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MDL Judge Recommends Remand of Remaining Zicam Lawsuits

A federal judge has recommended an end to the consolidation and centralization of Zicam lawsuits, which began nearly two years ago after federal regulators forced the removal of Zicam nasal sprays and gels from the market due to a risk that users may experience permanent loss of smell.

U.S. District Judge Ferederick J. Martone, who has been presiding over the federal multidistrict litigation (MDL) for Zicam, issued an order on August 9, recommending the remand of all remaining federal lawsuits over Zicam back to the federal district courts where they were originally filed for trial or other possible resolutions.

Although more than 250 lawsuits were consolidated before Judge Martone at one time, only 13 cases remain unresolved over the risk that users may suffer loss of smell from side effects from Zicam cold remedies.

The Zicam litigation was consolidated under Judge Martone in October 2009 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona. The majority of those lawsuits have been resolved through various Zicam settlements after the company’s efforts to get the claims dismissed failed.

In the case of Zicam investor lawsuits, the cases went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which also rejected Matrixx Initiatives’ efforts to have the cases thrown out.

A Zicam recall was issued in 2009, after the FDA identified at least 120 adverse event reports involving loss of smell with Zicam Cold Remedy Nasal Gel, Zicam Cold Remedy Nasal Swabs and Zicam Cold Remedy Swabs Kids Size.

Although Matrixx Initiatives has maintained that their over-the-counter cold remedy could not be the cause for the problems, the manufacturer agreed to remove the product from the market following the FDA warning.

In the aftermath of the recall, FDA inspectors discovered 800 reports of Zicam problems that Matrixx Initiatives failed to forward to the agency, in violation of federal regulations.

The Zicam injury lawsuits alleged that zinc gluconate, the single active ingredient in nasal Zicam cold remedies, is toxic to the tissue inside the nose and can cause damage to a user’s ability to smell, detect odors or taste; a condition known as anosmia. In addition to causes a decreased quality of life, these Zicam smell and taste problems, could pose a more serious health risk to consumers, who may be unable to detect spoiled foods, gas leaks or other hazardous conditions.

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