OTC hearing aids performed nearly as well as prescription devices, but not yet legal for sale
In a highly controlled comparison study, several over-the-counter hearing assistance devices performed almost as well as a conventional hearing aid that cost thousands of dollars more.
Three of five selected personal sound amplification products (PSAP) were found to improve speech understanding among participants with mild-to-moderate hearing loss to a degree that was comparable to results obtained with a hearing aid, Nicholas Reed, AuD, of Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, and colleagues wrote in the July 4 issue of JAMA.
Hearing aids for both ears typically cost around $4,500, while PSAPs cost several hundred dollars or less.
The Over-the-Counter Hearing Aid Act of 2017 is being sponsored in the Senate by Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) and in the House by Joseph Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.).
Reed told MedPage Today that the study findings lend support to the creation of the new regulatory classification for hearing aids.
“Some of these devices did about as well as the hearing aid in our controlled environment, suggesting that some PSAPs are pretty good,” he said. “Perhaps we should support the movement to get these in the hands of more people and to regulate them to improve the quality of the products.”