Update 2014: there was a lot of fuss about this agent once (E.M. Powerplus, from Truehope.com). Some of that is reproduced below. Haven’t heard much lately. The once-hoped-for randomized trial never came off. So we’re stuck with testimonials and small case series. Hard to know what to make of this stuff with just that to go on. You can always find a good testimonial; and you’ll find some anti-testimonials too.
At minimum I think we can say, as of 12/2014, that the evidence for Truehope’s product is still very slim, but not entirely zero. Overall, it is still tempting to think there’s something going on here more than a placebo. We just still don’t know.
Here’s my old stuff, if you’re an archivist or something.
First, a press release regarding the July 2003 interruption of company operation by Health Canada. Then, two letters which preceded that event.
July 15, 2003. Health Canada investigators arrived at the Raymond Alberta headquarters of Truehope and Synergy with a search warrant listing the following charges:
1) Importation of a drug in violation of the Food and Drug Regulations
2) Sale of a drug that is misleading, deceptive, fraudulent
3) Sale of a drug in Contravention of Schedule A
4) Sale of a drug without a Drug Identification Number
5) Sale of a drug without a Notice of Compliance
The first is from Mr. Marvin Ross, a journalist, is in reply to myrequest for more information on why he’s pursued this topic with such intensity.
The second is a letter I received from Dan Stephan of TrueHope after posting Mr. Ross’s letter. Both of these letters will give you a sense of how intense and emotional this debate has become, and how we seem to be moving away from evidence toward personal attacks and defenses.
As I’ve told both parties, I’m trying to keep an open mind and wait for more evidence. I wish readers good luck in trying to evaluate what’s really going on here. Remember that old phrase about “follow the money?” The problem is, there seem to be money trails on each side, possibly? Here you go: please read Mr. Stephan’s letter as well as Mr. Ross’.
Mr. Ross, responding to my email request for his point of view:
Dear Dr. Phelps:
Thank you for responding to my e-mail. I would like to give you the long and the short answers to your question and to comment upon a couple of things that you said. Long Answer: this can be found in our book which is 250 pages, has 9 appendices and numerous links to websites and documents that you can access if you read the book on-line.
Short answer: I personally find it reprehensible and unethical for anyone to actively encourage people with severe psychiatric disorders like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder to go off proven medications and to suggest that they replace them with unproven compounds made of a mix of vitamins and minerals. This is happening and our book outlines many problems that have resulted from this.
I can even put you in touch with a family whose son with schizophrenia deteriorated into psychosis when he followed this regimine, who has been hospitalized a couple of times, stabilized with proper meds each and every time and who has had his Truehope sales person bring his vitamins to him in hospital. I may even be able to arrange for you to talk to his psychiatrist.
As another example, a physician just recently informed us that one of his bipolar patients was told by Truehope that lithium is far more addictive than either morphone or valium.
My involvement with all this began when, as a journalist and a member of the Schizophrenia Society of Ontario, I learned that a young man with schizophrenia had attempted suicide by following the Truehope regimen. Dr. Kaplan, who I interviewed shortly after this, was aware of that case. Journalists ask questions and if we are not satisfied by the answers then we ask more and keep digging. At each stage, the questions led to more confusion and interest.
I have presented our findings to staff at three hospitals/programs – The Hamilton Program for Schizophrenia early on in the research and then at the end of this past March to staff at the Royal Ottawa
Hospital and by video link to staff at the Brockville Psychiatric Hospital and to the psychiatric staff at the Ottawa General Hospital.
Staff at those institutions were not impressed with the Truehope program. I have also consulted with a number of senior psychiatrists with extensive research and clinical expertise on the research protocols used by Dr. Kaplan and they had concerns.
The pills themselves were analyzed and, in the batch that we sent to the lab, 16 of the 23 ingredients that could be found by the lab varied by between -30% and +70% of what is stated on the
The product that is being sold today by the Alberta people is not the same as was used in the research by Kaplan et al nor is it made by the same lab (to the best of our knowledge at the moment). Sorry that the short answer was longer than the long answer. I would also like to make a couple of observations on what you said.
You state that we are responsible for bringing this research to a halt. [Note in my email below that I wondered about motive, but not responsibility – JP ] We do not have that influence. The research was halted by scientists with the Health Protection Branch of Health Canada who found that what was going on at Calgary by Kaplan violated at least 11 sections of the Food and Drug Act of Canada.
We did not write the act nor did we make those interpretations. In fact, Health Canada first began investigating all this on June 6, 2000 according to the documents that we got under Freedom of Information. We did not know about this research until all the media hype which was in October 2000. We have full documentation on all of this.
We also did not make the determination by the Office for Human Research Protection in Washington about the Kaplan research that was done at Utah. They investigated and found that the Utah ethics board had turned down Dr. Ferre a number of times (which he freely disclosed to me when I interviewed him) because the research risks to the children outweighed any benefits to either those children in the study or to society as a whole. They also found that the informed consents did not adequately warn the participants of the potential dangers. Despite those rulings by the university, the research was done anyway.
You mention that money is probably motivating Truehope and wonder about Kaplan and me and my colleagues. I have no idea what Kaplan’s motivation is but while money is and always has been a great motivator, it is not the only motivator. I very much doubt if you spend all the time on the internet that you do providing people with good information about psychiatric disorders simply for the revenue that it might bring to you.
