To the Rescue
Life is Precious... Let's Not Throw It Away
A pregnant mare, Ginnie, after being rescued from PMU production. As many as 8 million post menopausal women have been taking the drug Premarin®, manufactured by Wyeth-Ayerst, making it the most prescribed drug in the United States. Most do so without knowing it is made from urine from pregnant horses who endure uncomfortable confinement practices and suffer great injustices. As many as 75,000 foals are born each year - most are an unwanted byproduct and go to slaughter. If 150 women used plant-derived alternatives instead, 1 mare and 8 foals would be spared this fate. Wyeth-Ayerst boasts the drug's "secret ingredient" is all natural, but the other secret ingredient - animal suffering - is never mentioned.
Black Beauty, the autobiography of a horse, written in 1877 by Anna Sewell brought tears and laughter to young and old and is still one of the greatest classics of its kind. Most of us remember Merry Legs and Ginger and have suffered through Beauty's ordeals at least once, be it on video or in book form.
In 1890 a game little mustang weighing only 900 pounds passed unsurmountable odds to travel to the Middle East and race 3000 miles across the desert for his owner, Frank Hopkins.
"In 1938, a year of monumental turmoil, the number one newsmaker wasn't Franklin Roosevelt or Adolf Hitler. It wasn't even a person. It was an undersized, crooked-legged racehorse, owned by a bicycle repairman turned automobile magnate, trained by a virtually mute mustang breaker and ridden by a half-blind failed prize fighter. The race horse was Seabiscuit." (An American Legend, Laura Hillenbrand)
The children and adults in the world were once again entranced by the glory of a fictional horse (though in my youth there was little more real) in 1941 when Walter Farley wrote, The Black Stallion. But about that same time, the beloved horse sadly became a victim of the pharmaceutical industry, and still is today.
Pharmacy Exploits the Horse
In 1942, a drug by the name of Premarin was first marketed for hormone replacement therapy to alleviate the symptoms of menopause. The harvesting of this drug requires that approximately 70,000 pregnant mares (approximate count as of 2002) stand in five-foot standing stalls (much like a cow stantion), each with a bag attached to the base of her tail to catch her urine (Pregnant Mare Urine), from which a hormone is extracted. This hormone is refined, and from this a pill is created to deal with the effects of menopause in women. The by-product of this drug is thousands of beautiful foals sent to slaughter to feed man's best friend and across the seas to Japan and Europe where they are put in their grocers' cases beside the ham and steak.
Just Say "NO!" to Horse-Urine Drugs; Consider the Alternatives
There is no reason to take any of the horse-urine based drugs. Just say NO. Premarin® may have been the most widely prescribed drug in the world, but because of the caring efforts of many to inform women and doctors of the devastation to horses as well as the dangers to women, the industry has had to make changes. There are plenty of human- and horse-friendly approaches to menopause and other hormonal imbalances that do not cause suffering and death. Please inform your doctor, your daughters, your mothers, your sisters, your aunts, and your friends about this. Think about it - how could a drug derived from animal waste be beneficial to a human?
Many women find that the adoption of natural therapies, lifestyle and nutritional enhancements benefit them in many ways, and a holistic approach to menopause makes sense. It is natural to not have 'reproductive' levels of progesterone after menopause, and artificially supplying it through Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT), even the non-horse-urine kinds, may not be beneficial to your health. (Women are advised to not stay on any type of HRT much longer than three or four years.) Progesterone is produced when women ovulate, to prepare for pregnancy rather than to balance estrogen. Menopause is a healthy, natural progression into the non-reproductive years when hormone levels naturally decrease.
Many women could control hot flashes and fend off osteoporosis if they would simply watch their diets and avoid eating 'non-foods'. Wholesome nutrition (organic, non-genetically modified whole foods) is best. It is important to eat wisely, live healthy, avoid stress and toxins, and listen to the body. See your naturopath for healthy food choices for you, and other ways to help you make a smooth transition through menopause. Most women will benefit from flax seed, evening primrose, cod liver oil, mineral and vitamin supplements including calcium and D, other food supplements, CoQ10, and some soy (non-GMO) as well as other foods rich in phytoestrogens.
