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FDA Report: Hearing Aids Could Soon be Sold Over-The-Counter

by Tori Marsh on December 8, 2016 at 12:05 pm

It’s about to get a lot easier to afford your hearing aids! In a recent press release, the FDA announced that they would push for hearing aid accessibility, mainly by allowing the devices to be purchased over-the-counter.

Currently, for patients to get a hearing aid, they have to first schedule a medical exam with their doctor. However, this will now change! This new guidance will not require patients to get a medical evaluation before purchasing hearing aids, and will rather allow them to purchase the device directly from the pharmacy.

This is great news for the some 30 million Americans that are currently impacted by hearing impairment for several reasons:

  1. Lower Cost: Currently, hearing aids are costing americans around $2,000 a piece out of pocket, since many insurers do not cover the devices. However, with the introduction of hearing aids into over-the-counter products, prices could be a fraction of the cost. This is even better for some of us who are prone to misplacing the tiny devices.
  2. More innovative devices. One of the FDA’s main reasons for this guidance was to foster the creation of innovative hearing devices. In their press release, the FDA documented that this guidance “is an example of the FDA considering flexible approaches to to regulation that encourage innovation in areas of rapid scientific progress.” Fingers crossed that there will be some cool new devices on the market soon!
  3. Fewer visits to your doctor. Since hearing devices will now be available at your local pharmacy, you will not need to make extra trips to your doctor!
  4. A more level playing field (for manufacturers). Currently, consumers are restricted to only six different hearing aid manufacturers. However, with hearing aids becoming available at your local pharmacy, this allows for different competitors to step into the game!

According to the FDA, this guidance is effective immediately. So, you could start to see more affordable over-the-counter hearing aids in your pharmacy very soon!


Tori Marsh is GoodRx’s junior medical editor and consumer savings expert.

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