GlaxoSmithKline, the maker of Poligrip has reportedly spent millions of dollars over the past nine months to settle lawsuits claiming that excessive exposure to zinc in the popular denture cream caused severe neurological injuries. Though Glaxo has not confirmed how much it has spent settling Poligrip zinc poisoning lawsuits, it did state in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing earlier this year that it had “reached agreements in principle to settle the vast majority of the current cases.”
Unidentified sources told Bloomberg that the Poligrip zinc poisoning settlements averaged more than $1 million apiece, and total around $120 million.
Glaxo’s Super Poligrip Original, Ultra Fresh and Extra Care products all contained zinc, which improves adhesive power, until the company reformulated the products to be zinc-free last year. Glaxo had said the Super Poligrip products were reformulated because of reports of neurological injuries possibly associated to excessive exposure to zinc in the denture creams.
The possible association between excessive exposure to zinc in denture creams in neurological injuries was first discussed in a study in the journal “Neurology” in 2008. Since then, scores of lawsuits have been filed by alleged zinc poisoning victims claiming that Glaxo, as well as Procter & Gamble, the maker of Fixodent, failed to provide adequate warnings about the health consequences of zinc.
Last year, Procter & Gamble did alter its Fixodent label to include a caution about overuse of the product, but those products haven’t been reformulated.
The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has not issued a consumer warning regarding the risk of zinc poisoning from Fixodent and other dentures creams. However, in a February 23 letter to denture cream makers, the FDA recommended that they take actions to mitigate the risks of denture cream zinc poisoning, including possibly replacing zinc with a safer ingredient.
Denture cream lawsuits from around the country have been consolidated in federal court in Miami, Florida. The first trial, which involves Fixodent, is scheduled to start on June 20.