Dispatches from Durban: May 15-20, 2022

Reflections on the 5th Global Conference on the elimination of child labour in Durban, South Africa: May 15-20, 2022

Reid Maki is the director of child labor advocacy at the National Consumers League and he coordinates the Child Labor Coalition.

The recently-concluded week-long “5th Global Conference on the Elimination of Child Labour” in Durban, South Africa was convened against the backdrop of the announcement last July of an alarming rise in child labor numbers after two decades of steady and significant declines in global child labor totals.

The global conference, which typically comes about every four years, brought together an estimated 1,000 delegates from foreign governments and small number of representatives of NGOs. It also brought together for the first time at one of the quadrennial child labor conferences dozens of participant youth advocates as well as a number of child labor victims and survivors.

The conference had the difficult mission of righting the ship and trying to reverse the rising child labor numbers, which seem destined to rise further as the COVID pandemic’s impact will continue to be felt for years. Sadly, the pandemic threw 1.6 million children out of school, often for prolonged periods and some of those children entered work and may never return to school.

We would first like to thank the South Africa government for the herculean task of organizing a global conference during a still raging pandemic, all against a backdrop of devastating floods in April that savaged the provinces of KwaZulu-Natal and Easter Cape and killed nearly 500 people, destroyed 4,000 homes and displaced 40,000 people.

As the conference opened, Guy Ryder, the Director General of the International Labour Organization, which helped advise the government of South Africa on the organization of the conference, suggested that the rise in 8 million child laborers from 152 million to 160 million likely represented complacency and a loss of focus by global governments on the child labor problem and must be rectified. He noted increases in child labor impacting children under age 11 and urged delegates to redouble their efforts. “We need to increase our efforts, and pay particular attention to child labor in agriculture,” said Ryder, who added that child labor advocacy is threatened by a “perfect storm” created by COVID’s enduring impact, rising food insecurity, and debt crises that are expected to impact 60 nations in the coming years.

South Africa’s president Cyril Ramamphosa delivered a stirring welcome. He noted that his country’s embrace of child rights is not just a matter of principle. “The assertion of the rights of children was a direct response to the deprivation, discrimination and deliberate neglect that had been visited on the black children of this county by successive colonial apartheid administrations,” said Ramamphosa. “Child labor perpetuate the cycle of poverty, denying young people the education they need to improve their circumstances. It condemns communities to forms of economic activity and labor that limit any prospect of advancement or progress.”

Nobel Peace Prize laureate Kailash Satyarthi noted the particular challenge that the sub-Saharan African region is facing with the highest rates of child labor and one in five children are in child labor.

Satyarthi urged listeners to embrace the idea that every single child can be protected from child labor. “Let us march from exploitation to education,” he urged, calling for children to have a “fair share” of resources. The amount needed to ensure all children have access to needed resources is only $53 billion – not much considering the wealth of many nations, said Satyarthi who also noted that the G7, which is about to meet on June 26th, has never focused attention collectively on child labor. “This needs to change,” he urged.

The conference opened with a pledge by European Union (EU) Commissioner Jutta Urpilainen that the EU will create a new $10 million euro initiative to reduce child labor in agriculture. Child labor must return to the political agenda, she urged.

The six-day conference, attended by 1,0000 delegates in person and an estimated 7,000 online, according to organizers, featured workshops and side events, and included three meetings every other day by separate groups of employers, workers, and governments. Readers can find a conference agenda here with video links to many sessions.

Twenty-four side events focused on many related topics including child labor in supply chains, a decent work agenda, youth-led activism, small-scale mining, livelihoods skills development, African priorities, partnership in Latin America to end child labor, due diligence legislation, data and research needs, labor inspections, artisanal fisheries and aquaculture, and a child-labor-free zone in Ghana. For a complete list and to view specific side events, please go to agenda, scroll each day’s offerings and click links to the videos.

