No prescription needed: over-the-counter hearing aids on sale in US
Hearing aids now available from stores including Walgreens and Walmart without prescription after new FDA rule takes effect
Americans can start buying hearing aids over the counter this week, a significant development for whose need hearing assistance and are now expected to be able to get it more cheaply and more easily.
Retail stores, including Walgreens, CVS, and Walmart, began selling hearing aids Monday after a new rule from the Food and Drug Administration went into effect allowing for the devices’ sales over the counter at such establishments.
Americans no longer have to see a doctor, get a prescription, or be fitted for a hearing aid, which makes it less time intensive and costly to get them, Axios reported. The executive director of the Hearing Loss Association of America (Hlaa), Barbara Kelley, told NPR it previously could take five to seven years for someone to get a hearing aid after they find out they have hearing loss.
“If this would inspire people or motivate people because they see these hearing aids in the mainstream, that should be more affordable or at a different price point, they might take that first step sooner rather than later,” she told NPR.
The White House has said the move will save families nearly $3,000. Nearly 30 million Americans could benefit from hearing aids, according to the National Institutes of Health.
Donald Trump signed the Over-the-Counter Hearing Aid Act, which passed with bipartisan support, into law during his first year as president in 2017. The law gave the FDA three years to develop a rule for the sale of over-the-counter hearing aids, a deadline which the agency missed. Facing renewed pressure from the Joe Biden White House, the FDA finalized the rule in August.
Prices for over-the-counter hearing aids range from $200 to more than $1,000, Axios reported. Walgreens is currently selling them for $799 a pair while CVS and Walmart have a range of price options.
Sony also unveiled a pair of sleek hearing aids that resemble wireless earbuds, Axios reported.
Even though it will be easier to get a hearing aid, the president of the Hearing Industries Association, which represents hearing aid manufacturers, told NPR buyers should be careful about what they are buying.
“I hate to use the words ‘buyer beware,’ so instead it’s ‘buyer be educated’ about what you’re doing, what your needs are,” the group president Kate Carr told NPR.