Makers of generic Premarin are looking to move in on Pfizer’s contracted PMU ranchers
In May Tuesday’s Horse reported that the announced job cuts by Pfizer at their estrogen extraction plant in Manitoba is not expected to affect PMU ranchers in Canada and no closures are anticipated. Premarin® and Prempro® are made with the estrogen rich pregnant mare’s urine.
Jane Allin, research analyst for the Int’l Fund for Horses, reveals from documented evidence that PMU ranches are operating in Asia and India, producing bulk conjugated [equine] estrogens in powder form.
This explains how it is possible for the sales of the Premarin® family of drugs to remain high while so many PMU ranches are closing.
However, how does this fit in with the recent Manitoba estrogen extraction plant lay-offs and the expectation of no PMU ranch contract cancellations? At the time of their announcement Pfizer anticipated something we did not.
The Int’l Fund for Horses have since 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 will come 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.”
There seems no end in sight of the cruel exploitation and death of these horses to make these disgusting drugs. Instead of downsizing, the conjugated equine estrogen market is flourishing.
About the Horses
The Premarin® family of drugs is made from the estrogen rich urine of pregnant mares. Premarin mares are typically Belgian – Quarter Horse crosses.
For most of their 11-month pregnancies, these horses are confined to stalls so small that they cannot turn around or take more than one step in any direction.
The mares must wear rubber urine-collection bags at all times, which causes chafing and lesions, and their drinking water is limited so that their urine will yield more concentrated estrogen.
Once the foals are born, the horses are re-impregnated; this cycle continues for about 12 years.
The fate of the thousands of foals born on PMU farms each year is equally disturbing.
Some are used to replace their exhausted mothers. Some are offered for adoption, but the remaining foals — and worn-out mares — are sold at auction by farmers to make extra money where most of these horses are purchased by middlemen (“kill buyers”) working for slaughterhouses.
One PMU industry insider says, “See, the foals — and the mares which [sic] can’t get pregnant any more — they are the byproduct of the PMU industry. … We crush ’em and recycle ’em, just like [aluminum] cans.”
What You Can Do
— Why we must end the use of pregnant mare’s urine in drugs, Tuesday’s Horse, March 1, 2012.
— Pfizer’s love affair with carcinogens continues with Aprela®, Tuesday’s Horse, February 13, 2012.
— Premarin® and the ugly truth behind the label, Tuesday’s Horse, January 5, 2012.