Flu Symptoms? Try Duck
Why sales of homeopathic products are soaring today
Cold-Eeze is made by Quigley Corp., a Pennsylvania-based company whose owner previously specialized in knock-off perfumes and health-food snacks. In 1992, its founder, Guy Quigley, signed a licensing deal with researchers who had patented a formula that suspended zinc in a lozenge. Medical researchers had long known of the effectiveness of zinc in fighting cold viruses; the problem had always been concocting a product that people can stand to eat. Cold-Eeze passes into the nasal cavity through the mouth and throat.
Sniffles. Quigley sought reputable medical research for his product. A study by the Cleveland Clinic Foundation found that Cold-Eeze shortened the duration of cold symptoms by 42 percent, and the results were published in a medical journal last summer.
The news sent Quigley stock soaring 6,000 percent. But researchers have since raised questions about the study; it has also come to light that the Cleveland Clinic doctor who conducted the study had invested in the company before releasing the results--and has since pocketed $144,000 in profits.
The company suffered a series of embarrassments, including a fake press release announcing that a key executive had resigned--when in fact he had stayed with the company. The stock nose-dived as a result. Some sources blame disreputable short-sellers for the misinformation, and Quigley has asked the Securities and Exchange Commission to investigate.
Despite the controversies, the company is plugging away. It has ramped up production to $1.5 million worth of the lozenges a week. Consumers can't seem to get enough of the product: In most pharmacies, Cold-Eeze sells out as soon as it hits the shelves.