Report: #426113

Complaint Review: Helen Foundation

  • Submitted: Thu, February 19, 2009
  • Updated: Thu, October 29, 2015
  • Reported By: Tucson, Arizona
  • Helen Foundation
    Phoenix, Arizona

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I am really disapointed in my adventure into the world of crime and rip offs. I was home and I call a Dr..... they asked me if I heard of the Helen foundation. Well, that's how it started. They came to my home, signed me up. I only get to use one Dr. in Tucson. Dr. Petronella and he gave me steriods. I couldn't take them. And 4700.00 out of my pocket and I am in pain from the loss but mostly in pain from the Fibromyalgia they said they could help. 3 Dr.'s visits, money is gone and no one can help me. What kind of world do we live in.

Tucson,, Arizona

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This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 02/19/2009 01:10 PM and is a permanent record located here: The posting time indicated is Arizona local time. Arizona does not observe daylight savings so the post time may be Mountain or Pacific depending on the time of year. Ripoff Report has an exclusive license to this report. It may not be copied without the written permission of Ripoff Report. READ: Foreign websites steal our content

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#1 UPDATE EX-employee responds

Microdose Therapy is amazing

AUTHOR: Bananasfibro - (USA)

Microdose therapy changed my life and it breakes my heart whenever I read things like these reports.  I am sure that there were people that didn't get the results they wanted.  It happens.  That is why there is only an 80% success rate and not 100% success rate.  I read about the exemployee that wrote everything under the sun about Helen Foundation and Dr. Stenberg, however what I found when I looked into it myself that you had an angry child that tried to embezzel from the company.  You can find the criminal record here.

So when reading things that have nothing to do with the company or it's program you have to remember that out of thousands of people helped there are exactly 5 complaints.  Then there are two complaints from an ex-employee that is now a felon becasue of her actions.  I encourage anyone reading this to look into the program yourself.  Talk with your physcian.  Talk to someone who matters to your heath rather than reading a few bad reviews on the internet.  

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#2 General Comment

There was NO REFUND!

AUTHOR: DebbieG - (USA)

There was NO REFUND! You such a Liar!  Wow!  I can’t believe how much you lie!  I did not “receive a refund.”  The money that was returned to me was the amount reserved for entering the 2nd phase of the program.  For only 10 days on the drug, you kept $5,545 and returned only $1,950!  There is NO mention of any refund in your paperwork.  This is another lie.  If you did honor refunds, I certainly would have qualified for the majority of the money I sent you.    I tried to talk to someone after I withdraw but no one would talk to me.  Debbie & Ernesto stopped communicating.  Then I received a letter snail mail with a rather insulting remark.  As far as your numbers of my “improvement,” the symptoms improved after I stopped taking the medication which came under the advice of 3 doctors including the one you sent me to!  You don’t get to take credit for my body recovering from overdosing.  My two doctors were so very upset. Both said YOU ARE A “PREDATOR PREYING OFF VULNERABLE PEOPLE IN PAIN.”  I see that you are still prey on people with PD, MS, RA, OA among others. 

I did file a complaint to the BBB but the BBB was a waste of time.  They send the complaint to Helens, Stenberg responded by rambling about the dosage as if it came out of a PDR.  His reply was rather cold & careless.  He doesn’t understand that people can have serious adverse reactions or even die as a result of using the drug even if they used it at the recommend dosage.  Why? He is just a chemistry & math professor not a doctor!   The BBB did nothing nor can they. Their website does NOT accurately reflect the number of all the filed complaints & consumer reviews.  I know this for a fact!  My complaint was not “resolved” nor was it ruled “without merit.”  Again, a lie.  So please look it up on the BBB website.   It states “closed.”   My customer review also was never posted.  Having a BBB “A+” rating means nothing.  They have erased prior complaints & have “closed” cases that weren’t.  They wrote to me that if an agreement wasn’t reached in 30 days they will consider the case “closed” regardless.  They have no credibility!   The reason why you don’t see many complaints is after being taken advantage like this when you are so desperate & in so much pain, you are so upset with yourself and sick to your stomach for doing something so stupid that the last thing you want to do is to write about it.  There is no one really to look into these complaints & violations.  We have to get the word out to others about people like you who prey on sick people.  Maybe an attorney will come forward to start a class action law suit. I hope so.   I don’t know how they can sleep at night. There will come a time that all of this will catch up with them.  Maybe not in this life but in another.         

