Amplifon, Aural Widex, Demant, GN, Sonova, Starkey, and WSA unite in new Spanish manufacturers association ANFIA
- Published on 12 April 2023
Spain: The newly launched National Association of Hearing Aid Manufacturers and Importers (ANFIA) has a mission: increase the rate of hearing aid fittings in Spain through joint actions to raise public awareness of hearing health.
ANFIA (Asociación Nacional de Fabricantes e Importadores de Audífonos in Spanish) comprises the following major players in the hearing sphere :GAES (an Amplifon brand), Aural Widex, Demant, GN, Sonova, Starkey and WSA, and they have already been invited to participate in the European grouping EHIMA.
This industry amalgamation of the companies with the largest volume and turnover in the Spanish audiological sector has already led to a historic milestone: the first official sales figures for hearing aids. The latest announced figures indicate that last year exactly 381,194 units were sold in this Spanish market, reflecting a remarkable recent spike: an increase of 24% in just three years, one of the highest growth rates on the international scene, as highlighted by the President of ANFIA, Lorenzo Fiorani, General Manager of Amplifon Spain (owner of GAES).
Explaining how these stats were arrived at, ANFIA VP Javier Poveda - general manager of WSA Spain - pointed out that each manufacturer sends its individual data to two different notaries, who add them up and pass the information to the law firm Broseta, contracted by ANFIA, which in turn sends on the final overall balance. This means that only the notaries have the independent amounts, which guarantees that they will never commercialize these data.
Still far behind France and the United Kingdom
This recent sales growth is promising. But it does not match that of neighbouring countries. In proportion to the population, the rate of hearing aid fittings in Spain is 0.79%, with 381,194 devices in 2021, across a population of 47,615,034 inhabitants. That is far behind France and the United Kingdom, which boast figures over three times higher, with 2.48% and 2.45%, respectively.
In both France and the UK, there is 100% public reimbursement coverage of hearing aid technology for the user, although through different models: the French government subsidises 100% of the models at a fixed price through private hearing centers, while British users receive their devices free on the National Health System (NHS).
Germany, meanwhile, has a 1.89% fitting rate. Italy is at the same level as Spain, with 0.79%, although public subsidies in the latter country are less extensive than in the transalpine nation, as Fiorani points out.
For his part, Poveda has outlined that data on market size are collected in a supervised manner by the law firm. He stressed how how the Covid pandemic had an impact on sales, falling in 2020 by 7.6%, with a rebound effect in the following year (+32.3%), finally stabilising in 2022 (+1.7%).
Poveda also pointed to the increase in the proportion of rechargeable hearing aids (RIC), which rose from 61.9% in 2020 to 78.4% in 2022.
Another spur behind the creation of ANFIA, explained its President, Fiorani, was a stat that emerged a year-and-a-half ago from the EuroTrak survey conducted in Spain: on average, three years elapse between the time a person is aware that they have a hearing loss and when they look for help from hearing aids; and five years, on average, for the renewal of those devices.
The main objectives set up by manufacturers and importers of hearing aids in Spain are:
- To promote the benefits of hearing health and the use of hearing aids, as well as to disseminate knowledge of the latest technological advances.
- To liasie and collaborate with different administrations to promote actions for the benefit of the sector.
- To obtain data and reference studies on the evolution of the audiology and hearing aid sector.
- To promote the development of ethical conduct in the audiology and audioprosthesis sector, in line with current regulations, ethics, and transparency.
- To defend the professional interests of specialist companies in the audiology and audioprosthetics sector, as well as the interests of users.
Code of ethics
A "key issue", in the words of ANFIA's President is the code of ethics defined since the association's foundation, one that will be developed and amplified in the future. "It reflects the set of values, principles and ethical and behavioral guidelines that inspire the culture of both ANFIA and its associates," the new association stressed.
It also "expresses the commitment of its members to comply with the law, promoting the development of ethical behavior in the audiology sector with the ultimate goal of generating confidence in public administrations, their clients, suppliers, and collaborators". And the association has an "ultimate goal" with the code of ethics: "to ensure professional, ethical and responsible behavior of ANFIA members in the development of their activities".
Social and economic impact of hearing loss
The General Manager of Sonova Ibérica, Cristina Cantarell, stressed the "impact of hearing loss" untreated by professionals, not only on the lives of those affected, but also on the economy of administrations, as it causes "greater dependence on public services and benefits". In concrete figures, this health problem generates costs that range in Europe from between 30 billion euros (Germany) and six billion euros (Netherlands). Estimated costs in Spain of 16 billion euros place the country halfway between those other EU members.
"For these people, it can have an impact on their cognitive functioning, mental health, social life, being able to maintain or find a job, and even on their mortality," Cantarell stressed. And hearing aids - also cochlear implants - "have been shown to be a treatment that reduces this negative impact," the Sonova leader added.
OTC devices and hearing centre chains not in ANFIA's cross hairs
Over-the-counter (OTC) devices and hearing centre chains do not yet fall within the scope of ANFIA, its members considering these devices to be outside its objectives and, in relation to end-user services at points of sale, a "contiguous" sector that this manufacturers' association does not represent. "We work with medical devices and with the legislation in hand, although we are aware that OTCs exist in other countries - such as the United States. In ANFIA we will be attentive to the economic impact and the quality and satisfaction of users with this type of device," the President responded to Audio Infos Spain.
When it comes to working on public opinion and awareness of hearing health, Cantarell announced ANFIA's willingness to work along these lines: "We have been evaluating different collaborations, for the moment we have focused on getting this far and the next steps will be to develop actions in a few months".
ANFIA's videoconference presentation was attended by representatives of the National Association of Hearing Aid Professionals (ANA), the Spanish Association of Audiology (AEDA), the Spanish Society of Graduates in Audiology (SEGRAUD) and the federation of families of children with hearing loss FIAPAS. Also in attendance was the Secretary General of EHIMA (European Hearing Instrument Manufacturers' Association), Dr. Stefan Zimmer, who has invited the newly created Spanish group to participate in its next assembly of national associations, with an approach to "sharing ideas and challenges". Fiorani has accepted the offer and has promised that a representative of ANFIA will be present at this European meeting.
A first board of directors with Lorenzo Fiorani as President
In its initial formation, the Spanish sector's new business group sets out with a board of directors comprising Lorenzo Fiorani as President. Alongside the general manager of Amplifon Spain, the organization's junta includes Javier Poveda, general manager of WS Audiology Spain (vice-chair), Cristina Cantarell, general manager of Sonova Ibérica (member), and José Manuel Sipos, managing partner of the Competition area at Broseta Abogados (secretary and treasurer). Other members of ANFIA are the heads of Aural Widex (Juan Ignacio Martínez), Demant (Pilar Moro), GN (José Luis Otero), and Starkey (Jokin Garmendia).
A website with documentation
ANFIA's website contains the association's basic documentation, such as its statutes, its mission statement and code of ethics, as well as information about its initiatives. Going forward, this channel will be used to work on "synergies" with other players in the sector, and to make "the voice" of these companies heard in Spanish society, its president affirms.
Source: Audio en portada