Zicam Loss of Smell Lawsuit Filed Over Recalled Nasal Spray Cold Remedy

An Illinois woman is the latest plaintiff to file a Zicam lawsuit over claims that the recalled nasal spray version of the popular cold remedy destroyed her sense of smell.

The lawsuit was filed on December 31 in Madison County Circuit Court by Jennifer Glisson, adding to the growing number of number of lawsuits against Zicam following a June 2009 recall. All of the lawsuits involve claims that Zicam caused users to lose some or all of their sense of smell or taste.

Matrixx Initiatives issued the Zicam recall after the FDA warned consumers to stop using their Zicam nasal sprays and gels due to reports of at least 130 people losing their ability to smell. The warning was limited to the recalled nasal spray and gel products. FDA inspectors later determined that Matrixx Initiatives improperly withheld hundreds of other reports of Zicam problems, which should have been turned over to the federal regulatory agency.

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The FDA ordered Matrixx Initiatives to stop marketing Zicam nasal gel and swabs until they submit data establishing the safety and effectiveness of the cold remedy. The recalled Zicam products did not originally require FDA approval, as they were classified as homeopathic products, a classification usually reserved for herbal remedies. However, the FDA can force a company to have a product approved, regardless of classification, once a health concern has been identified.

Matrixx Initiatives has maintained that there is no scientific evidence linking Zicam and anosmia, but the agency has not allowed them to begin remarketing the nasal gel and swabs.

Glisson’s Zicam loss of smell lawsuit indicates that she developed problems shortly after using the nasal gel in the spring of 2008, according to a story in the Madison-St. Clair Record. She is suing Matrixx Initiatives for failure to properly warn about Zicam side effects and for manufacturing a defective product. Glisson seeks compensatory damages in excess of $50,000 and is seeking punitive damages as well, arguing that she suffered from mental anguish, pain, suffering and medical expenses.

In federal court, the Zicam litigation has been consolidated for pretrial proceedings in an MDL, or multidistrict litigation, under U.S. District Judge Frederick J. Martone in the District of Arizona.

12 Comments

  • K ONeillOctober 7, 2014 at 3:06 am

    I have tried all of the different Zicam products, and the nasal gel in the pump-tube was the BOMB! I'm using the mouth spray right now, and it seems to effect my taste buds because everything tastes spicy. I did not care for the losenges, did not find they worked at all, and the taste was terrible. Doctors know what smoking does to us, yet people have the right to buy them. Why can't a product[Show More]I have tried all of the different Zicam products, and the nasal gel in the pump-tube was the BOMB! I'm using the mouth spray right now, and it seems to effect my taste buds because everything tastes spicy. I did not care for the losenges, did not find they worked at all, and the taste was terrible. Doctors know what smoking does to us, yet people have the right to buy them. Why can't a product like Zicam Nasal Gel be sold with a warning label? I get a bronchitis/asthma fueled cold several times a year, and Zicam is the only product that's ever helped me through them.

  • UrsalaSeptember 5, 2013 at 9:36 pm

    I would like to know what the status is for bringing Zicam cold gel nasal swabs back to retailers. Every year, usually in the winter I suffer from a serious bout of bronchitis as a result of a cold. I used this product for years and I swear it is a cure for the common cold.

  • VanMarch 22, 2011 at 7:35 pm

    I have had nasal congestion since childhood after a severe bout of bronchitis. Trying to breathe with one nostril completely blocked while the other seriously congested, sound sleep was nearly impossible. I would often awaken gasping for air several times a night because I couldn't breathe through my nose. When I did sleep, my mouth would become excessively dry and often had a sore throat. My doct[Show More]I have had nasal congestion since childhood after a severe bout of bronchitis. Trying to breathe with one nostril completely blocked while the other seriously congested, sound sleep was nearly impossible. I would often awaken gasping for air several times a night because I couldn't breathe through my nose. When I did sleep, my mouth would become excessively dry and often had a sore throat. My doctor prescribed nose drop and spray medications to no avail. I've tried every antihistamine brand on the market but never got much more than a few hours relief until I came across Zicam Extreme at a trift store. To my pleasant surprise, after only one or two sprays from the pump applicatior, both nostrils were completely open. I started using Zicam Extreme on a regular basis in 2002. Then I began to notice I couldn't smell my food or ambient odors, the way I used to. I thought the loss was due to aging so I did not go to a doctor about it (I'm 67 years old as of Mar. 22, 2011). After talking to friends, they suggested the loss was not age related and I should see a doctor. After I retired three years ago, I didn't have health insurance and had to pay for office visits and test out of pocket. The first of this mouth I managed to get two evaluations from a doctor and ENT specialist. Both concluded the use of Zicam Extreme may have caused my permanent loss of smell, a now, taste

