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For immediate release -- Wednesday, March 12, 2003.

Contact Bob Brammer - 515-281-6699.

Court Prohibits Sales by "Pet Medicine Chest" -- and Imposes $1.2 Million Penalty

Judge cites "direct and intentional disregard" of earlier injunction.
Attorney General's suit alleged that the western Iowa business makes false claims and uses unapproved ingredients in Internet sale of pet medicines and supplements.

Harrison County District Court Judge G.C. Abel has issued a permanent injunction barring any further activity in promoting or selling pet medicines or pet food supplements by a Western Iowa business called "Pet Medicine Chest" based in rural Logan, Iowa.

The Judge also assessed a $1.2 million civil penalty for violations of the Consumer Fraud Act -- noting that a preliminary injunction was issued last year but the defendants "have continued their operations as though no injunction was in place." The business sells pet products via the Internet.

Attorney General Tom Miller said the permanent injunction order results from a lawsuit filed in May 2002 by the Farm Division of his office alleging that the "Pet Medicine Chest" business uses false and misleading claims about the health benefits of their pet medicines and food supplements sold over the 'Net, and uses unapproved ingredients in their products. In June the Court found that the company had made numerous health claims for its products that were untrue, and issued a preliminary injunction. A hearing on a permanent injunction was held Feb. 13.

Citing "direct and intentional disregard" of the earlier injunction, Judge Abel assessed a civil penalty of $1,240,000 against Pet Medicine Chest and Rose Grady, founder and owner of the business. Abel's order said the penalty represented the maximum penalty of $40,000 per violation multiplied by 31 marketing e-mails sent since last June by the defendants to the Attorney General's Farm Division, which had registered at the Pet Medicine Chest website last summer.

Grady represented herself at the Feb. 13 hearing. "The court concludes that Defendant Rose Grady was consistently evasive and disingenuous in her testimony," Abel's order said.

The Attorney General's Office said it will consider contempt-of-court proceedings if the defendants defy Judge Abel's order.

Abel's order was filed March 6 in Harrison County and received yesterday by the Attorney General's Office.

Background:

In its preliminary injunction order issued last June, the Court found that Pet Medicine Chest had made numerous claims and assertions that were not true, including that the company's product "Arthritiseze" will rebuild good fiber in dog ligaments and joints; that commercial dog food is not wholesome good nutritional food; that veterinary drugs mask pet health problems and do not cure pet health problems; and that Pet Medicine Chest's product "Hemotox" will remove toxins from a dog's body.

"Pet Medicine Chest" operated with related entities including Canine Medicine Chest, Feline Medicine Chest, and Avian Medicine Chest. Customers could be from anywhere in the country.

The State's May 2002 lawsuit alleged that the defendants made numerous false and misleading assertions and claims, and that the defendants failed to inform purchasers that none of their products are approved by the FDA or the Iowa Department of Agriculture & Land Stewardship.

At its home page, Pet Medicine Chest had said, "Welcome to the first company in America to offer herbal remedies for birds, cats, dogs and rabbits." The defendants' materials sometimes disparaged conventional treatments, such as indicating that veterinary drugs are toxic to animals.

The web site included sections on helping dogs suffering from arthritis, stress, and tumors, for example. Products recommended for arthritic conditions in dogs included Arthritiseze ($25 for 20 oz., or $55 for 80 oz.), Hemotox ($18 for 1 oz., $52 for 4 oz.), Metaltox (same price), Systemajuv ($18 for 1 oz., $62 for 4 oz.), ProBac Adult ($20 for 2.5 oz., $40 for 20 oz.), and Concentrated Trace Minerals ($22 for 1 oz., $52 for 4 oz.)

Many of the same products were recommended for other conditions and maladies, and for other species such as cats and birds and rabbits. Most of the products would be added to the animals' food or administered in drops.

The lawsuit said Iowa Dept. of Agriculture inspectors submitted samples of Pet Medicine Chest products for analysis by the State laboratory. The analyses revealed inconsistencies between labeling information and the actual quantities of ingredients, and revealed unapproved feed ingredients both on the labels and in the samples. The Ag Dept. advised the defendants about the problems and ordered them to cease any further product sales, but sales continued, the suit alleged.

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