NewsChannel 11 Investigates: Confusion Over Recalled Zicam Products

By Nicole Pesecky - bio | email

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - Questions from concerned viewers prompt a NewsChannel 11 investigation after the Food and Drug Administration recommends the recall of some popular over the counter products.

Viewers say, nearly 3 weeks after the voluntary recall, they continue to see Zicam products on store shelves across Lubbock. Investigator Nicole Pesecky clears up the confusion on which products should or shouldn't be used.

Matrixx, the maker of Zicam, voluntarily recalled two of their cold products after the FDA issued a warning when more than a hundred people lost their sense of smell after using the product. The recall includes all Zicam cold remedy nasal gel and gel swabs. The allergy relief gel swabs look almost identical, causing some confusion on which products were recalled. The FDA says the "allergy relief" products are fine to use.

A voluntary recall means the two cold remedy products don't have to be removed but it is highly recommended. FDA officials tell us, "Our main concern is that we've had a number of reports of loss of sense of smell in consumers that use the Zicam cold remedy products, that's the one's used in the nose."

NewsChannel 11 received calls about these products, confused about what's safe and what's not. "Zinc is very toxic to the neural cells that give us our sense of smell," says Doctor Pershall who specializes in ear, nose and throat medicine and surgery.

Zinc is the ingredient used to condense the common cold. That product is in the two recalled products which caused some patients to lose their sense of smell all together. "Our review included more than 130 patients that reported that they had experienced a loss of smell because of the product. There may be a larger number there probably is a larger number out there. Normally there is a number of underreporting that occurs," explains an FDA doctor.

NewsChannel 11 checked with the major pharmacies in Lubbock to see what they offered. All had removed the recalled medicines from shelves.

"The firm is conducting a voluntary recall right now, and the FDA is working with the firm to ensure that it's a thorough and adequate recall," an official with the FDA explains. The recall is still in the process so don't be surprised to see Zicam cold remedy nasal gel and gel swabs on shelves. You should know what the consequences could be if you choose to use them.

Doctor Pershall says he's been recommending that his patients discontinue the use of zinc via nostril for years. "The benefit is a little bit mild case of the common cold, it doesn't eliminate it, it's not the cure, to me it's a very high risk for a serious problem for a minor gain and based upon that I would advise against it," Pershall says.

If you have used either product and experienced loss of your sense of smell, the FDA urges you to report it at the MedWatch system on their web site by (clicking here).

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