Written by JANE ALLIN
Research Analyst | Int’l Fund for Horses
A recent report by Agriculture Canada gives tenuous optimism for the stopping of suffering of the mares and foals at the mercy of the pregnant mare’s urine (PMU) industry. Giant drug manufacturer Wyeth, a division of Pfizer, has announced they intend to downsize the industry through the cancellation of PMU ranch contracts that will see their numbers dwindle from the current 64 to as few as 25.
During the halcyon days of Premarin’s® monopoly of the HRT market there were in excess of 40,000 brood mares emptying their hackneyed bladders of concentrated estrogens destined for incompatible tissues of menopausal women, some of whom would die as a consequence of deficient science and political greed. With the reduction in PMU operations, there will be a meager 2,000 mares expected to supply the needs of a multi-million dollar industry fraught with deceit, avarice and the abhorrent solicitation of the FDA by Big Pharma.
What is perplexing is the apparent decrease in the quantity of equine estrogens estimated to fulfill the perceptible demand for the Premarin® family of drugs and the novel combination osteoporosis/HRT drug Aprela® destined for release in 2012. According to the article, Wyeth is interested in maintaining smaller farming ventures that would limit the amount of estrogen produced to 10,000 grams per contract. Some basic math will further reveal the ambiguity of this intriguing equation.
If 25 farms each produce a total of 10,000 grams of conjugated equine estrogens (CEEs) this equates to a total harvest of 250,000 grams of CEE per annum. For the sake of simplicity, let’s assume that the average amount of CEE contained in a Premarin®-related product is 0.45 mg based on the mid-range of available dosages and presumably the most commonly prescribed measure since its introduction as a low-dose option in April 2003.
The total number of mg of CEEs produced per year under the new guidelines is given by:
|Total grams CEEs/year||= 250,000 grams CEEs/yr x 1,000 mg/gram|
|= 250,000,000 mg CEEs per year|
Hence, the total number of single dosages available per year, assuming each dose is comprised of 0.45 mg can be determined as follows:
|Total single dosages/year||= 250,000,000 mg CEE per yr / 0.45 mg|
|= 555,555,555 single doses /yr|
Since a typical HRT regimen is a single dose/tablet (tab) per day, the total number of prescriptions that will be available assuming the total number of farms are reduced to this level and limited to a 10,000 g contract, can be calculated as follows:
|Total # prescriptions/yr||= 555,555,555 tabs per yr / 365 tabs per yr [i.e. 1 tab/day]|
|= 1,522,070 prescriptions /yr|
Interesting that only about 1.5 million prescriptions can be filled if this is the case!
Recent data from 2008 (Source: IMS Health) shows that upwards of 15 million prescriptions were filled by physicians that year, not including those available online without a doctor’s signature. Is it possible or plausible that the demand for the Premarin® family of drugs has fallen a whopping 90% in a mere 2 years?