By Bhanvi Satija
(Reuters) – Major U.S. pharmacy operators Walgreens Boots Alliance and Walmart Inc said on Thursday that in mid-October they would start selling hearing aids over-the-counter without the need for a medical exam, prescription, or audiologist fitting.
The companies are rolling out the products across the nation after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in August issued a rule easing access to hearing aids for millions of Americans with mild to moderate hearing loss.
The rule, which goes into effect this month, should make it easier to buy lower-priced models.
Walgreens said it was planning to make Lexie Lumen hearing aids available at its stores across the country for adults starting Oct. 17 at a price of $799.
Walmart separately told Reuters it would begin offering hearing aids to adults with mild to moderate hearing loss without an assessment or medical exam by Oct. 17.
Products would start at $200 and will be available at Walmart.com and its vision centers.
Prior to allowing over-the-counter sale, these devices were only available at hearing centers and typically cost thousands of dollars. According to White House estimates, the change is expected to save consumers about $2,800 per pair.
In a statement to Reuters, CVS Health said it currently has a limited selection of hearing aids available on CVS.com, and it “plans to add to these offerings and expand to retail stores in the near future.”
Hearing aids for severe hearing loss or for users below 18 years of age remain as prescription devices.
(Reporting by Bhanvi Satija in Bengaluru; Editing by Manas Mishra, Caroline Humer and Shailesh Kuber)