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Advanced Bionics — the only U.S. cochlear implant maker — has been acquired by Sonova, a Swiss maker of hearing aids. Sonova will pay $US 489 million for Advanced Bionics in the deal, which is expected to close in February 2010, subject to approval. Buying the Cupertino, Calif.-based Advanced Bionics thrusts Sonova, a relatively unknown maker of hearing aids, into the broader landscape of hearing-health technology. Sonova will be the first global company to manufacture both hearing instruments and cochlear implant systems, or CIs, which are implanted devices that enable profoundly hearing impaired and deaf persons to hear sounds. As part of the merger, Advanced Bionic will combine with Phonak, a Sonova unit that makes micro hearing systems such as personal amplification systems. The two companies will remain as independent units under the Sonova umbrella. With a more diverse hearing health portfolio, Sonova is betting that it can capture more share of the ... keep reading »
The New York Times chronicled the exasperations of buying a hearing aids, reminding users that aids are expensive — with prices averaging $2,000 each — and generally not covered by insurance. Hearing aid shopping is a pressing issue for those with hearing loss, especially those with age-related loss who aren’t used to such large out-of-pocket expenses. The best advice, however, is to choose an experienced audiologist or specialist, instead of relying on walk-in stores or Internet purchases. It’s the only way to ensure fit and a program that’s right for you. “No matter how state of the art your hearing aid may be …if it is not properly programmed and adjusted it will not do you any good,” says Lise Hamlin, director of public policy for the Hearing Loss Association. While most people pay for hearing aids with their own wallet, a few exceptions include Veterans Affairs programs and some federal employee ... keep reading »

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