17 April 2008

Hearing loss research drastically under-funded

Research into hearing loss pays off for society in general and for business. Yet, the British society and the medical industry invest very little in this field of research, charges RNID in the Lancet medical journal.

Hearing loss costs the UK billions of pounds in lost earnings each year but little more than 0.1 percent of that sum is spent on research into hearing loss.

According to the British Royal National Institute for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing People, RNID, 9 million Britons suffer from hearing loss, and each year hearing loss costs the UK GBP13.5 billion in lost earnings. Yet, just GBP16.5 million is spent on research that could lead to the development of life-changing treatments.

The loss of earnings because of hearing loss can only be reduced through more research into how to prevent and treat hearing loss, stated RNID. The need for research only increases as the numbers of hearing impaired people is projected to increase in a future with more old people and more noise in our daily lives. This conclusion by RNID receives support by The Lancet.

Earnings potential in unsaturated market

Research into hearing loss brings with it the promise of new earnings potential for private companies developing medicines and other new products for hearing impaired people. The need for both medicine and assistive devices for people with hearing loss is great and far from being met. As an example, just one in four elderly people with hearing impairment in the UK uses hearing aids.

In addition, more research into hearing loss would serve an important social aim by potentially leading to improved quality of life for many hearing impaired people. A common experience for people with hearing loss is that their hearing impairment affects adversely their quality of life and their opportunities with respect to education, employment and social interaction.

Source: RNID, 14 November 2007; The Lancet, vol. 360, nr. 9601, 2007

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