  • AliAugust 17, 2010 at 7:57 pm

    I kept hearing Zicam advertised on radio, so began to get a cold and was going out of town for a visit, so decided, from what was on the ad, to see if Zicam would reduce the severity of the cold or even prevent it...I bought the gel and followed the directions completely. I use very little meds of any kind and am very leery of them, so I always use precaution when I have to use any kind of meds/r[Show More]I kept hearing Zicam advertised on radio, so began to get a cold and was going out of town for a visit, so decided, from what was on the ad, to see if Zicam would reduce the severity of the cold or even prevent it...I bought the gel and followed the directions completely. I use very little meds of any kind and am very leery of them, so I always use precaution when I have to use any kind of meds/remedies. I didn't notice anything right away, either good or bad...but only used it maybe 1 week...It wasn't immediate that I noticed any changes in my sense of smell, but by January (I used it in Nov)...I accidentally discovered that I couldn't smell anything.....I didn't even relate it to Zicam at the time, in fact, never heard anything re: Zicam in any negative way. Gradually, it dawned me that I couldn't smell anything at all...and b/f that I remembered thinking some things just didn't have any taste or tasted weird!.....Somehow, and I'm not sure how, I found out that Zicam was being talked about by some, who had lost their sense of smell and some taste. Finally, my son in law sent me an emial stating that they took Zicam spray, gel, nose swabs off the market...that's when I ralized for sure that Zicam was the culprit in my situation. I still have my container to verify the fact that I did buy/use it, since it is no longer available and I'm thankful that I kept it. Had I any previous indication that Zicam was dangerous to your sense of smell, I'd have never ever used it.....It wasn't that important to me...having a cold isn't such a horrible thing that I'd risk my senses for!!!.....I went to my family dr, had an MRI of the sinuses, which he recommended I do, and that came back clear. I then went to an ENT...he diagnosed animosis and suggested that I'd not get my sense of smell back, ever. He told me the Zinc was the culpit in the Zicam and that it damages the olfactory nerve, and that that nerve is nonregenerative, meaning it cannot rebuild itself. So, then I contact an attorney. Unfortuantely, I was told that one cannot file a lawuit inthe state of MI against a drug/chemical company, a law that enacted uner a former governor. So, I have had to contact attorneys outside of my state. I am not hearing much feedback and that concerns me.....I am not doing the "class action suit" whiich attorney advised me against.....I am going to pursue this, however. I am angry that Matrixx continued to produce a product with the ingredient that they knew would/could harm senses even though they had alrady had problems and lawsuits. It has cause me much anguish and stress, not being able to smell. I've had incidents of near stove fires, and ruined foods, etc.....I can no longer go for a walk on a beautiful morn and smell the fresh air, or leaves burning in the autumn, or smell the roses or flowers flooming for fresh cut grass.....I can't even smell candles, air fresheners, or even my baby grandson's dirty diapers (ha).....It isn't fun at all.....It is a sense not much less important than your eyesight!!!.......and....I also can't tell if the food I cook is spiced corerctly or tasty.....I have developed a strange taste in my food and have had to relearn what certain food will taste like....it isn't the same as before, nothing is!!!

  • TraceyApril 21, 2010 at 2:22 am

    Thought I was starting to get a spring cold and decided to use the Zicam nasal swabs. I have used Zicam in the past with no bad effects. This time I used the swabs(correctly) twice in two days last week. Well, it didn't help my symptoms at all and now it has been 8 days and I have no sense of smell or taste. I am incredulous and horrified at the fact that I may never be able to smell again or tas[Show More]Thought I was starting to get a spring cold and decided to use the Zicam nasal swabs. I have used Zicam in the past with no bad effects. This time I used the swabs(correctly) twice in two days last week. Well, it didn't help my symptoms at all and now it has been 8 days and I have no sense of smell or taste. I am incredulous and horrified at the fact that I may never be able to smell again or taste??? These senses are a huge part of our lives and also my work (as a facility manager I am over a kitchen also). I contacted an online attorney firm and we will see where that goes.

