This fall, millions of Americans will be able to purchase less costly hearing aids over the counter without a prescription or doctor’s visit.
For those with mild to severe hearing loss, a Food and Drug Administration rule published on Tuesday permits retail sales of hearing aids by the middle of October. According to regulators, the new regulation should provide millions of consumers with more affordable options and provide access for people who cannot afford hearing aids, which may cost up to $3,000 each.
“Today the FDA opens the door to quality, affordable hearing aids for consumers over the counter,” declared Xavier Becerra, secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services. Safe, efficient, and high-quality hearing aids have been out of reach for many Americans who have hearing loss.
Only roughly 1 in 5 persons with hearing loss use hearing aids, despite the fact that about 30 million adults struggle with hearing. Hearing loss is a result of ageing, loud noise exposure, underlying medical disorders, and other reasons. With the aid of hearing aids, people can communicate more effectively by making speech and other sounds louder.
According to the FCC, the new rule would result in customer savings of around $1,400 for a single hearing aid or $2,800 for a pair.
Children or adults with more severe types of hearing loss are not covered by the rule. According to experts, people should seek medical attention if they have more complicated issues, like ear abnormalities, or symptoms like discomfort or bleeding.
A draught regulation from last October was modified by the agency in response to consumer and hearing expert feedback in the public. According to the final rule, retail hearing aids must include a user-adjustable volume control and a lower maximum sound level. The final rule also establishes a maximum depth for insertion of the devices in the ear canal. For the purpose of selling the gadgets directly to customers, manufacturers must adhere to performance and device design standards.
The Over-the-Counter Hearing Aid Act, which instructed the FDA to permit the sale of over-the-counter hearing aids, was passed by Congress five years prior to the rule’s implementation. President Joe Biden’s executive order from July 2021 required the FDA to publish a draught rule for the product’s over-the-counter sales within 120 days.
FDA Commissioner Robert M. Califf stated that “hearing loss is a critical public health concern that impacts the capacity of millions of Americans to adequately communicate in their everyday social interactions.” “By creating this new regulatory category, consumers with perceived mild to moderate hearing loss will have easy access to a wide selection of secure, efficient, and reasonably priced hearing aids from their local retailer or online.”
Despite the fact that the new regulation may offer millions of people with hearing loss affordable options, some caution was advised.
Hearing loss is “unique to each person, and most do not know if their condition is mild, moderate, or greater, caused by another medical issue, or something as simple as ear wax,” according to the Hearing Industries Association, which represents hearing aid manufacturers, suppliers, and hearing health professionals.
The group stated in a statement that “a hearing professional will do a hearing exam, evaluate the source and degree of the hearing loss, and advise the individual on the options available and the cost.”