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Premarin, PremPro, PremPhase and PremPac-C are estrogen drugs made from the urine of pregnant mares. There are an estimated 439 PMU farms in North America, with the vast majority located in the prairie provinces of Western Canada. The 439 figure includes 23 PMU farms in North Dakota, near the Canadian border. Almost all PMU farms are under an exclusive contract to provide pregnant mares' urine to Wyeth-Ayerst Laboratories. Reports by investigators list the following conditions the pregnant mares are subjected to:
Mares kept in tiny stalls with improper or no bedding on cold concrete floors, restrained with tethers so short that they are unable to lie down or rest their heads comfortably on the ground; and urine collecting harnesses that overly restrict movement and cause skin abrasions. The mares are confined to these stalls for six months from October until March. They are rarely, if ever taken out of their urine collection harness and off line for exercise. The continuous standing on concrete floors in their own feces, causes swollen legs, crippling and many of the mares die as a result of the stress.
The pregnant mares may receive considerably less water than they would normally drink. The drug company recommends that PMU farms use automatic watering systems at timed intervals in carefully measured amounts. It has been commonly reported that water was restricted in order to increase the concentration of estrogens by volume of urine and thereby to reduce the shipping cost.
A mare will normally live 20-30 years. Lack of exercise, decreased water consumption, constant pregnancy, injury, and disease, cause most PMU horses to burn out in 5 or 6 years. Born in March and April, most of the foals are fattened for a few months, then sent to the slaughterhouse. Over 50 years, this "harvest" has killed millions of foals. This picture of a young horse (by Horse Aid in 1991) is about to be rendered while still alive.
FDA approved alternative estrogens have been available for up to 40 years. Following are just a few: Climara, Estrace, Estraderm, Estratab, Estring, Menest and Ogen. Fosamax is available for the treatment of osteoporosis. Evista (raloxifene) was approved by the FDA in Jan. 1998 to prevent osteoporosis and it may also help lower cholesterol without any increased risk of breast or uterine cancer. Cenestin manufactured by Duramed Pharmaceuticals was approved by the FDA as of March, 1999 and will be available by mid June, 1999 as a name brand alternative to Premarin. Remifemin is a natural estrogen from clinically studied standardized extract of black cohosh, has no side effects and is backed by 40 years of research. Remifemin has been used successfully in Europe since 1950 and is now available in natural health food stores in all 50 states.
The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine reports in their Spring 1994 newsletter, A synthetic estrogen works as well as, if not better than Premarin. The synthetic is closer to a human female's estrogen than is a mare's estrogen. Many doctors agree. Refer to the 1996 Journal of Medical Ethics article by Dr. Denies Cox of Cambridge University Medical School . He considers objections to the mistreatment of horses including slaughtering of the majority of foals and concludes that plant derived estrogen (estriol) is "an effective, economical and acceptable alternative to equine estrogen". In a letter to the New York Times Dr. Phillip Warner, an Orinda, CA gynecologist with 30 years experience and Director of the Menopause Clinic of Northern California states "prescribing Premarin for estrogen deficiency has evolved as a 'Pavlovian response without any thought to individual treatment.'" Warner continues, "The notion that a substance derived from horse urine is "natural" to the human female is simply a tribute to 50 years of successful advertising." Horseman and medical Dr. Ray Kellosalmi of Peachland, B.C. states in The Animal Defense League of Canada Spring/Summer 1996 edition), "Premarin is the only estrogen containing materials from horses' urine, and most of the 10 known hormones in Premarin are not at all natural to the human female, being horse hormones that are chemically different from human hormones." No major clinical benefit has been accepted and proven for up to 8 of them.