Ever heard of PMU? No? How about Pregnant Mare's Urine? OK, you've probably heard of hormone replacement therapy and the drug premarin used for HRT and menopause issues. Well, the estrogen in premarin and numerous other HRT drugs comes from urine harvested from pregnant mares.
So far so good. The horror comes into the picture when we learn how this estrogen is obtained. It turns out that there are factory farms for captive mares used to produce concentrated urine from which to remove the estrogen which is in the urine due to their being pregnant.
How does the urine get so concentrated? If a person doesn't drink enough water, they will likely notice that their urine is more yellow than usual because it is more concentrated than usual. Similarly if you give a captive mare only enough water to keep it alive it will produce an endless amount of estrogen rich urine, that is until the horse is totally worn out and then its off to the slaughterhouse. More on that later.
The horror for the mares continue in that they are kept pregnant in order to keep producing the required amounts of estrogen in their urine. As soon as the foals are born, the mares are let out to pasture where they are quickly artificially inseminated to start their next pregnancy.
What happens to all these foals born in the pmu factory farms? Mostly they are sent to feedlots to be fattened up for slaughter. The meat is exported to Europe, China and anywhere else humans eat horse meat. Horse meat is a delicacy on French menus. Well, they are actually already in China but more on that in a few paragraphs.
In the following video, you will see up, close and personal, the hell that these animals experience for their entire lives. Notice the stalls they are kept in, always standing with urine collection bags attached to them.
These stalls are about 8 feet by 3 feet and the mares have collection bags that collect the estrogen rich urine painfully strapped to their groins by a pulley system. This contraption makes it impossible for the mares to move or even lie down comfortably and this goes on for months, until the foal in born.
The video was made before the pmu harvesting operations were moved to China and the facilities in the video are probably quite nice compared to what they are like in China.
Around 2005, only two companies, Wyeth and Pfizer, produced premarin and the other pmu drugs, prempro and duavee. Collectively these are known as conjugated equine estrogen drugs (CEE).
In 2009 Pfizer bought Wyeth for the tidy sum of $68 billion thus leaving Pfizer as the sole source of CEE drugs. Another chapter in the premarin story involves the relocation of the estrogen factory farms to China.
2003 appears to be the high point of pregnant mare urine harvesting in the U.S. and north America. It is estimated that there were over 400 PMU Farms in Canada and the US, housing between 35,000 to 40,000 PMU mares.
Because of the heat put on Pfizer by animal activists and the general public over the mistreatment of pregnant mares, the company starting relocating these facilities to China in 2004, completing the move by 2010. Why China?
As we might have guessed, China has no animal welfare laws to protect these horses or any animals or birds, for that matter, in its many factory farms.
No such facilities remain in the US and only a small number in Canada, probably less than 20. Pfizer decided to move to a culture that is more accepting of animal suffering, and out of the spotlight of public scrutiny here in the U.S.
We cannot know for sure how many PMU factory farms are in China since they are not the most transparent of countries and it is virtually impossible to get undercover investigators inside a Chinese factory farm.
Pfizer has indicated their plans for future growth in the premarin family of drugs, as can be seen in the increased level of direct-to-consumer advertising on TV. So it is reasonable to assume that there are even more of these torture farms now than ever before.
Most women would never knowingly put a Chinese sourced drug in or on their bodies. Animal cruelty aside, quality control in China leaves much to be desired.
The thing about premarin and other PMU based drugs is that they are old, obsolete medical technology. There are plant based bio-identical alternatives to premarin that are safer for the woman and don't subject horses to a lifetime of torture so the drug company that sells it can reap obscene profits.
Doctors who keep up with medical advances in this field have not written a prescription for premarin in 15 years in some cases. Most of the doctors who still prescribe it are old school who learned about premarin years ago when they were still in medical school and don't know anything better.
Women must learn to ask the right questions.
Most important is to ask about the side effects and damage that premarin can cause, just little things like cancer, strokes, heart attacks and blood clots. While these are described in the literature as dangerous and rare side effects they have happened. The more common side effects of premarin and similar drugs is as long as your arm and can be seen at drugs.com, webmd.com and various other medical websites.
THE SIDE EFFECTS FOR THE MARES AND THEIR FOALS IS ALWAYS THE SAME:
A PAINFUL, TERRIFYING DEATH IN THE SLAUGHTER HOUSE.
Next is to ask what alternatives are available now. If enough women become educated as to what they are taking, chances are that premarin will quickly become a thing of the past and horses can become horses again instead of machines in an estrogen factory farm.
Much to their credit, that notoriously left-of-center organization, MoveOn.org has taken on the fight to end the pmu slaughter. They have placed a petition online along with a great deal of current information and historical data.
There are several horse rescue organizations fighting to expose the PMU harvesting nightmare, rescue as many horses as they can and put an end to premarin once and for all. One such organization is Dreamchaser Horse Rescue & Rehabilatation located in Falcon, Missouri.
Two rescue organizations have been highlighted but there are many such groups that are very active in the effort.Here is a directory by state of horse rescue organizations however no effort has been made to investigate each one as to safety, cleanliness, treatment of the animals or success in placing the animals in loving homes. Do your own research before contacting or donating to any of them. This list is also somewhat dated so it may not be totally accurate.
This page will be closed with an inspiring video of a rescued foal named Nugget accompanied by a haunting song, "Wings of Horses" by Peter Rowan. It is circa 2004 but it will be timeless as long as there is even one pregnant mare held captive in an estrogen factory farm anywhere in the world.