Recall Watch: Zicam May Rob Sense of Smell


Consumers with colds and allergies are being urged by regulators to stop using certain Zicam sprays and swabs linked to a loss of the sense of smell, and the products are being pulled off the market by the manufacturer.

This comes years after the settlement of more than 300 lawsuits against Matrixx Initiatives (Stock Quote: MTXX), the makers of Zicam cold and allergy treatments, after the same problems were reported.

The Food and Drug Administration says it received 130 reports of a loss of sense of smell after using the intranasal zinc products.  According to many of those reports, the loss of sense of smell occurred after the first dose of the treatments, the FDA says.

The FDA says consumers should stop using certain Zicam products, and Matrixx says on the Zicam Web site that it will issue refunds to consumers.  The FDA also says Matrixx must refile an application to continue selling the products. Future labels must warn about the risk of losing one's sense of smell.

Even while withdrawing its products from the market, the company maintains that Zicam products are safe.

“Matrixx Initiatives stands behind the science of its products and its belief that there is no causal link between its Zicam Cold Remedy intranasal gel products and anosmia,” the company’s acting president William Hemelt said in a press release.  The company blames the loss of sense of smell to the common cold.  Zicam rapidmelts and chewables are not affected by the recall.

In 2006, Matrixx agreed to pay $12 million to settle 340 lawsuits filed by consumers who said they lost their sense of smell after using the zinc treatments. After the FDA's warning yesterday, the company's stock plunged almost 70%.

To request a refund, call Matrixx at 877-942-2626 or visit

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