Hearing loss is the third most common physical condition, after heart disease and arthritis, reported in western countries. Approximate 20% of the population reports some notable degree of hearing loss, 60% of whom are in school or active in the workforce. Broadly, hearing loss is classified into Conductive, Sensorineural or Mixed Hearing Loss. Conductive Hearing loss arises form disorders of the outer or middle ear structures while Sensorineural Hearing Loss is associated with damage to the structures of the inner ear that translate the physical vibrations of sound into nerve impulses that transmit the perception of sound to the brain. Mixed Hearing loss is a combination of these factors.
Treatments for hearing loss include surgery for appropriate cases, and the use of hearing aides. There are currently no approved drug treatments for hearing loss. Otologic Pharmaceutics Inc. (OPI) is developing its lead oral medication HPN1010 to treat acute episodes of Sensorineural Hearing Loss to prevent the development of permanent hearing disorders. Initial work is focused on Noise Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL), which is being followed closely by research to reduce Cisplatin or Carboplatin Induced Hearing Loss (CIHL).
Reports estimate the potential annual markets for a treatment for NIHL and CINL at approximately $1.9 billion, and $ 500 million per year, respectively. Otologic estimates the potential annual market for its first two drug development projects to be approximately $800 -$950 million.
Noise Induced Hearing Loss
People of all ages, including children, teens, young adults, and older people, can develop noise induced hearing loss (NIHL). Approximately ten percent of Americans between ages 20 and 69 or 22 million Americans already may have suffered permanent damage to their hearing from excessive noise exposure. Exposure occurs in the workplace, in recreational settings, and at home. Recreational activities that can put someone at risk for NIHL include target shooting and hunting, snowmobile riding, woodworking and other hobbies, playing in a band, and attending rock concerts. Harmful noises at home may come from lawnmowers, leafblowers, and shop tools. (National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders)
- Hearing loss costs the nation $56B per year in loss productivity, retraining and health care for the hard of hearing. (Center for Disease Control)
- One in four individuals will develop a permanent hearing loss as a result of their occupational and recreational exposure to noise hazards. Noise-induced hearing loss is the most common occupational disease and the second most self-reported occupational illness or injury. (National Institute of Occupational Health and Safety)
- Approximately 15% of Americans between ages 20 and 69, or 26 million Americans, have high frequency hearing loss that may have been caused by exposure to loud sounds or noise at work or in leisure activities. (National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders)
- In addition to military personnel, other occupations particularly under risk for hearing loss due to noise exposure are: firefighters, police officers, factory workers, farmers, construction workers (mining and energy), heavy industry workers, musicians and entertainment industry professionals. (Better Hearing Institute)
- Following a modest 6% annual expenditure increase trend, the Department of Veterans Affairs alone will spend an average of $750M annually to treat hearing loss as a result of the individuals’ military career. That will equate to $85, 616 every hour, 24 hours a day, 365 days per year. (ABG & US Navy Report to TTI)