A $429,000 settlement has been reached between the makers of Zicam allergy and cold medicines and several California counties over allegations that the company was attempting to mislead consumers with their packaging.
According to a November 30 consumer protection lawsuit filed by the District Attorneys’ offices in Los Angeles, Sacramento, Fresno, Shasta and Riverside counties, Matrixx Initiatives was packaging Zicam in large, oversized boxes in an attempt to fool consumers into thinking they were buying far more of the popular homeopathic remedy than what was actually inside the box. The lawsuit was quickly resolved by the company, which agreed to the monetary Zicam settlement as well as to resize its packaging.
Matrixx Initiatives officials said they do not believe the company was guilty of any wrongdoing, but decided to quickly resolve the matter to avoid lengthy litigation.
The settlement comes as the company is facing a number of Zicam lawsuits by consumers who claim that the use of a recalled version of Zicam nasal sprays and gels caused them to suffer temporary or permanent loss of smell, a condition known as anosmia.
A Zicam recall was issued for three different versions of the cold remedy in July 2009, after the FDA warned that it had received at least 130 reports of users losing their sense of smell after use of Zicam Cold Remedy Nasal Gel, Zicam Cold Remedy Nasal Swabs and Zicam Cold Remedy Swabs Kids Size. However, the company continues to sell other products under the Zicam brand that were not affected by the recall.
Those lawsuits over Zicam nasal gel and swabs allege 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 users ability to smell, detect odors or taste.
In August, Matrixx Initiatives reached a settlement in 18 Zicam class action lawsuits filed by plaintiffs who claimed that Matrixx Initiatives misrepresented the safety and efficacy of Zicam prior to its removal from the market in June 2009.