Attendees learned a lot about specific intervention efforts, and the struggles many nations are engaged in, including Malawi, which has recently been hit by two cyclones and where there is a shortage of 50,000 schools – less than half of the children have access to education, said the nation’s Education Minister Agnes Nyalongje. She pleaded for international help, noting that 12 years of sustained aid could create generational change in Malawi and fix its troubled education system.

It’s difficult to summarize the hundreds of hours of content but readers may get a sense from the CLC’s twitter stream which included four to five dozen original tweets at @ChildLaborCLC.

The conference’s concluding “Call to Action” document emphasizes the need for urgent action, because “the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, armed conflicts, and food, humanitarian and environmental crises threaten to reverse years of progress against child labour”. The document includes commitments in six different areas:

  • Make decent work a reality for adults and youth above the minimum age for work by accelerating multi-stakeholder efforts to eliminate child labour, with priority given to the worst forms of child labour.
  • End child labour in agriculture.
  • Strengthen the prevention and elimination of child labour, including its worst forms, forced labour, modern slavery and trafficking in persons, and the protection of survivors through data-driven and survivor-informed policy and programmatic responses.
  • Realize children’s right to education and ensuring universal access to free, compulsory, quality, equitable and inclusive education and training.
  • Achieving universal access to social protection.
  • Increasing financing and international cooperation for the elimination of child labour and forced labour.

As is often the case at conferences, many of the side conversations are of great interest. We had many great conversations with Simon Steyne, who recently retired from the International Labour Organization but continues his child labor advocacy. Simon is campaigning to bring about a child-labor-in-agriculture conference in the coming year. With 70 percent of global child labor in agriculture and rising child labor rates, a focus on agriculture at this time is absolutely essential, Steyne argued.

What might have been improved at the conference? It seems that a relatively small number of Civil Society participants were invited to the conference, included few from the Americas and Asia. The pandemic and travel distances certainly impacted in-person attendance. And we know a lot of NGO participants were able to join online. We hope that a broader spectrum of Civil Society is invited to future global child labor conferences. NGO delegates often possess in-the-field, grass roots knowledge lacked by government and employer groups and NGO presence is a key element in the fight to reverse accelerating incidence of child labor.

The Civil Society advocates and experts who were there enhanced the conference greatly, mostly through the two dozen side events. We were delighted to be joined at the conference by CLC members Bank Information Center and GoodWeave, which organized the side event “Child Labour Free Supply Chains: Tackling Root Causes from Maker to Market” — included panelist Thea Lee, the deputy undersecretary for International Affairs at the U.S. Department of Labor, who was ubiquitous at the conference. CLC-member Action Against Child Exploitation (ACE) also presented a side event: “Promoting an Integrated Area-based Approach to the Elimination of Child Labour: A Case of the Child Labour Free Zone in Ghana,” with Yuka Iwatsuki, president of ACE among the panelists.

In addition to thanking our gracious South African hosts and the ILO for its organizing role, the CLC also wishes to express appreciation to our valued partners the Global March Against Child Labour and the Kailash Satyarthi Children’s Foundation for enhancing the conference significantly through organizing side events and bringing the voices of youth advocates to Durban.

Tara Banjara. 17, was among the youth advocates who appeared as a panelist. Tara said she is from a community in India where there are no schools and “no one had an idea about what education is.” She was four and half when she went to work on roads with her mother. They cleaned garbage and rubble out of potholes. The work was exhausting and difficult and went on till she was rescued by Bachpan Bachao Andolan’s Bal Ashram.

Today, Tara is the first girl to complete grade 12 exams in her entire family. She asked attendance participants gathered in Durban and the thousands on line: “Is this our fault that if we are born in a small village, we do not have the right to live our childhood with freedom?” She asked.

“We want freedom. We want the right to education,” Tara said, sharing her dream of becoming a police officer some day and working at the grassroots level to ensure that all children have equal rights and freedom. In one of the conference’s emotional high points, Tara asked attendees to stand and make a pledge: “Let us all pledge to create a world where every child is free from slavery; every child gets an education and an opportunity to fulfill their dreams.”

