It is now known that the Wyeth-Ayerst Laboratories, since this drug is becoming less popular do to it's negative side effects, are asking these farms to continue to produce the foals so they can make their money by sending them to slaughter. If these PMU farms don't comply with Wyeth-Ayerst Lab. then they threaten the farms that they will not do business with them. These foals are sent to slaughter at the age of 2 to 5 months of age. Please take the time to read this following document.
Premarin is a drug whose name originates from a key ingredient, pregnant mare's urine (including Prempro, Premphase, and Prempac) is a drug made up of conjugated estrogens obtained from the urine of pregnant mares -- put out in many forms (pills, creams, injections, patches) and is used to reduce the symptoms of menopause in women or women who have had a hysterectomy. It is also prescribed to nearly eliminate the risk of osteoporosis (the brittling of bones) and reduce the chance of heart disease in women over 50.
Approximately nine million American women are currently taking some form of Premarin (about a third of the approximately thirty-five million post menopausal women in the United States are on estrogen replacement therapy/ERT, or hormone replacement therapy/HRT, and of them, about 78% use Premarin based products -- while there are a number of estrogens excreted by the pregnant mare, estrone sulfate, equilin, and equilenin are the most significant.
HOW MANY PREMARIN FARMS EXIST IN CANADA AND THE U.S.?
According to 2000 statistics, there are approximately 450 farms in Canada and 50 farms in the U.S., located in North Dakota, Minnesota, and Indiana containing approximately 60,000 mares.
WHAT IS OBJECTIONABLE ABOUT THE CARE THAT PREGNANT MARES RECEIVE ON PREMAIN FARMS?
Pregnant mares used for Premarin production are confined to narrow tie stalls where they cannot turn or lie down for months at a time without release for exercise. This chronic lack of exercise can cause severe swelling of the legs, breakdown of the hoof structure and sets the stage for colic. These mares are kept tied up indoors for at least six months out of the year. To produce Premarin, these mares are impregnated, fitted with a urine collection device and normally kept throughout their normal pregnancy of 11 months in the tie stalls. The Urine Collection Harnesses are not very hygienic for the mares, since it allows their urine to soak the skin of the vulva, sometimes causing severe infections and painful lesions. These mares are actually tied up in front and strapped in behind. They absolutely cannot turn around or take more than two or three steps forward or backward. Just before foaling they are taken "off line" and allowed to foal in outside paddocks. So that they can be put right back into production the next winter, the mares are re-impregnated within days of giving birth. A few months after giving birth, they are separated from their foals and put back on the "pee line." Fertile mares may go through this same grueling cycle year after year. When the mares become old, infertile, or crippled, they are auctioned off for slaughter.
As for feeding, the horses are more than adequately fed -- most farms feed hay, grain and oats, which is in excess of what the inactive mare requires. Premarin detractors say that this is to keep them in slaughter-weight for when they break down. Guidelines state that horses should be offered water no less than twice per day. PMU farmers prefer to water as little as possible, thereby increasing the concentration of estrogen in the urine -- which is what it's all about
WHY ARE PREMARIN PRODUCING MARES TREATED THIS WAY?
Stalled horses yearn for release. Taking some mares out of the stable will create a major disturbance among those left behind. The manpower necessary to frequently unhook the mares from the urine collection harness for regular exercise would also decrease the farmer's profit margin. Premarin farming is not a small business; but, an $800,000,000 a year industry.
SINCE PREMARIN MARES MUST BE PREGNANT EACH YEAR, WHAT HAPPENS TO THEIR FOALS?
Although controversy surrounds the state of the Premarin producing mares, one fact is clear: 60,000 grade foals produced in isolated regions of central Canada have almost no chance to find homes as sport horses, working horses or pets. The majority will become casualties of slaughter. The two to five month old foals are taken from their mothers in early September and sent to auctions where they are sold by the pound to meatpackers.
HOW LONG HAS THIS DRUG BEEN IN USE?
Introduced in 1942, long before synthetic alternatives existed. Premarine was one of the first drugs available when hormonal therapy for menopause was introduced. The industry thrived (mostly in Ontario, Canada) for decades until allegations of catheterized mares living in squalor and foals being mistreated could no longer be ignored. The Ontario Government stepped in and issued regulations tied to licensing, citing and revoking permits (PMU Farm Act, 1968-69, Regulation No. 217/70).
WHY ARE THERE STILL PMU FARMS IN EXISTENCE?
Good question. Premarin, like insulin, can now be 100% synthesized.
Premarin is the single most prescribed drug in the U.S. (and the third most prescribed drug in Canada).
ARE THE FOALS REALLY SENT TO SLAUGHTER?
