Consumers have been warned to stop using Zicam Cold Remedy nasal gel and all Zicam nasal spray products because these popular congestion remedies can permanently damage your sense of smell. Zicam products contain zinc, which, according to scientists, may damage the nerves necessary to smell. The Food & Drug Administration (FDA) also announced that Zicam Nasal Swabs (for adults and children) should no longer be used either.
While a formal recall was not issued by the FDA, it did send a letter to the manufacturer of these products asking the company to stop marketing these dangerous products. Matrixx Initiatives, the maker of Zicam, stands by its products but claim it may remove Zicam products from store shelves.
Loss of the sense of smell is a very serious medical concern as it can be life-threatening in cases where gas leaks or burning objects cannot be detected in one’s home.
Over the years, Matrixx has settled hundreds of lawsuits connected with Zicam, but no plaintiff has ever won a court case (possibly because the suits are settled before making it to a courtroom). Zicam products accounted for approximately 40% of its $111.6 million sales in 2007.
At this time, there have been over 130 reports about loss of sense of smell after using Zicam products. Not surprisingly, shares of Matrixx Initiatives Inc. went from $13.46 to $5.78 the day of the FDA’s announcement.
Zicam is a popular over the counter, homeopathic (natural ingredients used in small amounts) medication designed to lessen the severity of symptoms and shorten the duration of the common cold. It is available as a no-drip liquid nasal gel, in chewable tablets, and as an oral mist, among others.
Zicam's popularity has been due in part to a marketing campaign that claims that the medication can cure the common cold on average three times faster than usual. Homeopathic medication in general has also experienced a surge in popularity.
Lawsuits against the manufacturer of Zicam, Matrixx Initiatives, however, have been filed amidst allegations that the medication has caused anosmia, a condition in which the user experiences a potentially permanent loss of smell, sometimes only after one application. It has also been alleged that Zicam can cause dysgeusia, or a loss of taste, although some level of dysgeusia tends to accompany anosmia because up to seventy-five percent of what we perceive as taste is actually from our sense of smell.
Zicam contains zinc gluconate and, in some of the lawsuits, it is alleged that for decades it has been known that intranasal zinc can cause anosmia. Evidently intranasal zinc solutions were unsuccessfully used in the 1930s to treat polio.
Despite the lawsuits and widespread reports of serious adverse effects caused by Zicam, Matrixx refuses to acknowledge the problems and refuses to warn users. In a February 2004 release, Matrixx "reaffirmed" the safety of Zicam by claiming that reports of anosmia caused by Zicam are unfounded and misleading. The affirmation may be considered disingenuous at best considering that the company has also admitted that it had not studied the drug's effects on the sense of smell.
Besides the loss in quality of life, anosmia is a dangerous condition in that the sense of smell may alert us to potential fires, leaking gas, and poisonous fumes. A loss in the ability to smell can also diminish the enjoyment of food, which in turn can have a detrimental effect on nutrition.
At least one major class action lawsuit has reached a resolution. In January 2006, Matrixx Initiatives reached a settlement of $12 million with 340 plaintiffs who claimed they had lost their sense of smell.
If you or a loved one is suffering from a diminished sense of smell or taste as a result of using an intranasal zinc product such as Zicam, you may be entitled to compensation. A qualified pharmaceutical injury attorney can review your case and advise you on whether it is in your interest to file a lawsuit individually or join an ongoing class action suit. In either case, you should also be aware that there are time limits by which you may act, so don't delay!
Contact us today to find an experienced Zicam lawyer near you.