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October 16, 2003

Ohio Company Selling "Miraculous" Heart Drops Pays $35,000 in Refunds to Iowans

"Dr. Knoll Products, Inc." sold so-called health remedies again in Iowa after being banned from misleading health ads here in the 1990s.

DES MOINES.   Attorney General Tom Miller said today that Dr. Knoll Products, Inc., a Canfield, Ohio, mail-order seller of supposed health remedies, is paying a total of $35,110.43 to 288 Iowans who bought Dr. Knoll products since 2001.

"We discovered that the company started selling their products in Iowa again in 2001, even though we obtained a court order in 1991 prohibiting them from advertising or selling their products in Iowa unless they could document their extraordinary claims for the products," Miller said.

Miller said the company's doing business in Iowa again came to light when a Des Moines resident complained that Dr. Knoll Products had not provided a refund of $169.95 the man requested for "Strauss Heart Drops." The Consumer Protection Division recognized that Dr. Knoll Products had been the subject of a lawsuit and court order in the 1990s.

"We don't look kindly on companies ignoring court orders to stay out of Iowa," Miller said. He said the company admitted it had started marketing to Iowans again some time in 2001.

The Strauss Heart Drops were touted to be an "earth-shattering effective Healthy Heart Breakthrough Formula" that lifted Mr. Strauss himself "up from a desperate, hopeless heart condition . . . to a person with endless youthful vitality and never-ending powerful energy at his advanced age." An ad claimed "miraculous effects" on plugged arteries, aneurysms, and strokes.

Dr. Knoll Products, Inc. was required to mail checks to 288 Iowans between October 5 and October 15. Refunds range from $59.95 to $696.45. Consumers do not have to return products. The company provided Miller's Office with a customer list of Iowa purchasers, and the Consumer Protection Division will monitor the refund process.

Dr. Knoll Products also paid a civil penalty of $1000. If consumers have died or cannot be located, their refund amounts will go to the State and be considered an additional civil penalty. The defendants also paid $10,000 to the State in 1992 as a result of the legal action at that time.

Most refunds are for $59.95, the price of a 1.6 fluid ounce bottle of Strauss Heart Drops. Ingredients listed on the Heart Drops include garlic oil, cayenne pepper, bilberry, motherwort, hawthorn berries, hawthorn leaves, white willow bark, and fruit alcohol.

"Bogus cures and misleading health claims are a perennial problem," Miller said. "Many products don't measure up to their claims, and vast amounts of money are spent on worthless remedies. Even worse, people sometimes ignore good advice from their doctors or switch from useful treatments to useless products because of misleading claims. The more dramatic the claim, the more careful the consumer should be," he said.

Miller said some marketers have been required to insert a disclaimer in their ads, "NOT AVAILABLE IN IOWA," when they advertise in national tabloids or other ads that appear in Iowa.

Under terms of the 1991 court order, Dr. Knoll Products, Inc. was required to insert such a disclaimer in any ads that appeared in Iowa, and not to take orders from Iowans, unless the company could substantiate the health claims made in their promotions.

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