Zicam Lawsuits Filed Over Loss of Smell

More than 100 people have filed Zicam lawsuits against Matrixx Initiatives, Inc. in the wake of a recall issued last week for several versions of their cold remedy over concerns that they may cause a loss of the sense of smell.

One lawsuit filed in Arizona and another filed in Florida, are among the first cases brought since the recall. Although Matrixx Initiatives has previously faced several hundred lawsuits over Zicam filed by users who claim to have lost their sense of smell or taste, it is expected that the number of cases filed will increase dramatically now that the product has been removed from the market.

Matrixx Initiatives issued a Zicam recall on June 16 for their Nasal Gel and Nasal Swab cold remedies. The recall came after the FDA warned consumers to stop using the products due to 130 reports of users who may have lost their ability to smell because of Zicam side effects. The FDA also included Zicam Cold Remedy Swabs, Kids Size, in their warning, but that product was previously discontinued by Matrixx.

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The Zicam lawsuits include plaintiffs from more than 30 states and even include a U.S. contractor in Afghanistan. Other plaintiffs include the chef of a Las Vegas restaurant and an Arizona Supreme Court research analyst. All say they lost all or some of their sense of smell after using Zicam products.

The complaints allege that the use of zinc gluconate in the Zicam intranasal products causes anosmia, which impairs an individuals ability to smell. These problems can be long-lasting and permanent. In addition to quality of life issues caused by an inability to smeall, it can also be life-threatening because it may prevent an individual from being able to smell gas leaks, smoke or other dangerous conditions.

The largest lawsuit, representing 117 plaintiffs, was filed in Arizona Superior Court, where Matrixx Initiatives is based. The product liability lawsuit charges the company with negligence, fraud, negligent misrepresentation and breach of warranties.

Although Matrixx Initiatives has continued to defend the safety of their products, stating that the zinc is not deposited far enough up the nose or in large enough amounts to cause nerve damage, it has been reported that the company paid about $12 million to settle more than 300 Zicam lawsuits in 2006.

Last week, Matrixx Initiatives disclosed that they had withheld at least 800 consumer complaints about Zicam problems with smell from the FDA. The lawsuits against Matrixx allege that they were aware of the potential problems caused by their products, and failed to take adequate steps to warn consumers about the dangers or research the safety of their product.

Throughout the United States, a number of Zicam recall lawyers are investigating potential cases for individuals who have suffered a loss of their ability to smell, and it is expected that more lawsuits will be filed in the coming months.


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