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Zicam Linked to Loss of Sense of Smell

On June 16, 2009, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advised consumers to discontinue using three over-the-counter cold remedies associated with a permanent or long-lasting anosmia (loss of sense of smell). The products cited are:

  • Zicam Cold Remedy Nasal Gel
  • Zicam Cold Remedy Nasal Swabs
  • Zicam Cold Remedy Swabs, Kids Size (already discontinued)

The FDA has further advised consumers to contact their health care professional if they have experienced anosmia or other problems after using these products. Anosmia is a more serious condition than some would expect because, in addition to affecting ones quality of life, anosmia limits the ability to detect smoke, gas, or other potential indications of environmental dangers.

The FDA cites having received 130 reports of loss of anosmia associated with the use of these products as one of the bases for its recommendation, but even Matrixx International Inc., the maker of Zicam, divulged during an investigation that it had about 800 such reports. And a link between anosmia and zinc applied in the nose has been established since the 1930s. Zinc is Zicams main ingredient.

Critics argue that Zicams homeopathic label has allowed it to escape adequate scrutiny from the FDA. Homeopathic products, which are certain over-the-counter remedies that use plant, animal or mineral derivatives, began as home-style, backwater types of concoctions with a small cult following. These products, however, have become a $200 million per year market utilizing modern distribution methods, and more experts are calling for FDA reviews for safety and effectiveness.

The American Association of Homeopathic Pharmacists has posted a statement on its Web site reminding consumers that the FDAs action is not reflective of the homeopathic class of drugs as a whole. And adding insult to injury, Matrixx is lobbying to have the FDA decision reversed.

If you or a loved one has experienced anosmia or other problems after using Zicam, you should certainly contact a healthcare professional. But you may also wish to become familiar with your legal rights and options by contacting a qualified pharmaceutical injury attorney.

See also:
Zicam Injury Lawyers