No one should ever use it.
Premarin is a hormone replacement therapy drug used for many different illnesses and maladies including menopausal symptoms and osteoporosis. It is such a popular drug that in 2000 it made its way to number four on the list of most prescribed drugs in the Physicians’ Desk Reference book. It was ahead of Tylenol and right behind Synthroid. (Physician’s Desk Reference, 2000) Even though it is a very popular drug, it is considered a dangerous and inhumane drug, and should not be taken.
A study done on hot flushes by Women’s Health Initiative showed a significant decrease in the number of hot flushes per day for women who took Premarin, versus those who took placebo. Those taking 0.625 mg of Premarin went from having an average of 12.29 hot flushes per day to only having an average of 0.75 hot flushes a day over a twelve week period. The study proved that hot flushes were lowered when taking Premarin. The study was cancelled, though, due to a significant increase of heart attacks in test subjects. (Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center)
Premarin also helps reverse the deterioration of bones. A study done by Women’s Health Initiative showed that women taking Premarin had an increase in bone density up to 0.001%. Because of the increase of bone density, chances of bone fractures in the hips, vertebrae, wrists and arms were decreased. The study shows the significant difference of chances in those taking the Premarin versus those who took the placebo. (Women’s Health Initiative 2000-2006)
Some women also take Premarin to lower their cholesterol. Also, it treats other symptoms of menopause like vaginal dryness and irritation. There are obviously many health benefits to taking Premarin, but there are also many serious and minor health risks to consider. One of the biggest arguments of Premarin is whether or not the benefits out-weigh the health risks. People should always research a medicine that they plan on taking.
Premarin increases the chances of invasive breast cancer in those who take it for long periods of time and can cause serious illness and often death. Women’s Health Initiative did a randomized study in which one group took Premarin, and another took placebo. The group who took Premarin had 385 cases of breast cancer vs. placebo, which had only 293 confirmed cases. The deaths caused by breast cancer were almost doubled in the Premarin group compared to the group taking placebo. The conclusion of this study was that people taking Premarin had a significantly greater chance of developing breast cancer and of breast cancer related deaths compared to those who took placebo. (Women’s Health Initiative)
There are other health risks associated with taking Premarin including increased risks of blood clots, heart disease and heart attacks. It was also proven to double the chances of dementia and memory loss. (Journal of the American Medical Association) It also can increase the chances of stroke, cervical cancer and pulmonary embolisms. (NHLBI Women's Health Initiative) Premarin is not a safe drug to take, yet it’s not the reason why it should not be taken. It should not be taken because of the inhumane way the drug is made.
Premarin is made out of Pregnant Mare’s Urine, because it has a high amount of estrogen and progestin. It is the only animal derived hormone replacement therapy drug in existence. The horses involved in this process are treated cruelly and inhumane and live very short lives compared to domesticated horses. The higher the need for Premarin means a higher population of horses suffering. It’s not just a few hundred horses we are talking about. “One mare provides enough urine for approximately 150 women per year. Therefore if the number of annual prescriptions of Premarin (9 million) is divided by the number of women one horse provides with Premarin (150, as indicated above), this equates to 60,000 pregnant mares needed every year to sustain the demand for Premarin.” (Andersson, Tanetta. "Hormones, horses and the menopause industry: The “truth” about Premarin 2009-05-26)
Horses are used for labor, pleasure riding and competitions. Horses have been used for centuries to pull wagons, buggies, and to carry man upon their backs. (Horses 24-33) They are also used for therapeutical purposes, mentally or physically handicapped, behavioral issues and those with low self esteem. The examples I could list of ways horses have benefited humans is endless.
PMU (Pregnant Mare’s Urine) horses are housed in “pee barns.” The barns are only legal in North Dakota and parts of Canada. In the winter the horses often endure extreme temperatures, going below twenty eight degrees Fahrenheit. The horses are not given blankets, or and the stalls are not insulated. The stalls themselves are concrete and often cause abrasions from the horses rubbing up against the walls. The horses are in a stall so small, they cannot turn around or lie down properly, and don’t see sunlight for most months out of the year.
