Over-the-counter hearing aids expected this fall in US

Kim M. Smith, leader of the Utah Deaf Hospital Rights movement and president of the Utah Association of the Deaf, brushes her hair away from her hearing aid as she poses for a portrait Monday, Jan. 20, 2020, at Alta View Hospital in Sandy, Utah. (Isaac Hale/The Daily Herald via AP, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) - Millions of Americans will be able to buy hearing aids without a prescription later this fall, under a long-awaited rule finalized Tuesday.

The Food and Drug Administration said the new regulation cuts red tape by creating a new class of hearing aids that don't require a medical exam, a prescription and other specialty evaluations. The devices will be sold online or over-the-counter at pharmacies and other retail stores.

The devices are intended for adults with mild to moderate hearing problems. The FDA estimates that nearly 30 million adults could potentially benefit from hearing aids, but only about one-fifth of people with hearing problems use the devices currently.

"Today's action by the FDA represents a significant milestone in making hearing aids more cost-effective and accessible," Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra, told reporters Tuesday.

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