WRITTEN BY JANE ALLIN
The year 2012 may have come to a close but the harrowing plight of the PMU horses certainly has not.
Despite the dwindling presence of PMU farms in North America, sales of the Premarin® family of drugs derived from the urine of pregnant mares remain strong and Pfizer continues to reap in vast rewards at the expense of these innocent mares and their foals. What was once a thriving industry housing upwards of 35,000 mares on hundreds of facilities during peak production years now represents a mere 800 horses on approximately 25 farms here in North America.
While the news of downsizing brought relief and spared the suffering of many mares in North America the reprieve was short-lived. In late March of 2012 the Int’l Fund for Horses uncovered shocking news that makes the battle to end this cruel and unnecessary industry even more insurmountable in the years to come.
FROM THE HEART
The year began with the heartwarming story of Alexandra Gritta, a sixteen-year-old Oregon author and President of the Charity Book Series®, Inc., a 501(c)3 nonprofit corporation. Through her own personal funding-raising efforts and profits from her children’s book “Mystery at Silver Key Stables,” Alexandra was able to raise $10,000 which was matched by the Humane Society of the United States for a total donation of $20,000 to the Duchess Sanctuary for rescued PMU mares.
“More than 180 rescued horses are allowed to roam free on the 1,120 acres of land at Duchess Sanctuary, a rural property outside of Roseburg, Oregon, run by the Fund for Animals in partnership with The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). Jennifer Kunz, Duchess Sanctuary Ranch Manager, reports that among these are 100 mares and foals rescued from Canadian Pregnant Mare Urine (PMU) farms. After visiting the Duchess Sanctuary in July 2011, Gritta was inspired by the genuine love and concern that Jennifer Kunz has for the horses she has cared for since their rescue.”
In addition to her generosity and kindheartedness Alexandra produced a video called Premarin® and Horse Slaughter – The Ugly Truth Behind the Label.
Please watch and take action on behalf of the horses and humans impacted by the making of this insidious drug.
“I decided to speak out because I believe most women do not realize the hormone replacement therapy drug Premarin® actually stands for PREgnant MARe urINe, and that it is a billion dollar industry built on horse abuse and slaughter.” ~ Alexandra Gritta
Bless you Alexandra.
PFIZER SEEKS APRELA® NOD
In February of this year Pfizer announced their intention to seek U.S. regulatory approval for the combined menopausal-osteoporosis drug Aprela®, a combination of Premarin® and bazedoxifene. Bazedoxifene is a Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulator or SERM also known as Viviant® specifically developed to help prevent postmenopausal osteoporosis. See http://tuesdayshorse.wordpress.com/2012/02/13/pfizers-love-affair-with-carcinogens-continues-with-aprela
Of particular note is that Viviant® has failed to receive approval from the FDA as a result of increased risks of stroke and thromboembolic events although it has been approved for use in other countries (i.e. EU and Japan) under different trade names.
If and when approved, Aprela will be offered as an alternative to Pfizer’s controversial hormone-replacement therapies – Prempro® and Premarin® – both associated with increased cancer and cardiovascular risks among countless other equally insidious maladies. But will this drug prove to be any safer?
Safety aside, Aprela® will not only be touted as the new panacea for HRT but will also, according to an industry insider, be heavily marketed as an osteoporosis drug to both men and women! Is there no shame within this industry? There have been no trials performed with male subjects and it is questionable whether those with women as guinea pigs have been of sufficient duration. One need only look at the carnage from the side-effects of the Premarin® family of drugs and yet these carcinogens are still “legally” marketed and prescribed by physicians and endorsed by the FDA.
What is appalling is that Aprela® is predicted to restore the HRT market with peak sales of approximately $1 billion if approved in 2013. Keep in mind that it is the urine from these pregnant mares that will drive these sales – not new and innovative technology, despite the fact that such technology no doubt exists.
Nonetheless some speculate that approval in North America will be not be sanctioned given the delays in developmental stages and inherent risks associated with both components that comprise the new drug. However in July of this year the European Medicines Agency (EMA) accepted for review the Marketing Authorization Application (MAA) for bazedoxifene/conjugated estrogens (BZA/CE) from Pfizer with a decision for its approval expected in 2013. See http://www.epgonline.org/news/2012/Jul/Pfizer-files-Aprela-at.cfm
This unfortunately seems a given and Pfizer will yet again capture the lucrative HRT market with a patented drug through exploitation of the pregnant mares and their foals.
