Thursday, October 19, 2006

Sanity wins the day

Sanity wins the day
Cold and heartless bureaucracy abandons fight that became matter of life or death
By Licia Corbella
If necessity is the mother of invention, then few people had more of a necessity to invent -- or at least be open to invention -- than Tony Stephan.
On Jan. 29, 1994, like her father before her, his wife, Debora, the mother of Stephan's 10 children, killed herself after suffering for years with bi-polar disorder.
What's worse, two of their children were headed down the same path and despite being on almost maximum doses of traditional anti-psychotic medications, both were getting sicker and sicker.
In November of 1995, Stephan, who is now 53, from Magrath, Alberta, confided to an acquaintance from church, David Hardy, about his son Joseph's manic depression -- how violent the then 15-year-old boy became, to the point the family feared for their lives.
Stephan also mentioned his then 22-year-old married daughter Autumn Stringam was so suicidal -- despite the cocktail of dozens of anti-psychotic drugs she was on -- that when not in hospital she had to be on 24-hour adult supervision to ensure she didn't harm herself or her then three-year old son.
Hardy, a retired high school biology teacher, was then running a livestock supplement feed business in southern Alberta.
He told Stephan that Jo-seph's symptoms sounded remarkably like the pigs he saw that were suffering from ear-and-tail-biting syndrome -- in which hogs get so aggressive they attack one another, sometimes to the death.
All that was needed to calm the hogs down was a mixture of some 24 vitamins and minerals added to their feed.
Stephan was so desperate he said he would try anything.
So, the two men went to health food stores and put together a version of the pig supplement for human consumption.
In January of 1996, Stephan forced his psychotic son to start taking the vitamins and minerals.
Within days the violent teen was markedly better and within a month he was completely normal.
He is now a gentle husband and doting father of a three-month-old daughter.
"I have a great life now," says a joyful Joseph. "I think I'd be dead right now if it wasn't for Empowerplus."
The same happened with Autumn, who has since had three more children.
In more than 10 years, neither has ever had a relapse into madness.
Indeed, just this past summer, Autumn published a beautifully written book about her life of madness and journey to sanity in a gripping autobiography called These Painted Wings.
Having witnessed the remarkable transformations of his children, Stephan and Hardy knew they could not keep such a life-saving and life improving discovery to themselves.
They called their nutrient supplement Empowerplus and the support program and company to administer the supplement Truehope Nutritional Support.
By 2002, 3,000 Canadians were using the supplement, several peer-reviewed papers had been published reporting "significant" and "highly promising" results and psychologist Dr. Bonnie Kaplan, had started double-blind clinical trials at the University of Calgary, with a $500,000 grant from the Alberta government.
The product was being manufactured in the U.S. and shipped to Canadian customers.
But in 2003, Health Canada ordered Canada Customs to seize all shipments at the border.
It raided Truehope's office in southern Alberta and sent thousands of Canadian users into full panic mode. Many began smuggling the product over the border.
Others succumbed to despair and several suicides are attributed to the seizing of the product.
Because Empowerplus was a natural health product and not a drug, it was impossible to get a Drug Identification Number (DIN).
Nevertheless, Health Canada demanded that Empowerplus get a DIN, even though it knew the feds were working on a new law to accommodate natural health products.
On July 28, following a three-week criminal trial in Calgary, Alberta Provincial Court Judge Gerald Meagher found Truehope, Stephan and Hardy not guilty, ruling that the company was entitled to the "defence of necessity."
Judge Meagher said the expert testimony, particularly from Dr. Charles Popper, a Harvard Professor of Psychiatry, who "has most impressive qualifications" was "that if the supplement became unavailable, symptoms associated with de-pression and bi-polar disorder, which would include aggressive behaviour, assaults, hospitalizations and suicides, would return."
Judge Meagher ruled Stephan and Hardy could have "been at risk of criminal prosecution if they stopped providing the supplement and providing the support program.
"Claiming that they had to comply with a DIN regulation would not have provided them with any defence" against the much more serious charges of negligence causing death.
Initially, Health Canada and the Crown filed a notice that it would appeal Judge Meagher's ruling.
But on Oct. 10, they filed a Notice of Abandonment of Appeal.
So, it is both ironic and coincidental that "necessity" helped Stephan and Hardy create a product that has saved many and the necessity to save many became their defence from a cold and heartless bureaucracy.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Keep in mind the TrueHope fiasco was invented by LiarTerry Polevoy, RainbowRonnie Reinhold and MarvelousMarvin Ross. None of the materials publsihed by these Liars has any basis in fact. Health Canada should have checked their sources before engaging the RCMP to raid TrueHope's offices.

It is a criminal offence in Canada to make a bogus complaint and to act on it.

We can expect charges to laid against Polevoy, Reinhold and Ross.