The Zicam Matrixx


I was an early adopter of Zicam when it came on the market 10 years ago.

Whenever I felt a cold coming on, I'd load up on the stuff along with Vitamin C and zinc lozenges.

So, last night I went searching through the bathroom cabinets to find my Zicam stash to toss it in the trash per the FDA's advisory.

There were three swabs left in the box of 20 that I bought at Costco.

When I dropped the box in the wastebasket I noticed the expiration date sticker on the bottom.

Oops. January 2006!

Regardless of the FDA warning, I guess I needed to throw it out.

Expired Zicam
Expired Zicam

But until yesterday if you asked me what company made and sold Zicam I wouldn't have had a clue. I'd never even heard of Matrixx Initiativesuntil the FDA news hit Tuesday morning. We immediately reached out to the Scottsdale, Arizona-based company for comment. The internal PR person said all of the execs were in a crisis response meeting and referred us to an outside Los Angeles PR agency. My producer, Ruth, quickly dialed them up. The poor receptionist was beginning to get a flood of media calls. She told Ruth that the two staffers on the Zicam account "weren't in yet" and that Ruth couldn't be put through to them. Okay, understandable given the relatively early hour on the west coast that the folks wouldn't be at their desks yet. But wouldn't you think that someone at MTXX would've called its outside reps asap and told them, "Hey, wake up or drop what you're doing. It's all hands on deck! And put your helmets on!?"

Hours later Matrixx put out a press releaseor statement, then another one and another one. Each time the rhetoric got hotter with Matrixx saying it'll do what the FDA says even though it strongly disagrees with the agency's action and was completely blindsided by it. Since yesterday, we've had an open invitation for the CEO to come on CNBC, but no reply yet. They eventually even tweeted about the recall on the Zicam Twitter pagewhich up until now had basically been used to hand out coupons.

At first, the shares fell 55 percent before being halted for trading for several hours yesterday. When they reopened later in the afternoon they fell 70 percent. This morning they're up slightly. Scott Henry at Roth Capital Partners, which makes a market in the stock, says the potential liability threatens the company's existence. Three years ago MTXX settled a bunch of loss-of-smell related lawsuits for $12 million, but didn't admit anything was wrong with Zicam. Today, the company insists the product is safe and it hopes to meet with the FDA to prove that.

In the meantime, after I use my outdated Zicam as a prop for (fingers crossed) a live interview with the MTXX CEO today, it is going in the trash.

UPDATE: Matrixx Initiatives acting President, CFO and COO William Hemelt has accepted our invitation. He will be appearing live in an exclusive interview on CNBC's "Street Signs" at approximately 2:35 p.m. ET today.

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