In any case, there is no question that Pfizer/Wyeth will continue to market and sell this vile family of drugs regardless of the fact that the patent expiration date for Premarin® was February 26, 2012. Prempro® is patent protected until January 2015 and once Aprela® is approved for sale it will have patent protection for many years and so a monopoly of sorts is guaranteed.
Interestingly enough on February 17, 2012, just shortly before the Premarin® patent expired, Pfizer and Zhejiang Hisun Pharmaceutical, a leading pharmaceutical company in China, signed a framework agreement pursuant to an earlier announcement which would establish a joint venture to develop, manufacture and commercialize off-patent pharmaceuticals in China and global markets. The key word here is “off-patent”.
The writing was on the wall.
MARCH FOR PMU HORSES
Since 2009, the Int’l Fund for Horses has chosen a horse welfare issue and focused heavily on it for the entire month of March. This year’s focus was on the horses abused and killed to make the Premarin® family of drugs: March for PMU Horses. PMU ranches may be decreasing in North America but the profits made from the prescription and sales of Premarin® and Prempro® are not. Anything but. And with the downsizing of the N. American “pee farms” the attention this issue received declined as well.
We will not forget these horses.
“We are not spiritually unconnected from the drugs we take, or the pain and suffering that goes into their making.”
— ALICE WALKER
“We crush ’em and recycle ’em . . . just like aluminum cans.”
— PAT HOUDE, kill buyer and equine feed lot manager, regarding Premarin foals and mares.
During the March for PMU Horses campaign there were several initiatives undertaken to raise awareness of the associated health risks to women who choose to take these drugs posed by the Premarin® family of drugs manufactured from conjugated equine estrogens. And of course the horses kept confined, pregnant and milked for their urine — so many of their foals, taken away once they are weaned or nearly weaned, often ending their young days in the slaughterhouse.
March for PMU Horses kicked off with a letter to doctors stating why they should refuse to write these tickets for equine cruelty describing both the inherent risks to women who decide to take these medications as well as what life is like for the pregnant mares who are milked for their estrogen rich urine. Both women and men were encouraged to take part by printing and sending the Int’l Fund for Horses Dear Physician Letter (3 pp, with or without a personal cover letter from you) to their doctor. It is never too late to do so.
The Int’l Fund for Horses worked diligently to keep PMU horses in the spotlight through Tuesday’s Horse with timely and analytical articles, social media and billboards (chiefly outside women’s health centers). Among other actions taken, a series of radio ads were organized for the entire month of March much of which was funded through an individual grant and your generous donations. All of the stations used archive their shows meaning that people will hear these ads long into the future after the original ads have aired.
Additionally Hayley and Comet, who feature in many of the Int’l Fund for Horses’ campaign flyers, were back to star in the March for PMU Horses flyer to Pfizer. People were encouraged to print and send this flyer to Pfizer to express their distaste for the consequences to both women and the mares and foals central to the depravity of the PMU industry.
View, download and print the flyer here (pdf, 1 p). Just because it is not March should not deter you from helping the cause.
We also traced the history of Premarin® with a timeline revealing the often bizarre treatment of a natural ageing process and the deceitful manipulation of it by Big Pharma in its lust for profit above and beyond safety and morality. See http://tuesdayshorse.wordpress.com/2012/03/05/trace-the-history-of-the-premarin-family-of-drugs-with-this-revealing-timeline
This timeline was followed by another timeline. This one equally as revealing with the list of lawsuits that ensued following the alarming news in early July 2002 released by the National Institutes of Health Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) study sending shock waves through the medical and scientific communities.
Wyeth’s hormone combination replacement therapies (e.g. Prempro®), long believed to provide cardiovascular benefits to the millions of menopausal women who took them, now proved to be deadly carcinogens and cardiovascular antagonists. With the reports that long-term use of HRT derived from conjugated equine estrogens increased the risk of invasive breast cancer, stroke, cardiovascular disease, heart attack, pulmonary embolism and blood clots, sales of these drugs quickly plummeted.
Through an exceedingly misleading and conspiratorial marketing campaign Wyeth (now owned by Pfizer) managed to convince the world that menopause is a disease and requires medical intervention to mitigate its ravages on the female body. See http://tuesdayshorse.wordpress.com/2012/03/10/premarin-the-consequences-of-deception-a-litany-of-litigation/
In another letter-writing campaign Int’l Fund for Horses called upon pharmaceutical giant Pfizer to find an alternative to the Premarin® family of drugs. Premarin®, Prempro® and the anticipated “new” drug Aprela®, manufactured with the estrogen-rich urine of pregnant mares, or conjugated equine estrogen. Read our letter in full (pdf, 2 pp).