2022 Script Your Future Medication Adherence Team Challenge Winners

The eleventh annual Script Your Future contest saw participation by 24 schools in 11 states and directly counseled nearly 7,000 patients nationwide

Media contact: National Consumers League – Katie Brown, katie@nclnet.org, (202) 207-2832

May 13, 2022

Washington, DC —Today, the National Consumers League (NCL) and its partners announced the winners of the eleventh annual Script Your Future Medication Adherence Team Challenge, a competition designed to engage pharmacy students and faculty across the nation by encouraging teams to develop creative initiatives to raise public awareness about the importance of medication adherence, vaccine confidence, and safe drug disposal.

This year’s winners are Wilkes University, Temple University, Western University, Northeast Ohio Medical University (NEOMED), University of Pittsburgh, and Touro University California.

The 2022 Script Your Future Team Challenge is an awareness campaign coordinated by NCL with support from its partners and the Challenge sponsors—Eli Lilly, Deterra, the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP), the American Pharmacists Association (APhA), and the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA).

The Team Challenge was first established in 2011 to nurture adherence-minded values in future generations of professionals entering the workplace.

In 2022, our Team Challenge student health professionals spread messaging on the importance of medication adherence, vaccine confidence, and a new health topic: safe drug disposal. This year, over 1,000 future healthcare professionals and volunteers from across 11 states participated in the Team Challenge.

2021 Medication Adherence Team Challenge Winners

This year’s winners, selected from dozens of applications and 24 participating educational institutions, are listed below.

National Award Winner: Wilkes University Nesbitt School of Pharmacy – PA

Wilkes University is a fourth-time participant of the Script Your Future Team Challenge, and a first-time winner of the National Award! During the 2022 Team Challenge, students on the Wilkes team successfully collaborated with Highmark Health pharmacists to create a medication adherence questionnaire that was circulated to patients. They also creatively used social media, including TikTok and YouTube, to spread messages about the importance of medication adherence, vaccine confidence, and safe drug disposal. These messages got over 58,000 views. Students were also able to vaccinate patients for COVID-19 (boosters), Shingles, and Influenza. The Wilkes team was able to directly counsel 1,184 patients, and reached 49,313 people through their outreach efforts.


National Award Winner: Temple University School of Pharmacy – PA

Temple University is also a first-time winner of the Script Your Future National Award! This year, Temple students of pharmacy collaborated with health and community organizations in Philadelphia, including Temple University Hospital, and its affiliated clinics as well as the places where people live their lives such as local community pharmacies, parks, churches, charitable organizations, and schools. For example, Temple’s team worked with Dispose Rx to spread messages about the importance of safe drug disposal in North Philadelphia. This team also worked with the Children’s Mission to serve people who have no or unstable housing, and counseled them on their medications along with conducting blood pressure checks. Temple students directly counseled 234 patients, and reached over 400 patients through their activities.


Health Disparities/Underserved Focus Award Winner: Northeast Ohio Medical University School of Pharmacy – OH

The Northeast Ohio Medical University School of Pharmacy (NEOMED) team is this year’s winner of the Script Your Future Health Disparities Award! NEOMED’s team focused on reaching low-income and homeless individuals, the elderly, and refugees. NEOMED students worked with the Center for Families and Children, IKON Health Foundation, and Rose Centers for Aging Well to reach these underserved populations. Through their efforts, the NEOMED team vaccinated 456 patients, directly counseled 1,323 patients, reached 1,923 patients, and distributed and donated 3,254 resources.


Media Outreach Award Winner: Western University School of Health Sciences, College of Pharmacy – CA

This year’s winner of the Media Outreach Award is Western University College of Pharmacy! This team implemented creative uses of traditional and social media to spread messaging related to medication adherence, vaccine confidence, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, interprofessional collaboration, antimicrobial resistance, and safe drug storage & disposal. They created a brand-new podcast series that aimed to provide information on these topics, and made them available on multiple media platforms including Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, and their website. The podcast series can be found here. Across all of these platforms, Western University’s team was able to get 1,203 views.


