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Study Links Zinc Nose Sprays, Loss of Smell

Zicam Zinc Nasal Products Removed From Shelves Last Year

Courts Find Evidence Lacking continued...

He notes that Matrixx’s own studies showed both zinc nasal spray and placebo sprays containing no zinc can cause occasional burning.

In 2006, Matrixx settled a lawsuit brought by 340 zinc-containing Zicam users for $12 million, and Hemelt says the company has settled other cases over the years.

But he adds that 10 judges in 10 cases have found little scientific evidence to support the claim that zinc-containing Zicam nasal products caused loss of smell.

In one such case, Davidson was rejected as an expert witness when the judge ruled his opinions on specific causation to be “seriously flawed.”

More than a dozen Zicam products remain on the market, including several oral zinc-based lozenges.

But none of the company’s nasal products still contain zinc gluconate.

“The products at issue were removed voluntarily more than a year ago,” Hemelt says. “There is absolutely no new scientific information in this analysis.”

Neurologist Robert I. Henkin, MD who directs the Taste and Smell Clinic in Washington, D.C., believes zinc-based nasal remedies can cause loss of sense of smell.

But he agrees that little scientific evidence exists to prove it.

“The most frequent cause of smell loss is the common cold,” he tells WebMD. “The role these zinc-based products play in initiating or exacerbating this condition remains very difficult to ascertain.”


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