According to the American Parkinson Disease Association, more than half of the individuals diagnosed with this progressive disease may develop symptoms of psychosis. Experiencing hallucinations or a distorted sense of reality can add to the trauma for the patient and their loved ones, but help may be available.  Medications like Nuplazid may be prescribed by a physician to help reduce these symptoms in Parkinson’s patients. Your Medicare coverage may be able to help pay some of the costs for these medications as long as you meet specific criteria.

How Nuplazid Works          

Sold under the Nuplazid brand name, pimavanserin is an antipsychotic medicine that alters how serotonin receptors function. This medication is considered an atypical antipsychotic because it does not also alter how dopamine receptors function. It is specifically indicated for use in treating psychosis when it is brought on by Parkinson’s disease.

Nuplazid may be prescribed in 10mg or 17mg small, white tablets or in a 34mg green and white capsule form. While specific dosage amounts and frequency prescribed will be based on the individual patient’s needs, it is typically prescribed as a once-daily medication that can be taken with or without food.

Relief from symptoms can occur as early as 4 weeks after starting the medication, but it may take a little longer for some patients. While it is possible for some patients to feel no effects from Nuplazid, your doctor will help determine when you should stop taking this medication, and will need to monitor your health through the transition.

Side Effects and Risks Associated with Nuplazid

Due to the severity of Parkinson’s disease and its related symptoms, the risks associated with taking any medication may be increased. If your doctor prescribes Nuplazid to help treat your condition, they may monitor you closely for any adverse effects. Signs of an allergic reaction (rashes, face or throat swelling, breathing issues), loss of motor function, chest pain or heart palpitations, or a worsening of hallucinations and delusions require immediate medical attention.

Any medical history that includes other serious conditions, such as dementia, heart disease or irregular heartbeat, or kidney disease, may make Nuplazid unsafe for you. Your doctor should also be fully informed of any other medications or dietary supplements you may be taking before you try treatment with Nuplazid. Interactions between Nuplazid and other medications or supplements may cause serious medical issues.

Common side effects that may be temporary include nausea, intestinal discomfort and fatigue. Let your doctor know how frequently you experience any of these symptoms or if they become disruptive to your daily routine.

Medicare Coverage for Nuplazid

Because Part A and Part B Original Medicare benefits do not provide prescription drug coverage, you will need to evaluate the options available to you through additional Medicare Part D plans. If you choose to get your Part A and Part B benefits through Original Medicare, you can enroll in a stand-alone Prescription Drug Plan (PDP). If you choose to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan, you will have at least the same coverage as Original Medicare, but many include additional benefits, such as prescription drug coverage. Part D plans generally have a monthly premium, and you may be responsible for deductibles, copayments and/or coinsurance.

Each Part D drug plan can have its own formulary — or list of medications approved for coverage. Check your plan’s formulary to see if Nuplazid is included and how it is classified. Your share of cost may depend on which classification tier a medication falls under.

Related articles:

What is Medicare Parts A & B

New to Medicare