Creative Interprofessional Team Event Award Winner: University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy – PA

University of Pittsburgh’s pharmacy students demonstrated great interprofessional collaborations with other health professional students at their university. Their team included students from the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Dental Medicine, School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, School of Medicine, School of Nursing, and School of Social Work. Their multi-disciplinary intervention with different health professional students helped to bring multiple perspectives and skills sets together to bridge gaps in expertise when counseling patients. Their interprofessional team documented over 1,800 unique patient encounters at community pharmacy sites, including patients with disease states like hypertension, diabetes, and dyslipidemia to transplant and neurologic disorders.


Technology Innovation Focused Award: Touro University California, College of Pharmacy – CA

Touro University’s pharmacy students implemented creative uses of technology to increase messaging for medication adherence. They created a digital medication adherence wallet card, to help patients keep track of their medications in a more convenient way. Given that technology is so widely used today, this was a great effort by the students. They did mention an important issue, that there are people who do not have internet access, so these digital cards were given in complement with the physical wallet cards.

2022 School

Congratulations to the winners of the 2022 Script Your Future Medication Adherence Team Challenge!


A word from NCL and one of our generous Script Your Future sponsors

“The Script Your Future program has been a great way to engage future health professionals and spread messages about the importance of medication adherence, vaccine confidence, and now, safe drug disposal. As we are still combatting the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important to keep patients on top of their health care needs, and participants of this program have been a part of these efforts. This year, we had over 1,000 participants conduct community outreach activities, and NCL continues to be impressed by the impact these students have on their respective communities across the country.”

  • NCL Executive Director, Sally Greenberg


Student pharmacists have been important contributors to the outreach to communities, especially throughout the pandemic. Medication adherence, vaccine access, and substance use prevention are critically important priorities and AACP appreciates NCL’s commitment to this recognition program.

  • American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP) Executive Vice President and CEO, Lucinda L. Maine, PhD, RPh


About the National Consumers League (NCL) 

The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America’s pioneer consumer organization. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit www.nclnet.org.


NCL issues recommendations to avoid another baby formula shortage

May 19, 2022

Media contact: National Consumers League – Katie Brown, katie@nclnet.org, (202) 207-2832

Washington, D.C. – The National Consumers League shares the very real concerns of new parents regarding the recent shortage of infant formula. Our hearts also go out to parents who have lost babies due to contaminated powdered formula and those whose infants suffered devastating health consequences from the contaminated product.

We appreciate the FDA’s multifaceted approach to increase infant formula supply, including allowing foreign manufacturers of baby formula to sell their products in the U.S. Additionally, the Biden Administration has implemented the Defense Production Act, which will be important in increasing production by requiring suppliers to prioritize getting needed inputs to the infant formula manufacturers. Initiating the DPA also allows the Administration to use Department of Defense contracts with commercial cargo lines to speed the transport of foreign products into the U.S. and onto store shelves across the country. These actions are critical steps in combatting this formula shortage issue.  We applaud Congress for supporting emergency legislation to address the formula shortage.

However, while addressing the shortage is the most pressing issue, first and foremost, the responsibility lies with the Abbott facility in Michigan whose reckless actions set events into motion. Abbott failed to follow safety protocols, falsified documents to the FDA and then shipped contaminated formula exposing our most vulnerable little consumers to foodborne illnesses. Those actions triggered an FDA investigation and subsequent recall, leading to the current shortage.

We are also troubled that the FDA, for its part, took almost two months to act on the whistleblower complaint sent to the agency in October 2021. That report cited unsanitary conditions, contamination of formula, and serious allegations against company officials at the Abbott Facility in Michigan. This complaint should have received immediate attention given the vulnerability of infants, whose immune systems are just developing. This plant is also responsible for producing a great deal of the formula sold to federal WIC program. (The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children). We think both civil and criminal charges are in order. The shortage demands that the FDA source infant formula from countries already approved for importing formula. It’s also time to create a single food safety agency and create an office to oversee the safety and supply of infant formula.

