Outside of the Veteran’s Administration, Costco is the largest provider of hearing aids in the United States. Analysts have pegged Costco to currently hold more than 11% market share of all hearing aid sold in the US, with continued growth rates of its hearing aid centers over the past several years exceeding 20% year-over-year.

As Holly Hosford-Dunn, PhD, recently pointed out in her series on Costco’s Hearing Aid Center growth and business model, “As fast as Costco warehouses have multiplied, Costco Hearing Aid Centers have multiplied faster.”

 

costco hearing aid center growth

Annual growth of US Costco warehouses (blue) and Costco Hearing Aid Centers in US and Canada. (data from Costco Warehouse Annual Reports)

 

Understandably, hearing aid manufacturers have been watching this trend for years and have taken notice. Today, four of the “Big Six” hearing aid manufacturers are selling their hearing aids in Costco warehouses across North America.

 

Hearing Aids Available at Costco: An Overview

 

Hearing aid brands available for sale at Costco Hearing Aid Centers include: Phonak, Rexton, GN ReSound, and Bernafon.

 

GN ReSound

ReSound launched its Forte hearing aids in the fall of 2017 into Costco, which offers a full family of custom, Behind-the-Ear (BTE) and Reciever-In-Canal (RIC) styles.

 

gn resound forte costco hearing aids

ReSound’s Forte, like its Linx 3D devices outside of Costco, offer direct connection to iPhone and work with the company’s Smart 3D app. The aids are also compatible with various wireless accessories.

 

resound forte costco remote mic tv

 

Phonak

Phonak became the 4th vendor in Costco after launching its Brio hearing aids into Costco in 2014. The company’s most recent technology, the Brio 2, was released in 2017. The Brio 2 is offered as a full family of custom, Behind-the-Ear (BTE) and Reciever-In-Canal (RIC) styles. 

 

phonak brio 2 costco hearing aids

Phonak also offers a remote control app, as well as the ComPilot wireless streaming device and remote microphone options.

 

Rexton

While GN ReSound and Phonak are familiar names, both inside and outside of Costco, Rexton is not as familiar. A sister company to Signia (formerly Siemens), Rexton aids can be found at Costco and CVS Hearing Centers. Their most current hearing aid family launched in 2017, Legato, includes a full line of custom, BTE and RIC styles. Among the styles offered, Rexton is the only manufacturer in Costco to offer a lithium-ion rechargeable device (Legato Li), as well as a nearly invisible standard fitting device (Legato iX) that fits in the ear canal without an impression.

 

rexton legato costco hearing aids

 

Rexton, like their other counterparts in Costco, offer wireless accessories and charging options. The company also happens to be the supplier of the Kirkland Signature 7.0 (and rumored to be the supplier of next Kirkland Signature 8.0), which means the company almost certainly holds the largest market share in Costco today–perhaps 50% or more.

 

Bernafon

Part of the William Demant Group (which includes Oticon and Sonic), Bernafon has been in Costco for several years. Their most recent technology, Zerena, was launched in fall of 2017. The Zerena is available only in the RIC and BTE models, with the family of custom devices currently offered by the company remaining on the previous Juna platform.

 

bernafon zerena costco hearing aid

 

The Zerena aids do offer direct connectivity to iPhone, via the company’s EasyControl-A app.

 

bernafon app costco hearing aids

 

Costco Hearing Aid Prices

 

Unlike many hearing aid retailers, Costco is unique in that it maintains a set pricing structure1 and offers technology at 3 levels: Entry level ($499.99 each), Advanced ($899.99 each) and Premium ($1,299.99 to $1,499.99 each).

 

costco hearing aid prices

The most popular styles of hearing aids, such as the Receiver-In-Canal (RIC) or Completely-In-Canal (CIC), are not offered in the Basic level of technology.

 

 

  1.  While there is a set price structure for majority of states, California prices add an additional $50-100 to the unit price of hearing aids, due to “increased cost of business” in that state.

 

 

 

While there continues to be a growing number of companies developing drugs to treat inner ear disorders, the inner ear remains a particularly challenging organ for targeted drug delivery. Now, however, a novel device to deliver drugs to the inner ear will undergo preclinical testing in an industry consortium.

With funding from the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) and in collaboration with clinicians and researchers at Massachussetts Eye and Ear, Draper developed the novel drug delivery device.

 

“Today’s treatment of inner ear diseases is hampered by the shortcomings of available drug delivery technology. For diseases of the inner ear, clinical research and treatment have been held back by the need for a safe, direct and effective intracochlear drug delivery method. We address this challenge with Draper’s device—the first implantable and programmable micropump that provides targeted, controllable and extended drug delivery. With this consortium we can advance development and optimize the intracochlear drug delivery (ICDD) as well as accelerate testing and delivery of hearing loss drug candidate compounds and combination therapies on behalf of researchers who invest in the consortium evaluation program.” –Jeff Borenstein, Lead Scientist for Drug Delivery at Draper

 

Established in Boston, the CILcare-CBSET-Draper consortium will work to to assess the ICDD device using CILcare’s hearing loss preclinical models, and the operational support of CBSET’s laboratories.

 

hearing loss drug treatment device

Draper’s new intracochlear drug delivery device shown on right.

 

 

Drug Treatment of Hearing Loss and Inner Ear Disorders

 

According to the announcement, the trio of companies will invite other biopharmaceutical and pharmaceutical companies involved in ear disorders into the consortium.

 

“Hearing loss disorders are a global phenomenon, but there is currently no drug to treat the condition. Our consortium aims to provide the partnered companies with proof-of-concept data on the efficacy of delivering their compounds using Draper’s ICDD in animal models, an indispensable step before going into human clinical trials.” –Célia Belline, CEO of CILcare

 

The program will be led and managed by CILcare in collaboration with CBSET, a non-profit research institute that specializes in the advancement of novel therapies.