No, I didn’t insist all the money be returned. You know that Stenberg!  Again, why are you lying?  I don’t believe that you should have kept $5,545 which included a childish “digital tracking system” for $995.  It’s funny, because as soon as I withdrew from your program, Debbie started to send me all these graphs.  Why?  I already withdrew!  That “tracking system” was to follow my symptoms the entire time I was to be in the program of several months!  The graphs have a red line, blue line & yellow line.  It’s something you can do with a crayon.  Then there is $900 for a 50 item food allergy test from a lab that tests animals!  Animals!  I do believe I should have received a portion of the “microdose shower” since I took the drug only for 10 days not 7 weeks as your paperwork states.  

Dr. Kell was listed on your website with supporting comments.  Dr. Kell’s license was REVOKED in two states for felony conspiracy to defraud the state, one count felony Medicaid fraud, felony false writings & felony tax evasion. He is an associate of you & your practice!  Birds of a feather flock together.  He lied to defraud Medicaid, the state, the patient & the government.  Sounds very similar to your actions in the private sector!!!!   You ramble on about "improvements" and "2,020 patients and two university studies" but it is a bunch of baloney.   As far as I see, there are 2,020 patients who have been taken advantage of by a predator.   Also, you are taking advantage of a high people get from steroids.  That high eventually wears off after several months.  That is also how long your program is.  

So beware! They want their money and a signed contract up front before determining if you are even qualified or able to safely take the Hydro-cortisone.  Even if you are Medically Disqualified from entering the program by a local doctor due to a condition you will only get back a small portion of the $7495 you paid to enroll in the program.  You will also NOT be told which doctor you’re going to be seeing or where he/she is located at until after you them all the money up front!  

For more information & postings please visit WebMD Fibromyalgia Community “Microdose Therapy Experience” & “Use Caution with Microdose Therapy.”  There is another ripoff complaint from an employee under “Virgil Stenberg” where he didn’t pay his employee her salary & that Debbie is not a registered nurse but an LPN.  This employee saw how the scam was played with Stenberg & office staff.   It sounds like Stenberg is pulling a Dr. Kell by paying people under the table and other efforts to avoid paying taxes.  SOUNDS LIKE FRAUD TO ME!  Vigil Stenberg, did you pay that poor girl the money you owe her!  Take care of your employees!  Pay your taxes & be a responsible citizen!  Did you refund the money to the couple that is $6,995.00?  They maxing out their credit cards & added their life savings to treat my husband's Parkinson's disease?  You said you would “REFUND” people if they didn’t receive any benefit.  Well put your money where your mouth is!  Wow, they had to drive a 328 miles round trip for treatment.  See, they won’t tell you where your doctor will be.  Their doctor quit Stenberg’s program.  He probably realized that this too was a scam and didn’t want part of it!  So what does that tell you?  

On the Fibromyalgia Network there is a consumer alert on “Low or Micro Dose Hydrocortisone Therapy.”  “There is no published evidence that low dose Hydrocortisone Therapy works for relieving symptoms…”   So be cautious when you are reading anything related to Helen Foundation, Vigil Stenberg & Microdosing Therapy.   IT’S A SCAM!    If you want to try Cortisol/Hydrocortisone for your condition ask your doctor.  You do not, not, not need to spend $7500.00.  In regards to the testimonies on their website or Facebook page, I would be very careful.  It is a business and he wants your money. Remember, there is no agency investigating these complaints.  I can see that some of these complaints & posting are missing online.   “Please Refund Us” that won’t load and they are some posts on WebMD that are missing.  The Helen Foundation only cares about taking your money from you.      IT’S A SCAM!


