Best Buy to sell over-the-counter hearing aids this fall

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Best Buy says it will start selling an expanded collection of hearing devices this fall, including over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids recently approved in a final rule by the Food and Drug Administration. 

In addition, the consumer electronics retailer will launch a new online hearing assessment tool and host an in-store experience for hearing devices in more than 300 stores. Products available in the experience will include Lexie Hearing, Nuheara, Jabra Enhance Plus, Lucid Hearing fio and ENGAGE, Eargo 6, and more.

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"Our expansion of the hearing collection and new store experience will let customers easily find a hearing loss solution from brands they trust," Best Buy category officer Frank Bedo said in a statement. "Our customers come to us for quality tech products and expertise, and this fall we’ll be able to better help them find the right solutions specific to their needs."

For years, the company has sold a collection of personal sound amplification products (PSAPs), self-fitting hearing devices, TV amplifiers, hearing protection devices and other accessories.

HEARING AIDS TO BE AVAILABLE WITHOUT PRESCRIPTION AFTER FDA RULE

The over-the-counter category established under the FDA's final rule will allow individuals 18 years or older with "perceived mild to moderate hearing impairment" to purchase hearing aids without the need for a medical exam, prescription or a fitting adjustment by an audiologist. 

According to the FDA, nearly 30 million adults in the U.S. could benefit from hearing aid use. (Photo by: BSIP/Universal Images Group via Getty Images) ((Photo by: BSIP/Universal Images Group via Getty Images) / Getty Images)

According to the FDA, nearly 30 million adults in the United States could benefit from hearing aid use.

Consumers could see OTC hearing aids available online and in traditional retail and drug stores as soon as mid-October when the rule takes effect. Hearing devices designed for more severe hearing loss will remain prescription only. 

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In 2017, Congress passed legislation requiring the FDA to create a category of OTC hearing aids, but it was not fully implemented. In June 2021, President Joe Biden signed a broad competition executive order that instructed the Health and Human Services Department to "promote the wide availability of low-cost hearing aids," among directives aimed at a variety of industries.

White House National Economic Council director Brian Deese said the government estimated the rule will save consumers about $2,800 per pair of hearing aids.

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The final version of the rule came after the agency received and reviewed more than 1,000 public comments from consumers, professional associations, hearing aid manufacturers, public health organizations and advocacy groups, members of Congress, state agencies and other stakeholders.

As a result, the final rule includes several changes, including lowering the maximum sound output to reduce the risk to hearing from over-amplification of sound and requiring a user-adjustable volume control.

Reuters contributed to this report

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