Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Zicam, homeopathic drugs under fire

Though widely sold for years as a treatment for colds, Zicam Cold Remedy was never tested by federal regulators for safety. Then it was linked to 130 reports of users who lost their sense of smell.

Tuesday, the FDA warned consumers not to buy Zicam, and told the manufacturer to stop marketing it until it can prove its safety.

Zicam and hundreds of other homeopathic remedies — highly diluted drugs made from natural ingredients — are legally sold as medical treatments. Yet, like dietary supplements, they aren't regulated by federal authorities in the way that conventional medicines are. Here is a quick look at the situation:

What are homeopathic drugs?

They are highly diluted drugs made from natural ingredients, based on the principal that substances that create certain symptoms in healthy people are effective in treating the disease that causes the same symptoms.

Who ensures conventional drugs, homeopathic remedies and dietary supplements are made properly?

The Food and Drug Administration sets manufacturing standards for both conventional and homeopathic drugs. But homeopathic products are generally exempt from key requirements, like verifying the ingredients and the amount used.

As for supplements, the FDA in 2007 adopted manufacturing practices that set broad goals for safety and quality, which are being phased in through 2010.

Unlike conventional drugs, neither supplements nor homeopathic products are normally required to prove they are safe or effective before going on the market.

Are homeopathic remedies and dietary supplements labeled to say what medical problem they treat?

Homeopathic remedies, like regular drugs, must state what condition they are designed to treat. But supplements are forbidden from claiming to treat a specific condition.

What happens when safety problems arise with these alternative treatments?

The FDA may intervene and remove them from the market, as with conventional drugs.

Zicam, homeopathic drugs under fire 06/17/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, June 17, 2009 6:29pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Southwest Airlines to offer flights from Tampa to San Diego


    TAMPA — Southwest Airlines will offer new nonstop service from Tampa International Airport to San Diego International Airport beginning Jan. 8, 2018.

    Southwest Airlines is planning to launch service from Tampa to San Diego.
[Times file photo]
  2. The greatest coaches never to win it all


    As foregone conclusions go, some things are approaching the death-and-taxes stratosphere: summer humidity in Florida, a Kardashian seeking attention, and Mike Martin coming up short in Omaha.

    Florida State coach Mike Martin walks to the mound to talk to pitcher Cole Sands during the second inning of the team's NCAA College World Series baseball game against LSU Wednesday in Omaha, Neb. [AP photo]
  3. Tampa Bay homes values continue to rise along with sales prices

    Real Estate

    For the second month in a row, Tampa Bay had one of the highest year -over-year increases in home values in May, Zillow reported today.

    For the second month in a row, Tampa Bay had one of the highest year -over-year increases in home values in May, Zillow reported Thursday.
[Times file photo]
  4. Busy start has Florida Hospital Center Ice dreaming big


    WESLEY CHAPEL — Opening day brought 600 doctors, administrators and their families from Florida Hospital. Soon after that, the facility hosted its first junior league game and a collegiate showdown. A few weeks later, 200 kids, ages 4 to 9, participated in national Learn to Play Hockey Day.

    Alex Senushkin and his grandson, Styopa Kulshyn, 3, of Lakeland, skate at the Florida Hospital Center Ice rink in Wesley Chapel.
[CHARLIE KAIJO   |   Times]

  5. Charlie Crist calls for national day of civility


    WASHINGTON – A week after a gunman opened fire on a group of Republicans, Rep. Charlie Crist this morning called for the establishment of a national day of civility, saying “the need for action could not be more urgent.”

    A note from Rep. Charlie Crist