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Health care journalist accuses drug maker of 'disease mongering'

The cold remedy Zicam has come under Gary Schwitzer's crosshairs on MedPageToday, in an article in which he lambasts Matrixx Initiatives for the marketing and advertising methods it uses in selling Zicam.

This isn't the first time a drug maker has come under scrutiny for its marketing and advertising. We have been posting regular entries about the blood-thinning drug Pradaxa, which doesn't appear to have been marketed as it should.

Way back in 2009, the FDA warned consumers about a permanent loss of the sense of smell from using Zicam, a homeopathic treatment, and the federal agency issued a blanket urge to consumers to stay away, as CNN reports. Matrixx Initiatives, however, disclaimed the FDA's warning, saying that there was no scientific evidence of adverse side effects.

Now, as Schwitzer describes, Zicam advertising urges consumers to use the drug at the first signs of a "Pre-Cold" (a name which has been trademarked), which is that unfortunate range of symptoms - sniffle, sneeze, cough, throat tickle, tiredness, soreness - which precede the onset of a cold.

Schwitzer is basically saying that Matrixx Initiatives has made up a new disease (the "Pre-Cold") and has produced a remedy to cure it (Zicam), all in spite of the fact of little evidence that homeopathic remedies for "pre-colds" actually work.

Source: New Poster Child for Disease-Mongering?

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