Zinc Cold Remedies Linked to Loss of Smell

A new study published in the Archives of Otolaryngology – a journal of the American Medical Association – reports a link between over-the-counter zinc cold remedies and a loss of smell.

This is yet another indictment of zinc-based intranasal cold remedies. Last year, in June 2009, the FDA issued a Public Health Advisory warning consumers to stop using intranasal – i.e., gel and swab – Zicam products. The agency cited consumer reports of hyposmia (partial loss of smell) and anosmia (total loss of smell). At the time, the FDA also sent a warning letter to the maker of Zicam, Matrixx Initiatives, advising the company that it was not permitted to market the product without FDA approval. The FDA’s June 2009 actions came on the heels of Matrixx’s settlement of over 300 lawsuits arising from adverse effects on the sense of smell.