The Truehope Appeal - Is This A Big Deal?
The continuing battle between Truehope Nutritional Support and the rest of the World, as it would seem, continues to find new wrinkles in the pseudo-science as marketing scheme versus an old, out of date, tired and largely irrelevant Canadian Federal Government Department known as Health Canada.
Health Canada had charged Truehope with selling a drug product to the public prior to receiving a Drug Identification Number (DIN). Truehope was marketing a vitamin supplement known as EM Power in 2003, rather deliberately to the mentally ill community, at the time of a Health Canada raid on their Raymond premises. After a two-week trial in March of 2006, on July 28, 2006, Alberta Provincial Court Judge Gerald Meagher found that Truehope was not guilty of the charge on the basis of a defense of necessity. Truehope had argued that because some mentally ill people were reporting testimonial evidence of positive results with EM Power, they should be allowed to continue to sell the product despite the product not being approved for sale in Canada as a drug.
In the first week of October 2006, the news media in the Calgary area made a big deal about the fact that Health Canada had decided to abandon a possible appeal of the decision. In the opinion of Rainbow Investigations, this decision was inevitable, and is hardly newsworthy.
Health Canada did not have a strong case to appeal in this matter. A legal appeal can only be based on errors of the Judge, based on the presented evidence in the trail. New evidence cannot be introduced during an appeal.
Health Canada made a colossal error of strategic judgment when the organization chose, in its infinite wisdom, to not challenge Truehope during the trial on the necessity to continue to sell issue. As Rainbow Investigations reported in its last news story, Health Canada could have, and should have, to maintain some semblance of public credibility, challenged the weak scientific evidence presented at trial to justify the continued sale of EM Power. Health Canada should have, and certainly could have had very strong and credible experts testifying about the lack of scientific proof for the product, the defendants expert witnesses certainly should have been blasted about weaknesses in their testimony, and the non-scientific manner in which this product continues to be promoted and sold should have been addressed.
So there were certainly mistakes made during the trial of Truehope. But, by far the greatest mistake was made by Health Canada in its strategy; Judge Meagher made his decision based on what he heard.
In the last 8 weeks, Calgary has become flooded with pro-Truehope newspaper articles by well-known Calgary Sun conservative journalist Licia Corbella. Corbella has a long history of deep dislike for anybody employed by government. In Licia's world we would have no government bureaucrats, because Licia believes people can always sort it out among themselves better. The fact that some vulnerable people may be sold a "false set of expectations" does not enter into the picture, because Licia believes everything she hears, without question, right from the Truehope call center.
The articles began on August 20, 2006, where Corbella points out vague testimony provided at the trial about possible suicides if EM Power was to be denied to users. This information about possible suicides can only be described as fear mongering. There has never been any verifiable information available from a professional source, which would confirm that a suicide might have taken place because EM Power was not available. The information that was provided at the trial was simply hearsay information by the former Executive Director of the Alberta Division of the Canadian Mental Health Association. This witness is not a health professional, nor was he qualified as an expert to speak on the subject of causes or contributing factors leading to possible suicides. There was no direct evidence of any suicides because of EM Power not being available presented at this trial.
The August 20, 2006 article also goes provides completely out of context information about the testimony during the trial from a Calgary based compliance officer with Health Canada. Essentially the officer was quoted as saying that if he was given a document from an outside group with a vested interest that said "people were dying because of what Health Canada was doing", such as is the case with Truehope, the officer correctly said he would have to ignore the document because it is not policy or a directive.
Health Canada is a hierarchal organization, and certainly a compliance officer in Calgary has to follow directions from the top of the organization in Ottawa. If the officer followed instructions from every document received from special interest groups with an agenda, such as Truehope, not only would the officer not have a job, we would have government by special interest groups.
This particular article then concludes by providing contact information for ordering EM Power, making one wonder if Corbella is now on the Truehope payroll.
Further articles have appeared within the last two weeks, with the most recent one being October 15, 2006. This latest article tells the life story of the Stephan family in dramatic form, and then goes on, in very vague terms, how EM Power has apparently saved many, and how cold hearted Health Canada supposedly is.
Again, the point that Ms. Corbella chooses to ignore is that while there are people reporting positive benefits from EM Power, does this mean that this "treatment" should be marketed without any control to anybody who is mentally ill by the lay people in Raymond? Are there situations where prescription drug therapy is the best treatment and should be monitored by health professionals, or is EM Power the only answer to fit all mental illness? Are there examples where EM Power has not worked? Ms. Corbella may wish to research previous stories on Truehope written by the Ottawa Citizen.
Why is it that the rest of the psychiatric world and the scientific community have not embraced EM Power, if it in fact is all things to the mentally ill community?
So the bottom line in all this is the decision by Health Canada to not appeal the Truehope decision is not news. The mistake Health Canada made, and it was a huge mistake, was made with the strategy at the trial to not challenge the claims put forward by Truehope that they had continue to sell the product due to medical necessity.
Furthermore, it must be reiterated that while there are people who are reporting individual positive results with the supplement, treatment with EM Power remains very much an experimental treatment, which is not proven by scientific evidence. Until this scientific evidence becomes available, and clearly defines what conditions and what terms this supplement can be safely used, it should only be used with caution, and under the guidance of a health professional.
P.S. Rainbow Investigations would have liked to release this story a bit earlier, but we have been swamped with files in the past 6 weeks.
Date of Story: Wednesday, October 25, 2006
Story Posted By: Ron Reinhold
Source: Ron Reinhold
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