From ANIMAL PEOPLE, November 1994:
Premarin maker on defensive
BRANDON, Manitoba––Wyeth-Ayerst is
worried about consumer response to the disclosure by
the Farm Animal Concerns Trust and ANIMAL
PEOPLE in early 1993 that its top-selling drug, the
estrogen supplement Premarin, comes from pregnant
mares’ urine, or PMU; that the great majority of the
75,000-plus foals born to the mares each year are sold
to slaughter; and that vegetable-based alternatives are
readily available. Premarin is now under boycott by
most major animal protection groups.
Wyeth-Ayerst now answers letters of protest
with copies of a report entitled Care and Management
of Horses at PMU Production Facilities, by consul-
tant Shauna Spurlock, DVM, who argues that the
ranchers, “place their foals as they always have. The
type of foals produced run the gambit from purebred
thoroughbred foals intended for the race track, to
quarter horse foals destined for the show ring, to draft
foals that may be used for light recreational work.
Some of the fillies are kept as replacement mares. It
is true and unavoidable,” Spurlock admits, “with a
thriving market for horsemeat in Europe and Asia,
that some of these foals will be bought for feed lots.
Each producer [she visited] acknowledged that was
the reality, but in no situation was the feedlot and
slaughter the primary or intended market.”
“How is it,” responds University of Prince
Edward Island horse expert Sharon Cregier, Ph.D.,
“that most of these foals from grade mares are so wel-
come in areas where papers, breeding, and registra-
tion count?” Spurlock also fails to explain how the
big draft mares favored for PMU production because
of their placid nature and high urine output manage to
give birth to “purebred thoroughbred foals” or quarter
horses in the first place; or how any destination other
than slaughter can be primary when the total horse
population of Canada is under 360,000, of whom
more than one in six is a PMU-producing mare.
Other Spurlock claims also seem spurious,
e.g. that PMU mares can lie down, when as Bonnie
Stoehn of the Redwings Horse Sanctuary in California
points out, photographs from the March 25, 1994
edition of Farmers’ Weekly clearly show PMU mares
head-chained so that they can’t lie down.
Attendance at the Arlington International
Racecourse in Illinois averaged 9,438 last year, down
from 16,414 in 1964. Gambling Entertainment TV, to
begin broadcasting next summer, hopes to reverse that
trend, devoting 12% of its projected schedule to
The International Equine Recovery Net
says 50,000 horses a year are stolen in the U.S.; in
1993 IERN assisted 1,458 horsetheft victims. Just 8%
of the horses were recovered. To obtain the IERN
Equine Recovery Handbook, call 1-800-842-8725.
Four horses reportedly died in three
days––two of heart attacks––at the 30th annual World
Championships of Cutter and Chariot Racing, held
recently in Ogden, Utah.
The Dutch-based Foundation for the
Preservation and Protection of the Przewalski
Horse has restored 20 of the rare wild horses––geneti-
cally distinct from domestic horses and mustangs––to
the Mongolian steppe, where they hadn’t run free in
25 years. Another 19 are to be released next year.
Earlier attempts by the Russian and Chinese govern-
ments to reintroduce the horse to its native habitat
have failed. The release site is within the 220,000-acre
Hustain Nuruu Reserve.