As reported by the Associated Press, “Consumers should stop using Zicam Cold Remedy nasal gel and related products because they can permanently damage the sense of smell, federal health regulators said Tuesday.”
According to the article, the culprit could be zinc which scientists say damage nerves needed for smell. The investigation by the FDA was prompted upon receiving around 130 customer complaints about a loss of smell after using Zicam, and that doesn’t even include the more than 800 complaints Matrixx, the producer of Zicam, has received from consumers (which they must now turn over to investigators).
“‘It won’t bring my smell back, but at least I feel like there’s some justice that’s starting to take place,’ said David Richardson, of Greensboro, N.C., who lost his sense of smell after taking Zicam for a cold in 2005. He said he hopes the product will be formally banned.”
So, why didn’t they catch this before? Apparently Zicam was able to bypass federal review because the remedy is a “homeopathic” product containing herbs, minerals and flowers … Oh, yeah, and smell-killing zinc …
” ‘Loss of the sense of smell is potentially life threatening and may be permanent,’ said Dr. Charles Lee, of FDA’s compliance division. ‘People without the sense of smell may not be able to detect dangerous life situations, such as gas leaks or something burning in the house.’ ”
This whole thing is particularly upsetting to me because I love Zicam and have recommended it to everyone I know. In my mind, there’s no question that it works. Having said that, my smell is worth a lot more to me than missing a cold.
No more Zicam for this girl.
Associated Press, “FDA says Zicam nasal spray can cause loss of smell,” Matthew Perrone, June 16, 2009