Man Charged With Practicing Medicine Without License

A man accused of offering dangerous dietary supplements as alternative remedies for cancer and other ailments pleaded not guilty Monday to 11 felonies, including practicing medicine without a license.

Prosecutors allege that 73-year-old Kurt Walter Donsbach of Bonita -- who was ordered held on $250,000 bail by Judge David Szumowski -- preyed on vulnerable patients looking for medical help.

Even though he has no medical license in California, Donsbach claimed to be a chiropractor and naturopathic doctor, and through a weekly, online radio broadcast from Chula Vista, offered "alternative, natural and nutritional" remedies for many conditions and ailments, including cancer and auto-immune disorders, according to the prosecution.

"The law prohibits the sale of unapproved cancer treatments," Deputy District Attorney Gina Darvas said outside the courtroom.

Donsbach could still be guilty even if he didn't guarantee patients a cure for cancer, the prosecutor said.

She said Donsbach was also not licensed as a chiropractor in California.

Besides three counts of practicing without a license, he is charged with four counts of selling misbranded drugs, and single counts of unlawfully dispensing drugs as a cure for cancer, falsely representing a cure for cancer, grand theft and attempted grand theft by false pretenses.

He faces six years and four months in prison if convicted.

Donsbach's clinic advised one patient to inject herself with "neuropeptides" to treat arthritis, saying it would "re-program" her body's T-cells, according to prosecutors.

FDA tests revealed the "neuropeptide" contained a steroid not disclosed on the packaging or labels, the prosecution alleges. The patient paid thousands of dollars for the drugs and injected herself for six years, leading to severe bone density loss, according to court papers.

In another case, Donsbach claimed he had treated pancreatic cancer successfully about 60 percent of the time and provided a supplement to a patient, the prosecution alleges.

Federal Drug Administration tests of the supplement revealed the presence of the drug nimesulide, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory not approved by the FDA, according to Darvas.

In Europe, marketing of nimesulide has been suspended because of high rates of liver failure that resulted in deaths and liver transplants, and authorities warned other "patients" of Donsbach to be wary of so-called "natural" or "dietary" supplements that may have been provided to them.

The FDA has also warned that people who take dietary supplements with nimesulide could get sick or die.

Szumowski ordered Donsbach to return to court May 26 for a readiness conference and June 15 for a preliminary hearing.

Anyone who thinks they might be an alleged victim in the case should call a complaint hotline, (619) 531-3115, Darvas said.