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Zicam Settlement Reached in Some Lawsuits Over Loss of Smell Risk

  • Written by: Staff Writers
  • 10 Comments

A settlement has been reached by Matrixx Initiatives to resolve Zicam lawsuits filed by a group of plaintiffs who alleged that the company misrepresented the safety of their nasal sprays and gels, which federal regulators have indicated may cause people to lose their sense of smell. The company continues to face hundreds of Zicam injury lawsuits filed on behalf of consumers who have actually suffered loss of smell after using the cold remedy.

The Zicam settlement was reached last week, resolving 18 relatively small class action lawsuits filed by plaintiffs who purchased the product. The complaints alleged that Matrixx Initiatives misrepresented the safety and efficacy of Zicam prior to its removal from the market in June 2009.

A Zicam recall was issued last year after the FDA indicated that it had identified at least 120 reports of loss of smell with Zicam Cold Remedy Nasal Gel, Zicam Cold Remedy Nasal Swabs and Zicam Cold Remedy Swabs Kids Size. Within hours of the warning, Matrixx Initiatives agreed to remove the over-the-counter cold remedy from the market, and has seen a growing number of injury suits and class action lawsuits over Zicam filed in courts throughout the United States.

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.

Matrixx Initiatives announced the Zicam lawsuit settlement in a regulatory filing after the deal was signed on Thursday. Under the agreement, the company will pay $35,000 to lead plaintiffs in the class action lawsuits, and will pay attorney fees to be determined by the court. In addition, the company agreed to place certain warnings on the packages, should its nasal spray and gel products ever return to the market.

There remain at least 231 lawsuits over Zicam filed on behalf of nearly 800 plaintiffs involving loss of smell allegations that have yet to be resolved. Most allege that the company knew the products were dangerous and continued to market them anyway, causing plaintiffs to lose their sense of smell and taste or diminish it.

Last October, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation consolidated the federal Zicam litigation for pretrial proceedings in the District of Arizona. All of the lawsuits over Zicam contain similar arguments 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.

Matrixx Initiatives has attempted multiple times to get the FDA to withdraw its warning on Zicam, claiming that the agency does not have the scientific data to make a determination that Zicam causes anosmia, loss of the sense of smell. However, the FDA has refused. And while Zicam nasal sprays and gels were sold as an unregulated herbal supplement, the FDA has determined that the health risks of Zicam nasal products means that the nasal sprays and gels will first have to get FDA approval before returning to shelves.

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10 comments

  1. Jack Reply

    My wife suffered loss of sense and smell, we have been told that zicam is going to file bankruptcy so unless we go class action she cannot ever get anything? Anybody know about this/

  2. AliBAS Reply

    I basically was told the same thing. I also have filed a lawsuit which was settled, I was told, Dec,2010, out of court….It wasn’t a class action but was a ‘group’ type action. Can’t remember specifically what the attorneys called it. However, I was informed few days ago that the settlement has been made and that unless we all agree (approx 1800 of us) that we may possibly get nothing. I am upset over this, b/c I know what I have lost….It isn’t fair to me, that I may only received compensation that perhaps someone/others receive that have not truly suffered any loss. ..A few thousand isn’t nothing in comparison to the loss of almost 2 of my senses…Smell, completely, taste, almost gone! Now, I’ve read on internet where Matrixx is also being sued by the investors for not revealing the problems with their products. It is, it said, a $75M+ lawsuit…..We are between a rock and a hard place….do we settle for almost nothing or do we not..and hope that our case will be heard as individuals???? Good luck to your wife….p.s…I should have known when all the paperwork I had signed, filled out, etc…not one time asked how much I feel I should be compensated for…..that was ignorant on my part, I guess…..

  3. Shirley Reply

    I am to receive $200.00 for the loss of my sense of smell and taste. What a crock of crap. The attorneys win again. Mine was supposed to be a seperate case and ended up in a class action. The only winners in a class action is the attorneys.

  4. cathy Reply

    I TOO WAS AWARDED $200.00 FOR MY COMPLETE LOST OF TASTE AND SMELL( I PUT THAT IN ORDER OF IMPORTANCE TO ME) A KIM FROM WAGSTAFF SAID THEY DECIDED THAT AMOUNT BECAUSE I USED NASAL GEL WITH ZINCUM GLUCONICUM 2X
    (not a zinc product, but a salt by-product) I TOLD HER I DON’T CARE WHAT YOUR DOCTORS SAID, I HAVE SUFFERED A MAJOR LOSS JUST THE SAME, AND “MY” NEURO” DOCTOR AND MY “ENT” DOCTOR BOTH CAME TO THE SAME CONCLUSION “”IT WAS THE ZICAM THAT DID THIS DAMAGE”” I AM A VERY DEPRESSED PERSON CAUSE I LOST
    ONE OF MY GREATEST PLEASURES IN LIFE!!! MY TASTE!!!
    YES!! THE LAWYERS MADE MONEY OFF OUR VERY MISFORTUNES!!!!!!!!!!!!! HAD I KNOWN THEY WERE GOING TO MAKE THEIR DECISIION IN SUCH A “BULLSHIT (their doctor over my experts) MANNER, I WOULD NEVER HAVE GIVEN THEM THE CHANCE TO MAKE THIS KIND OF MONEY “OFF OF ME”

  5. Kathleen Reply

    Well I used the nasal gel, multiple times,it worked well, but also I have lost most of my sense of smell, and taste, I have not filed, so 200 dollars sounds better than what I have gotten, nada

  6. James Reply

    I also looss my smell after musing Zicam. What is my remendy?

  7. Debbie Reply

    I lost my sense of smell, and most of my taste and am left with a constant nasty other smell in my nose. I am so depressed that I may never smell all the things that I love including my husband and my future gra. Ndchildren. Is there any recourse at this point? What can we do? They are still in business making a similar product (without the zinc) on the grocery shelves. What can we do?..

  8. MARK Reply

    I hate to sound like an uninformed idiot but until recently I had no idea this was even going on. I have the same problem as you all are talking about. I’ve lost my smell almost 98% and my taste is affected. Unfortunately, since I do all the cooking for myself and my long-term ill wife, I have to depend on someone else tasting the food so I’ll know if I’ve got it right. Our whole world is falling apart because of greed. Unfortunately I have no money for a lawyer have my lawsuit and probably can I join in on the $200. But if anyone knows how I can get my piece of the pie, let me know.

  9. Patricia Reply

    I started using Zicam in January 1997. At first I thought it worked well. Then I started smelling metallic false smells. It was awful but I didn’t realize that it was the Zicam until I completely lost my sense of smell. I cannot smell anything. when the power went out and I was cooking I did not smell the gas until someone else smelled it and pulled me to safety.
    Not being able to smell flowers or my grandchildren when they were born makes me sad and angry. I am looking for a lawyer to represent my case.

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