Over-the-counter hearing aids are officially available

Hearing aids are now available without a prescription in the United States for the first time. They are for sale in places like Walgreens and Walmart, and companies like Sony have already developed new hearing aids for this new regulatory turn.

The Food and Drug Administration announced a rule change in August that allows over-the-counter hearing aids. They go into effect Monday, opening up cheaper and more accessible options for those with mild to moderate hearing loss.

Prescription hearing aids can cost thousands of dollars a few. Unlike, Walmart will offer over-the-counter hearing aids for a price ranging from $199-$999 per pair. “Offering easy access to OTC hearing aids – something that may seem quite small – is a solution that can improve our customers’ health outcomes and their ability to live better, healthier lives,” said John Wigneswaran, Chief Medical Officer at Walmart, in a statement.

Sony has developed two new over-the-counter hearing aids in collaboration with the company WS Audiology. Sony said: in a press release last week that the first would be available “this month” for $999.99 (as of publication, it’s not yet available on the company’s website) and that the second would be on sale “this winter.”

Other headphone makers are also making hearing aids, and the new over-the-counter rules give tech companies even more opportunities to break into this space. Nearly 30 million Americans have some type of hearing loss — a large potential market.