Why do you think there has been a resurgence of interest in treating tinnitus? Does the high incidence of tinnitus in returning veterans have something to do with it?
I think there are probably a few reasons for it, and yes, the incidence of tinnitus among members of the military is an important part of the picture. If you look back to before 2004, there really were not many options for the tinnitus patient. Essentially, all clinicians had to offer was a white-noise generator and some version of Tinnitus Retraining Therapy. When Neuromonics entered the market in the United States in 2005, it brought a higher level of awareness to clinicians, not just about tinnitus, but also on how to manage tinnitus patients and how to deliver an effective treatment.
We began to establish the market at that time, and as a result, you are now seeing a wide variety of manufacturers getting into the tinnitus space - companies with a specific tinnitus device as well as hearing aid manufacturers with combination devices. The level of awareness that Neuromonics has brought to the market, and the knowledge that there is something that can be done for tinnitus patients, have proven to be catalysts for innovation. Now, we are also starting to see an emphasis in audiology education on tinnitus patients and the variety of solutions available.
Then, the enormity of the tinnitus problem among military service veterans brings an entirely new level of awareness of tinnitus to our industry and to the public in general. Tinnitus is the No. 1 service-connected disability, with more than 34 percent of returning veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan suffering from it. At the end of 2012, almost 1 million veterans received some degree of compensation for it. And during the 2012 fiscal year, of all vets who began receiving compensation for a service-connected disability, almost 10 percent were suffering from tinnitus. At Neuromonics, we are proud of the fact that our products and treatments fit the Progressive Tinnitus Management protocol utilized by the Veterans Administration and Department of Defense. We are able to make a real and significant difference in the lives of our veterans.