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Denver Woman Blames Poligrip for Illness

Dec 1, 2009 | Parker Waichman LLP

Lawsuits against the makers of Poligrip, Fixodent and other zinc containing denture creams continue to be filed in courts across the country.  Recently, the Denver Post detailed the experience of  one Poligrip user who has filed such a lawsuit.  Her experience with denture cream zinc poisoning is very similar to what other denture cream lawsuit plaintiffs claim to have  experienced.

A small amount of zinc is necessary for a balanced diet. However, exposure to too much zinc can lead to copper depletion. Copper deficiency can lead to symptoms like weakness and numbness in arms and legs; difficulty walking and loss of balance; and even cognitive or memory impairment.

Most denture creams, including Poligrip and Fixodent, contain zinc as a bonding agent.  Denture cream lawsuits allege that the manufacturers of these products failed to warn about their risks and failed to provide adequate warnings about the zinc in their products, or adequate instructions to prevent deviation from accepted use. Earlier this year, the many denture cream lawsuits pending in federal courts  were consolidated for centralized and coordinated pre-trial proceedings in the Denture Cream Products Liability Litigation in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida, Miami Division, before the Honorable Judge Cecilia Altonaga (MDL No. 2051).

According to an article in the Denver Post, Rae Ann Schmaltz was only in her 40s when she began losing function in her legs.  She underwent numerous medical tests, including spinal taps, but doctors were unable to determine what was causing her neurological problems.  It wasn't until 2006, when her daughter found an article detailing three similar  cases on the Web site Medscape.  All three of the patients detailed in the article wore dentures and used adhesives that contained high levels of zinc. Two of them regained partial use of their limbs after ceasing use of the denture adhesives, according to the Post.

After learning of the article from her daughter, Schmaltz checked the package of Poligrip she was using,  but could find no health warnings, or even a list of ingredients.  According to the Denver Post, Schmaltz and her daughter next placed a call to the GlaxoSmithKline division that makes Poligrip, and asked for an ingredients list.  But they were told that the list was proprietary.

Schmaltz filed her denture cream lawsuit in January 2008. Hers is one of dozens facing the makers of Poligrip and Fixodent. 

Recently, GlaxoSmithKline began including an insert in packages of Super Poligrip informing users that the popular denture cream contains zinc, and warning that using excessive amounts may cause health problems.  The insert also cautions users to talk with their doctor if they use zinc supplements. It warns that using excessive amounts of the adhesive over a long-period of time could result in “serious health effects”.

The insert also includes directions for using Super PoliGrip, as well as diagrams and an illustration of the “proper” amount that should be used. The directions tell users that Super PoliGrip should only be used once a day, and that a tube of Super PoliGrip should last several weeks, depending on size.  Finally, it reassure s users that swallowing small amounts of Super PoliGrip can occur, and is not harmful.

Unfortunately for Rae Ann Schmaltz, and scores of others like her, the new information in the Super PoliGrip label  may have come too late.


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