GlaxoSmithKline has disclosed that in 2009, there was an increase in the number of adverse event reports it received regarding zinc-containing Super PoliGrip denture adhesives. In a letter to dentists dated February 18, GlaxoSmithKline said those reports, together with the published literature, suggest that excessive use of zinc-containing denture creams may lead to the development of excessive levels of zinc in the blood, associated with copper deficiency.
The human body does need zinc – but only in small amounts. Studies show that consuming at least 50 milligrams of zinc a day for a few months could lead to copper deficiency, which can cause anemia, bone loss, nerve damage and other problems. Ingesting 80 or 100 milligrams or more for months or even years can lead to irreversible damage.
The same day GlaxoSmithKline’s letter was released, the company announced it would voluntarily stop the manufacture, distribution and advertising of Super PoliGrip varieties that contain zinc. Those products – Super PoliGrip ‘Original’, ‘Ultra Fresh’ and ‘Extra Care’ – will be reformulated, with new zinc free varieties expected to be available this spring. In spite of this action, none of these products is being recalled and those currently in stores are still available for sale.
Since GlaxoSmithKline made its announcement regarding zinc-containing Super PoliGrip denture creams, Parker Waichman LLP, a national law firm that has filed suit against the makers of zinc-containing denture cream, has issued several statements calling on GlaxoSmithKline to issue a full recall of all Super PoliGrip products made with zinc. The firm has also appealed to Wal-Mart, Target and other retailers to pull these denture creams from their shelves.
Dozens of people have filed lawsuits claiming excessive exposure to zinc in products like Super PoliGrip caused them to suffer from severe neurological injuries. Last year denture cream lawsuits pending in federal courts were consolidated in a multidistrict litigation in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida, Miami Division, before the Honorable Judge Cecilia Altonaga (MDL No. 2051).