RICARIMPEX is the only French company involved in the sale of medical leeches, its products being exported throughout the world. The leeches are sold to the hospital sector (hospitals and clinics) and the broader medical sector (doctors, pharmacists, vets) but a new clientele, made up of private individuals seeking natural remedies, has grown up in recent years in France and the rest of Europe. The animals sold are produced according to the strictest regulatory requirements: selection of suppliers, compliance with quality procedures, flawless traceability.
In the United States, leeches may be used by qualified healthcare
providers for the following indications
“As an adjunct to the healing of graft tissue when problems of venous congestion may delay healing, or to overcome problems of venous congestion by creating prolonged localized bleeding.”
Conditions of sale
Leeches are sold after fasting for a period of at least 3 months.
They are sold directly to hospitals, clinics, doctors, pharmacists, vets, naturopaths and research centres.
For private individuals not familiar with leech therapy, the company can provide addresses of therapists who can guide them. Before an order is confirmed, it is necessary to know how to apply the leech and how frequently, as well as any potential contraindications.
The company markets two types of leeches, identified as follows: Belle Moyenne (Good Average) (1g to 1.8g) and Grosse Moyenne (Large Average) (2.5g to 3g) but should customers so desire, other sizes can be supplied.
Leeches are sold by individual unit and transported by an express transport company to ensure the rapid delivery of the product in optimal conditions of “freshness”. Hence, leeches ordered before 2 p.m. can be delivered anywhere in France the following morning. Delivery times for the rest of Europe are between 1 and 2 days.
The leech is a protected animal (the Washington Convention); as a result, a CITES export licence is required by the company and a similar import licence is required by the customer for shipping outside Europe.
Leeches are shipped in a wet cotton bag placed inside carded cotton. The package is then placed in a water-tight polystyrene box so that the product can be shipped safely. For a first order, instructions are enclosed setting out maintenance and destruction methods once the animals have been used.
Before taking possession of the leeches, customers need to acquire a glass or plastic hermetic feeding pot and mineral water. The only requirements in terms of looking after these animals are that they should not be exposed to heat and their water should be changed at least once per week. RICARIMPEX employees are on hand every day of the week to provide customers with any further information.
The company does not take back leeches that have already been shipped to customers since the traceability chain will have been broken. Product quality can only be guaranteed if the leeches have been kept and used by the customer according to the advice provided (single use only).
Customers are reminded that leeches are for single use only and should then be destroyed by immersion in bleach.
Release of the leeches into the environment is formally prohibited, whether they have been used or otherwise.
A few sales figures
Each year, RICARIMPEX sells more than 120,000 leeches, mostly in France, Europe and the United States.
The majority of leeches are for surgical use but a new clientele made of private individuals has emerged for general medicine applications in France and the rest of Europe.