A summary of NCL’s recommendations include:

  1. Immediate sourcing of infant formula from countries that are already approved to import the product
  2. Opening the Abbott plant once the FDA can reach an agreement with the company to ensure production of infant formula will be under strictest safety and quality control.
  3. A full investigation of the Abbott facility, and criminal and civil charges brought against those who falsified data or knowingly allowed the shipment of contaminated formula
  4. Expansion of the number of companies making infant formula
  5. Creation of a single food safety agency and appointment of a baby formula safety and supply chain expert

Infants are our most vulnerable and precious consumers and they rely on us to protect them. We have let them down and safety provisions must be put in place to ensure that this never happens again. NCL stands ready to work with Congress, consumers, businesses, and the FDA to ensure the safety of infant formula is never compromised again.


About the National Consumers League (NCL) 

The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America’s pioneer consumer organization. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit www.nclnet.org.


National Consumers League urges Congress not to allow credit bureaus’ credit scoring company to dominate the credit scoring system

May 13, 2022

Media contact: National Consumers League – Katie Brown, katie@nclnet.org, (202) 207-2832

Washington, D.C. –

The National Consumers League has sent a letter to the Chairs of the Senate Banking and House Financial Services Committees asking these leaders to conduct adequate oversight on the nation’s credit bureaus, TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian. “The three bureaus keep financial records and establish credit scores for hundreds of millions of Americans. For years, consumer organizations like ours have been raising questions about the behavior and actions of these entities, who in recent years have together created their own credit scoring company called VantageScore.”

The letter noted that “On April 12th of this year, the Consumer Finance Protection Board (CFPB) filed a lawsuit against credit bureau TransUnion and their long-time CEO for willfully violating the law and defrauding consumers, with CFPB’s director saying that ‘TransUnion is an out-of-control repeat offender that believes it is above the law.’  The letter also noted that “In September of 2017, the nation learned that another of the big three, Equifax, had been breached and the financial records of close to 150 million Americans had been compromised. “Investigations …found that Equifax had failed to protect the data that they had been entrusted with and a global settlement was reached.”  The letter goes on to say “… the three credit bureaus own a credit scoring company called VantageScore. Vantage Score is vigorously lobbying the FHFA to spend millions of dollars to change the credit scoring system for the GSEs in order to win market share.”

The letter urges these members of Congress to “ask tough questions and share your concerns directly with the FHFA, especially before that agency takes any action that could send millions of dollars into the pockets of VantageScore.”

Read the letter here.


About the National Consumers League (NCL) 

The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America’s pioneer consumer organization. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit www.nclnet.org.


National Consumers League statement on the confirmation of Alvaro Bedoya as FTC Commissioner

May 11, 2022

Media contact: National Consumers League – Katie Brown, katie@nclnet.org, (202) 207-2832

Washington, D.C. – The National Consumers League (“NCL”), America’s pioneering consumer advocacy organization, today applauded the U.S. Senate for confirming Alvaro Bedoya to be the next Federal Trade Commissioner. The following statement is attributable to NCL Executive Director Sally Greenberg:

“American consumers are better off today because Alvaro Bedoya will be fighting for their interests at the Federal Trade Commission. As a champion of privacy rights, particularly the rights of consumers from historically marginalized communities, Bedoya has been at the forefront of efforts to protect consumers from intrusive surveillance by businesses and governments. We look forward to working with him as the FTC continues its important mission of protection consumers and promoting competition.”


About the National Consumers League (NCL) 

The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America’s pioneer consumer organization. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit www.nclnet.org.


NCL speaks out against the decision to overturn abortion rights

May 4, 2022

Media contact: National Consumers League – Katie Brown, katie@nclnet.org, (202) 207-2832

Washington, D.C. — The National Consumers League (NCL) is gravely disappointed to learn, through a prematurely leaked Supreme Court decision, that the Supreme Court is likely to overturn the right to abortion in the United States. The leaked opinion will overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, which made access to abortions a federally protected right, and is a radical departure from current law, not even protecting women in the case of rape or incest.