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#3 REBUTTAL Owner of company

SwiftSCW I will attend to the matter immediately

AUTHOR: Virgil Stenberg - (USA)

I apologize for the communication with the Helen Foundation.  Please email me at with your name and dates using Microdose Therapy.     I will review the matter immediately and get back to you.  I will need your name to locate your records in our office.  I look forward to your reply.

Kindest regards,

Virgil I. Stenberg 

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#4 REBUTTAL Owner of company

Microdose Therapy is the Lowest of Effective Treatments

AUTHOR: Virgil Stenberg - (USA)

Yes, synthetic prednisone and its parent hydrocortisone are low cost generics.

Children write notes to each other using a pen.  Einstein wrote E = MC2 using a pen.    Is the difference in importance due the pen used?

Through our discovery of the inflammation control system of the body and the defect within it that allows short-term, beneficial inflammation to evolve into long-term, destructive inflammation, we designed a defect solution using hydrocortisone to control corticosteroid-responding diseases without triggering hydrocortisone’s side effects.  See Stenberg VI, Bouley MG et al. Negative endocrine control system for inflammation in rats. Agents and Actions. 1990; 29: 189-195 and Stenberg VI, Fiechtner JJ et al. Endocrine control of inflammation Rheumatoid Arthritis double-blind, crossover clinical trial. International Journal of Clinical Pharmacology Research. 1992; 12(1): 11-18.

The defect solution was given the name Microdose Therapy.  In implementation, patients are taught when, how much and for what reasons to use hydrocortisone to avoid its side effects yet retain its efficacy.   The solution requires a 16-week patient education/application/disease monitoring course that has the cost of a university course. 


The cost of the one-time education course amortized over 10 years with low cost hydrocortisone is the lowest of all popular treatments.  Note the biologics cost from $1,000 to$3,000 per month.  Celebrex costs over $1,000 for one year use and $10,000 for ten years of use.

Our double-blind clinical trial was on a demonstration corticosteroid-responding disease, rheumatoid arthritis.  The FDA recommendation for cortisol use on corticosteroid-responding diseases has been issued that is fully compliant with the protocol of Microdose Therapy.   No more clinical trials are needed.

Two thousand and twenty patients with 39 corticosteroid-responding diseases in our more recent study  averaged 76% symptom improvement-- two to three times better than standard treatments.  The success rate was 83%. 

A foundation is required to promote a generic medicine.  No one else would do it.  People can now try Microdose Therapy for three weeks for $500.  If unsuccessful, $350 is refunded.














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#5 REBUTTAL Owner of company

DebbieG Received a Refund

AUTHOR: Virgil Stenberg - (USA)



On her enrollment form for Microdose Therapy, DebbieG explained “I was diagnosed with a variety of conditions by many doctors in California and Florida during the past 13+ years.”  Because of its cost, usually patients who enroll in Microdose Therapy have failed to find satisfactory symptom improvement using popular, conventional treatments. 


Each patient reviews signs a contract that defines Microdose Therapy, its success rate, and the money refunded if a patient discontinues within the 16-week education program.  


At the end of the first three weeks of the 16-week, one-time education program for rest-of-life cortisone use, DebbieG rated her fibromyalgia symptoms improved by 18%; back pain by 21%, migraine by 7%, and chronic fatigue syndrome by 32%.   These figures are determined by having patients use the 0 – 10 scale symptom-by-symptom.


The Helen Foundation recommended DebbieG continue throughout the remaining weeks of the Microdose Therapy program anticipating further improvement based upon past experience. 


However, DebbieG was dissatisfied and withdrew from the program. DebbieG was refunded the amount defined by the provisions of the contract. 


DebbieG insisted that all money paid be returned to her.


DebbieG brought her complaint to the Arizona Better Business Bureau.  Upon reviewing her complaint and the Helen Foundation’s rebuttal, the BBB ruled the complaint was without merit.


Dr. Kell was not the physician attending DebbieG.  His loss of license was related to another independent, important matter.  The commercial laboratory performing the laboratory analysis has two divisions: human and animal.


