Not the Cure for the Common Cold

Recently we blogged about the dangers of zinc buildup as a result of long-term use of denture creams, and now it seems zinc once again rears its ugly head! The popular over-the-counter cold remedy, Zicam, can allegedly harm or destroy a user’s sense of smell. Only the nasal products are involved.

Since 1999, when Zicam nasal products became available to the public, the Food and Drug Administration has received some 130 reports detailing the loss of sense of smell. These reports came from both consumers and medical professionals. The manufacturer of Zicam, Matrixx Initiatives, reportedly received more than 800 reports from those who suffered from a loss of sense of smell, but the company did not share this information with the FDA.

Hundreds of lawsuits have been filed; in fact, in 2006 Matrixx Initiatives, paid $12 million to settle 340 lawsuits.

The FDA recently issued a consumer alert to warn consumers not to use the Zicam nasal products. Zicam is considered a homeopathic remedy and thus not held to strict federal standards. In fact, Matrixx did not even need the FDA’s approval to sell the products. The FDA lacks the authority to force product recalls and in the past has relied on negotiations with companies to initiate voluntary recalls. Congress is currently considering some bills that would give the FDA the power to order mandatory recalls.

For more information, see this article.