As expected, there was no response from the cowardly and unethical behemoth company and its jaded stance toward preserving the health and welfare of Earth’s inhabitants – human and animal alike. “It” –- and it is fundamentally an “it” — is simply a money-making conglomerate without feeling and compassion, contrary to its mission statement, despite the fact that it is controlled and managed by the human race.
We reminded people to take time to read the article “Premarin Regrets“ written by Ron Wilson, son of Dr. Robert A. Wilson who wrote the popular book “Feminine Forever” which became a springboard for the sale of the idea of menopause as a disease and its remedy Premarin®. In a statement from the article, Mr. Wilson says:
“Sadly, my father’s contribution to medical science resulted in a prescription for animal cruelty. I encourage woman of all ages to learn more about Premarin® and its many alternatives.”
As long as women buy into the clever marketing by the pharmaceutical industry that menopause is a disease, they will seek relief from the symptoms of what in actuality are signs of natural hormonal changes. As part of the March for PMU Horses campaign against the manufacture of drugs made from the estrogen-rich urine of pregnant horses and cruel destruction of their foals, we compiled a list of alternatives that may be safer, effective and definitely more humane. Alternatives to Premarin and Prempro (pdf 3 pp). Please share far and wide to those you love and care about, it may save their lives.
PMU MARES CONSIGNED TO CHINESE FARMS
Nearing the end of March the Int’l Fund for Horses revealed, via information procured from an inside source at a bulk powder conjugated estrogen manufacturing company in China, that PMU farms have been in operation in Northern China for the last 8 years. See http://tuesdayshorse.wordpress.com/2012/03/31/pfizer-consigns-pmu-horses-to-killing-fields-of-asia/. The company’s manufacturing site is also in the same general location.
Not surprisingly this coincides roughly with the release of the WHI study in 2002, citing the horrors associated with CEE-derived HRT. What no one realized at the time was that Wyeth had probably begun to move their PMU facilities prior to or just after the damning results of the WHI were released to the public. As evidenced by their ghost written Prempro® and Premarin® articles between 1996 and 2004, Wyeth was well aware of the risks involved. It was only a matter of time before their unethical marketing tactics were exposed.
One thing is clear. If anyone believes that the downsizing of the PMU industry here in North America is advantageous for the mares and foals who suffer at the hands of Big Pharma, they are sadly mistaken. With revenues of over 1 billion dollars in 2011 and sales projected to skyrocket with the introduction of Aprela® to an aging population, the PMU industry will be alive and kicking, just not here in North America.
Getting back to the framework agreement signed by Pfizer and Zhejiang Hisun Pharmaceutical, to develop, manufacture and commercialize off-patent pharmaceuticals in China and global markets the reasoning behind the contract becomes crystal clear. With the loss of patent protection for Premarin®, the largest selling prescription HRT in the world, in February of this year, the move is both strategic and sinister. When a drug loses patent protection financial losses can be huge. With this much money at stake this is not simply a cost-effective strategy, the realignment also has potential to drive brand sales over the longer term and substantially boost overall sales given China’s burgeoning population.
But from our perspective it is all about the horses; women have a choice, the horses don’t. Sadly the relocation of the PMU industry to distant and less regulated countries will carry with it the legacy of deceit, exploitation of the innocent and ever-zealous hunger for profit at all costs. The writing is on the wall. It is only a matter of time before Pfizer/Wyeth completes the transition.
The fight to end the suffering will only start anew.
MORE DOWNSIZING IN MANITOBA
In May Pfizer announced a restructuring of its estrogen extraction plant at Brandon, Manitoba calling for about 40 per cent fewer employees by the end of next year. Pfizer stated that it plans to cut about 50 of 130 positions at the plant “gradually through to the end of 2013.”
Apparently this layoff will not affect the PMU ranchers “for now”. How coincidental is this given the confirmation that PMU farming has existed in China for the last 8 years and likely in others countries such as India that manufacture conjugated equine estrogens in bulk powder form. It is hard to believe that anyone cannot see through this smokescreen in view of the fact that it is unmistakably transparent.
Alas, the Premarin® horse issue is far from dead, it has simply moved house.
