7 MED LABORATORY, THE WOMEN’S HEALTH ALLY
Vichy Communauté can welcome the presence, on its territory, of several French or international leaders of very varied activities. Among them, Laboratory 7 MED, the leading European centre for the manufacture of hormone-free intrauterine devices, more commonly known as IUD. Established since 1997 on the Bioparc d’Hauterive, this SME is experiencing a significant development of its market in the world, driven by beautiful innovations.
For nearly 25 years, Laboratory 7 MED has specialized in female contraception and the copper IUD intrauterine device. Founded by Charles-Dominique Lafont, the company then called 7 MED Industrie is until 2015 a manufacturer, making medical devices for brands already on the market. A strategy reviewed by Jean Hantzsche, former director of the Melisana group which owned 7 MED and which bought it in 2019 with the French group GSA Healthcare (Boulogne-Billancourt). «In 2015, in order to no longer depend on a single customer, we launched the production of our own 7 MED brand, with 100% French IUD», explains Jean Hantzsche today deputy managing director of the company renamed Laboratoire 7 MED. The success was almost immediate and in 2021, 7 MED holds 43% of the French market share against a mainly Chinese and Indian competition. The SME with 20 employees is the only manufacturing centre and the IUD leader in Europe.
Safe and innovative products
Laboratory 7 MED designs, manufactures and markets a complete range of Class III medical devices with CE marking. Therefore, it is impossible for Laboratoire 7 MED to make it a general public advertisement. Its main clients are gynecologists and midwives who prescribe devices to their patients. 4 models and several sizes of intrauterine devices are now offered by the French brand, to suit the morphologies of all women in the world. These non-hormonal IUD, are coated with copper wire, a non-ferrous metal that makes sperm less mobile and viable. An invention that dates back to the 1930s, but which still sometimes suffers from negative prejudices: “The French word for IUD already implies that women are sterilized. That’s not true, because when you take it off, a woman can conceive after a week. For a long time, it was also said that women could only wear them after a first child. Today, the High Authority of Health (HAS) advocates it even for nulliparous women who have not yet had a child and until menopause. Since midwives can ask it, the IUD has become much more democratic,” Hantzsche insists.
Among the assets of the 7 MED brand, French parts, entirely assembled on the Bioparc site, which concentrates the activities of research and development, production, logistics, marketing… There was therefore no shortage of supplies, even at the height of the crisis. Innovation is also at the heart of the business, thanks to an integrated Research & Development service that is very active, focusing on the improvement of the industrial tool, but also in the search for new devices, through new pharmacological substances and the study of new materials. Through its experience and results, Laboratoire 7 MED has patented innovative technological concepts and industrial know-how.
In 2020, we launched a speculum with integrated LED that allows better visibility when laying and removing IUDs. This year, we have launched 2 new single-use installation and removal kits for our U series. These kits are particularly important for midwives who do not necessarily have all this equipment available,” says the Deputy Director-General, which also announces work on a new “revolutionary” IUD, which will require at least another year of study. Thanks to its expertise, the company also produces other medical devices such as hysterrometers allowing measurements of the uterus or biopsy guides, which represent 5% of the total production.
The 7 MED Academy
To democratize the IUD, the Laboratory created in 2016 the 7 MED Academy, a unique concept in France that trains health professionals. This academy offers technical and practical training in the IUD revisits, with professors such as Thierry Haag, gynecologist-obstetrician, medical manager of the Health Pole Les Célestins. The health crisis has accelerated the digitization of this training, with exchanges and practical situations, realized in visio after receipt of a complete IUD insertion kit. There was a very strong demand in 2021, with more than 250 people already trained and a forecast of 1,000 professionals by the end of the year. Face-to-face training will resume with the return of professional conference everywhere in France. Vichy, led by Laboratoire 7 MED, will even host the 1st IUD France and International Congress on 20 November.
A growing export champion
Driven by its know-how, innovations and the training of healthcare professionals, the 7 MED brand is growing in France and abroad. In 2021, the SME will approach the 6 million IUD sold since its creation, with 3,000 pieces produced per day and all controlled to the unit. While sales declined in countries that were heavily affected by Covid, such as Spain and Great Britain, they were offset by renewed activity in Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Partnerships with gynecology distributors are already signed with 18 countries, such as Poland, Algeria and more recently Switzerland and Morocco. In June of this year, 7 MED even opens the doors of the Middle East with a new partnership in Saudi Arabia. «All our distributors must complete a very strict specifications, in particular on material supply, in accordance with French and European rules» imposes Jean Hantzsche, who reworked the website as well as digital capsules of presentations of the ranges, in English and French.
Laboratory 7 MED therefore shows an 18% growth in sales in 2020 (€4 million) and a forecast of +8% in 2021, with between 20% and 25% of sales generated by exports. “Our expansion in France and export has already led us to 3 recruitments this year. We are also considering the possibility of hiring an export manager, the part I currently manage alone. Within a year, we also hope to expand, to modernize our production site and to better meet the requirements of our various markets,” announced the Director. A great forecast for the future, for this jewel of French industry.
Laboratoire 7 MED