Premarin is a drug produced from the oestrogen-rich pregnant mares’ urine (PMU), used to treat symptoms of menopause and osteoporosis. It was first used in the 1940s, with the introduction of hormone replacement therapy for women. Premarin is one of the biggest-selling drugs in the world.
While there are no PMU farms in Australia, Premarin is widely prescribed and used here, despite there being plant-based and synthetic alternatives. Its creation involves horrendous cruelty to horses, who are forcibly impregnated, have their movement severely restricted, wear a painful urine collection bag, and are denied water to ensure the urine is highly concentrated.
Animal Liberation wants to see doctors prescribe alternatives, and encourage women to adopt healthier lifestyles that will minimise the symptoms of menopause. By reducing demand for this cruel drug we can stop it being produced and stop the needless suffering of thousands of mares every year.
To produce PMU, mares must be impregnated. The last six months of the 11-month pregnancy is when the oestrogen is most concentrated in a mare’s urine, as the foal develops inside their mother. After giving birth, mares are impregnated and returned quickly to the production line. If she does not fall pregnant within six months of giving birth, a mare is generally sent to the knackery to be slaughtered for pet food and products such as glue.
For the six months when a mare’s urine is most concentrated with oestrogen, pregnant mares are tethered in stalls not much bigger than their bodies. They can’t take more than a step or two forwards or backwards, turn around or even lie down comfortably.
Mares are forced to wear rubber urine-collection bags attached to their legs, which cause chafing and lesions. The bags also prevent mares from lying down comfortably.
Mares are routinely denied water to ensure their urine is highly concentrated. They live their miserable lives in thirst, with producers giving them just enough to survive.
Foals: an Industry By-Product
The foals who are born as a result of constant impregnation are quickly separated from their mothers. Some are used to replace those mares in the production line who are no longer falling pregnant, while the rest are sold and slaughtered to be made into pet food and other products.
In the wild, horses live up to 20 years. On the Premarin production line, mares are usually sent to slaughter after 12 years, when their exhausted, damaged bodies can no longer fall pregnant.