WASHINGTON (AP) -- U.S. regulators have finalized a long-awaited rule that's expected to allow millions of Americans to buy hearing aids without a prescription.

The rule announced Tuesday by the Food and Drug Administration goes into effect this

It creates a new class of hearing aids that don't require a medical exam, a prescription and other specialty services. Instead, the devices will be sold online or over-the-counter at pharmacies and other retail stores.

The move follows years of pressure from medical experts and consumer advocates to make the devices cheaper and easier to get.

Devices for more severe hearing loss will remain prescription only.

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