San Francisco: Millions of people in the US with hearing loss can now purchase hearing aids without a prescription or medical exam from several companies.
In US, Walgreens started selling over-the-counter hearing aids online and at its stores nationwide for $799 a pair. By comparison, the average cost of prescription hearing aids can range between $2,000 and $8,000, reports CNBC.
Walmart is also offering over-the-counter hearing aids online and in stores in Colorado, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Texas. The devices will be available at additional locations nationwide, according to the company. Prices range from $199 to $999 depending on the device.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a rule in August that allowed over-the-counter sales of hearing aids for adults aged 18 and older with mild to moderate hearing loss. People with severe hearing loss and children still need prescriptions for the devices.
US President Joe Biden had issued an executive order in 2021 directing the Health and Human Services Department and the FDA to develop a rule allowing over-the-counter sales of hearing aids.
The White House announced the availability of the hearing aids earlier Monday, the report said.
Some 30 million people in the US have hearing loss but only about one-fifth of these individuals have hearing aids and use them, according to the FDA.
Many people who could benefit from the devices either can’t access them due to cost while other people don’t use them due to perceived stigma, according to the agency.
The FDA, in an analysis, estimated that over-the-counter hearing aids could save consumers about $1,438 each because they are not bundled with costly professional services.