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    Better Business Bureau of Southern Alberta

    TrueHope Battle Wages On...

    The TrueHope battle of a southern Alberta company selling vitamins being promoted to cure mental illness largely was a media circus last week.

    Many media outlets have now covered the story to some degree, including CBC, Global News, and many newspapers. Some media reports have been better than others - we have pasted one from the Edmonton Journal which we feel is fair. We are hopeful more balanced articles will continue to come out in the near future.

    Article:

    Supporters of a nutritional supplement used to treat mental disorders failed to get a hearing in Ottawa this week.

    Nine women from across Canada, led by the daughter of the owner of the company that makes the Empowerplus supplement, spent two days sitting outside the Parliament Buildings in hopes of talking to Health Minister Anne McLellan or Prime Minister Jean Chretien.

    "She just basically brushed us off," said Autumn Stringam of Lethbridge,daughter of Truehope Nutritional Supplement Inc. founder Tony Stephan.

    The women called McLellan's office every day, she said. Stringam has taken the vitamin supplement for seven years and says it has helped her conquer bipolar disorder and got her off the five-drug cocktail she was taking before Empowerplus.

    The supplement is also sold as a treatment for schizophrenia, depression, autism and fibromyalgia.

    Health Canada last week issued an advisory cautioning people not to take it.

    The department shut down a research project on Empowerplus at the University of Calgary in early 2002 because it failed to meet federal standards for a clinical drug trial. The trial had been funded by a $544,000 Alberta government grant.

    Since that time, U of C psychologist Bonnie Kaplan has applied several times for federal approval of a clinical trial, but has been refused each time.

    "They are doing everything they can to block this research from coming forth," Stephan said in an interview Thursday.

    Truehope launched a lawsuit in May against Health Canada, which since April has been seizing shipments of the supplement, which is manufactured in the United States.

    For its part, Health Canada says it would welcome legitimate research on Empowerplus to settle the question of its effectiveness as a treatment for mental disorders.

    "There were clinical trials on Empowerplus going on at the University of Calgary that Health Canada found out about," said department spokesman Ryan Baker. "These trials were not approved by Health Canada."

    Baker said the department requires that trials on products classified as drugs meet certain standards.

    Researcher Kaplan has stopped speaking to the press, but issued a statement Thursday via e-mail:

    "The University of Calgary research has been very promising. While the participants in our research generally benefited mentally and remained healthy physically, the results are preliminary," she said.

    Kaplan has published several papers on the supplement's effects and hopes to publish another.

    Less enthusiastic about her research is Hamilton freelance health writer Marvin Ross, who has been tracking Truehope's activities for several years.

    Ross has just published a critical online book on the Truehope phenomenon,titled PigPills Inc. His Web site is www.pigpills.com.

    His co-authors are Kitchener physician Dr. Terry Polevoy, who runs several anti-scam Web sites, and private investigator Ron Reinhold, a former Health Canada investigator.

    Ross is troubled that a product is being sold to people with mental health problems before it's been proven to be safe.

    "Proof is a randomized, double-blind placebo trial," he said in an interview. Kaplan's research to date has been an open-label test, which means both doctor and patient know what the drug is, he said.

    "Kaplan's research is very, very, very preliminary," he said.

    Stephan and partner David Hardy developed Empowerplus based on a vitamin supplement that was given to pigs to stop ear-and-tail-biting syndrome. End of Article.

    TrueHope continues to try to do everything possible to dramatize that action against their company is an attack on the mentally ill.

    Over the past week TrueHope staged a media event by sending nine women to Ottawa to demonstrate on Parliament Hill. Department of Health officials wisely chose to not go along with the event, and declined to meet the protestors.

    The law suit, filed in Federal Court in Calgary has now had the Department of Justice, on behalf of the government, respond that they will oppose TrueHope's application for an injunction against Department of Health actions in seizing the product. TrueHope must now provide evidence to support the application by the end of June.

    So why does Rainbow Investigations follow this debate and get involved trying to promote the truth with the TrueHope crusade?

    We feel this is an uncontrolled scientific experiment, with very little, if any science to back it up. We feel this is largely a business operation, which is exploiting the mentally ill for business reasons.

    This next document, right here, is taken from the Friends of Freedom website, (www.friendsoffreedom.org), a supporter of TrueHope. It is a letter from Health Canada to the researcher at Children's Hospital, part of the University of Calgary. The letter is then faxed from the researcher to the owner of TrueHope.

    Note that the letter states there is no scientific basis for bipolar illness to be caused by a deficiency in any ingredient in, or the whole EM Power. The letter then goes on to mention the various deficiencies in the research.

    In our humble opionion, this letter says it all...

    Don't forget to read the TrueHope story at www.pigpills.com.

    Ron Reinhold

    Date of Story: Sunday, June 15, 2003
    Story Posted By: Ron Reinhold
    Source: Ron Reinhold/Edmonton Journal

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