On the heels of the announcement that Pfizer would be downsizing their Brandon Manitoba estrogen extraction plant, the Int’l Fund for Horses learned, through direct correspondence, that certain companies seeking to get into the generic Premarin® market are looking to enter into contracts with PMU ranchers for the collection of pregnant mare’s urine ostensibly as Pfizer vacates them.
With the expiration of Premarin®’s patent in February of this year it comes as no surprise that generic versions manufactured by the competition will soon be inundating the marketplace in the quest for a piece of the lucrative market segment that was once monopolized by Wyeth-Pfizer.
As much as the patent stifled the competition for such a long time, there is no doubt that during these years the technology for manufacture has been developed by other pharmaceutical companies awaiting the loss of patent protection. Moreover with the supply chain of the raw material – Pregnant Mare’s Urine – now outsourced to Asian countries where labor and manufacturing costs are undoubtedly lower, the fate of the horses has darkened considerably.
If Pfizer is to oust the competition its only hope is through NDA filing and FDA approval of its combination therapy Aprela®, yet another drug manufactured from conjugated equine estrogens.
Sadly this is not an ethical answer for the women or horses alike. It seems that no empathy or concern exists for those at the mercy of the pharmaceutical industry regardless of who pursues the lucrative HRT market. As much as we would like to see the “care” in healthcare take care of us, those sentiments are not part of the bottom line for Big Pharma. The need to educate the public is now more important than ever yet it is mired in political, social and business-oriented drivel which makes it difficult to deliver the message to those affected by any of the diabolical measures Big Pharma will take to shroud the immorality of its intentions.
THE NEXT GENERATION
Martha Rosenberg long-time writing about the issues surrounding the Premarin® family of drugs pens another excellent article: “Will Women Have Short Memories About Hormone Replacement Therapy? Pharma Hopes So. See http://www.opednews.com/articles/Will-Women-Have-Short-Memo-by-Martha-Rosenberg-121031-121.html
“As a new generation of women approach menopause, will the HRT lessons of the 1970s and 2000′s be lost amid Pharma’s marketing again?”
Indeed an important question to reflect upon. Let’s not lose sight of the travesties inflicted upon unknowing menopausal females.
Despite all the adverse effects and increased risks associated with conjugated equine estrogen (CEE) derived drugs – heart attacks, breast cancer, dementia, stroke, blood clots, hearing loss, gall bladder disease, urinary incontinence, asthma, need for joint replacements, melanoma, ovarian, endometrial and lung cancers and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma – there seems a relentless quest by Big Pharma to market them as having some benefit, any benefit. Unfortunately there is none but this does not stop the insanity.
Will their unremitting attempts to continue to dupe the medical profession and the public be successful? One can only hope that they go down with the devil.
And so the year ends yet again on a sobering note.
Horses in China suffering equally, if not more, at the hands of foreign interest; Pfizer continuing its crusade to market drugs derived from pregnant mares urine; other greedy and immoral pharmaceutical companies jumping on the generic Premarin® bandwagon; the continuing ignorance, or perhaps more disquietingly refusal, of the female race to refute the lies spewed out by Big Pharma despite the evidence; and perhaps even more chillingly the reluctance of intelligent well-educated physicians to look beyond the deceptive marketing scheme –- we trust these people with our lives yet they continue to prescribe drugs that kill us.
“MEDICAL schools are not generally regarded as progressive agents of social change. The truth is that they tend to be bastions of medical establishment and tradition the world over.
The pursuit of institutional prestige through expensive biomedical research is the main game — and “impact” in terms of betterment of the human condition is measured, very imperfectly, by international journal citation indices and competitive grant income.”
Ah yes, the ghost-written articles and all the Ivory Tower semantics of Big Pharma and the brain-washing. Big Pharma has our governments in their pocket. It is the very essence of a global enterprise.
Spinning straw into Fool’s Gold.
Humanity at its worst, yet the world seems not to care.
“How pitiful, and what poverty of mind, to have said that the animals are machines deprived of understanding and feeling . . . has Nature arranged all the springs of feeling in this animal to the end that he might not feel? Has he nerves that he may he incapable of suffering? People must have renounced, it seems to me, all natural intelligence to dare to advance that animals are but animated machines . . . It appears to me, besides, that [such people] can never have observed with attention the character of animals, not to have distinguished among them the different Voices of need, of suffering, of joy, of pain, of love, of anger, and of all their affections. It would be very strange that they should express so well what they could not feel. . . . They are endowed with life as we are, because they have the same principles of life, the same feelings, the same ideas, memory, industry—as we.” ~ Voltaire
© Int’l Fund for Horses