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Poligrip, Fixodent Lawsuits Claiming Zinc Poisoning Being Filed Around the Country

Jun 5, 2009 | Parker Waichman LLP

Poligrip and Fixodent denture creams have been named in a number of lawsuit filed in federal courts around the country that allege exposure to zinc in the products caused users to suffer from neuropathy and other neurological problems.  According to the National Law Journal, the lawsuits name GlaxoSmithKline, the maker of Poligrip, and Proctor and Gamble, the maker of Fixodent, as defendants.

The plaintiffs in the lawsuits contend that the zinc in denture cream can cause copper deficiency, and that in turn can lead to severe neurological problems.  As we've reported previously, a 2008 study published in the journal Neurology found that four neuropathy patients who had used excessive amounts of denture cream had extremely high levels of zinc in their blood. Their use of denture cream was the only thing the patients had in common, besides their neuropathy.  The researchers from the University of Texas who conducted the study concluded that  the use of denture cream was the only “plausible explanation” for the patients' high zinc levels and copper deficiencies.

Symptoms of zinc denture cream poisoning include:

• numbness or tingling in the feet, legs, hands, and/or arms;
• a reduction in strength or ability to move legs or feet, or arms and hands;
• unexplained pain in the extremities;
• a tendency to stumble or fall down; instability and lack of balance;
• change or decrease in walking stride;
• abnormal blood pressure and heart rate;
• reduced ability to perspire;
• constipation and/or bladder dysfunction;
• sexual dysfunction.

Most of the more than 35 million Americans who wear dentures have no idea that denture adhesives can be dangerous. Because denture creams like Fixodent and Poligrip are considered to be a Class I medical device, the Food & Drug Administration does not require their labels to warn that excessive use may lead to zinc poisoning and neurological problems.

According to the National Law Journal,  a dozen denture cream lawsuits are now pending in federal courts in California, Colorado, Florida, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Tennessee, and others are on the way.  One  law firm, Morgan & Morgan, told the Journal that it is in the process of evaluating about 3,000 such cases and is nearly ready to file about 40.  It has partnered with two other firms, including New York-based Parker Waichman LLP, that together have about 75 denture cream lawsuits ready to go, the National Law Journal said.

On May 28, the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation in Louisville, Kentucky held hearings about possibly consolidating  all federal lawsuits against GlaxoSmithKline and Proctor & Gamble in a single jurisdiction.   

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