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October 03, 2022 05:15 AM

Crain’s Chicago Health Pulse


Kristen Conners, owner of Orland Prescription Hearing, says she expects an uptick in sales of prescription hearing aids, as well as brisk sales of their cheaper, non-prescription counterparts when over-the-counter hearing aids become available, likely in the middle of October.

In August, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration established a new category of over-the-counter hearing aids, potentially opening up the devices to people with perceived mild to moderate hearing impairment who might otherwise go without hearing aids.

OTC hearing aids will be able to be purchased directly from stores or online without a medical exam, prescription or a fitting adjustment by an audiologist, the FDA said in a statement.

“It’s a great opportunity to offer patients something to help,” Conners said. “We see a lot of people with mild hearing loss that aren’t going to be a hearing aid user all day, every day.” These patients usually go away without a hearing aid, as the prescription
devices can cost in the thousands of dollars and are often not covered by insurance.

The over-the-counter devices will provide a less expensive option, which might drive more people to seek help and shed the stigma associated with hearing loss, Conners said. While prescription aids will have greater battery life and more noise-cancelling capabilities, she said OTC hearing aids will get people help earlier in the progression of their hearing loss.

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