Natural Plant Rx:
The various hormones of the body and their rhythms make balancing them a complex issue. Menopause is a natural progression in a woman's life, and hormone replacements may not be recommended as they delay or interfere with this natural event. Consult a professional for your personal protocol if you need HRT. To assess hormone status, saliva tests are most reliable and are available through naturopathic physicians (few MDs know about, or use, these tests).
Bio-identical hormones (identical to those produced by the human body) are derived from soybeans and wild yams and provide post-menopausal women the same relief from menopausal symptoms as Premarin, without dangerous side effects. There are now many plant-based options you may want to ask your practitioner about (creams, tablets, patches) - Emerita Phytoestrogen Body Cream, Emerita Pro-Gest Natural Progesterone Cream, Remifemin (from black cohosh), and Tahiti Trim Plan 40 Body Balance Cream (a Tahitian Noni product) are just a few.
See also Doctors Against Premarin, www.doctorsagainstpremarin.org.
What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Menopause by John R. Lee, MD
Natural Woman, Natural Menopause by Marcus Laux, ND
Menopause: A Spiritual Renaissance by Helene B. Leonetti, MD
Menopausal Years: The Wise Woman Way by Susun Weed
Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom by Christiane Northrup, MD
Smart Medicine for Menopause by Sandra Cabot, MD
Natural Hormone Replacement by Jonathan Wright
The widespread use of hormones (such as birth control pills), not to mention the daily exposures to pollution, toxins, and chemicals with estrogen-like activity, throughout our lives, have undoubtedly contributed to the insistent cries for relief from menopausal symptoms, as well as to the increased rate of cancer. It is beyond time for a holistic approach to health, and life.
Just another stock animal, born for the use and consumption of humans and for nothing more? I think not! Tell the children who have cried with Beauty, raced with Seabiscuit, the Black Stallion and Hidalgo. Tell that to the handicapped child who only smiles during her half hour of therapeutic riding on the noblest of steeds, an old timer whose careful steps make it possible for her to have something to look forward to each week. Tell it to the teenage girl who escapes the Hell of an abusive stepfather to the Thoroughbred farm where she can find comfort in the quiet animals who are always willing to listen. Try and convince me then, whose childhood was spent on the back of a little gray pony, the pony who still to this day is the first to hear my saddest secrets and greatest accomplishments.
You will never convince any of us that horses are not the noblest and most deserving of God's creatures. You will never convince anyone who has ridden through the quiet forest on a sunny afternoon, the motion of the horse soothing away the worst of life's aches and pains, emotional and physical alike.
To us, and others who know about this abuse and killing of horses, it is an atrocious and horrific situation that has to be stopped. Many animal rights groups have fought this abuse and torture of horses for years now. Things are finally going our way. The dark secrets have gotten out and people don't want horses used for this purpose.
Over a year ago, when the dangers of their PMU products were exposed, the company was forced to close down 30% of its farms. That was a monolithic victory for the horses and horse lovers of the world. With our triumph though, came a great burden - these approximately 25,000 of the 70,000 pregnant mares were "out of work" and being quickly discarded and slaughtered. Through United Pegasus, a thoroughbred racehorse rescue in California, I arranged, with Live and Let Live Farm, to rescue 5 Premarin mares. It was a complete success. Four of the mares turned out to be pregnant and threw beautiful foals. The other turned out not to be pregnant and is now happy with her people.
Live and Let Live Farm was able to pre-adopt over eighty mares and foals last year. You cannot imagine the relief of us volunteers as more and more people stepped forward to offer their money, love and time to rescue adopt or sponsor these horses. The support of the media was overwhelming. Our local TV station WMUR was here twice, WOKQ, our local radio station gave us a half-hour slot to speak of our plight and The Concord Monitor ran our story three times, along with many other radio stations and newspapers running articles on the farms plight to save these beautiful and needy animals. All of this support enabled us to get our effort to the ears of potential adopters and sponsors. We hope to have even more support next year as well and in as many years as the PMU industry persists.
The Dangers of PMU Products Exposed
There is another side to this horrible story of Premarin. That is the side of the women who are taking the drug. Studies have shown the side effects of this drug are astronomical. The drug companies are out of control. Not only have they presented the delusion that a pill can cure everything, but they have ceased caring whether or not damage is being done at the same time.
