In brief, 3 of the nasally-applied Zicam products (which are sold as supplements, and therefore not regulated by the FDA) may be causing people to lose their sense of smell. The FDA has urged patients to stop taking the products, and has notified the manufacturer that they will not be allowed to market these products without FDA approval.
My favorite part of this article:
On its Web site, however, Matrixx says the allegations are "unfounded and misleading."
The company contends that "there is no known causal link between the use of Zicam Cold Remedy nasal gel and impairment of smell. No well-controlled scientific study has demonstrated a potential cause-and-effect relationship between the use of Zicam and diminished smell function. No court cases have revealed any reliable evidence of any causal relationship."
Well, whaddaya know! They know how to play ball! They may not have to do "well-controlled scientific [studies]" to prove that their homeopathic product works, but they want the FDA to produce one to prove it hurts people!
Does Zicam cause anosmia? I have no idea. Matrixx is correct that there is no current proof of a causal relationship. However, if we regulated these supplementary products, at least for safety if not for efficacy, then we'd likely know the answer to this question. Not that it matters, as I've never used the stuff, but as I like to be able to stop and smell the roses (or at least my gardenias), then I will probably avoid Zicam--just to be safe. One fewer day of cold symptoms or a lifetime of not being able to enjoy eating as much... not much of a choice, in my book.