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FDA issues proposal to access hearing aids without a prescription or exam

Published: Oct. 27, 2021 at 11:50 AM CDT|Updated: Oct. 27, 2021 at 5:24 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - You may soon be able to buy hearing aids without visiting a doctor. The Food and Drug Administration’s proposal would allow millions of people to buy over-the-counter hearing aids in-store or online without a prescription or medical exam.

This rule comes after President Biden’s executive order for increased competition and access to medical devices. It aims to make hearing aids more affordable by making them available at more retailers and online.

“This is something that has actually been for a long time coming,” said Dr. Henry Barham with Baton Rouge General. “A lot of patient advocates for years have been pushing for this.”

Barham said improving access and reducing the cost of hearing aid technology will be good for many in the Capital Region.

“Hearing loss is actually something that’s really common,” said Barham. “Around 15% of adults in America or 37 million Americans, deal with this. You just have a large percentage that just can’t afford them, and that’s not okay. Hearing loss can really impact the quality of life in addition to overall safety.”

When finalized, the rule would allow certain hearing aids to be sold directly to the millions of adults who have “perceived mild to moderate” hearing loss.

“The problem right now with hearing aids, they’re just too expensive, and so they typically range in the $5,000 or more per aid,” said Barham.

The new rule addresses barriers including cost, access, and social stigma related to hearing loss.

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