MADISON, Wis. - Madison OB-GYN Dr. Fred Melius has been in the business of delivering babies for decades. But beyond his practice as a physician, really his focus has always come down to one simple goal: making people feel better.
He said some 20 years ago, he started working with nasal sprays as a way to relieve dry nasal passages during family ski trips. More recently, one of his sons suggested he try to develop a nasal spray featuring the benefits of CBD oil -- not an easy task, since oils are a difficult mix for a nasal spray. Melius embraced the challenge.
"Nasal delivery of medications is kind of a hot thing right now," Melius said. "In the pharmaceutical industry, there's a race to market to get things delivered nasally because it can be so effective in the brain."
One of his earliest patients was a longtime family friend, Adam Burish. The former Badger hockey star enjoyed an NHL career after his time in Madison, winning a Stanley Cup with the Chicago Blackhawks in 2010. After injuries shortened his career, Burish was left with the reminders of more than 20 years on the ice.
"I had just finished playing hockey, and to be honest, when I played, I used a lot of painkillers, a lot of sleeping pills," said the now 36-year-old Burish. When Melius approached him about his nasal spray, Burish was interested in anything that could help wean him off needing the pain pills.
"I said, 'Fred,' I said, 'I just want to use it if it's going to help me, because I don't want to take pills anymore,'" Burish said.
Burish says the results have changed his life.
"As an athlete, in two years, I haven't taken a Tylenol," he said. "I wanted to get off all that because I took a lot of it."
He's become such a proponent of Melius' product, Nasadol, that he now serves as the company's vice president of development. He says former hockey teammates are using it, as well, and they've seen the positive results.
Melius understands the glut of CBD products on the market. As an established physician, he felt earning the public's trust with what still remains a somewhat controversial product was important. CBD products are found in many forms in many places, from convenience stores to video stores, and there are a number of products available in health food stores.
Melius wanted a product that was held to some sort of medical standard.
"I wanted to come up with a product that would really work," Melius said. "We know what people thought of this three to four years ago. People didn't really understand how there are different cannabinoids, and THC is intoxicating and almost all the other cannabinoids aren't."
Melius says Nasadol contains no THC, the active ingredient in cannabis, and is completely made up of FDA-approved compounds. The fledgling industry has gotten very little guidance from the FDA to date.
It was one year ago that the FDA approved a cannabis plant-derived, CBD-based drug for the first time. Epidiolex is approved to treat two severe and rare forms of epilepsy: Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome.
Dr. Amy Abernathy, a deputy commissioner for the FDA who is heading up the agency's CBD working group, said in a May tweet: "The FDA has not approved any other CBD-containing products. We want consumers to be aware that there is only limited available information about CBD, including about its effects on the body."
As a medical professional, that's all Melius can ask for.
"I think, right now, unfortunately, a lot of people who are using these products are getting their advice on how to use them and how to administer them and what they might be helpful from non-medical professionals," Melius said. "And I see that as a big gap."
He'd like to see medical schools study and educate their students on everything that is known about CBD so health care providers can use their many benefits to help their patients.
Burish is already sold: "It works for me, so now I can go and tell my friends and other athletes."
Learn more at nasadol.com.
To learn more about the Food and Drug Administration's recent statement on CBD products, visit the FDA's website.
Tonight on News 3 Now at 10: A local doc teams with a Badger hockey legend to create the first CBD nasal spray. The story behind Nasadol, at 10.— Eric Franke (@EricFrankeTV) June 14, 2019
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