“I took these hormones [Prempro] for my change of life and had my first breast cancer in 2002 & my other one in 2007. Both breasts were removed. My lawyer threw us women under the bus and settled with Pfizer. The lawyers made out like a fat rat while we all ended up with very little. In the meantime the animals are the ones who have to suffer because of the pharmaceutical companies. It’s downright cruel.”
I recently received the above quote in an email concerning the drug Prempro®. The lady wrote it in confidence, but gave me permission to use it in a post to help raise awareness.
Premarin® is the commercial name for a hormone replacement therapy drug used for the treatment of menopausal symptoms. It consists primarily of conjugated equine estrogens. Isolated from pregnant mares’ urine, it is manufactured by Wyeth Pharmaceuticals (part of Pfizer since January 2009) and has been marketed since 1942.
In 1943, pharmaceutical company Wyeth merged with Ayerst, McKenna and Harrison, Ltd. of Canada. With this merger came Premarin®. In 1993 Premarin® became the #1 prescribed drug in the US.
In 1996 Wyeth Pharmaceuticals introduced Prempro® (reportedly with slightly reduced estrogen levels) as part of the Premarin® family of drugs.
In 1997 Premarin® became Wyeth’s first brand to reach US$1 billion in sales.
Research beginning in 1975 showed a substantially increased risk of endometrial cancer. Since 1976 the drug has carried a label warning about the risk.
As part of the Women’s Health Initiative sponsored by the National Institutes of Health, a large-scale clinical trial for Hormone Replacement Therapy showed that long-term use of progestin and estrogen may increase the risk of strokes, heart attacks, blood clots, and breast cancer.
Following these results, Wyeth experienced a significant decline in its sales of Premarin®, Prempro® (conjugated equine estrogens) and related hormones, from over $2 billion in 2002 to just over $1 billion in 2006.
Premarin mares are typically Belgian–Quarter Horse crosses. The horses’ size means their bladders have a larger capacity for collecting the estrogen rich urine. Plus, as Canadian horse slaughter magnate Claude Bouvry explained to me in 2008, at the same time these horses are not too large to be slaughtered easily in a plant environment.
For most of their 11-month pregnancies, the mares are confined to stalls so small that they cannot turn around or take more than one step in any direction.
They wear rubber urine-collection bags at all times, which causes chafing and lesions. Their their drinking water is limited so that their urine yields more concentrated estrogen.
Once the foals are born, the horses are re-impregnated; this cycle generally continues for about 12 years.
PMU (pregnant mare’s urine) ranchers are only expected to follow the “Recommended Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Horses in PMU Operations ” — a document produced by a “study committee” that included a Wyeth representative — on a voluntary basis. The document states that horses may be allowed only “as much exercise as is necessary for their welfare,” leaving the exact amount open to interpretation.
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 (although Wyeth-funded farms are not permitted to work directly with rescue organizations), but the remaining foals—along with worn-out mares—are sold at auction by farmers to make extra money, where most are purchased by middlemen 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.”
In 2012, Pfizer Inc. — reputedly the world’s largest drugmaker — said in a securities filing that it paid $896 million to resolve about 60 percent of the cases alleging its menopause drugs caused cancer in women.
Pfizer has now settled about 6,000 lawsuits that claim Prempro and other hormone-replacement drugs caused breast cancer, and it has set aside an additional $330 million to resolve the remaining 4,000 suits, according to a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. (See Bloomberg.com).
- “We are not spiritually unconnected from the drugs we take, or the pain and suffering that goes into their making.” ~ Alice Walker
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Don’t take it!
Say no to Premarin® and Prempro®, tablet or cream, if your doctor tries to prescribe them and say why you won’t take it.
If your doctor tries to dismiss your reasons, stick to your guns. Doctors are often given financial incentives to recommend drugs. Or the doctor may simply not care. If they don’t care, you may want to consult another doctor!
Share this with the women in your life. Has there ever been an easier, faster way to get important information out to people? Set yourself a goal of alerting 10 women about Premarin® and Prempro®. Learn more here >>
Write to a Doctor.
Print and send the Int’l Fund for Horses ‘Dear Physician Letter‘, with or without a personal cover letter from you, to your own doctor, a doctor you know, or even one from the directory of your area.
If you would like to help with one of our campaigns, please contact us. You need to have access to a computer, an email account you check often, good written and verbal communication skills, the discipline to get assignments done on time, and know when to ask for help.
— Horse pee reduces breast cancer risk. Say what?; Tuesday’s Horse; 13 Jun 2013
— FDA rejects possible Premarin replacement drugs; Tuesday’s Horse; 29 Mar 2013
— Will women have short memories about HRT? Pharma hopes so; Tuesday’s Horse; 13 Nov 2012
— Pfizer consigns PMU horses to killing fields of Asia; Tuesday’s Horse; 31 Mar 2012