Allowing the Sale of Hearing Aids Over-the-Counter (O.T.C.) Results in “Increased Innovation and Lower Prices”

(p. D3) A year ago, the Food and Drug Administration announced new regulations allowing the sale of over-the-counter hearing aids and setting standards for their safety and effectiveness.

. . .

Some background: In 2020, the influential Lancet Commission on Dementia Prevention, Intervention and Care identified hearing loss as the greatest potentially modifiable risk factor for dementia.

Previous studies had demonstrated a link between hearing loss and cognitive decline, said Dr. Frank Lin, an otolaryngologist and epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins and lead author of the new research.

“What remained unanswered was, If we treat hearing loss, does it actually reduce cognitive loss?” he said. The ACHIEVE study (for Aging and Cognitive Health Evaluation in Elders) showed that, at least for a particular group of older adults, it could.

. . .

A small study recently published in JAMA Otolaryngology found that patients who were given a commercially available, self-fitting hearing aid in a clinical trial could, after six weeks, hear as well as patients fitted with the same device by audiologists.

. . .

The United States is the first country to develop a regulated O.T.C. hearing aid market, and “the tech companies and the retailers are still experimenting,” Dr. Lin pointed out. He predicts increased innovation and lower prices ahead.

For the full commentary, see:

Paula Span. “THE NEW OLD AGE; A Challenging Over-the-Counter Market for Hearing Aids.” The New York Times (Tuesday, October 31, 2023): D3.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date Oct. 30, 2023, and has the title “THE NEW OLD AGE; Hearing Aids Are More Affordable, and Perhaps More Needed, Than Ever.”)

The “small study” mentioned above is:

De Sousa, Karina C., Vinaya Manchaiah, David R. Moore, Marien A. Graham, and De Wet Swanepoel. “Effectiveness of an over-the-Counter Self-Fitting Hearing Aid Compared with an Audiologist-Fitted Hearing Aid: A Randomized Clinical Trial.” JAMA Otolaryngology–Head & Neck Surgery 149, no. 6 (2023): 522-30.

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