Born to Die? For what good?
by Kym Lambert (copyright 2000-07 © Kym Lambert may be republished ONLY if this notice remains in tact)
Please note that this is somwhat out of date, there are new Premarin based drugs with no “p-word” on them, for example. But horses are still dying even as Premarin continues to be proven as the least effective or safe HRT and should already be off the markt.
There are major concerns to face about Premarin® (PREgnant MARes’ uRINe —includes Premarin, PremPro, PremPhase, PremPac-C all from Wyeth-Ayerst Laboratories –now owned by Pfizer), one primarily addressed here because this is a horse page, is the cruelty involved in the production of it. The other is the risks involved to the millions of women taking it. This drug is the most prescribed drug in the US ….it is almost a given that this is the drug you will be prescribed when you start menopause or have a had bilateral oophorectomy (not a hysterectomy as usually understood as, there is no need for HRT at all if only the uterus is removed, but there may be for for those who have their ovaries removed whether the uterus is for not) and, at least in the past has been prescribed to medically transitioning (not all trans people choose to) transgender women, despite all the other humane and much safer alternatives. And the tragedy is that most people, including medical professionals, do not know the circumstances around the production…or they don’t care.
Premarin is made from the urine of pregnant mares, who are tied in stalls unable to lie down (and YES horses do need to lie down, some sleep stages are done standing others lying for full rest a horse must lie down), get no exercise, have reduced water consumption (makes the urine more concentrated) for six months. This leaves them unhealthy, covered with sores and with infections and drastically shortens their lives. They are taken off line to give birth and in some cases the foal is weaned dangerously early (if allowed to nurse at all) so the mare can be brought back into season and bred again. The average life span of a PMU farm mare is 8-9 years, compared to 20-30(sometimes more) that is more typical of a horse. And at the end of production the mares are sent to slaughter as well…often with their last foal sat their side.
Every time a mare is pregnant there is a foal, these foals are a “waste product” to the urine farmers (there is an exception, but a very very small one of one or two farms that raise horses and sell the urine as an extra…..these farms raise their quality foals, although it is unclear if “lower quality” ones meet the same fate as those from the other farms….at least this is a rumor, I do not know for sure if these farms really exist). We are talking around 40,000 to 50,000 foals a year from US and Canada (number would be higher, but there is a higher than normal mortality rate among these foals, usually due to exposure or starvation). They are sent to feed lots and then to Canadian auctions that cater almost exclusively to the horse meat trade to be sent mostly to Europe and Japan.
The drug and you
Premarin is marketed as an “organic” or “natural” estrogen…well, yeah it’s natural, if you’re a pregnant mare! But mares have a multitude of estrogens that humans do not have, do not need, and can potentially be harmed by. The risks involved include but are not limited to increase in breast and uterine cancer, stroke and abnormal blood clotting which can lead to death, gall bladder disease, rising in blood pressure, gastrointestinal problems, memory loss. Personally, as a soon-to-be menopausal (possibly perimenopausal as of recently) woman those risks seem too high for me…if it were the only replacement therapy you couldn’t pay me to take the stuff.
But it isn’t the only option, there are alternatives! Safer for you, for the horses, and for the environment (you think that processing all that urine is without waste?). These alternatives are “synthetic” although many are made from plant estrogens and most more closely replicate the human hormones you are replacing than Premarin can.
If you are menopausal, post-bilateral oophorectomy, or a trans woman and you are on Premarin please consider contacting your doctor immediately to change your therapy. If you aren’t convinced that you are swallowing horse urine (and you are not alone, a woman told me a nurse who was on Premarin had no idea how it was made, your doctor might not even know!) then crush one of your pills and sniff it. Yup, that’s what it is all right! You’ll smell it. Talk to your doctor, make sure s/he knows that you do not approve of the torture and death involved.
