Bloomberg Reports on Business of Hearing Aid Tech

Photographer: Lars Klove/The New York Times/Redux courtesy: http://www.businessweek.com/news/2012-10-08/the-battle-to-build-and-sell-hearing-aid-alternatives

Hearing Aids can cost as much as 4,000 dollars, and apparently more and more businesses are seeking to get a slice of that pie.

Bloomberg Businessweek reports:

The confusion for buyers of alternative devices is pervasive: Over-the-counter analog or digital amplifiers have been available for decades. In recent years, a handful of established manufacturers like Bell & Howell, Panasonic, RCA, as well as a host of startups have been transferring advanced noise-cancellation technology and miniaturization breakthroughs from consumer devices such as smart phones and headphones into hearing devices. All of them hope to add Lulli – and the estimated 36 million Americans facing age-related hearing loss – as customers. The hearing aid market is estimated at $6 billion globally, with U.S. sales accounting for 40 percent of the total, says Venkat Rajan, a medical technology analyst at Frost & Sullivan.

While some companies are looking for ways to make the technology more affordable, others are seeking ways to manufacture it overseas, while still others are seeking legal remediation against what they view as competition.

There is some pushback from the traditional hearing-aid industry on PSAPs, which were labeled “electronic” rather than “medical” devices in a 2009 FDA guideline. On Aug. 31, a group of hearing aid specialists and audiologists sent a letter to the FDA calling out four vendors (including RCA) they allege are violating that guideline, which says PSAPs are only supposed to be marketed as hearing enhancement, not to correct hearing impairment.

Hearing aid, photo taken in Sweden
Hearing aid, photo taken in Sweden (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here’s the link to the Bloomberg article:

http://www.businessweek.com/news/2012-10-08/the-battle-to-build-and-sell-hearing-aid-alternatives

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