Zinc is added to denture cream to aid adhesion. In small doses, the mineral is safe for humans and, in fact, minimum amounts are needed to maintain normal bodily function. Starting in the 1950s, scientists began to note a link between zinc and copper deficiency. It took several more decades, however, before researchers began to connect excess zinc, copper deficiency, and neurological problems. And it wasn’t until 2008 that the zinc in denture cream was found to be a potential source of severe neuropathy.
With the dissemination of this new information two popular denture cream manufacturers, GlaxoSmithKline, maker of Poligrip, and Procter & Gamble, which manufacturers Fixodent, faced increased public scrutiny. While both companies maintained that their denture cream products were safe when used as directed, GSK nonetheless announced in February 2010 that it would no longer put zinc in its denture adhesives. But P&G, arguing that Fixodent only contains half as much zinc as Poligrip, still continues to sell denture cream containing zinc.
Chronic, excess zinc intake, such as that associated with denture cream use, can lead to copper deficiency and neurologic disease. When the body absorbs too much zinc, it can be purged of copper, which is needed to maintain healthy brain and nervous system functioning. Neuropathy, the medical term that describes disorders affecting the nerves of the peripheral nervous system (the part of the nervous system that contains the nerves outside of the brain and spinal cord), is a commonly reported result of denture cream zinc poisoning. If left untreated, neuropathy can lead to permanent disability and even death.
Denture cream is classified as a Class I medical device by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which means that manufacturers are not required to list ingredients or place warnings on product labels. But after studies linking denture cream zinc and nerve damage were published, GSK and P&G disclosed the zinc in their products. Additional pressure to take action was applied by injured consumers who began filing lawsuits against the companies. GSK by far took the stronger action of the two companies by first inserting a mild warning into its products’ boxes and then discontinuing its lineup of denture creams containing zinc. P&G, however, merely added a warning to its Web site and provided new label instructions on how to apply the adhesive.
While these measures may protect more denture cream users from suffering the severe side effects of zinc poisoning, they do little to ease the pain of those already injured. According to them, a failure to warn consumers about the risks makes the companies liable for the harms victims have suffered. This is the basis of hundreds of lawsuits filed against GSK and P&G.
Among those plaintiffs is a 62-year-old Poligrip customer who developed a blood disorder and is now limited to working two days a week. A twenty-six year old woman was diagnosed with zinc poisoning and now relies on a wheelchair to get around after she used Poligrip for a year. A fifty-three year old Poligrip user from North Carolina was forced to quit his car mechanic job and now users a walker.
The effects of zinc poisoning, hypocupremia (reduced copper content of the blood), hyperzincemia (zinc toxicity), or neuropathy can manifest in a number of ways, including:
§ Numbness, tingling, “buzzing,” pinching, or electric shocks in the arms and legs
§ Strange, unpleasant sensations when touching something
§ The inability to move arms, legs, feet, or hands
§ A lack of coordination when walking
§ The perception of wearing stockings or gloves (“gloves and stocking sensation”)
§ Reduced ability to perspire
§ Abnormal blood pressure and heart rate
§ Bladder dysfunction
Because neuropathy can leave you permanently disabled, early detection is critical. Therefore, if you are a denture cream user who experiences any of the side effects above, or note any other unexplained change in your health, you should visit your doctor immediately.
If you are diagnosed with neuropathy or another health problem related to zinc toxicity, consultation with experienced legal counsel is also important, as your health problems could entitle you to compensation from a denture cream manufacturer. The Rottenstein Law Group is currently evaluating claims by Poligrip and Fixodent users who allege that denture cream use caused their injuries. With more than 25 years of experience representing clients who have been harmed by big corporations, RLG knows what it take to obtain compensation for injured clients. To speak with an attorney about a potential Poligrip lawsuit, call us at 1 (888) 9-Rot-Law or contact us online.