PART OF THE CORPORATE FAMILY OF AMERICAN HOME PRODUCTS
(info courtesy PETA)

The most widely prescribed drug on the market today, Wyeth-Ayerst's Premarin, contains a hidden ingredient that many women find hard to swallow: animal suffering.

Premarin is made from the estrogen-rich urine of pregnant horses. To collect the urine, farmers in the United States and Canada strictly confine some 75,000 mares to tiny stalls for six months at a stretch. This is what they have to look forward to: non-exercise, not being able to lie down, water-deprivation, withholding of proper medical care, the killing of their foals, and other cruel treatment.

All this is done to the horses despite the fact that synthetic and plant-based estrogen drugs are readily available and a growing number of health-care professionals prefer them to a drug made from animal waste.

Wyeth-Ayerst's Corporate Bullying:
Not surprisingly, Wyeth-Ayerst has put pressure on both the government and the health care community to protect its monopoly of the estrogen-replacement market.

For example, Premarin is the only drug being used in the Women's Health Initiative studies of estrogen treatment's effect on heart disease in women. In her On the Issues article, "The Bitter Pill", Leora Tannenbaum documented Wyeth's attempts to prevent the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) from approving a generic version of Premarin.

Tannenbaum discovered that the company waged an aggressive lobbying campaign, which included carefully targeted gifts and donations, to convince women's groups and members of Congress that generic forms of Premarin, lacking the "unique" estrogens found in horse urine, would be detrimental to women's health. These groups, in turn, repeated Wyeth's claims to the FDA. A new conjugated-estrogen drug, Duramed's Cenestin, was finally approved by the FDA in 1999, although not as a generic.

Wyeth-Ayerst's principal products include Premarin® (conjugated estrogens tablets, USP), Prempro and Premphase (conjugated estrogens/medroxyprogesterone acetate tablets), Effexor (venlafaxine hydrochloride tablets) and Effexor XR (venlafaxine HCl), Lodine (etodolac capsules and tablets), Ziac (bisoprolol fumarate/hydrochlorothiazide tablets), and Zosyn® (sterile piperacillin sodium/tazobactam sodium).

The organization includes Wyeth-Ayerst Laboratories, Wyeth-Ayerst International, Inc., Wyeth-Ayerst Research and Genetics Institute. Headquartered in suburban Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.

Commentary:

* "The notion that a substance derived from horse urine is 'natural' to the human female is simply a tribute to 50 years of successful advertising. ... Premarin is a combination of substances having estrogenic activity, but most of the compounds are foreign to the human female and not made by the human ovary. ... To replace the products of the human ovary, we should use compounds identical to those that are being secreted into the bloodstream from the ovary. These hormones are estradiol, estrone, and estriol, as well as progesterone." -- Phillip Warner, former director of the Menopause Institute of Northern California
* "Estraderm, which is a natural hormone, is my treatment of choice, but I also use Estrace. ... Premarin is a combination, as you know, of horse hormones. I have yet to figure out why any woman would need to be filled with horse hormones." -- Susan M. Haack, M.D., F.A.C.O.G., Williamsport, Pa.
* "As an OB-GYN, I am writing to inform you that I will no longer prescribe Premarin that is collected in such an inhumane manner." -- Bernardo A.G. Santamarina, M.D., Miami, Fla.
* "I am returning samples of Premarin which [the Wyeth-Ayerst] sales representative left at the Health Center for promotion. I recently became aware of the cruel and inhumane ways in which mares and foals are treated in order to manufacture Premarin. ... I¹m appalled that [Wyeth-Ayerst] would place such little value on living, sentient beings." -- Kathleen Adams, R.N., Chicago, Ill.

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