To the present, two thousand and twenty patients have successfully completed the 16-week, one-time education program for rest-of-life cortisone use.  The overall average symptom improvement for the 2,020 patients is 76%.  An additional 414 failed to get satisfactory response for an 83% success rate.


The Helen Foundation retains an A+ credit rating with the Better Business Bureau after offering Microdose Therapy to the public since the year 2,000.  The Helen Foundation promotes the FDA recommendation for cortisone use (Microdose Therapy) to health professionals, patients, medical insurance companies, and governmental health agencies; supplies technology; recommends customized dosages; educates patients for hydrocortisone self-administration; and monitors patient outcome because cortisone is generic. 

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#6 REBUTTAL Owner of company

Diana had a guarantee

AUTHOR: Virgil Stenberg - (USA)


Helen Foundation promotes the FDA recommended use of cortisone for cortisone-responding diseases.  In application, patients are taught when, how much and for what reasons to use cortisone tablets for disease control, i.e., use it one the bad days and not on the good ones.  When used in this way patients use so little that cortisone’s side effects are avoided (Microdose Therapy).  The success of Microdose Therapy is dependent upon patient compliance to the principles taught during the 16-week education course.

Physicians of each community perform the medical exams and monitoring.  The Helen Foundation assists by providing the technology and patient education. 

Two thousand and twenty patients have successfully completed the 16-week, one-time education program for rest-of-life use.  The overall average symptom improvement for the 2,020 patients is 76%.  An additional 400 failed to get satisfactory response for an 83% success rate. 

Because of cost, patients enroll in Microdose Therapy only after failing to find satisfactory symptom improvement using popular conventional treatments.   

Each patient signs a contract that defines the treatment, its success rate, and the money refunded if a patient discontinues during the 16-week instruction period.  If Diana could not take cortisone tablets, she would have withdrawn early and was eligible for refund of most of her money paid by the contract.  If she received no symptom improvement during the first three weeks, she was eligible to receive a lessor but substantial refund by the contract.  Diana completed the 16-week education program because she used all three physician exams. 

The Helen Foundation has an A+ credit rating with the Better Business Bureau after offering Microdose Therapy to the public since the year 2,000.







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#7 REBUTTAL Owner of company

Microdose Therapy has given my life back

AUTHOR: Virgil Stenberg - (USA)


My husband used to have to help me up after sitting down and hold on to me until I took the first few steps.  It was painful to do everything.  It was even very painful to sleep.  We attended a seminar at Helen Foundation about a treatment for fibromyalgia—Microdose  Therapy.  This program claimed to provide  83% of patients 77% average symptom relief.  These results are accomplished using the FDA-recommended way of using hydrocortisone, that is, patient self-administration.  So, I decided to try it!  I was amazed how fast I got relief.  Within three weeks, I got to the point where I no longer needed to take my narcotic pain medicine.  Now, I am able to walk and stand up straight without help.  I can ride my bicycle, hike four miles in the desert, and climb mountains.  I get up from sitting without my husband’s help.  My attitude greatly improved.  My husband describes Microdose Therapy as the best kept secret people need.  For me, Microdose Therapy  has given my life back.  Kay  Archambo 

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#8 General Comment

Helen's Foundation Preys on the Sick!

AUTHOR: DebbieG - (USA)

Last year, 2014, I went through your 3 week “Shower” phase and was sicker than a dog. I had to go to my GP to help pull out of the overdose of your prescription!  You claim to "reduce Chronic Pain for Arthritis, CFS, MS, RA, OA, Fibromyalgia, Back Pain, Neuropathy, Migraines and even Parkinson’s" by using Hydrocortisone (Cortisol) tablets.    You name the illness…you claim to “reduce it or eliminate it.”   If that doesn’t sound like a Predator Prey on Sick People I don’t know what does. I am still kicking myself in the @#$ for entering your program.

