The U. S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) stated via a press release today that consumers should stop using three over-the-counter Zicam Cold Remedy products, including: nasal gel, nasal swabs and the "kids size" swabs (which were discontinued). The reason for the FDA warning is because these products can cause the loss of smell, or "anosmia", which could be permanent.
Anyone who has experienced problems after using the Zicam products should immediately contact a doctor. The loss of smell, while obviously affecting one’s quality of life, can be dangerous as well, eliminating one of the senses that protects us from danger.
The FDA does not officially have oversight power over Zicam‘s manufacturer, Matrixx Initiatives out of Arizona, because Zicam is considered a "remedy" rather than a drug. This is further evidence of the need to regulate the herbal remedy and supplement industry, which may be a ticking timebomb waiting to go off. The fact that these manufacturers have what amounts to a blank check with regard to the products they produce is astounding, not to mention many of the claims they make regarding their products.
Matrixx claims that Zicam is safe and that the allegations are "scientifically unfounded and misleading". Matrixx concedes that about 130 consumers have reported loss of smell since 1999 after using Zicam products.