Hearing aids addressing mild to moderate hearing loss are soon headed to a retail pharmacy near you. President Donald Trump last week signed into law the "FDA Reauthorization Act of 2017," which included the bipartisan Over-the-Counter Hearing Aid Act.
"The House and Senate passed this measure recently as part of the FDA Reauthorization Act with overwhelming bipartisan support," stated Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn. "And on Friday, the President signed this landmark bill into law. For so many, this measure will finally make hearing correction affordable and within reach – with the latest technology, competitive prices and a short trip to your local pharmacy or shopping center," she suggested. "This bill addresses a problem that does not discriminate. At older ages, hearing loss becomes almost universal, affecting more than 60% of those in their 70s and nearly 80% of those over 80."
“I’ve heard from Iowans and others around the country in support of this provision,” added Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, a co-sponsor of the legislation in the Senate. “Consumers are interested in new hearing aid products to improve their quality of life at an affordable price. The more products available, the more consumers will be able to find something they can afford that works for them.”
"Thanks to President Trump signing the FDA Reauthorization bill into law ... consumers with mild-to-moderate hearing loss will no longer be at the mercy of companies selling expensive and cost-prohibitive hearing aids that cost thousands of dollars," commented Gary Shapiro, president and CEO, Consumer Technology Association. "Instead, 40 million Americans living with hearing loss in the future can buy over-the-counter hearing aids at roughly one-tenth of what traditional hearing aids costs."
Now the real work begins, Shapiro suggested, as stakeholders including CTA work with the FDA on quality-assurance measures that will enable the consumer to distinguish high-quality hearing enhancement devices for mild-to-moderate hearing loss from cheap, ineffective personal amplifiers.
According to CTA research, 1.5 million devices designed to amplify ambient sounds are expected to be sold in the U.S. this year.