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FDA Investigating Zicam Complaints

Apr 6, 2004 |

Retired Air Force Colonel T.D. Woodruff has spent decades entertaining our troops around the world. About three and a half years ago, he noticed a change in his senses.

"It's caused a little bit of distress in some of the tonal qualities that I used to be able to reach," says Woodruff.

More importantly he says he also lost his sense of taste and smell. He blames a nasal spray he used.

"I noticed that I couldn't smell the breakfast, bacon and eggs, I couldn't smell at all and normally that's a nice pleasant smell for me and then I sat down to eat the breakfast and I couldn't taste a thing. And that was basically within 24 hours of the use of Zicam," Woodruff says.

Zicam Cold Remedy is a homeopathic product that you spray into your nose. The active ingredient is Zinc Gluconate. The box says it's proven to shorten a common cold. But Woodruff says, not only has it stolen his ability to smell his favorite things like Thanksgiving dinner and a morning cup of coffee, there's a safety issue.

Woodruff says, "I have no sense of the smell of smoke for instance, I can't tell if the house is on fire."

He's suing Matrixx Initiatives, the Phoenix company that produces Zicam. Currently, there are four lawsuits underway in Arizona alone with at least 70 plaintiffs.

CBS 5 News contacted Matrixx to talk about the lawsuits. A public relations specialist declined an on-camera interview but faxed us a statement dated nearly two months ago saying:"reports alleging anosmia, or loss of smell, are completely unfounded and misleading."

The company cites two studies on Zinc Gluconate, saying: "in neither study were there any reports of anosmia. At this time, the company is not aware of any investigation by a regulatory body with regard to the product."

But when CBS 5 News checked with the FDA, we found out they are actively investigating claims that patients lost smell because of Zicam.

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