          This. This right here.

          All "advocacy groups" are not created equal. Not by a long shot.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 23 Jun 2020 @ 11:47pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Doctor, Thankyou thankyou. I take a lot of crap for my cats from almost everyone, and You've given me my reason for raising kittens for the last twenty years

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Hor, 23 Jun 2020 @ 4:07am

    Gaming makes sense

    The brain is hugely complex and exploration and especially comprehension of the connectome will take hundreds of years (at the current pace). Modifying the connectome with the traditional approach, i.e. going to a shrink and talking, is just very inefficient and error prone. Gaming allows us to scale treatment a bit. The changes are still indirect, so cannot be as efficient as direct connectome modification would be. But it's still an improvement.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Jun 2020 @ 6:09am

    I blame Civilization...

    ... for my ability to play a video game for 18 hours without a break.

    I haven't seen the wife and kids for 12 hours, but they'll get their turn. Right after I crush Greece...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Code Monkey (profile), 23 Jun 2020 @ 7:35am

    Approved for kids 8 - 12 years old..

    Has there been any results that show this Rx is equally effective in adults? (asking for a friend... )

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Jun 2020 @ 2:16pm

    Now, it should be noted that the game was created by a developer based on a study performed by several doctors who were on the developer's payroll. That certainly sucks.

    Wow, you're really going to hate... checks notes ... every drug the FDA has ever approved.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Bergman (profile), 24 Jun 2020 @ 9:02pm

    Over the Counter?

    I wonder - given the FDA is requiring a prescription, wouldn't that mean that playing the game without one would be a criminal act?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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