The Spanish market for medical equipment depends heavily on imports, which represent approximately 90 percent of the total market. U.S. medical equipment is highly regarded by Spanish medical professionals and domestic importers/distributors. The United States is the main supplier to Spain, with approximately 35 percent of total imports.
By law, all Spaniards are entitled to comprehensive medical attention. Consequently, public healthcare institutions are the main purchasers of medical equipment and account for approximately 90 percent of the market. These entities include public hospitals, health centers, research institutes, etc. The private health care sector comprises the remaining 10 percent.
Most public healthcare sector purchases are made through tenders. Pre-selection among competing companies is a step made prior to the open bid. During pre-selection, supplying companies present to the hospital descriptions of their products and their prices. After reviewing the proposals, the hospital chooses a few companies considered to be most suitable. The final purchase decision is made from these selections.
In the private sector, tenders are not used. Normally, private hospitals select a small number of suppliers from whom they make direct purchases. Because of these procedures, foreign and U.S. companies are encouraged to have either a Spanish distributor or their own branch in Spain.
Some regional governments are starting a new procurement procedure which consists of purchasing basic (heavy) diagnostic and therapeutic equipment for new hospitals and renewal of leases on terms for which they pay an annual fee for a given number of years, with the supplier responsible for maintaining and updating the equipment. IT services for new facilities will follow the same pattern. Only a few large companies are selected for these processes, including some U.S. multinational companies.
Spain imports only new equipment. The import of refurbished medical equipment into Spain is technically permitted, but both public and private medical providers in Spain have traditionally shown only interest in new equipment. U.S. products that are competitive, new or innovative in the U.S. market have significant chance of success in Spain. Spain is a free-market economy with similar business practices to the U.S. as well as other EU countries. There is zero duty on medical device.
All tenders require medical devices to have the CE mark, which became compulsory in June 1998. Many products previously registered in Spain, when the CE mark was nonexistent, now must be re-registered following the new EU Directive. The registration can be done in any EU country, including Spain, and the process can take from 6-8 months.
As a consequence of the development of the EU market and the requirement for the CE Mark, many U.S. companies have been centralizing their manufacturing and import operations into one single country from which they register and distribute their products to the rest of the EU.
The market for medical products is expected to continue to grow over the coming years, although performance in 2008-2009 may slow down somewhat. The domestic industry is growing, but only to keep pace with the growing demand. Consequently, domestic suppliers’ share of the market is stagnant.
The figures above are estimates based on Spanish Customs statistics, FENIN (Spanish Federation of importers/exporters and manufacturers of medical devices) and U.S. companies’ trade information.
Best products include innovative and efficient cardiology, respiratory/anesthesia, neurology, orthopedic, MRA, ETP, CT, and dermatology/wound treatment products. While there is a good demand for disposables, it must be said that many disposables are now being sourced in Asia.
Large or specialized U.S. companies may benefit from new regional government procurement procedures for basic diagnostic and therapeutic procedures. Demand for IT medical systems and telemedicine equipment is also expected to increase as new and renovated hospitals acquire updated systems to facilitate clinical and patient care, improve administrative procedures, and boost overall efficiency.