As an organization founded by women, NCL has a strong history of advocating for women’s health rights and equal access to reproductive health services for all. Whether to have an abortion is a deeply personal decision that must be left up to a woman and her doctor. The state should have to interest in regulating this fundamental right.

The Supreme Court’s decision to leave abortion rights up to the states will greatly exacerbate the already problematic health inequities in access to reproductive services. Numerous states around the country have already begun their legislative attacks, with an estimated 13 states set to ban abortion at just six weeks, a time when many women don’t even know they are pregnant. In fact, the frequency of abortion is on the decline and tracks closely with access to effective and affordable, and best of all, free, contraception.

Without access to services, women seeking abortion will once again be forced to consider unsafe measures. We sincerely hope that the decision that was leaked is not the final word from the Supreme Court. That decision will put women at great risk, and will add to the already high rates of maternal morbidity and mortality in the U.S.

NCL believes that abortion rights are an essential health care right, and every woman should have the ability to access abortion services. The right to abortion should remain a constitutionally protected right, and access to abortion should not be left to the state legislatures. Ensuring that all women have equal access to safe abortion services is crucial in making sure that all women have autonomy over their health and wellbeing.


About the National Consumers League (NCL) 

The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America’s pioneer consumer organization. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit www.nclnet.org.

NCL applauds FDA proposal to ban menthol cigarettes

May 4, 2022

Media contact: National Consumers League – Katie Brown, katie@nclnet.org, (202) 207-2832

Washington, D.C. – The National Consumers League (NCL) applauds the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) proposed rule to ban menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars. This long overdue ban is a critical public health measure that is expected to save the hundreds of thousands of lives lost to lung cancer, and other smoking-related morbidities. The tobacco industry has had a long history of aggressive marketing of menthol cigarettes to Black smokers. Today, 85% of Black smokers use menthol cigarettes compared to 29% of all white smokers.

While consumers know that tobacco use is the number one cause of cancer and a preventable death in the U.S, it is a very addictive product and the industry knows that and capitalizes on it. The tobacco industry continues to prey on children with the lure of flavored tobacco products to ensure that young people become addicted. Flavored cigars are especially popular with Black and Latino teenagers.

The FDA’s proposed rule to ban flavored cigars and menthol cigarettes is not just important for preventing our young people from using tobacco; it will help to address a wide range of health disparities within the Black community.

The public will have the opportunity to comment on the proposed rule from now until July 5, 2022. We urge consumers to share their views with the FDA during this open comment period. Smokers interested in quitting should also visit smokefree.gov or call 1-800-QUIT-NOW to learn about cessation services available in their state.


About the National Consumers League (NCL) 

The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America’s pioneer consumer organization. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit www.nclnet.org.

Jeanette Contreras portrait

Leaders in Congress support safe OTC hearing aid standards

By NCL Director of Health Policy Jeanette Contreras

Mild to moderate hearing loss is a difficult reality that millions of Americans struggle with, which is why the availability of over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids is exciting for those who are impacted by hearing loss. While making OTC hearing aids more accessible is a promising step for consumers, we at NCL would be remiss if we didn’t underscore our concerns around the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) proposed OTC hearing regulations as they currently exist.

In December of last year, NCL was one of hundreds of organizations who submitted a comment to FDA’s public docket on the issue; and last month we submitted a letter voicing our concerns to the FDA that was supported by 29 not-for-profit, public health organizations across the country. These organizations collectively represent the concerns of millions of consumers, patients, and individuals impacted by hearing loss.

