Zicam: Now with Odor-Eliminating Power

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Matrixx Initiatives is on the defensive since they were ordered to stop selling Zicam intranasal cold remedies after more than 130 reports of people who lost their sense of smell after using the zinc-based, homeopathic products. A public health advisory posted on the FDA website said the products have all been associated with long-lasting or permanent loss of smell and have not been shown to be effective in the reduction of the duration and severity of cold symptoms.

The manufacturers marketed Zicam as a homeopathic treatment so that they didn t need FDA approval, explains ACSH s Jeff Stier. This is a problem because homeopathic supplements are like other diet supplements under the Dietary Supplements Health and Education Act of 1994 in that they don t need to be proven effective or even safe. This law s deferential treatment of dietary supplements is based on the unscientific notion that natural cures are somehow safer.

I would like to know just how dangerous this stuff is, says ACSH s Dr. Gilbert Ross, but we will probably never know, since they aren t required to tell us.
Either way, the benefits are unproven, so even a small risk is enough to take it off the shelves, says Stier.