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Board Moves to Pull License of Allergist

January 04, 1990|JACK CHEEVERS | TIMES STAFF WRITER

LOS ANGELES — State medical authorities have moved to revoke the license of a Canoga Park doctor who treated as many as 6,000 allergy patients--including about 2,000 at a clinic in Anaheim--by injecting them with their own urine. The practice represents an "extreme departure from the standard of care in California," authorities said.

But Dr. Jorge R. Borrell has appealed the revocation order, and a Los Angeles Superior Court judge last month temporarily blocked it.

In a harshly worded order to cancel Borrell's license last month, the state Board of Medical Quality Assurance said Borrell, who operates clinics in Canoga Park and Anaheim, exhibited a "shocking and extreme" lack of medical knowledge.

More than 2,000 patients of the Allergy Control Medical Group in Anaheim received the injections since the facility first opened about 12 years ago, Borrell said in an interview Wednesday.

Board officials said Borrell, 69, failed to test patients to see whether they were injured or endangered by his treatments and failed to keep proper medical records on them.

He received his medical training in Mexico and completed his residency in urology in the United States. Officials described Borrell as a self-taught allergist and immunologist, however.

Borrell last month appealed the license revocation to Superior Court Judge Miriam A. Vogel, who temporarily blocked the state order pending a hearing in March to decide whether there is sufficient evidence exists to uphold it. The judge ordered Borrell to stop giving urine injections in the meantime.

About 30 patients getting the injections in Anaheim have had their treatments halted as a result, the doctor said.

Borrell, who has a weekly radio talk show and who sells audiocassettes giving medical advice, Wednesday defended his urine treatments as a safe and effective "folk remedy" that has been practiced for more than a century.

"It sounds kind of preposterous or ugly or dirty or whatever," he said. "Even though years ago a number of doctors used it here, they've been scared away."

He said the treatment stimulates the immune system to produce allergy antibodies.

State officials say urine injection is not a proven medical treatment for allergies. They said such injections can lead to infection, kidney failure, breathing difficulties and even death.

"Common sense would tell you that if you went to a doctor and he said, 'I'm going to cure you by injecting urine,' you'd look at him and say goodby," said Phil Foster, regional supervisor for the state medical watchdog panel in the San Fernando Valley. "That would be the normal person's reaction. It's beyond my imagination how anyone could fall for that kind of quackery."

Borrell said he has treated 5,000 to 6,000 patients with urine injections over a 12-year period. State officials said they had received only one complaint about him.

"I can't explain it," Foster said.

Foster said none of Borrell's patients died or required hospitalization as a result of the treatments and that he is aware of only one patient who became ill.

In legal documents, state authorities cite three patients given urine shots, one of whom received 13 injections. In each case, Borrell had told his patients that he was giving them urine injections.

Borrell said that two or three patients developed infections from his treatments and that "that was before proper filters were available" for the urine.

According to state legal documents, Borrell is medical director at two clinics operating under the name of Allergy Control Medical Group. In addition, he operates the private Advanced Testing Laboratory, where he refers patients for allergy testing.

State authorities said the laboratory uses the cytotoxic leukocyte testing method, rather than skin tests, to determine which substances cause allergies in patients. The method involves combining a known allergen with blood to see whether it produces a lower white blood count indicating a reaction.

But that testing method, officials said, has "no known scientific value or validity" and that it routinely results in false negative and false positive results.

Staff writer Matt Lait contributed to this report from Orange County.

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