We want to reiterate our enthusiasm for OTC hearing aids, but as the gold standard of safety in our country, it is imperative that the FDA make sure these devices are safe for consumers and do not worsen a problem they are intended to mitigate. As written, the draft regulations would allow for a maximum sound output level of 120 dBA – equivalent to the volume of a chainsaw or fire engine siren. This is concerning, as exposure to sounds at 120 dB can be dangerous in as little as nine seconds according to the CDC. This is why NCL, along with other leading consumer and healthcare voices, encourage the FDA to follow the recommendations of hearing care professionals, including the American Academy of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery that recommend a maximum output of 110 dB and a gain limit of 25 dB. Without a limit on gain, OTC hearing aids users will be able to amplify sounds to dangerous levels, and far beyond what Congress authorized when it said these devices must be limited to adults with moderate hearing loss or less.

The safety parameters we are recommending would in no way compromise the efficacy of OTC hearing aids intended for individuals with perceived mild to moderate hearing loss. In fact, a recent study concluded that commercially-available hearing aids programmed according to parameters typical of those used for individuals with mild to moderate hearing loss yield effective output and gain levels and are within the recommended limits specified by leading hearing care organizations and medical experts.

Importantly, the FDA has already cleared several hearing aids for adults with perceived mild to moderate hearing loss that were found to be safe and highly effective during clinical trials. While these devices were authorized under a different category of hearing aids, these devices limit the maximum output to 115 dB or below and gain to 30 dB or less, lower than the amplification limits currently proposed by the FDA. At the very least, the FDA should incorporate these amplification limits in the final OTC hearing aid regulation.

Finally, as we await finalized guidance from the FDA, we applaud leaders in Congress who are standing behind consumers in supporting safe and effective amplification limits. Last month, Congresswoman Betty McCollum (D-MN) and Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) sent a letter to the FDA echoing their safety concerns. The letter states, “[The proposed rule] hurts consumers and patients in two ways. First, it means individuals suffering from greater levels of hearing loss could put off a needed visit with a licensed hearing professional. Doing so could lead to worsening their existing symptoms, delaying an accurate diagnosis and treatment, and even creating irreparable damage to their hearing. Secondly, it means those with perceived mild-to-moderate hearing loss would be exposed to harmful levels of noise that could result in further damage to their long-term hearing. In order to avoid these concerns, FDA should impose a gain limit of 25 dB and an overall output limit of 110 dB.”

Similar to the countless other experts that have also weighed in, we believe that establishing safe amplification limits would not reduce the efficacy of these devices or limit the advancement of innovative technologies. We thank Congresswomen McCollum and DeLauro for being a voice for consumers and patients on this important issue. To learn more about gain and output and how to protect yourself from hearing loss, check out our infographic.

NCL: Musk must protect privacy of Twitter’s users, not allow platform to become a “cesspool”

May 3, 2022

Media contact: National Consumers League – Katie Brown, katie@nclnet.org, (202) 207-2832

Washington, D.C. – The National Consumers League (“NCL”), America’s oldest consumer advocacy organization, today urged Elon Musk to protect user privacy while continuing to regulate dangerous and misleading content when he acquires Twitter.

The following statement is attributable to NCL Executive Director Sally Greenberg:

“Regardless of who owns the company, Twitter has a responsibility to police its platform for dangerous misinformation and disinformation, particularly as it relates to public health issues like the COVID-19 pandemic. Twitter, like other social media companies, has content moderation policies in place but routinely struggles to stop aggressive and pervasive misinformation and disinformation campaigns on the platform. This has wide-ranging and negative consequences for public health and the health of our democracy.

Further weakening or failing to enforce Twitter’s content moderation policies will not promote free speech. Doing so would simply make it easier for the most noxious voices on the Internet – racists, anti-Semites, anti-vaxxers, and many others – to drown out legitimate and important dialogue. Instead of allowing an unfettered free-for-all, Mr. Musk should use the opportunity of acquiring Twitter to increase privacy protections, such as by implementing end-to-end encryption for all direct messages. He should also maintain Twitter’s ban on the most egregious violators of the platform’s content moderation policies; particularly those who have used the platform to promote hate, public health misinformation, and attacks on democracy. The Internet’s town square must not become a cesspool, regardless of how much money the world’s richest man has at his disposal.”


About the National Consumers League (NCL) 

The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America’s pioneer consumer organization. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit www.nclnet.org.