In order to test the effect of Hormone Replacement Therapy on the prevention of coronary heart disease and osteoporosis, hormone replacement therapies were made part of the Women's Health Initiative (WHI). The WHI is a massive study of more than 167,000 women nationwide, designed to investigate various different aspects of women's' health over a 15-year span. It is considered the "gold standard" in random clinical testing. 16,000 women participated in the combination hormone therapy portion of the trials, taking both Premarin and Provera or a combination drug like Prempro™. This portion of the trials was designed to last eight years.
In the spring of 2002, the National Institute of Health (NIH) stopped the study cold - after just 4 years. On July 9, 2002, the NIH published its shocking findings: combination hormone replacement therapies were putting women at increased risk of multiple serious diseases. These risks include (and are not limited to):
26% increase in breast cancer
41% increase in strokes
29% increase in heart attacks
100% increase in blood clots
22% increase in heart disease
Conclusion: "The results indicate that this regimen should not be initiated or concluded." It can be estimated that there have been over 100,000 excess breast cancer cases in the United States in the last ten years that can be attributed directly to combination hormone replacement therapy - and there were 50 more years of its use before that.
Horse-Friendly and Woman-Friendly Options
The fact of the matter is that there are many natural and safe options for relief of menopausal symptoms and hormone-related conditions. [See SIDE BAR.] There are also alternative synthetic versions of this pill. They are safer for the health of women and no horses are harmed or hurt. Why then does this go on? Drug companies have money to cleverly market their drugs while down-playing risks; medicine sources are not revealed. People are ignorant of the origin of their medications; they trust their doctors, and may never question them about anything. Teresa, the founder of Live and Let Live Farm, was prescribed Premarin, not knowing what she was taking. Her tale of that experience follows:
"I was prescribed the drug. The doctor never told me about it and I assumed that since the doctor prescribed it, he knew what he was doing. Who questions that kind of thing? My body rejected it and I became very ill - too ill to continue its use. When I brought this problem to my doctor, he told me about its origin - I was furious. I have since controlled the effects of my hysterectomy strictly with diet and natural herbal supplements. People should be told that there is an alternative; doctors shouldn't be allowed to prescribe such a controversial drug without an explanation."
But medical doctors do prescribe many hazardous drugs, and perform questionable procedures, because that is what they learn in medical school. It has become our responsibility as a patient and consumer to ask, "What is the reason for this drug/ procedure? What are the side effects? What is the source of this medicine? Where/How is it produced? What is the lot number on the vial?" along with any other questions.
How Can We Help?
Perhaps now you are wondering what you can do about all
of this. Here is what we ask.
If you are taking this drug, Stop! Find an alternative. Tell your friends and family what you have learned about its source and its health risks. If we stop the demand, then they stop making it.
Until we have put an end to this, consider being one of the people who adopt one of these horses. Every year until this travesty finally comes to an end, Live and Let Live Farm will place as many as is financially possible. If you are considering a horse, please think of adopting. My first PMU horse is a beautiful, double-registered foundation Appaloosa. He is perfect in every way. Many of these horses are high quality and of the big warmblood type that people are looking for as hunters and jumpers. The mixture of draft in many of them also tends to make a very level-headed prospect for pleasure or trail riding. PMU mares and foals are available for adoption or needing sponsors to help with their shipping to get them home in the spring of 2005.
An easy way to help financially is by sponsoring, completely or partially, to bring one of the needy horses back to the farm where we can find it a home. Many people have created groups of co-workers or friends to share the cost of bringing a horse home. It is a great feeling to know that you are saving a life.
Again, the goal is to end PMU production. Call your doctor(s); ask if they prescribe any of the drugs made from horse urine (Premarin and Prempro). If they do, ask if they are aware of the risks and source of the drugs. If they do not know about these, inform them.
Horses are one of the most graceful and majestic creatures on earth. They outweigh us many times but many have given their lives to the servitude of man and done so without complaint. They deserve for us to do something for them.
For more information:
Live and Let Live Farm
20 Paradise Lane
Chichester, NH 03258
Live and Let Live farm is an all volunteer 501c3 charitable organization which exists mainly on donations, private grants and fund raising events. All donations are tax deductible.
Ads on TV for Premarin® - Let them know your thoughts!
