Approximately 20,000 mares per year are used to produce Premarin (Pregnant Mare’s Urine) and the Premarin family of products, which include Prempro, Prempak-C and Premphase. These hormone replacement drugs are used to treat menopausal symptoms in women. Harvested for their urine, the horses suffer terribly for the production of this drug. They are kept continually pregnant in stalls too small for them to even turn around in order for their urine to be collected by filthy, bulky tubing attached to their bodies. When they can no longer reproduce quickly they are sent to the slaughterhouse. Their meat is then sold for human consumption or dog food.
Approximately 11 million women take Premarin each year, making it the number one hormone replacement therapy drug in the world. Together with the six million women who use Prempro, the two drugs had combined sales of $2.1 billion in 2003.
A Premarin foal hoisted for slaughter Photo Courtesy: Horse Aid
Mare with a urine collection device strapped to her body
Living Conditions At pregnant mare urine farms –- found in Canada and North Dakota -- mares in their third or fourth month of pregnancy are placed alone in narrow stalls. They are fitted with a short rope or chain, a harness, and a urine collection bag which scrapes their legs, causing sores. As a result of these restrictive devices, the mares are made virtually immobile. They can take only a step or two in any direction and are unable to turn around or lie down comfortably.
Because farmers find sufficient bedding costly and bothersome to clean, the animals frequently have no protection from the cold concrete floor. Moreover, farmers restrict the amount of water given to the mares because water dilutes the concentration of their urine, making it less profitable. Their food supply is similarly inadequate, and they do not receive sufficient veterinary care. Most mares are never removed from the stall and allowed to graze. Deprived of exercise, they cannot utilize their natural athleticism and sociability, kick up their heels, stretch their muscles, or flex their joints.
Reproduction The vast majority of Premarin mares give birth to a foal every year. Afterwards, they are almost immediately impregnated again. If they fail to become pregnant, they are sent to slaughter. If they do become pregnant again, their foals are taken from them at the premature age of just three to four months. Most mares naturally resist separation from their babies so they are often whipped, kicked, or beaten with an electric prod until they finally allow their foal to be taken.
Foal carcass at a slaughterhouse
Foals Some foals are killed immediately after birth. A few of the females will be raised to be "Premarin mares" and join the production line. Most will be sold and sent to feedlots to be fattened for slaughter, then transported by trailer to slaughterhouses and killed. Their meat will be shipped off to Japan, France, or other parts of Asia and Europe for human consumption.
Transportation Like other "food animals," mares and foals are typically deprived of food and water during transport to the slaughterhouse. They do not have an opportunity to rest, nor do they receive veterinary care. Instead, they are crammed onto trailers so crowded that the smaller ones, particularly the foals, are sometimes crushed under larger animals. Those that are too weak to stand will literally be dragged off of the truck along with the animals that have died en route.
Corporate Greed Thousands of horses suffer to produce Premarin even though several humane estrogen replacement therapies exist (see below under “What You Can Do” for alternatives). Why don't Premarin manufacturers switch to a cruelty-free alternative? Because they say it would cost them more money.
The Law Animal cruelty laws and government regulations do not apply to the treatment of mares on Premarin farms. Instead, the standard of care is dictated only by an inadequate “code” which is poorly enforced. Thus the horses receive virtually no legal protection.
Health Problems Common to Mares Used in Premarin Production
• Dehydration • Hoof injuries • Leg injuries, sores, and lacerations • Swollen joints • Edema • Liver disorders • Kidney disorders • Premature death
VIDEO CLIPS of our Undercover Premarin Investigation
Premarin Investigation Videos High Bandwidth Warning: These Videos are Graphic in nature Click Title to Play Video
Make the Switch If you currently take Premarin, Prempak-C, or Premphase, ask your doctor about equally effective synthetic or plant-based alternatives, including Cenestin, Estratab, Estraderm, Estrace or Ortho-Est.
Make Some Noise
Contact Robert Essner, president and CEO of Wyeth-Ayerst, the maker of Premarin. Demand Wyeth produce a more humane product!
Robert Essner Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer Wyeth 5 Giralda Farms Madison, N.J. 07940-0874 Phone: (973) 660-5000 Fax: (973) 660-7026
CLICK HERE for a sample letter. However, keep in mind that personalized letters carry more weight.
Please send a copy of the letter to LCA's Campaigns Department at our mailing address, fax, or via email at Campaigns@LCAnimal.org
Write a letter to your local newspaper about the cruelty of Premarin production, and the safe alternatives available to women.
Educate others about the suffering inherent in Premarin production.
Go Vegan A healthy vegan diet can reduce menopausal symptoms, especially those diets supplemented by soy products containing plant-based estrogens.
For More Information:
June 2005 – the International Agency for Research on Cancer, the U.N.’s cancer research agency, has reclassified Prempro from “possibly carcinogenic” to “carcinogenic.” CLICK HERE to read more.
The Women’s Health Initiative has done numerous studies on the health impacts of Premarin products. These studies have revealed the negative health risks associated with these drugs and the danger they pose to women's health. CLICK HERE to view the Women's Health Initiative studies.
CLICK HERE to download LCA's "Know the Facts About Premarin Production" leaflet.