Updated May 15, 2018
iHEAR Medical announced plans to launch advanced over-the-counter (OTC) hearing solutions in major drugstore chains and independent pharmacies across the United States. The company also announced the appointment of John Luna as its Chief Executive Officer to lead iHEAR’s expansion into mass retail.
iHEAR will launch the TReO, a personal sound amplification product (PSAP) that the company says is the “first prescription-quality hearing amplifier for OTC markets,” and the iHearTest kit, an FDA-cleared home hearing screener, in 500 drugstores in June 2018. The launch will expand to over 1,300 stores by the end of 2018, including major drugstore chains and independent pharmacies served by leading wholesalers. The TReO will retail for $299, compared to $2,300 on average for hearing devices sold in traditional hearing aid centers. The iHearTest will retail for $69 and is reportedly eligible for FSA (Flexible Spending Account) reimbursement.
In a conversation with The Hearing Review at the American Academy of Audiology (AAA) Convention in Nashville this April, company Founder Adnan Shennib said that iHear products are currently being sold online, as well as through healthcare distributors Amerisource and Cardinal Health. However, he could not yet disclose the name of the drugstore chain that will be offering the TReO and iHearTest kit.
The company offers its iHearMax RIC and iHearHD ITE, as well as its Eva by iHear, hearing aids on its website for $399. iHear also has a supply agreement with Ameritas Life Insurance Corp, which provides insurance and financial products to individuals, families, and businesses, insuring or administering benefits for more than 6.4 million people nationwide (similar to that of Intricon’s supply agreement with UnitedHealth Group’s hi HealthInnovations division). Last year, iHear partnered with Atlazo Inc to develop an “ultra-low power” System on Chip (SoC) platform to power the company’s next generation of hearing aids and hearables.
The $69 iHearTest kit—good for 2 hearing tests, with up to 5 tests available for online purchase—includes a USB device for connecting to a personal computer and factory-calibrated earphones. The TReO PSAP and the iHear hearing aids can be used in conjunction with EarPing, the company’s telehealth platform which connects consumers with licensed hearing care professionals for remote customization of their iHEAR devices. The system is said to offer consumers comprehensive online tools to manage their own hearing care from their homes, from hearing screening to self-programming of the hearing device. EarPiNG also enables iHEAR’s hearing care professionals to “ping” a hearing aid anywhere over the Internet to adjust its settings, and customers can “chat” online or by phone with a professional to interactively optimize the web-enabled hearing aids.
John Luna becomes CEO. The appointment of Luna brings over 25 years of leadership experience in the sales and marketing of innovative hearing health products. “We are pleased to welcome John Luna as our chief executive officer,” said Shennib, who is founder and president of international and new product development for the company. “John has a proven track record of successfully commercializing innovative products.”
Luna has previously served in executive and senior management roles at InSound Medical (a company also founded by Shennib, which developed what later became the Phonak Lyric), Unitron, Bernafon, Sonic Innovations, ReSound, and Phonak. Most recently, he founded Luna Family Hearing, a retail chain of 15 audiology and hearing aid centers in the Pacific Northwest.
“I am excited to join iHEAR at this pivotal time in the hearing industry,” said Luna. “Offering our advanced hearing solutions over the counter will break persisting barriers and improve the accessibility and affordability of high-quality hearing solutions.”