Loud and clear: Affordable OTC hearing aids could become a future reality
More than two-thirds of baby boomers over the age of 60 reported some hearing loss, or the inability to hear high-pitched sounds, according to the most recent National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. And that’s cause for concern, as the Journal of the American Geriatric Society has projected that the cost for the first year of hearing loss treatment in older adults will reach $51 billion nationwide by 2030.
The Federal Trade Commission cited a recent report by the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine, estimating that “67% to 86% of adults who may benefit from hearing aids do not use them” because of the exorbitant price.
In December, the Food and Drug Administration indicated its intent to explore hearing aid label options for nonprescription products, creating a potential new niche opportunity for retail pharmacy. “[These] actions are an example of the FDA considering flexible approaches to regulation that encourage innovation,” said then FDA commissioner Robert Califf. “The guidance will support consumer access to most hearing aids, while the FDA takes the steps necessary to propose to modify our regulations to create a category of OTC hearing aids.”
In April, the FTC held a hearing regarding personal sound amplification products, or PSAP. Bill Belt, senior director, technology and standards at the Consumer Technology Association, suggested PSAPs be held to minimum performance standards that the consumer electronics association drafted earlier this year. The association is currently exploring a “seal of approval” that would signify whether PSAP meets that standard.
Not just for athletes: Healthier lifestyles attracting mass consumers to sports nutrition
Sports nutrition recovery mixes, protein bars and pre-workout shakes are becoming popular among a consumer well beyond core vein-popping gym rats. As more Americans wrestle with the cost of their health care, they continue to gravitate toward better lifestyle choices. This means these niche products that were at one time only purchased by body builders and serious athletes have become appealing to the mainstream consumer.
“Everyone wants to look better,” said Scott Dicker, SPINS nutrition researcher. “More people [are] looking to stay active, and as evidenced by the sales, are turning to sport-centric products to help get them stronger, faster and in better shape.”
This “sportification” of nonathletes has helped drive sales up across all supplements with a sports focus, he said. “The large conventional channel growth really reinforces our top sales driver [theory], that sports supplements have moved from the niche to the mainstream,” Dicker said. “With the trends for sports nutrition often starting in the natural channel, the high percentage of natural channel growth is a good indicator for future continued cross-channel growth.”
Cleaner, easier-to-read labels that provide full discloser on ingredients and amount of ingredients is one of the trends contributing to sales growth. “Today, it is just as likely a soccer mom will come in and buy protein for her morning smoothie for [her] general health benefit, as it is for an athlete to come in for protein to help with muscle recovery,” Dicker said.
“Consumers are looking for cleaner labels,” he said. “Which means no more proprietary blends [and] higher nutrition quality in their proteins [as can be found in] grass-fed whey and plant-based proteins.”
Bloomberg: FDA reorganizes to optimize industry oversight
NEW YORK — The Food and Drug Administration is reorganizing its field team within the FDA’s Office of Regulatory Affairs with a new focus on specific product areas vs. oversight of activities based on geographic regions, Bloomberg reported Monday.
The refocusing “will make our field programs more modern and responsive to today’s threats and challenges, while making sure that we are taking a risk-based and science-based approach to our work,” reported Scott Gottlieb, now one week into his new role as FDA commissioner, in an internal memo obtained by Bloomberg. “We need to make sure that we are achieving the greatest degree of consumer protection with the resources that we have."
The Natural Products Association on Tuesday expressed its support of the reorganization and applauded commissioner Gottlieb for his efforts to modernize the agency.
“The most effective way to oversee the supplement industry is to enforce the current law and aggressively pursue criminals that break it,” stated Dan Fabricant, president and CEO of NPA. “We applaud Dr. Gottlieb’s commitment to modernizing the FDA and making it more responsive to the consumers and manufacturers of dietary supplements and natural products.”
The initiative was proposed four years ago, with implementation set to start this month, Bloomberg reported.