✓ DEMANT'S THIRD BID WINS OTIX GLOBAL
After a month of competitive bidding, it appears that William Demant will add Otix Global to Oticon and the rest of its family of hearing care companies. On October 20, Otix, parent company of Sonic Innovations, said it would accept Demant's bid of $64.2 million, about $11 a share. That was nearly 30% more than Demant's original bid of about $50 million, which Otix accepted on September 13, conditional on approval by its stockholders and regulators.
However, on September 27, Demant's Danish rival GN Store Nord offered Otix $58 million. Demant countered with a matching bid and, days later, GN, owner of ReSound, made a new bid of $64.2 million. Demant matched that and, hearing no higher bids, Otix accepted. The original agreement between Demant and Otix required Otix to pay Demant a penalty if it pulled out. Thus, Demant's $64.2 bid was worth more than GN's.
✓ NEW DEGREE PROGRAM IN HEARING AID SCIENCE
The newest college program in hearing instrument science will open its doors next spring at Ozarks Technical Community College (OTC) in Springfield, MO. Graduates will earn a 2-year associate's degree and be prepared to start a career as a hearing instrument specialist.
The new program, which is expecting an initial class of 5 to 10 students, is the culmination of years of work, said Lawrence Brethower, ScD, BC-HIS. Brethower became coordinator of the OTC program this fall, after more than 30 years in practice. In an interview, the second-generation dispenser recounted the genesis of the Ozarks College initiative.
About 5 years ago, he said, “I could see there were not going to be enough AuDs graduating to meet the consumer demand for hearing care.” He, along with other prominent advocates for dispenser education, including Jay McSpaden, Rick Giles, Bary Williams, and Chip Herb, undertook a study of the future of dispensing. Among their conclusions was that a 2-year degree in hearing instrument science was essential to the future of the profession, but that a doctoral degree is not necessary to dispense hearing aids in the U.S. The study also revealed an urgent need for more dispensers in Southwest Missouri, where Springfield is located. Not only were consumers affected by the shortage, but so were practice owners who wanted to expand but couldn't find qualified dispensers to hire.
Because of the economic downturn and the loss of jobs in the area, Brethower sees this as a good time to offer people a chance to develop the skills for a new career.
Those wishing more information can go to www.otc.edu or call Brethower at 417/447-6680.
✓ PA. OK'S MARKETING OF “INVISIBLE” FITTINGS
The Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH) has agreed that it does not violate state regulations to use terms such as “invisible,” “hidden,” or “completely out of sight” in marketing hearing aids that truly cannot be seen when worn. The agreement was reached last month during a meeting in Harrisburg, the state capital. Participants included officials from the DOH and Office of the Attorney General (AG), Hearing Industries Association (HIA) executive director Carole Rogin, and Robert Stewart and Patrick Kochanowski, director and president, respectively, of the Pennsylvania Hearing Healthcare Association.
Last summer, dispensers in Pennsylvania had been warned by the DOH and AG that using “invisible” and similar terms violated state dispensing regulations.
At the meeting, Rogin and others contended that it is in the public interest for hearing aid providers to motivate hearing-impaired consumers to get the help they need. Since many people eschew hearing aids because of stigma or vanity, it's important for the hearing industry to be able to make consumers aware of the availability of deep canal fittings in which the hearing aids cannot be seen. The industry representatives also showed the officials photographs and hearing aids proving the truthfulness of the claims that they are invisible when worn.
Other states have challanged marketing claims about “invisible” hearing aids. In some cases, the complaints were about instruments that, while inconspicuous, could be seen in the ear from some angles. Rogin hopes that Pennsylvania's acknowledgment that some of today's fittings do make hearing aids truly invisible and can be legally advertised as such will help the industry make the case in other states if necessary.
✓ ADA PICKS PRESIDENT-ELECT, BOARD MEMBER
Eric Hagberg, AuD, was chosen by Academy of Doctors of Audiology (ADA) members as president-elect for 2011. They also elected Kamal Elliot, AuD, to a 3-year term as member-at-large on the board.
Hagberg, who will succeed Bruce Vircks, AuD, is currently treasurer of ADA. He is founder and owner of Neuro-Communication Services, Inc., in Boardman, OH.
Looking ahead, Hagberg said that he hopes ADA will “focus our profession's direction so that a majority of doctors of audiology understand the rewards and joys of autonomous practice.
Eliot is founder and owner of A&E Audiology, Inc., in Lancaster, PA.