Pregnant mare’s urine (PMU) is used to produce the horse estrogen-based Premarin family of drugs. Premarin horses suffer immensely for the production of this drug, plus there are serious and potentially fatal health risks and dangers associated with taking the Premarin family of drugs for hormone replacement therapy (HRT), as health and medical research studies have proven.
Premarin, along with Premarin-containing products such as Prempro, Premphase, Prempak-C and DUAVEE (U.S.) and Duavive (Europe), are Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) drugs manufactured by Wyeth Pharmaceuticals (part of Pfizer since January 2009). These drugs use the estrogen from pregnant mares urine as the hormone component. Premarin stands for Pregnant Mare’s Urine (PMU), and it is prescribed to women to reduce the symptoms of menopause in menopausal and post-menopausal women. The drug is available in several forms including pills, creams, injections, and patches. There are numerous plant-based and synthetic alternatives to Premarin that work equally as effectively, are far safer, and don’t cause pain, suffering and death to horses. (see our list below).
Premarin and Premarin-containing products, contain a mixture of mare’s urine and delta 8,9-dehydroestrone, and Wyeth Pharmaceuticals/Pfizer hold the patent for this combination, increasing health care costs and maintaining a monopoly on the drug. The company could easily manufacture a generic Premarin instead of an organic Premarin, since the cost of Premarin is considered high, but they claim that they would lose money because synthetic drugs cost significantly less.
To make organic Premarin and DUAVEE from mare’s urine, Pfizer contracts with PMU (Pregnant Mare’s Urine) horse farms throughout Canada and the U.S., and now China. Today, there are 800 horses in the U.S., mainly located in North Dakota, that are used to make these drugs. This is down from 35,000 horses a few years ago. In recent years, the industry has expanded to China, where there are reportedly 90,000 mares currently in PMU farms. At its peak in the U.S. and Canada, industrial PMU farms produced an unbelievable 40,000 foals per year, the majority of which are trucked away after birth or at a young age and sold to “kill buyers” for transport to slaughterhouses for meat—they are the tragic living, feeling, sentient byproduct of making these drugs. Some foals, the lucky ones, are sold to horse owners and horse rescue organizations, due to their better breeding. In 2002 alone, nearly 15,000 foals were sold directly to the slaughter industry.
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.”
These horses suffer immensely for the production of this drug, and receive virtually no legal protection. And animal cruelty laws and government regulations do not apply to the treatment of mares and foals on Premarin farms. Here are some of the many cruel conditions, treatment and practices these mares are subjected to and must endure every day:
This award-winning documentary by Alexandra Gritta received “Honorable Mention as a Work of Merit” in the youth division of the 39th Annual Northwest Filmmakers Festival.
Life is Brutal, Cruel, Uncomfortable and Punishing for PMU Mares
- Premarin mares are forcibly impregnated over and over again to continually produce high levels of estrogen for Premarin products; they pregnancies last for 11 months, then they are impregnated again after giving birth – a cruel, physically exhausting non-stop cycle for mares
- Newborn foals are taken away from their mothers, and most are fattened then sent to slaughterhouses and killed for meat. Their meat is shipped to Japan, France and Europe for human consumption. Mares naturally resist separation from their babies so they are often whipped, kicked, or beaten with an electric prod until they finally allow their foal to be taken away from them
- Premarin mares never get the chance to bond with their offspring, they are treated solely as profit-making machines for Premarin, in these industrial farms
- Pregnant mares must stand upright 24/7 confined in tight, narrow stalls, side by side, row upon row, hooked up to urine collection machines 24/7 and are never allowed to turn around or lie down, which is deeply cruel considering this is how horses sleep and rest and is most natural for them
- Premarin mares are not allowed to move, walk, or run, which is natural for them – or graze and frolic in a pasture as is normal for horses, because of the urine collection device attached to them 24/7
- Filthy, bulky tubing connected to straps is attached to their bodies 24/7 to collect the urine, the straps and collection device cause sores and injury from rubbing. As a result of these restrictive devices, the mares are immobile
- Premarin mares are intentionally dehydrated, deprived of fresh water, in order to concentrate their urine, making it more profitable for the company, but unhealthy for the horses
- To save money, and reduce cleaning, the mares often stand on hard, cold concrete floors, without proper, soft and standard straw bedding that is usual – causing leg and hoof injury, pain, and arthritis
- Premarin mares don’t receive the veterinary care they need, and are deprived of necessary exercise and movement, as well as sociability with other horses
- Premarin mares are bred so often during their short lives, that their reproductive organs often rupture or fall out with gravity – their bodies are so overused and abused, and never permitted to lie down – gravity from standing 24/7 takes a toll; their body’s cannot hold the organs in any longer
- Physically spent, exhausted mares that can no longer get pregnant or hold their pregnancy, are sent to slaughter – which is illegal in the U.S., but done in Canada. Premarin mares keep the corrupt horse slaughter industry alive and profitable, that otherwise would not be
Health and Medical Problems Common to Mares Used in Premarin Production
- Hoof injuries
- Leg injuries, sores, arthritis and lacerations
- Reproductive organ damage
- Swollen joints
- Liver disorders
- Kidney disorders
- Premature death
Horse Cruelty: The Truth Behind Premarin
How You Can Help
- Don’t take the Premarin family of drugs or DUAVEE. Instead, take a synthetic or plant-based alternative (listed above)
- Download Know The Facts About Premarin Production – and share this with women you know
- Speak up! Call and write the Chairman/CEO of Pfizer, Ian Read, and demand Pfizer produce a synthetic and more humane product!
- Ian Read, Chairman of the Board / CEO – Pfizer, Inc., 235 East 42nd Street, New York, NY 10017, USA
- Phone: 1-212-733-2323
- Write a letter to your local newspaper about the cruelty of Premarin production, and the safe alternatives available to women
- Support local horse rescue nonprofits that rescue these foals and mares from PMU farms
- Warn other women about these drugs and educate others about the suffering inherent in Premarin production, share on social media
- Go Vegan! A vegan plant-based diet can reduce and minimize menopausal symptoms, especially when supplemented by soy products that contain plant-based estrogens
Take Plant-Based and Synthetic Alternatives to Mare Horse Urine – That are Equally Effective for HRT and Healthier for You
There are over a dozen synthetic and plant estrogens that have been approved by the FDA over the years, and act in a very similar way to Premarin, and many are considered equally effective, that don’t use horses. Ask your doctor about equally effective alternatives, including:
Read about the alternatives to Premarin, Prempro and DUAVEE
The Serious Health Risks and Dangers Associated with the Premarin Family of Drugs / Using Horse Urine Estrogen
- Health studies have proven the Premarin family of drugs causes serious health risks in women including:
- Increased risk of stroke
- Increased risk of breast cancer
- Increased risk of reproductive cancers
- Increased risk of heart attacks and coronary heart disease
- Increased risk of blood clots
- Increased risk of Venous Thrombosis (VT), which includes deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and Pulmonary Embolism (PE)
- Decreased cognitive function and degeneration
- No protection against heart attacks
The Women’s Health Initiative has done numerous studies on the health impacts of Premarin products. These studies have revealed the harmful health risks associated with these drugs and the danger they pose to women’s health. View the Women’s Health Initiative studies.
Articles About Horses Used to Produce Estrogen Replacement Drugs
Humane Society of the U.S., Prescription For Cruelty
Last Chance For Animals, Premarin Horses
Horse Fund, Premarin Fact Sheet
Horse Fund, Premarin Resources