Zicam and manufacturer blamed for woman's loss of smell, taste

Kelly Holleran Jan. 12, 2010, 3:44am

A woman claims she lost her sense of smell and taste after using a homeopathic remedy.

Mary Pat Bollone filed a lawsuit Dec. 31 in St. Clair County Circuit Court against Matrixx Initiatives and Zicam.

Bollone claims she purchased and used Zicam -- a homeopathic remedy for the common cold manufactured by Matrixx – in March 2008.

Because of her use of the product, Bollone sustained permanent loss of smell and taste; suffered disability, loss of a normal life, pain, suffering and extreme emotional distress; and incurred medical costs, according to the complaint.

Matrixx should have recalled Zicam long before Bollone suffered her injuries, the suit states.

It began manufacturing Zicam in 1999, using zinc gluconate as the active ingredient in the drug. Zicam delivers the zinc gluconate to the nasal membranes through either a gel, spray or swab, the complaint says.

Since 1999, Matrixx and the FDA have been receiving complaints from consumers who say that Zicam adversely affected their ability to smell and taste. However, Matrixx did not investigate the complaints and continued to sell the drug, Bollone claims.

It even released a statement Feb. 6, 2004, stating, "Reports alleging anosmia – or loss of smell – in a small number of patients using zinc gluconate intranasal gels for the treatment of the common cold are completely unfounded and misleading," according to the complaint.

Not even a multi-million dollar settlement reached between Matrixx and hundreds of individuals who used Zicam on Jan. 19, 2006, could stop the company from selling the drug, the suit states.

Not until the FDA issued a release on June 16, 2009, advising consumers to stop using Matrixx's product did Matrixx recall Zicam, the complaint says.

In her 10-count suit, Bollone seeks a judgment of more than $500,000, plus costs and other relief the court deems just.

J. Michael Weilmuenster, Stephen R. Wigginton and Frederick W. Keck of Weilmuenster and Wigginton will be representing her.

St. Clair County Circuit Court case number: 09-L-693.

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