Hearing Journal:
doi: 10.1097/01.HJ.0000398145.33873.20
Hj Report

HJ REPORT

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✓ MINIMAL MARKET GROWTH IN Q1

First quarter data from the Hearing Industries Association shows just a slight increase in US sales, with manufacturers reporting selling a total of 551,879 instruments to non-government dispensers. For that same period in 2010, manufacturers reported selling a total of 528,777 devices.

The number of instruments sold to the Department of Veterans Affairs reached 135,725, an increase from the 126,181 hearing aids reportedly sold for the same period in 2010. Sales increased by 7.56% for the VA market, and 4.9% overall.

Behind-the-ear instruments maintained their position as the most popular device, constituting about 69% of sales—VA and other US sales combined. Of these, 29% had external receivers, and 40% traditional. Data were compiled based on input from 18 participating companies.

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✓ REPS LATHAM AND MCCARTHY REINTRODUCE HEARING AID TAX CREDIT

Representatives Tom Latham (R-IA) and Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY) have reintroduced the bipartisan Hearing Aid Tax Credit (H.R. 1479) with 36 original co-sponsors, including four members of the House Ways and Means Committee. The bill is unchanged from legislation in the 111th Congress that attracted a record 131 co-sponsors by the end of the session. In the Senate, Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME) are organizing original co-sponsors as they prepare to reintroduce companion legislation in that chamber.

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✓ BETTER HEARING AND SPEECH MONTH CONTEST

To kick off Better Hearing and Speech Month (BHSM) this month, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) is encouraging hearing healthcare professionals to spread the word about their fifth annual drawing contest for children 10 years of age and younger. The theme for this year's contest is, “Why are good communication skills so important?” First-place artwork will be used for ASHA's 2012 BHSM downloadable screensaver and promoted to the national media. The deadline for submissions is May 16.

ASHA recently concluded its first Better Hearing and Speech Month contest, which invited individuals to submit a creative YouTube video depicting what it is like to be a person who has difficulty speaking or hearing, and showing how important it is to understand how that person feels and how to help them. A number of and products can be found at www.asha.org/bhsm.

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✓ SONOVA SHARES ON THE RISE

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Shares in Swiss hearing aid maker Sonova Holding AG have risen 1.2%, outperforming a 0.7% sector SXDP gain, after resuming production and distribution of a cochlear implant after last year's product recall. The impact of the recall was one reason behind the profit warning issued to company investors in March.

“The return of the cochlear implant to most of its ex-US markets is positive for Sonova, though widely expected,” said Sarasin analyst David Kaegi.

“Of course the recall caused some reputational damage, but as recalls are not that unusual in the hearing implant industry, this should remain limited.”

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New leadership

Sonova's top three managers, chief executive Valentin Chapero, chief financial officer Oliver Walker, and chairman Andy Rihs, stepped down in March after a probe into executive share sales ahead of the profit warning, in part prompted by the recall of the cochlear implant due to a malfunction last year. Though Rihs stepped down from his post as chairman, he will remain on the Board of Directors. The Board appointed Robert Spoerry as its new Chairman, and Alexander Zschokke will be interim CEO.

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✓ UK GPs NOT REFERRING PATIENTS TO AUDIOLOGISTS?

A large UK study has shown that 39% of people who consult their general practitioner (GP) about their hearing loss do not go any further to seek a solution.

Nearly 15,000 UK consumers answered questions about their hearing and their knowledge of hearing aids in the EuroTrak UK study, which is being publicized by the British Hearing Aid Manufacturers Association (BHAMA).

“39 percent is a disappointing figure because it means millions are battling with isolation, withdrawal, problems at work, depression, low self-esteem, and a host of other negative consequences reported by other recent studies,” said Lawrence Werth, Chairman of BHAMA.

Other key findings include:

* 3.5 million people in UK who should be wearing hearing aids and are not.

* The UK has a lower hearing test rate than the rest of Europe (31% UK, 47% France, 55% Germany).

* 58% of hearing aid wearers were guided by their GP.

* 77% of users are satisfied with their hearing aids.

* 74% of hearing aid wearers received a free device courtesy of NHS.

* 93% of hearing aid owners use their aids regularly.

© 2011 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.

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