I hope this answers your doubts and that it motivates you to read what we have written. I am more than happy to talk to you and to provide you with whatever information you need to make an informed decision about all this.
I do think you should read what we had to say and if you are not convinced then I would be more than happy to hear your concerns.
(Here is my email which prompted the above reply, followed by Dan Stephan’s response to Marvin)
From: Jim Phelps
To: ‘marvin ross’
Sent: Tuesday, April 15, 2003 12:29 AM
Subject: RE: Truehope/Synergy
Got your message. I confess the energy y’all have devoted to this raises my ears regarding “why so much energy devoted to this?”, just as much as the TrueHope people’s rhetoric does. Feel free to comment on what has made you and the team so inclined to bring a halt to the investigation of this compound, it’s origin and promotion notwithstanding. As an outsider to all this, for the most part, I’m still baffled by the energy on both sides (less about their side mind you, as in that case there’s money to explain it, except for Kaplan and company – where so far I don’t see what they have to gain from making the compound into something it isn’t.
Enlighten me there if you’re able.
Jim Phelps, M.D.
Dan Stephan wrote, in April 2003:
Dear Dr Phelps,
I have read with interest, some questions and concerns that were directed to Marvin Ross ( pigpills.com) regarding Truehope whom he knows very little actual truth about. I don’t normally respond to these kinds of questions however I will to simply clarify some issues. Marvin claims that he nor his group( pigpills.com) have not influenced or had anything to do with any research being shut down at the University of Calgary. This is absolutely false! Marvin Mentions the ATI or or Freedom of Information file that he received from Health Canada with TRUEHOPE permission. Well over 100 pages of this file are missing with the explanation from Health Canada that these pages are classified, etc.
On page 000453 of the ATI ( Access to Information) file that Marvin speaks of you will see an email from a top Health Canada Compliance officer/Investigator regarding Marvin Ross and his TRUE involvement and influence on Health Canada to shut down studies at Universities.
(Please note that this is a quote and not the entire email)
This email was dated 10/15/01 – 12:35 pm
From Joan Korol
To (Various Health Canada Officials)
Subject Re: Synergy for follow up
“We still may have to deal with other Canadian Studies from other universities if they are ongoing. Should we follow up with MARVIN ROSS on the information he may have regarding possible other clinical studies? Each study should have previously been approved by HC and none have been to date. If the studies are American, then follow up with the FDA could be pursued.”
The next quote is of a particular interest, as it proves that Health Canada acknowledges that EM Power plus is helping patients.
Perhaps we should request a look out to see if product is coming to other universities. We don’t necessarily want to the product stopped at customs(patients would need their medication) but it might be good to know where/(if) the product is coming into. What do you think?”
A recent presentation was given by Marvin Ross held on March/ 26/ 2003 at the local Ottawa Chapter of The Schizophrenic Society of Ontario (SSO). Marvin was introduced to the 150 person crowd The following companies were thanked for providing all expenses and the trip for Marvin to come and present a 100% anti-Truehope PowerPoint presentation . This was the sole purpose of this trip. These were the companies involved….. Jansen/Lilly ( Jansen Pharmaceuticals/ Eli Lilly Pharmaceuticals). My question is….. Why is PHARMA paying for Marvin to come and put on anti Truehope presentations that have Very little if any actual fact behind them? Why is Marvin mentioned in the above email as a person to contact for Truehope investigational purposes? What is Marvin’s Real agenda and is anyone or any groups motivating Marvin to do this Full time? I thought Marvin was a journalist. Is this not biased info?
Why have Marvin and Dr Terry POLEVOY from Pigpills.com and health watcher.net contacted EVERY and I mean EVERY Government agency, media outlet, university researchers involved, Ethics committees, mental health groups showing interest in Truehope to defame/slander and even scare them from doing research or getting involved?
Why did Marvin tell the University of Calgary that he was going to do EVERYTHING IN HIS POWER to shut down this research?
Why is Marvin completely against empower plus being researched at all?
Why and how does Marvin Ross and the Pigpills.com team afford and find the time to come all the way down to Southern Alberta and take pictures of the Truehope support center which can be seen on the front page of Pigpills.com?
Why have they done complete background checks on the founders of Truehope? This stuff costs money? Where did they find the time and money to produce a huge whopping 252 page book with very little truth once again on Truehope?
Is Marvin insured sufficiently to handle a major suit from various credible sources and institutions that he has defamed, slandered, belittled and insinuated towards in his book?
We at Truehope admit that our company and things that have been said have not always been perfect. We also admit that we could do better in some areas and we continue to restructure our group to get to that point, but why should EM Power plus not have a shot at research just like all the other drugs out there? Why will Health Canada refuse to provide any negative grounds for continuing research? Why does Health Canada refuse to talk with Truehope Officials? What’s going on here?
I’m sure you will make your own conclusion to this info.
If you would like some intelligent answers with backing, please feel free to call and discuss with us or the researchers involved.
A. Daniel Stephan
Executive Assistant – Anthony Stephan (Co – Founder) Truehope Nutritional Support Ltd.
Tel – (403) 752-4451 Ext 114
Fax- 1-888-752-7212 (
Attention: Dan Stephan)
Email – [email protected]
website – www.truehope.com