Hearing Loss Pill on the Horizon
Editor: We've been watching the development of a "hearing
pill" for a while now, and it continues to look promising. I'm a
little dubious that existing hearing loss can be reversed by removing
toxins from the ear, as this story implies, but I'd love to be proven
wrong. Anyway, here's the story from KGTV-TV, Channel 10 News in San
Technology developed by the Naval Medical Center in San Diego could
one day lead to a pill that would not only prevent hearing loss, but
even restore hearing, 10News reported.
The hope is not only to protect the military, but others -- like
airport crews -- whose jobs require that they work with a high level of
For more than one reason, the flight deck of an aircraft carrier is
one of the most dangerous places in the world to work. Hand signals are
a must since voice communication is impossible.
The same is true for Marines in simulated and real air and ground
The common denominator between them: noise. Military personnel deal
with so much noise that 22,000 disability claims are filed each year
because of hearing loss, according to 10News.
But researchers at the Naval Medical Center believe they have a
"Mechanical hearing protectors, like ear plugs, have
limitations. This technology -- in the form of a pill -- prevents or can
reverse acute hearing loss," said Col. Richard Kope, a doctor.
According the medical center's research, when the inner ear is
exposed to excess noise it produces toxins which can impair hearing.
Researchers have developed a pill that they say reduces the toxins in
the ear, thereby preventing hearing loss.
Preliminary research also shows that once hearing loss from excess
noise has occurred, the pill appears to have the ability to restore
hearing, 10News reported.
Researchers at the medical center say their research has gone as far
it can. Now the technology is being turned over to San Diego-based
American BioHealth Group to advance it.
"One of the clinical challenges we have, and the work to be
done, is long-term. What if you're 40 or 50 and haven't done anything
about hearing problems before this time?" said American BioHealth
spokesman David Karlman.
The Naval Medical Center turned over the research in return for
royalties when the hearing pill comes to market, perhaps as early as
So far, there is no name for the prescription pill, which the Navy
hopes will trim the $1.5 billion it says it spends on hearing loss
treatments each year.
Copyright 2002 KGTV-TV