  • FPApril 17, 2010 at 8:35 am

    Used two times, 3/15/2010 @ about 11pm and 3/16/2010 @ about 7pm. I think that I completely lost my sense of smell but since I am congested I cannot tell (I refuse to take any more medication so I will have to wait till congestion clears) I did not put it way up my nose but I can tell you that the first time I used it, when I primed it the gel almost hit the ceiling (about 10 ft) I'm about 6ft so[Show More]Used two times, 3/15/2010 @ about 11pm and 3/16/2010 @ about 7pm. I think that I completely lost my sense of smell but since I am congested I cannot tell (I refuse to take any more medication so I will have to wait till congestion clears) I did not put it way up my nose but I can tell you that the first time I used it, when I primed it the gel almost hit the ceiling (about 10 ft) I'm about 6ft so I was holding the bottle about 5ft high. I have not felt any burning sensation like some others reported. I tried to smell a couple of things while my nose was clear for a minute - got nothing at all. It is absolutely ridiculous. I never thought that the possibility of never having your sense of smell could be so daunting. I know it is probably just my mind but I feel like I can hear better already but that's probably because it is 4am and I'm never up this early. I also feel like I smell sulphur or something a little. I can still taste. I feel out of sorts - it is odd. Please do not think that ppl who lost their smell overused or put the thing straight up their nostrils - at least not all of them. I read the instructions because I really try to avoid medication most times - I just realized that my coworkers were probably annoyed by my congested speech and tissues etc so I decided to get something off the shelf at Safeway on my way home. You know my Mom is a doctor and probably knew about this but I didn't ask her advice! Anyway, I am writing this while in a rather strange state of mind. I may never be able to smell again. Gonna need to get some gas detectors and health insurance looks a lot more appealing after this experience as well. I am trying not to be devastated like the other ppl who had this experience but I can feel it heavy on my chest. How can companies be allowed to continue operating in circumstances like this?

  • gregApril 14, 2010 at 12:46 pm

    i lost my sense of smell and my doctor agrees that zicam caused it.i also have lost that ability to taste properly. i almost blew up my apartment because the stove didnt light properly.i used zicam for 2 weeks last year,after that i cant smell anything.it has seriously and probably irrevocably changed my life forever.

  • BradApril 9, 2010 at 4:05 am

    I used Zicam one time. The date was 3/4/10 and i have lost my sense of smell. I called the 1 800 # on the bottle and was told to see a doctor. DON'T THINK THIS STUFF IS HARMLESS, THROW IT IN THE TRASH!!!!!!

  • TyFebruary 8, 2010 at 9:26 pm

    My whole family has been using it for years and never had a problem. Until today. My sister just used some today (for the first time in a long time) and so far her sense of smell has not come back. The cause was pretty clearly the Zicam as she was able to smell before she used it.

  • TheresaFebruary 6, 2010 at 5:32 am

    I always lose my sense of smell and sense of taste when I get a cold, and it always takes a while to recover them. I've used Zicam Nasal Spray and Gel for the past ten years and have found nothing more effective in reducing the severity and duration of my colds. I feel that Zicam has helped me more than it has harmed me, and I hope that a comparable product is available soon.

  • mikeJanuary 21, 2010 at 1:45 am

    I have been using it for years with out any problems what so ever. I know at least 20 others who use it as well and no one has had any problems.

  • NELLJanuary 20, 2010 at 8:53 pm

    I HAVE USED ZICAM PRODUCTS SINCE THEY CAME OUT AND I STILL VERY MUCH STILL HAVE MY SENSE OF TASTE,SMELL, ETC. I BELIEVE ONE COULD OVERUSE ANYTHING IMPROPERLY AND GET NEG. SYMPTOMS. THESE ARE FINE PRODUCTS AND I WILL CONTINUE USING THEM AS LONG AS THEY ARE AVAILABLE. HAVE NEVER FOUND ANYTHING MORE EFFECTIVE IN CONTROLLING A SORE THROAT AND ENSUEING COLD.

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