CBD is also gaining momentum as a treatment for Alzheimer’s disease, epilepsy, anxiety, and chronic pain. Studies are ongoing, but returns indicate CBD is an exciting alternative to traditional medications.
Unfortunately, private health insurance companies will not cover the cost of CBD products with the exception of Epidiolex, which is FDA-approved for epilepsy. That said, some Parkinson’s patients and their caretakers may find that high-CBD strains of medical marijuana aren’t overly expensive and are safer (have less harmful side effects) compared to medications prescribed for Parkinson’s disease.
People frequently want to know if Medicare covers the cost of CBD products. As stated above, CBD (as well as THC) does not have adequate FDA approval. Therefore, Medicare does not cover the cost of such products, nor does Medicare allow it to be used towards a Part B (health insurance coverage) or prescription drug plan deductible. This is true for all conditions, not just for Parkinson’s disease.
The dizziness forced him to go to another room at the clinic to lie down. He said at his second visit, he got half the dose, which seemed to diminish the side effect.
The pilot study had helped Leehey settle on a proper dose of CBD for the next study step, a randomized trial in which neither she nor her patients would know whether they were getting the drug or a placebo.
“We have to find a commercial partner,” Leehey said.
But Leehey and her team also needed to monitor patients for side effects while protecting their identities. Bainbridge and a study biostatistician provided lists of patients receiving medication or placebo, with their identities removed.
Uncertain responses to CBD
The University of Mississippi product, however, was less an instant solution than a sticky situation. The CBD arrived as a frozen extract Leehey described as “a black goo.” To make the stuff patient-palatable, the study team turned to Jacci Bainbridge, a PharmD and Professor with the Department of Clinical Pharmacology at CU’s Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences. Bainbridge devised a process to thaw the goo, add flavorings and sesame seed oil, and stopper the concoction in vials for half the study patients. The other half get a placebo.
“I said, ‘I want to get into that,’” Mullen recalled. He was particularly interested because of a worsening tremor in his left hand that has eroded his manual dexterity – “anything that needs a steady hand,” as he put it.
“I said I won’t let this get me down,” Mullen said. “I’m a fighter.”
No easy task to launch CBD and Parkinson’s study
Preusser said he exercises at least 45 minutes a day and walks regularly, sometimes several miles. His weekly schedule always includes “one adventure, rain or shine, winter or summer,” such as a lengthy hike or skiing – he still hits the slopes at Loveland Basin.
Mullen thinks he got the placebo. “I kept wanting to feel something different,” he said, “but I didn’t feel anything.” He is anxious to see the results of the trial and added that he would still be willing to take CBD to treat his Parkinson’s disease symptoms.