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FDA Investigates Nasal Zinc Products

Consumers Who Have Zicam, Cold-Eeze Complaints Can Call FDA Hot Line

POSTED: 11:00 AM MST February 10, 2004
UPDATED: 3:39 PM MST February 10, 2004

DENVER -- Some users of zinc nasal spray made by Zicam and Cold-Eeze have lost their sense of smell. After 7NEWS Investigator John Ferrugia broke the story last week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is accepting complaints on those products through its hot line.


FDA Investigating Nasal Zinc Products

7NEWS has received more than 80 consumer complaints from around the country through e-mails and phone calls. Most complaints were about Zicam.

"I have suffered from anosmia (loss of smell) since April '03 after using Zicam gel for cold symptoms," one viewer wrote.

"I had a bad reaction from using Cold-Eeze nasal spray. The next morning, I felt better, but I could not smell and my sense of taste was almost gone," another viewer wrote.

Both companies say their products are safe and have had no indication in any studies that their intranasal zinc products have caused anyone to lose their sense of smell.

But Dr. Richard Doty, a well-known nose expert from the University of Pennsylvania and a consultant for Zicam, told 7NEWS, "I don't have a scientific opinion as to whether it has adverse effects. I just don't know ... there are no studies out there."

"Studies need to be done, careful and conservative studies," he said.

Another nose specialist, Dr. Karl Whitley, is a paid consultant for Cold-Eeze. He said, "Everyone is going to look into it more deeply because of this story."

"Going forward it is clearly prudent to test more extensively what side effects people develop," Whitley said.

But that is little consolation for consumers who have been told by their doctors that their loss of smell may be permanent.

These complaints involve the nasal zinc product of both Zicam and Cold-Eeze but they don't include other products, such as lozenges, sold by those companies.

If you have had problems with the nasal zinc products, the FDA wants to hear from you. You can call toll-free (888) INFO-FDA or (888) 463-6332 or fill out a special form on the FDA's Web site.

Additional Resources:
Have You Had Similar Problems? Submit A Report To The FDA

Contact The Investigators About This Story
Discuss This Story With Others
Cold-Eeze's Web site
Zicam's Web site
University of Colorado: Department Of Otolaryngology
University Of Connecticut Taste and Smell Center

Previous Stories:
February 7, 2004: Chef Claims Cold-Eeze Spray Killed Her Sense Of Smell
February 6, 2004: User Says Zicam Robbed Her Of Sense Of Smell
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