A chewing gum company turned cold remedy manufacturer is under fire for selling a nasal spray that destroys people’s sense of taste and smell. Over 400 lawsuits have been filed against Matrixx Initiatives for the side effects associated with Zicam nasal gel, a zinc-based homeopathic cold remedy. Matrixx has already spent $12 million to settle 340 lawsuits, but some customers won’t be satisfied until the FDA is involved.
Two years ago, Richardson first tried Zicam after his mother, a registered nurse, brought him a package. At the time, Richardson was suffering from a cold and wanted quick relief because he was about to start a new job.
“I squirted it up my nose and felt a burning sensation,” Richardson said.
A few days later, he noticed that scents seemed distorted. Even strong odors, such as gasoline, had a metallic scent. He also claimed he lost his sense of taste as the two senses are linked.
Richardson wants the FDA to require an independent study of Zicam’s safety.
“If I took this product and I was just out $6, that’s one thing,” Richardson said. “This has changed my whole life… Heaven forbid some mother gives it to her 6-year-old kid.”
Rather than settle the remaining lawsuits, Matrixx has started to successfully challenge the expert-status of doctors who claim a link between sensory loss and Zicam. They even hired their own crack team of experts to prove that Zicam is 100% safe, and won’t burn your nasal tissues and cause you to lose all sense of taste.
Zicam raises the larger issue of the FDA’s limited oversight of homeopathic treatments. Unlike conventional medicines, natural remedies are not subject to a rigorous approval process, nor are they put through clinical trials. Both, according to the agency, would cost too much time and money.
Lawsuits claim loss of smell [The Arizona Republic]