Some of the farms observed do breed quality draft and Quarter horses (and obviously care about the welfare of the horses they breed), while some use a combination (Appaloosas, Belgians, "Generics", Percherons, and Thoroughbreds) of registered and unregistered animals of pleasure and draft type purchased at local auction (the most common breed being the Quarter horse, which is coincidentally the most desirable horse breed slaughtered for human consumption). The offspring from the former are sometimes sold for show purposes and sometimes fillies are raised to go "on line" as soon as they're able to conceive (usually at the age of 20 - 24 months), but mostly they go to slaughter. As for the latter, unregistered foals, their future is almost 100% death.
Tom Hughes (Canadian Farm Animal Care Trust) has publicly stated "Most of the foals from the average PMU farm will be sold purely for meat". Ollie Bracken, a retired Manitoba, Canada PMU farmer, stated in a 1995 interview that he retired from PMU farming because, "When you have to see a colt being born and then have to destroy it, it's rough because they're just babies. I just didn't think it was right to continue what I was doing." Let's not forget that more than just the PMU foals are affected by the Premarin "pee farms"; the total number of mares, replacement mares, stallions, and PMU foals adversely impacted by PMU production is estimated to be at well over 100,000 per year.
Several years ago, HorseAid was able to track over a hundred PMU foals shipped from feedlots in Canada to an export quarantine station near Seattle, WA (U.S.). From there, they were shipped live to Japan. One of our HorseAid founders, Staci Wilson traveled to Japan (on her personal funds) to confirm that the horses were indeed going to specialty meat markets there. So we know first-hand that these foals were not destined for someone's stable, they were destined for someone's table!
WHAT HAPPENS TO ALL THE WASTE?
Environmentalists and some Canadian legislators are publicly voicing their concerns about the already taxed sewage treatment system and the potential for overflow into the Assinboine River, which is a water source for much of Manitoba. As of now, Wyeth-Ayerst Laboratories is the worlds only producer of Premarin -- however, there are now competitors.
HOW GOOD IS THE DRUG?
A growing number of physicians are challenging the idea that a drug derived from animal waste is beneficial to humans. Many women experience unwanted side effects from prescription ERT drugs, and several studies have substantiated a link between premarin and breast cancer. As the ugly facts about Premarin filter through the medical community, more and more doctors have stopped prescribing this drug. Writes Dr. Josh C. Tunca, a Chicago gynecologic oncologist, "In light of [PETA's] information, we have immediately stopped prescribing Premarin and are now using [synthetic estrogens] Estradiol or Estrace." Many doctors, like gynecologist Stephen Rosenman, find that plant-derived synthetic drugs are preferable to Premarin. They work just as well and have fewer negative side effects.
"Premarin is just one of several ERT medications available. Plant-derived synthetic drugs contain none of the impurities found in animal waste and because they are made synthetically and not from an animal byproduct, they are consistent in concentration and quality. Most patients and doctors are unaware of how Premarin is produced. Those who know the background of the production of this drug should tell others and always encourage a healthful lifestyle."
--Dr. Joy Bradley
WHAT CAN I DO?
If you are currently taking estrogen-replacement drugs, find out from your doctor or pharmacist if they are organic or synthetic. If the former, you can demand that your medication be switched to the synthetic (which reportedly have less side-effects than PMU-based ones anyhow). Many women have also been successful in using "natural" estrogen replacement approaches to hormonal shifts, and the new soy protein studies are proving very promising (ALWAYS check with your medical doctor or health practitioner before starting or changing any estrogen replacement therapy!).
If you are truly concerned about the issue, write to the Canadian Minister of Industry and tell him how you feel. After all, the possible loss of tourism dollars may rival that of Premarin income. Minister of Industry, House of Commons, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada KIA 0A6. Or phone: 613/995-9001.
You can also write the Canadian government: Minister, Department of Western Diversification, House of Commons, 418-M Center Block, Ottawa, Ontario KIA 0A6, and the Manitoba government to protest their funding of Ayerst's expansion plans in Canada: Premier of Manitoba, 450 Broadway, Winnipeg, Manitoba R3C 0V8.
Also write to the Department of Agriculture, P.O. Box 23394, Washington, D.C., 20026, and of course the Premarin patent holder, 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.
You may also wish to write to: Director, Women's Health Initiatives, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892. Protest their use of Premarin in women's medical studies.
Lastly, help spread the word and let other horse lovers know about this billion dollar industry based entirely on the suffering of horses. As we ask you to do, weigh the pros and cons, and let your friends decide for themselves whether they wish to become involved in the Premarin issue.
There are currently 9 million women taking Premarin. Educating those 9 million women (and their doctors) as to how Premarin is actually produced, and having them use one of the many synthetics now available as a substitute, will eventually dry up all the profits from Premarin production.
ZERO women taking Premarin equals ZERO Premarin produced!
If you are one of the 9 million women currently taking Premarin, won't you please ask your doctor to prescribe a synthetic substitute in its place.
"We are not spiritually unconnected from the drugs we take, or from the pain and suffering that goes into their making."
"Please do not take Premarin. Please do not pay for cruelty. Tell your daughters, your mothers, your sisters, your aunts, and your friends."
Are you doing all you can to make this world a better place to live in?