Synergy Group - True Hope or True Hype?
EVALUATING TONY STEPHAN, TRUEHOPE, AND THE SYNERGY GROUP OF CANADA
Tony Stephan and the folks from Synergy & Truehope want everyone to
believe their mission is to provide support, advocacy and research on
behalf of the
mentally ill. He claims benevolent motivation, and a desire to help
people who are vulnerable and suffering from potentially
life-threatening psychiatric disorders. He also claims that participants
are under medical supervision.
"Late in 2000, Tony Stephan's son Dan, in the course of selling their
unapproved investigational drug E M Power+ to an undercover Health
Canada inspector, mentioned that the Synergy Group of Canada *only*
12 cents profit per capsule of E M Power+...
Well folks, that works out to roughly $53 per bottle: each bottle
contains 448 capsules, which means Synergy is pigging out with a
whopping profit and markup.
$15 worth of god-knows-what kind of dietary supplement/drug/miracle
$53 profit for Tony Stephan & his family & associates.
But of course they aren't in it for the money....
People considering E.M. Power+ deserve honest and thoughtful answers to
their questions, and we're sure Synergy and Truehope would agree.
WHO ARE THEY?
Obviously you want to know who you're dealing with.
THE SYNERGY GROUP OF CANADA:
There seems to be a lot of confusion about the status of this corporation.
For some reason, principle researcher Bonnie Kaplan thinks it's a charity:
"She emphasized no one at the University of Calgary was profiting from
the sales, that Synergy is a charitable organization, and that if the
company had decided to sell the supplement over the counter it could
make a great deal more money."
And Dr. Chris Gorman, a co-investigator, suffers from this same confusion:
"Contracts are in place so that the scientists and clinicians cannot
earn money from its sale; indeed, the developers have set up a
non-profit institute so that most of their income will eventually
support safe houses for the mentally ill."
[Jan/Feb 2001 Vancouver BC Mood Disorders Newsletter]
Maria Cook, Hog Supplement Helps Humans, the Ottawa Citizen, 5 June 2000:
"Mr. Hardy and Mr. Stephan's non-profit company, Synergy Group of Canada."
Sharon Malvern, Pig-Calming... the Beacon Herald, October 2000:
"...through Mr. Hardy and Mr. Stephan's non medical, non-profit research
group,The Synergy Group Of Canada Inc."
This is not correct. The Synergy Group of Canada was incorporated on 25
May 1996 as a named Alberta corporation -- for profit -- Corporate
Access Number 206972291. The company's 2 directors and shareholders are
David L. Hardy and Anthony F. Stephan, and it's never changed right up
until today. Anybody can get this information from the Alberta Corporate
We still don't understand why Stephan & Hardy listed the Synergy Group
of Canada as a water-cooler vendor with the Canadian Business Index.
There isn't anything wrong with being a for-profit company, but it seems
like a company in the business of helping people would want a reputation
for honesty, no?
Fastforward to July 2001: Now Stephan & Co. tell us in their legal
"The Truehope Institute Inc. is a benevolent group dedicated to
assisting the mentally ill and their families. Application has been made
for the Institute to act as a charitable non-profit organization."
That's a start, but in Canada a non-profit and a charity are two legally
distinct entities. What did they apply for? And when? Why the confusion?
Anyway, Canada Customs and Revenue Agency never got an application
from The Truehope Institute for either status that we could find when we
But they did come through. On 29 October 2001, Truehope Nutritional
Support Ltd. was incorporated in Alberta as a private non-profit
company. The two directors are David Hardy and Anthony Stephan, and Tony
was nice enough to post this information on the forum at truehope.com
along with the registration number.
On 28 June 2002, this was posted on the truehope.com web site:
We are a U.S. charitable, tax exempt
[501(C) (3)] company. All donations to us
are tax-deductible in the United States.
Our mandate as a non-profit group is to:
* Advance research into natural treatments for
* Provide public education on mental health
* Give qualified financial support for natural
treatments to those struggling with mental
* Provide relief to the mentally distressed"
In their updated Legal Disclaimer, they claim:
"Truehope Institute a non-profit, publicly supported charitable
organization dedicated to assisting the mentally ill and their families."
Well, this isn't correct either. A (501) (C) 3 corporation is a non-profit
organization, not a charity, and according to the Internal Revenue
Service, it must:
- - be registered in 1 or more states in the US
- - a Canadian corporation cannot do this unless it has a US location
that controls the
Well? What State are they registered in and what is their IRS number?
They don't say and the IRS could not find them on its database.
Who are we dealing with here? Synergy? Truehope? Another mystery entity
like the "Truehope Support Center"?
If you were going to trust your health and welfare to Stephan and his
benevolent crew of pig pill boosters, wouldn't it be nice if anyone
could figure out who the hell they are?
WHY THE BIG MYSTERY? WHY DOESN'T ANYTHING CHECK OUT?
Stephan & Hardy and their Truehope Assistants -- and let's not forget
Barb Kovac, David Hardy's sister, who runs Truehope American Synergy
LLC, the US pig pill pit-stop -- would be, according to our calculations, in a position to collect MILLIONS OF DOLLARS on the sales of E.M. Power+ through its associates and direct orders from the manufacturer(s), and some doctors who sell the products from their web sites, or arrange for the sale through their offices.
Health Canada wrote Tony Stephan for the first time on 20 October 2000
and told him he could not conduct *research* with E.M. Power+ without an
approved Investigational New Drug application, and he could not sell it
without obtaining prior authorization. In other words, cease and desist.
Tony & the Synergy Group of Canada must be taking too many of their
*nutritional supplements* because this is part of their explanatory note
included in our ATIP from Health Canada:
"Synergy states that the products referred to in this letter were
manufactured in the United States and are imported into Canada pursuant
to the PUED or Personal Use Enforcement Directive. Synergy does not own
the intellectual property rights in these products.
Synergy does not own or operate the Truehope web site. The server that
supports this web site is located in the United States . Synergy and
Truehope are not interrelated corporations nor do they have any sort of
[notes to pp. 79-80]
Synergy doesn't own the intellectual rights to E M Power?
Give us a break.
The web site:
Domain registrars are public access databases, one of which makes
Synergy look less than benevolent.
The INTERNIC Registration:
The Synergy Group of Canada Inc. (TRUEHOPE2-DOM)
Cardston, Alberta T0K-0K0
Domain Name: TRUEHOPE.COM
F., Stephan Anthony (SAF39) truehope@TELUSPLANET.NET
The Synergy Group of Canada Inc.
Cardston, Al T0K-0K0
403-653-3336 (FAX) 403-653-2654
ValueWeb (HOS237-ORG) hostmaster@VALUEWEB.NET
3250 West Commercial Blvd. #200
Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33309
954-334-8000 fax: - - - 954-334-8001
Record expires on 14-Mar-2003.
Record created on 14-Mar-1998.
Database last updated on 2-Jul-2002 20:01:51 EDT.
The rest of the information is accessible at their registrar, Network
A mis-statement? An error?
The bit about the server being located in the United States is pretty
funny actually. Duh..
Now, how can Synergy and Truehope have no interrelations if Tony Stephan
& David Hardy are the co-directors and shareholders for BOTH The Synergy
Group of Canada AND Truehope Nutritional Support Ltd.
This, you must admit, is a rather difficult situation to be mistaken about.
Presumably they cannot misquote themselves.
Clearly they didn't obey the directive of Health Canada, because they
got another one on 21 April 2001 Again
Health Canada ordered Synergy
to stop selling E.M. Power+.