To let people know: You have to sign a contract up front BEFORE determining if you even qualified or are able to safely take the Hydro-cortisone!   You also have to send in a check for the full amount of $7495.  Even if you are “Medically Disqualified” from entering the program by a local doctor due to a condition you will only get back a small portion of the $7495 you paid to enroll in the program!   I thought you would have a Helens Foundation Pain Management Clinic nearby where I could learn more about pain management.  There isn't one!  Instead I was sent to a regular neighborhood GP doctor in a shady side of town who had many patients coming in and out of his office.  I walked in. He wrote a prescription. 

There is NO “EDUCATION” TO PATIENTS in a classroom or a clinic.  Their “Patient Education Manuals” are just stapled papers and really don’t have any useful information.   All you care about are the daily diary numbers you have to record and phone/FAX/email in which is a pain in the @#$.   You do not care how you feel while you are taking the medication or how you are reacting to it.   All you do is forward the scores to Dr. Stenberg and he would put them in his graphing computer program which would generate color graphs like the graphs you played with in grammar school only this one costs you $995.   What is another kicker is that the food allergy testing you charged me $900 is from Spectrum labs which tests dogs, cats, horses for pet owners & vets.  I tried contacting someone there and no one would return my call.

 In essence, IT WAS A VERY EXPENSIVE LESSON FOR ME to which the program cost me out of pocket $5545.00 out of $7495.00.   Dr. Stenberg is taking advantage of the temporary high from the steroid medication which eventually wears off several months later and that is how long his program is. 

The Foundation rambles on about “improvements,” “1,938 patients and "two university studies” but it is a bunch of baloney.  As far as I see, there are 1,938 PATIENTS WHO HAVE BEEN TAKEN ADVANTAGE OF BY A PREDATOR PREYING ON SICK PEOPLE.  All the Foundation cares about is the money not your condition!   THERE IS NO MONEY BACK GUARANTEE!  I also understand that Dr. Michael Jon Kell MEDICAL LICENSE WAS REVOKED and that he was convicted in Georgia of one count of felony Conspiracy to Defraud the State, one count of  FELONY MEDICAID FRAUD,   one count of felony False Writings, and three counts of felony Tax Evasion.  Dr. Michael Jon Kell endorses Dr. Stenberg’s program on the Foundation’s website!   BIRDS OF A FEATHER FLOCK TOGETHER!  

There have been customer complaints and customer reviews listed on the BBB website which have been removed. I saw a complaint on the BBB from another person and it has been removed.  THIS IS JUST A BUSINESS TO MAKE MONEY OFF PEOPLE WHO ARE SUFFERING FROM CHRONIC ILLNESSES AND IN A LOT OF PAIN!   I am sure there are a number of people who had similar issues with your Foundation but were too sick and disgusted to write a complaint.  I WAS SO SICKENED & DISGUSTED WITH MY EXPERIENCE OF THE HELENS FOUNDATION!   NO ONE IN THEIR OFFICE IS A REGISTERED NURSE OR A REAL DOCTOR WHO IS QUALIFIED TO TREAT PATIENTS!

Now about the A-rating by the BBB.  My BBB complaint was not "resolved." The BBB really does nothing in regards to a complaint. You send in a complaint. They forward the complaint to the company/doctor. You get a response back & the case is closed!  Nothing was "resolved."  I did get a response back from Dr. Stenberg via the BBB but it was useless rambling about medication dosing.  I lost a lot of money!  Of course that doesn't matter to you or the good "doctor."   Shame on you Dr. Stenberg and everyone else who is involved in this Foundation!   People:   THIS IS JUST A BUSINESS TO MAKE MONEY OFF PEOPLE WHO ARE SUFFERING FROM CHRONIC ILLNESSES AND IN A LOT OF PAIN!   It took a lot of energy and time to post my experiences in hope of warning others so they don't get taken advantage of as I was.

 I also wrote a customer review on the BBB site for the Helens Foundation. It was posted. I saw it & read it. THAT BBB CUSTOMER REVIEW ON THE HELENS FOUNDATION HAS BEEN REMOVED!    In fact, there are no reviews listed. That seems rather odd for a business which has been around for many years. I just filed another review.  We will see how long that lasts!  Yet, I am reading all sorts of complaints on other sites. I know there was another BBB complaint listed on the BBB website before I filed my complaint. It may have been from a Parkinson's patient of Dr. Stenberg. It too has been REMOVED FROM THE BBB WEBSITE!  You even ripping off your own employees!  Wow. That is awful!

