Drug Orachel Ordered Off Shelves in New York State

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Times Staff Writer

A vitamin product which is advertised as an alternative to heart surgery--and which has been distributed by a Huntington Beach company--was ordered removed from stores in New York by that state’s attorney general.

A lawsuit was filed in Manhattan Thursday by Atty. Gen. Robert Abrams seeking to prevent sale and distribution of the drug Orachel, as well as damages and restitution to people who have bought the product in New York since Jan. 1, 1984.

Abrams said that Orachel, which sells nationally for between $35 and $50 for 300 tablets, has never been proven effective and has not been approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration.


The attorney general’s office said that Orachel was created by Kurt Donsbach of the Donsbach University School of Nutrition in Huntington Beach and distributed by HRG Distributors in that city. However, a receptionist who answered the phone at HRG’s number said the company had been bought out by LP Distributors.

Another woman at LP, who identified herself as Janet, said that LP bought HRG’s accounts receivable as of April 1 and was continuing to distribute Donsbach’s line of products, although “we no longer sell Orachel.” She would not give a reason for discontinuing the product, and referred inquiries to the office manager, who refused comment. Donsbach did not return phone calls to his nutritional school office. Donsbach University is a mail-order school offering degrees in nutrition.

Donsbach pleaded guilty in 1971 to a misdemeanor charge of practicing medicine without a license, according to the California Department of Health Services and court records.

In 1973 he pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor violation of new drug laws for marketing new products without having the necessary applications on file. He was fined and placed on probation. In 1974 he pleaded guilty to violating probation by not divesting his interest in a Garden Grove vitamin factory.

Abrams said the Orachel label claims the drug is “a scientifically compounded and clinically proven formula that helps the body remove dangerous contaminants that may clog the arteries.” The label also mentions “recent controversy about the long-term effectiveness of coronary bypass,” and suggests Orachel as an alternative. Ingredients listed on the label are mostly vitamins and nutrients.