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Newly assertive FDA warns about use of Zicam and loss of smell

The Food and Drug Administration has been roundly criticized for its failure to act in numerous matters over the past 8 years and for the consequent deaths, illnesses and corporate fraud that have resulted.  The FDA has become more proactive under the Obama administration, despite its inadquate resources and funding, and on June 17 it issued a warning about the use of Zicam, a popular homeopathic cold remedy that can permanently damage or even eliminate a consumer's sense of smell.  The FDA has received 130 reports of olfactory injury resulting from the use of Zicam nasal products, dating back to 1999.  The manufacturer has received more than 800 reports of Zicam users losing their sense of smell, but failed to provide those complaints to the FDA.

In 2006, the manufacturer, Matrixx Initiatives, paid $12 million dollars to settle 340 injury lawsuits related to Zicam-caused loss of smell. (called anosmia).  Matrixx refused to recall its products, and the Bush-era FDA took no action.  The company has now suspended shipment of the product and will reimburse customers for the purchase price.  Matrixx continues to deny any causal relationship between its products and anosmia, perhaps because annual sales exceed $40 million dollars.

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