Horses are often mistreated and neglected. The owners of the “pee barns” try their hardest to save money, so often times the grain they feed the horses is of poor quality and often expired or have water damage. The horses are given the most minimal amount of water that they need to survive, so that the hormones in the urine are better concentrated. When the mares give birth to their offspring, they only have weeks before they are forcefully torn apart from their mothers so that the offspring can be auctioned off for their meat. If the mother refuses to comply, she is often beaten, and tortured. “I once saw my boss get angry because a mare kicked him trying to stay with her foal. He hobbled her in a round pen and ran over her repeatedly with a tractor until she was dead. It was the next day that I quit my job and reported him for it. All he got was a thirty five thousand dollar fine.”
Horses are very delicate creatures, known for illnesses like colic, (twisting of the intestines) and have to be kept on proper diet and exercise. Well taken care of and maintained, a horse can live anywhere from twenty to thirty years, depending on the breed. (Horses 15) Premarin horses are considered lucky if they make it past nine years. If a horse gets sick, a “pee barn” owner is likely to over look it, or just not care enough to pay a veterinarian. If a horse becomes infertile, or miscarries too often, they will auction it off to the highest bidder for their meat.
The process of collecting urine is uncomfortable and sometimes painful for horses. The hormones are collected by strapping a rubber cup to a mare’s urethra which leads into tubes and stored into large containers. The straps are tied around the back legs and stay on constantly. They often become entangled if a mare tries to turn or move. Sores form on the mare's legs where the straps rub against her. Because of lack of treatment, these sores often become infected and even gangrenous. The sores are extremely painful, and if not treated they can lead to the horse’s death.
The offspring of these mares are the biggest victims of all; the pharmaceutical companies consider them a “product of waste.” Pee barn owners impregnate the horses without careful consideration to breed, size or age. For example, if a tall, narrow horse is cross bred with a short and stocky mare, the foal could be deformed, with a small body, and a large head. The lack of exercise in a mare can also cause deformities and mental retardation in a foal. It can also cause a mare to miscarry and sometimes hemorrhage late in the pregnancy. Another tragic detail is that often the nutrition deprived fetuses cannot handle a stressful labor, and are born dead. An average of seventy thousand offspring is sent to their deaths each year, though some of the females are used to replace exhausted and dying PMU mares.(Kuscera) Horse meat is a delicacy in Asia and Europe, and the foals are auctioned for seventy to ninety cents per pound.. From auctions they are sent to “fattening pens” where they stay until they reach a satisfying weight. An average of seventeen thousand tons of horse meat is sold each year for human consumption, dog food and glue making. Human consumption of horses is illegal in the United States, but they have not yet passed a law to ban selling it to other countries.
These foals are torn away from their mother as soon as they can be deprived of their mother’s milk. Each foal has the potential to be a loving pet, a great riding horse, or even a farmer’s horse. They know no love, and even though it’s in their nature to be playful, loving and strong, they don't live long enough to experience this life. The makers of Premarin have taken this chance away from them.
Since 2000, when a website called thetruthaboutpremarin.org exposed the cruelty of pee barns, through videos, pictures, documentation and research, a huge outcry of protest has come from animal activists. The website has since been shut down, but the exposure was enough to jump start people into action. There have been numerous rescue efforts in which humane societies attend these auctions and try their best to outbid the meat industry. This year alone an organization called Equine Angels Rescue Sanctuary rescued thirty six foals from an auction in Canada. The organization has a waiting list of people ready to adopt them. (E.A.R.S. - Equine Angels Rescue Sanctuary - www.FoalRescue.com) Since exposure of their inhumane means of harvesting Premarin has had to downsize their PMU industry, and sales have gone down. Many mares have been auctioned off because of this, but the end result will save millions of them.
So there are many reasons why Premarin is a dangerous and unsafe drug. Studies have been conducted on the health risks and has proven that it is a dangerous drug. Women's Health initiative even had to stop some clinical trials because they were dangerous. There are so many other hormone replacement therapy drugs out there, yet only Premarin is made from animals. These horses have a right to live as much as we do, without misery and pain. The first amendment honors us the right to the pursuit of happiness. Well, shouldn’t horses have their happiness, too?