New bill to push for over-the-counter hearing aids in US

Regulation

hearing aids over the counter
© G. Ossa

Buying a hearing aid in the US could soon be as easy to access and competively-priced as non-prescription reading glasses if a new bill about to be introduced passes into law.

A change in regulations recommended by leading science and technology advisory bodies has been implemented into the bipartisan Over-the-Counter Hearing Aid Act of 2016 by US senators Elizabeth Warren (Democrat) and Chuck Grassley (Republican). It aims to eliminate the current need for people to present a medical evaluation or sign a waiver when they purchase a hearing aid, which, at an average price of $2,400, is today beyond the budget of many of North America's 30 million sufferers from age-related hearing loss.

"Simpler devices" for adults with mild to moderate conditions would become available, although the bill is not intended to bypass professional assessment for patients needing fitting of aids or implants. On announcing the introduction of the legislation this week jointly with Senator Warren, Grassley stressed that "the goal is that by making more products more easily available to consumers, competition will increase and lead to lower costs."

The bill, which will be introduced when the Senate returns to session, will also call on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to issue new regulations on safety and labelling for over-the-counter aids, and to update its draft guidance on Personal Sound Amplification Products (PSAPs). While it has sponsorship from the two main US parties, the bill needs approval from both Houses of Congress before becoming law.

Source: Elizabeth Warren Newsroom

P.W.