Suffering from hearing loss can be distressing, but the US Food and Drug Administration is helping patients by improving their access to hearing aids. The FDA has announced that it is not going to enforce the need for Americans aged 18 or over to have a medical test or sign a waiver before getting a hearing aid.
Surprisingly, despite the public health implications of hearing loss, only about one in five sufferers seeks help, said the FDA. The organisation has also announced it is considering creating a category of over-the-counter hearing aids which would give millions of consumers access to new cheaper products. When you consider that about 30 million people suffer some degree of a loss of hearing in the USA, which has a great impact on their ability to communicate and quality of life, this new development has to be welcomed.
Study into Hearing Aids
Last year the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology and the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine published a study which cited FDA regulations on selling hearing aids as a possible barrier to accessibility and concluded the regulation had little benefit to patients. Hearing aids often cost more than $2,000, which is also prohibitive to many people.
Under the new ruling, patients under 18 will still need a medical evaluation, but over-18s can get over-the-counter aids. These will still include information about medical conditions which should be tested by a doctor. Also, information and instructions about aids will need to be given to consumers before they buy products from a licensed hearing aid dispenser.
FDA Protecting Patients
The FDA protects the public health by making sure drugs, vaccines and medical devices are safe and effective. As part of its duties, the agency requires clinical trials to be conducted before a new product can be brought to the market. Any new drug, medical device or vaccine has to be tested to make sure that it offers benefits to patients, because ‘new’ does not always mean ‘better’. If you are researching a new drug or product, then you can find clinical staffing to help with these trials from a company such as http://www.gandlscientific.com/clinical-staffing-solutions/.
As an example, clinical research into hearing loss does not just involve hearing aids but also looks into treatments for different types of hearing loss or implants.