Hawaii man details near-fatal hydroxychloroquine experience as DOH warns against unapproved treatments

Coronavirus

HONOLULU (KHON2) — The Hawaii Department of Health (DOH) issued a warning about hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin on Wednesday, Aug. 25, pushing back against mostly online misinformation about the drugs being used to treat COVID-19.

“I want to be clear-hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin should not be used to treat COVID-19. Taking unprescribed large doses of ivermectin or doses intended for animals can cause serious harm.” Hawaii DOH director Dr. Libby Char said.

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Kailua-born Kris Gourlay is one of the people who took hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19.

He flew to Chicago to see an air show in Wisconsin. He got tested for COVID-19 to make sure he would keep his family safe on his return trip to the islands in early August. He tested positive.

Being fully vaccinated, Gourlay says he was feeling ok.

“I mean up to the point where I took the hydroxychloroquine I was fine,” Gourlay said.

His bags were already shipped back home, so he wanted to get through his isolation as fast as possible and asked his doctor in Hawaii for hydroxychloroquine, even after he recommended against it.

“I got a little bit more impatient, the next day and I called him back said, I want to get this stuff because I talked to some friends and they said that it worked for them,” Gourlay said.

His side effects became scary. Diarrhea, dehydration, and worse.

“My last temperature that I recorded was 107.7,” Gourlay said. “I jumped in the bath and for about three or four hours I was spiking 107. I was shaking so much I was shaking so violently that I couldn’t hold the thermometer any more.”

Gourley went to the hospital and was successfully treated with an IV and monoclonal antibodies; a treatment the DOH said is effective in treating COVID-19.

“I want to be clear — hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin should not be used to treat COVID-19. Taking unprescribed large doses of ivermectin or doses intended for animals can cause serious harm.” DOH Director Dr. Libby Char said.

Dr. Chien-Wen Tseng echoed that statement as curiosity is starting to grow about another unapproved treatment — ivermectin.

“We will prescribe ivermectin for common things like parasites or head lice, topically,” Dr. Tseng said. “But in reality, there is no approval right now, or even evidence to show that ivermectin actually can be helpful in treating COVID. And in fact, the studies are very, very small. And even in the larger studies that showed no benefits and actually even potential harms, including people who have COVID, with ivermectin.”

Maui Mayor Michael Victorino also rallied against the off-label use of the two drugs Wednesday.

“I strongly condemn off-label use of the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine and/or the veterinary de-wormer ivermectin, as treatments for COVID-19. The FDA has not approved either of these drugs for treating or preventing COVID-19. Taking any drug for an unapproved use can be dangerous or lethal.” Mayor Victorino said.

Gourlay wants others to avoid what happened to him.

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“Just listen to your doctor get good doctor’s advice. My doctor suggested that I didn’t take it. But I was just kind of impatient because I wanted to get going and kind of get out of Chicago and get to the west coast so he was right.”

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