SACRAMENTO, CA (December 20, 2006) – According to United Animal Nations, a leading animal advocacy and rescue group, thousands of pregnant horses used on hormone farms to produce drugs like Premarin will be in need of rescue in 2007, as more women will likely stop taking the drugs based on new evidence linking them to breast cancer. A decrease in the use of these drugs will save many horses from a life of inhumane treatment and eventually auction to slaughterhouses. In the meantime, rescue groups are gearing up to handle the expected spike in the number of retiring horses that will need homes.
The new research findings, released on December 14 at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, showed that breast cancer cases declined seven percent in 2003 — a year after a federal study connecting hormone therapy drugs to heart disease, cancer, stroke and other medical problems prompted millions of women to stop taking them. After the 2002 study was released, Premarin’s manufacturer, Wyeth, cut contracts with 50 percent of its ranches and approximately 30,000 unwanted Premarin horses flooded the market.
“A continuing drop in the use of hormone drugs like Premarin is good for women, as well as for horses and their foals. The challenge is finding good homes for all of the horses, and preventing them from ending up in slaughterhouses,” said UAN President and CEO Nicole Forsyth. “I think the rescuers are up to the task but will need additional financial support to compete at the auction blocks and take care of the horses.”
Drugs like Premarin made from pregnant mares’ urine (PMU) are responsible for the suffering and deliberate slaughter of tens of thousands of horses and the foals they give birth to each year. An estimated 17,500 Premarin horses are impregnated year after year so their estrogen-rich urine can be collected. The mares are forced to stand in narrow stalls with urine collection devices strapped to them for months on end. The stalls are deliberately narrow to prevent pregnant mares from turning around and detaching the collection cups. Many of these mares get little or no exercise for the six months they are forced to stand in the barns. And, when the mares aren’t productive anymore, they, along with the unwanted foals, are often slaughtered, their meat sold as a delicacy at restaurants and butcher shops in Europe and Asia.
In the mid-1990s, UAN began educating women about Premarin and rescuing horses cast off from the industry. When approximately ten million women stopped taking Premarin in 2003, UAN established PMURescue.org, a free Web site where horse rescuers can post former Premarin horses and foals needing homes. Today more than 50 rescue organizations post horses on PMURescue.org; 1,900 have already found new homes.
“I had no idea that Premarin came from inhumanely treated horses, or that thousands of horses were being slaughtered in the name of profit,” said Susan Thompson of Dreamchaser PMU Rescue and Rehabilitation in New River, Arizona, one of the organizations that posts horses on PMURescue.org. “I have been rescuing former Premarin horses ever since I found out. I expect that 2007 will be a very busy year because thousands of horses will no longer be needed as even more women hear the new evidence about Premarin’s possible links to breast cancer.”
“I did not know how Premarin was produced until I looked at the UAN Web site,” said Dawn Van Horn of Oklahoma City. “How horrible for horses to have to be put through this treatment just to produce this medication. There are enough other medications to take for the same results as Premarin.”
Van Horn is just one of the many women who stopped taking Premarin when she learned its manufacture caused animal suffering. UAN is offering an “I’ve Switched” pin to any woman who pledges to stop taking Premarin. To request an “I’ve Switched” pin, individuals should contact UAN at (916) 429-2457 or info@uan.
Anyone interested in adopting a PMU horse should visit UAN’s PMU horse Web site at www.PMURescue.org. Hundreds are available right now at more than 50 equine rescue organizations nationwide. For those not in a position to adopt, concerned citizens can make a donation to United Animal Nations at www.uan.org to help UAN continue their work helping animals in danger or in need.
At the peak of Premarin production in the mid-1990s, more than nine million new prescriptions for Premarin were written each year. Some 22 million women were taking hormone therapy drugs in 2002, and that number fell to 12.7 million by the end of 2003, according to IMS Health, which tracks drug sales. During that time, at least 60,000 horses were needed to produce enough urine to meet the demand for Premarin and similar hormone therapy drugs containing conjugated equine estrogens. Each of these mares produced one foal each year.
Now celebrating its 20th year, United Animal Nations (UAN) is