East Texan says she lost her sense of smell to Zicam

By Courtney Lane - bio | email
Posted by Ellen Krafve - email

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - Mary Ann Brandon of Tyler is praising an announcement by the FDA for consumers to stop using some Zicam products (an over-the-counter cold medicine). It's a battle Mary Ann has been fighting for nearly two years after losing her sense of smell and taste.

Everyday activities are not only difficult for Mary Ann, they're dangerous.

"I can't smell harmful smells, such as food burning, which I have done," said Mary Ann. "Then there was the day that the man came to my door and said, 'Ma'am, you obviously have a gas leak. Do you not smell this gas?'"

Then, there are the little things most of us take for granted.

"The pleasure factor, you know, of not being able to smell my kids and my husband," she said. "And, I grow about 20 different varieties of roses and I can't smell my roses anymore."

She said it all stems from one little bottle...the Zicam nasal gel she still has from nearly two years ago.

"I squirted it one time in each nostril, and in about 10 minutes I just felt this intense burning," said Mary Ann. "The next morning when I got up and went in to fix something to eat, I discovered that I couldn't smell it or taste it. So it was pretty immediate, my loss, and tasted like sawdust in my mouth. It was just nothing."

The medicines contain zinc, which scientists say damage nerves in the nose. After complaints and thousands of lawsuits, the FDA says do not use three products: Zicam nasal gel, Zicam nasal swabs for adults or Zicam swabs for kids. The drug's maker says the FDA's action is unwarranted. They also say they'll suspend shipments and reimburse consumers.

They may have to shell out more. Mary Ann is one of thousands suing the company.

"They are very clearly putting profits before people," she said.

Three years ago, the company paid $12 million to settle several hundred claims. Because this is marketed as a "homeopathic" remedy, it's not tested or regulated by the FDA.

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