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The cold remedy Zicam can severely damage or destroy a user’s sense of smell, federal health officials have warned consumers.

 The U.S. Food and Drug Administration in June 2009 advised consumers to stop using Zicam Cold Remedy and Zicam Cold Remedy Swabs because the product can cause long-lasting or permanent loss of smell even after just a single use.

Hundreds of lawsuits have already been filed over the product. If you or someone you love suffered a loss of smell after using Zicam, you may want to contact a Zicam attorney for a free evaluation of your case.

The manfucaturer of Zicam, Matrixx Initiatives, reportedly already settled 340 lawsuits for $12 million in 2006 over loss of smell and many more suits have been filed since. While suspending shipments of Zicam, Matrixx had refused a recall despite the FDA’s warning to consumers.

The agency said it had received more than 130 reports from doctors and consumers about a loss of smell associated with the use of Zicam since the product was introduced in 1999. A report in The New York Times (see below) said Matrixx had received more than 800 such reports but that the Arizona company did not pass them on to the FDA. (A third product, Zicam Cold Remedy Swabs, Kids Size, was discontinued but could still remain in drug cabinets and the FDA said it also should not be used.)

The agency said many people reported losing their sense of smell after taking just one dose of Zicam gel, which is taken nasally using an applicator or swabs. Zicam contains zinc (the listed active ingredient is Zincum Gluconicum 2X), which some experts say can be toxic to nerve receptors in the nose.

The FDA noted that a loss of smell can seriously affect a person’s quality of life, depriving them of the pleasure of smelling and also adversely affecting taste. It could also prove to be life-threatening as someone lacking a sense of smell might not be able to detect dangers such as smoke or gas leaks.

Zicam is a popular over-the-counter medication that had reported 2008 sales of $40 million on the claim that it “reduces the duration and severity of cold symptoms,” although the FDA said it has never seen actual proof of that claim. Since Zicam is marketed as a homeopathic product, FDA approval was not needed before it went on the market.

Kline & Specter, PC, with more than 40 attorneys, several of whom are also doctors, is among the nation’s top law firms and has successfully litigated lawsuits over medication side effects. Contact a Zicam lawyer today.