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Cold Remedies Shown to Cause Anosmia, or a Loss of Smell

FDA Says Over 130 Confirmed Cases Were Reported

Many users of the popular cold and flu remedies sold under the Zicam brand have reportedly contracted the debilitating ailment known as anosmia, or a loss of their sense of smell. In some cases, the malady developed over time, and is not complete. Some people eventually completely regained the lost sense, while others permanently lost only a small portion. In others, the anosmia was immediate and total, leaving victims unable to smell anything at all.

While the media and general population often overlook the issue, those that have contracted anosmia claim that it can lead to a reduced quality of life, or death. According to many scientists, the human sense of smell is one of the strongest links to memory. So victims of this condition have a much more difficult time recalling memories that are already linked with odors. A small portion of patients develop depression, due to the emotional strain.

But anosmia can also lead to potentially life-threatening situations. For instance, a typical person can easily detect a natural gas leak in their home by the odor, allowing them the chance to vacate and call the utility companies. Without the ability to sense that gas, however, individuals can stay in an environment after it becomes toxic. This can lead to brain damage, suffocation, or even death if an open flame causes the fumes to explode.

In early 2009, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) sent a warning letter to Matrixx Initiatives, the makers of the Zicam lineup of products, warning them that their products had been linked to anosmia in over 130 confirmed cases, probably because of the inclusion of zinc gluconate. According to some leading scientific research, the metal can damage nasal tissues, reducing olfactory function.

The three faulty products singled out by the FDA were:

  • Cold Remedy Nasal Gel (15mL, NDC 62750-003-10)
  • Cold Remedy Swabs (20 swabs, NDC 67250-003-20)
  • Cold Remedy Swabs, Kids Size (20 swabs, NDC 67250-003-21)

Although the major symptom of anosmia is concerned with the olfactory sense, patients may also lose some of their sense of taste. As with the sense of smell, this can be temporary or permanent. It can also be mild or complete.

In 2006, Matrixx Initiatives lost one class action lawsuit in Arizona, and was ordered to pay out nearly $12 million in anosmia damages. Many other victims have filed similar lawsuits, seeking compensation in the court systems of other states. Here is a brief list of states with court systems that have pending anosmia lawsuits.

  • Illinois
  • California
  • Florida
  • Texas
  • Minnesota
  • Wisconsin
  • Missouri

If you feel that you are exhibiting a Zicam injury , as designated by the symptoms described above, such as anosmia, and have recently taken any nasal spray cold and flu remedies that were mentioned, contact your health care professional immediately. If your doctor or physician positively diagnoses you with anosmia, contact an injury lawyer immediately.

It does not matter if the symptoms are temporary or permanent. All that matters is that you get in touch with someone as soon as possible, so you can be sure to secure any recompense that you may be owed.


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