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The U.S. Senate Has Heard the Call for Over-The-Counter Hearing Aids


Gary Shapiro, President and CEO, Consumer Technology Association
It’s a milestone week for the nearly 40 million Americans living with hearing loss – technology is about to change their lives and hearing for the better.

It’s a milestone week for the nearly 40 million Americans living with hearing loss – technology is about to change their lives and hearing for the better.

On Thursday, the U.S. Senate passed the Food and Drug Administration Reauthorization Act, sending it to the desk of President Trump. Embedded in the bill was a provision to make hearing aids available over the counter.  

Current Federal Drug Administration (FDA) rules bar companies from marketing non-prescription hearing devices, known as Personal Sound Amplification Products (PSAPs), which can benefit people with mild to moderate hearing loss. This puts consumers with hearing loss at the mercy of expensive and cost-prohibitive hearing aids that can range in cost from $1000 to $6000. Most insurance plans won’t foot a hefty bill for traditional hearing aids. According to CTA's Personal Sound Amplification Products: A Study of Consumer Attitudes and Behavior, many Americans are forced to suffer through hearing loss because of the expense.

Within three years the FDA should create a new class of over-the-counter hearing aids. They will likely sell for $100 to $600, one-tenth of what traditional hearing aids costs. To make sure the FDA has the right tools to implement this, CTA has developed a quality-assurance logo to ensure consumers will be able to distinguish high-quality hearing enhancement devices for mild to moderate hearing loss from cheap, ineffective personal amplifiers.

Over-the-counter hearing aids are the solution millions of people are waiting for, driving down prohibitive costs and increasing consumer choice. Supported by emails, tweets and Facebook messages from nearly 1,400 people in support of the legislation, CTA has long advocated for better options to serve Americans living with hearing loss, and the success of this bipartisan legislative effort shows that Congress has been listening.

Click here to learn more about the journey toward PSAPs.

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