If you are on or considering Premarin please discuss alternatives with your doctor and SWITCH! If you are making plans to go on hormones for menopause or medical transition but haven’t yet, please go on one of the alternatives…for the horses and for your health! You may wish to get copies of Premarin: Rx for Cruelty from UAN or Premarin® Exposed from the ASPCA or other information to give to your doctor, amazing as it seems most health care practitioners just never consider this issue or for that matter KNOW how Premarin is made. UAN also offers a video “Look in their Eyes” for a donation of $15 ($12 for members). UAN has a button campaign “I’ve Switched” for those who have and “Make the Switch” for those who never started it….let the world know the choice you made.
What else to do?
Distribute the fliers from the ASPCA and UAN where ever you can, where UAN’s buttons as noted above and carry their fliers to give those who ask you about it. Be as open about your feelings on this as you can, most people just do not know. Get the word out!
Write letters, to the Canadian Minister of Industry, US the Department of Agriculture and even the manufacturers Wyeth-Ayerst Laboratories itself (Wyeth-Ayerst Laboratories (product control), 555 E. Lancaster Avenue, St. David’s, PA 19087, 800.666.7248 and Wyeth-Ayerst Laboratories, PO Box 8299, Philadelphia, PA 19101).
What about saving the horses?
There is some debate over the buying and adopting out of PMU foals. The foals are sold for slaughter by the farmers, for extra profit and many feel that by rescues buying them it is just giving profit to the PMU system. But then again someone will buy them, the slaughter house buyers! They’ll buy these weanlings, put them in crowded feedlots for six months then send through the chutes to a cruel death. So while some say we shouldn’t, I still feel that while we have this problem as many that can be kept from slaughter should be. And in 2007 we adopted a PMU filly, Saorsa, from Spring Hill Horse Rescue in Vermont.
But the ONLY way to really save these horses is to stop production of Premarin NOW. And the only way to do that is for everyone on it or who will be put on it to refuse to take it. Remember there is no reason for this drug, there ARE safer, more humane alternatives and many who take it do not need it because menopause is not a disease it does not need “treatment.”
The pro-PMU farm people say that if we stop Premarin production there will be tens of thousands of mares sent to slaughter. Well, where do they think those mares end up by the time they are about 9 years old?! With the tens of thousands of foals killed EVERY YEAR and the tens of thousands of future mares facing 8-9 years of torture before they go to slaughter. If these mares are taken off line and end up in the auctions we will save as many as we can and NO MORE PMU foals or retired mares will follow in the years to come.
*** There had been great hope in October of 2003 that Premarin® would soon be on the way out. As Wyeth-Ayerst sharply reduced production of this dangerous and inhumane drug, when the dangers to women taking it became more and more obvious, especially the link to breast cancer. They ended contracts with 1/3 of the farms and the remaining ones cut production by 1/3. Within a year, however, Wyeth launched new campaigns to bring women back to the drug, although focusing on the idea that it was a short-term drug (this, however, is not true for the use for women who have had bilateral oophorectomy –removal of both ovaries, often mistakenly lumped in with hysterectomy which only refers to removal of the uterus– at a young age nor for trans women who would). This means that over three years later production is continuing, women are still endangering their lives and horses are still dying.***
End All Horse Slaughter NOW!
All information here is from Premarin: Rx for Cruelty from United Animal Nations(link no longer working) , Premarin® Exposed from the ASPCA (424 East 92nd St, New York, NY 10128-6804), Premarin.org (link no longer works) (IGHA/HorseAid), and The Truth About Premarin (link no longer works)
“Neigh Pill” is a copyrighted © 1998 service mark (sm) of IGHA/HorseAid, all rights reserved.
Premarin is a registered ® trademark of Wyeth-Ayerst Laboratories and American Home Products (their parent company)
Contents and design, except where noted otherwise, copyright © 2000-07 Kym Lambert All opinions here are my own, they may or may not be shared by anyone else, they do not represent any group which I have linked to here.