Washington, District of Columbia—Friends of Animals (FoA) wants the millions of menopausal women now questioning the safety of hormone replacement therapy to know something else about the HRT drugs they are taking: they are likely made from animal waste.

FoA has released the results of a year and a half-long investigation into the production of estrogen-replacement drugs derived from pregnant mares’ urine, or PMU. Millions of menopausal women are prescribed these drugs every year, most unaware that they are derived from the urine of pregnant mares who are forced to stand tied in narrow stalls for months at a time while their urine is being collected. Horse urine is the source of the estrogens in the menopause drugs Premarin and Prempro.

“Women taking these drugs should know that not only are they ingesting animal waste on a regular basis, but they are also contributing to the suffering of tens of thousands of horses in the U.S. and Canada,” says Bill Dollinger, Director of FoA’s Washington, D.C. office.

FoA timed the release of the investigation to coincide with the 60th Anniversary “celebration” of Premarin, currently the second most prescribed drug in the U.S. Most people are surprised to learn that horse urine is the source of the estrogens in Premarin (PREgnant MARe’s urINe). Premarin, (including Prempro, Premphase and Prempac) is marketed by Wyeth Pharmaceuticals. Since early this year Wyeth has been promoting an “anniversary” essay contest in several women’s magazines and on its website: www.premarin.com. “60 years of cruelty to horses is nothing to celebrate,” says Dollinger. “We’ve come a long way since 1942. There is no place in the 21st century for outdated ‘therapies’ that harm women and cause animals to suffer.”

Wyeth has approximately 450 urine collection farms in Canada and North Dakota under contract to produce the raw ingredient necessary for the billion-dollar products. Mares are put “on the line” in collection barns in October where they remain until mid-March, hooked up to tubes that collect their urine. They are often subjected to water restriction in order to produce a more estrogen-concentrated product. Most of the foals born to these mares are considered simply by-products, and are shipped to Canadian slaughter plants that supply the demand for horsemeat in Europe and Japan.

The FoA investigation has uncovered the expansion of this controversial industry in the United States, the result of the establishment of a new U.S. company that is seeking approval to market a generic version of Premarin. Photos and video available.

Friends of Animals is an international, non-profit animal rights organization that works to protect animals from cruelty, abuse and institutionalized exploitation.