Here is a letter from Heather's mother, Teresa, to a television station:
I have enjoyed and watched your shows for years. Lifetime TV for Women is just about the only channel I watch. I like most of your movies and really enjoy Strong Medicine. You often state you Celebrate women, everyday. So you must know how upset I was to see an advertisement of a killer drug on your channel - A killer of women friends I've known, along with mothers and their foals (yes beautiful mother horses and their baby foals). On your TV station. I am the Executive Director of a rehabilitation rescue sanctuary and we strive to save these poorly treated pregnant mares and their babies from slaughter.
Premarin has caused death and illness in many, many woman and (human) girls have lost their mothers and/or seen suffering because of this drug.
There is a network across the country having members watch for any Premarin advertisements or any of the lower doses of Premarin drugs and to send them out to the network so what ever station it is that uses their advertisements can be shut off. I am not looking forward to sending out the information of time (April 2 at 8:30 pm) and channel (cable 36) that I saw this drug advertised by your station. But you obviously are not looking out for the well being of women; after seeing this I am so very diappointed.
More ways to help, from www.StopWyeth.org :
Following pressure earlier this year from viewers like you, CBS, ABC and NBC pulled the Prempro™ television commercial they were airing.
That was just a few short months ago. Now it seems that Wyeth has upped the ante, and not only are networks airing a commercial for Prempro, but also Premarin. Reports are that the ads have been seen on TNT, USA Network and NBC.
As long as any pregnant mare urine derived drugs remain on the market, the abuse and slaughter of innocent horses, most particularly the foals, will continue, and so will the potential dangers to the women who take them.
We feel the following action should be taken:
1) Write to the television networks who are airing Prempro and Premarin commercials and tell them you are offended by them supporting the sale of this drug, and that you will not be viewing the programming associated with it until the ads are pulled. (Note: This shows up in the audience figures they use to calculate viewer ratings, but in a totally different category. If the ads occur during one of your favorite shows, please tape it.)
Attn: Viewer Relations
77 W. 66th
New York, NY 10023-6298
Fax: 212 456 1424
CBS Television Network
Attn: Viewer Relations
524 W. 52nd Street
New York, NY 10019
Fax: 212 975 4516
Email: Go to www.cbs.com, scroll down to bottom of the page, click on Feedback and fill in the online form.
NBC Television Network
Attn: Viewer Relations
30 Rockefeller Plaza
New York, NY 10112
Fax: 212 665 4085
FOX Email: email@example.com.
LIFETIME : Go to www.lifetimetv.com and look for a link that says "Write to us."
TNT Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
USA Network : Go to www.usanetwork.com and use the feedback link, then the sendmail link of the show or category you wish to comment on, such as email@example.com. There have been some bounces on this email. You can also write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
WTBS (Superstation): Go to www.turner.com and look for a link that says "global/ nav_contact". Then use the link that says "Ask a Question." This will be another feedback form.
2) Be sure to make a note the time you saw it and the program you were watching, and include this in your letter. (Example: Saturday evening broadcast of The Will, January 8, 2005; Wednesday broadcast of The Young & The Restless, January 13, 2004; Friday evening broadcast, Joan of Arcadia, January 14, 2004).
3) Tell them that you would appreciate a response to your letter.
We would also appreciate it if you would:
1) Email us at email@example.com when you see Prempro™ being advertised, what network, the time, date and associated programming.
2) Talk to the women in your life who may be approaching menopause, or are having premature menopause-inducing surgery, and warn them about the dangers of taking pregnant mare urine derived drugs. Inform them of the cruelties that go into making these drugs. There are many alternatives. See The Fund for Horses Resources page ( www.fundforhorses.org) under Premarin Mares and Foals.
3) If a doctor insists on writing you a prescription for Prempro or Premphase® (and there are many doing this despite their patients' protests), simply refuse it or tear it up when you walk out. If they become agitated or insistent, or go so far as to defend the PMU industry (we have firsthand reports of this as well), simply write a letter of complaint to the American Medical Association, 515 N. State Street, Chicago, IL 60610, 800-621-8335, www.ama-assn.org. You may also want to consider changing physicians.
4) Consider a boycott of all Wyeth pharmaceutical products. See www.StopWyeth.org.