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#9 Consumer Comment

Helen Foundation Freeze Method?

AUTHOR: SwiftSCW - ()

We are experiencing the same FREEZE method. When we were paying their fees it was very easy to reach them and our calls were returned wtih no problem. Now that we are seeking a refund, no one is calling us. We are $6995.00 out of pocket. We have only had 2 proper treatments and a botched up 3rd treatment because the Doctor assigned to our case, quit. However, the main complaint my the patient (my husband) has is that the treatment has not been doing anything for him, and he felt unwell after, and do not seek to continue. The workers are fine to speak to but it is the system of callbacks and follow-ups that is the problem. All we want is a responsible representative to iron out this problem because we had to borrow money to come up with the amount we paid them. The payment was split into thirds. Two/thirds were borrowed from our credit cards, and the balance from the rest of our life savings. 

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#10 UPDATE Employee

Helen Foundation Has Helped Thousands

AUTHOR: Vice President Helen Foundation Cli - (United States of America)

Helen Foundation has successfully helped thousands of patients since 1992, providing a degree of symptom relief to the overwhelming majority that is often double and sometimes triple that of their previous treatments. We know of no other healthcare provider whose measured rate and degree of success as reported over a period of decades by thousands of patients suffering fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, non-specific arthritis and polymyalgia is as high as that of Helen Foundation.

We recently launched a comprehensive new website at which provides the healthcare consumer a wealth of information about our treatment program and protocols. While no provider can guarantee a favorable outcome, we are especially proud of our outcome record. The majority who turn to us for help do so after all else has failed and their lives and bodies have been ravaged for decades, and nonetheless the lives and physical comfort of the vast majority are safely and sustainably restored.

As to cost, the commenter is correct that the prescription component of our treatment program is negligible. What he overlooks is that our program is informed by a treatment database encompassing thousands of patients, provides for lab tests and physician visits, and DELIVERS THREE MONTHS worth of medical supervision, frequent one-on-one education sessions, and intensive nurse monitoring in the safe and effective use of the prescription. That's what our patients are paying for, and that's makes our program safe and SO EFFECTIVE in delivering symptom relief. Dramatic symptom relief is usually obtained in 3 weeks. After the three-month program, during which patients learn how to sustain their symptom relief, all that's usually required is an occasional physician visit and periodic renewal of a very low-cost prescription.

We welcome your inspection of the many facts to be found at
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#11 Consumer Comment


AUTHOR: Bodnar - (United States of America)

The prednisone used by this company costs literaly pennies. Charging $6000 is ridiculous and a true rip-off. Plus, their only scientific study examined rheumatoid arthritis, not fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis, or other conditions!

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#12 Consumer Comment

More info

AUTHOR: clysta - (USA)

No bills!  They told me that upfront.  They did tell me what Medicare would probably pay for, the food allergy test and the doctor visits.  I got the billing code for doctor visits from my own doctor.
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#13 Consumer Comment

Helen Foundation has made my life liveable

AUTHOR: clysta - (USA)

I have been using Hydrocortisone according to the directions from the Helen Foundation for almost a year and a half and I am delighted with the results.  I don't know who you talked to from the Foundation, but they made it clear to me that there was only one doctor in my area and after that I would have to drive to Mesa for answers to questions, a Doctor appt., and instructions on how to use the program.  The small dosage of hydrocortisone program has made my life much better. 

The program is based on the use of "steroids" as you wrote.  If you cannot take steroids and that was something that you were not aware of before, it seems to me that you need a lawyer or file suit in small claims court.  I am surprised that the Foundation did not give you some sort of break in fees.  But maybe they did, because I had to pay $6,000 before billing Medicare.  And medicare does not pay for much, all of which was explained to me before I signed the contract.

I hope you can find some sort of treatment that works for you!

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