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The Premarin Scandal
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The Premarin Scandal

As many of you may know (especially if you are ladies of a “certain age”, like me), Premarin is a drug used to treat the menopause symptoms: the name is a contracted form of Pregnant Mares’ Urine.  This estrogen therapy drug is prescribed by doctors to hundreds of thousands of women each year, a drug extracted from horse urine (hence the name). It consists of conjugated equine estrogens. This form of HRT is not only potentially dangerous to women, but the cruelty to horses involved in the production is completely unjustifiable.  

Where does it come from? According to industry reports, there are some 26 ranches in remote places in Canada and North Dakota where around 2000 pregnant mares are kept, in order to produce the urine needed for Premarin and Prempro, another related menopause therapy drug.  For almost the entirety of their 11-month long pregnancies, these mares are confined to stalls so small that they cannot even turn around or take a step in any direction.  They have to wear rubber urine-collection sacks all the time, causing them sores and chafing, and their drinking water is restricted so that they will produce more concentrated urine. Once their foals have been born, the mares are impregnated again, and this cycle goes on for about 12 years. As if this situation is not bad enough for the horses, their keepers are expected to follow the Recommended Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Horses in PMU Operations, but unfortunately, these welfare guidelines are not compulsory but optional.

Out of the thousands of foals who are born each year on the PMU ranches, some of the females are used to replace their worn-out mothers.  Some are offered up for adoption, but the remaining ones (along with the mares who can no longer get pregnant) are sold at auction, where the majority are purchased for slaughterhouses.  Animal welfare organizations such as PETA are campaigning hard to have this cruel practice stopped, or at the very least to improve the welfare standards for the mares.

All of this cruelty is so unnecessary, when you consider the scientific evidence, which shows that HRT does not necessarily help menopausal women that much in terms of general well-being, but actually causes some significant health risks, such as a 41% increased risk of having a stroke, a 29% increased risk of having a heart attack, and a 26% increased risk of developing breast cancer.  The researchers concluded that the drugs have a short-term effect on relief of hot flashes, but nothing further.  According to research, many women can control unpleasant menopause symptoms more effectively by making more healthy lifestyle changes, such as eating a low-fat, vegan or vegetarian diet, and taking regular exercise, rather than taking drugs which not only contribute to so much exploitation and suffering of horses, but which are not very good for them anyway.  Unfortunately, these alternative natural health treatments are not widely promoted, since the powerful pharmaceutical companies make such big profits on drug treatments.


Picture courtesy of www.horsefund.org

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  1. CC
    Vote 26. Good article, something to think about.
  2. Chestnut Mare
    Chestnut Mare
    Footnote: this article is not intended to give medical advice to anyone suffering from the menopause ( I think that is obvious anyway, as my last paragraph merely makes suggestions,). I was mainly focussing on how horses are treated in the production of HRT. There are synthetic alternatives to this, but even if you don't take them, you won't die from unpleasant menopause symptoms in any case! I am deleting any negative comments (for example, ones accusing me of "fear-mongering") since they are not contributing anything useful to this subject.

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