New research has led to the filing of hundreds of lawsuits by denture cream users who claim that products such as Fixodent and Poligrip caused them to develop a severe neurological disorder known as neuropathy. In 2008, researchers at the University of Texas published a landmark study in the medical journal Neurology that suggested a link between the zinc in denture cream, used to aid adhesion and eliminate odors, and nerve damage. Since then litigation has ensued nationwide, with plaintiffs alleging that manufacturers such as GlaxoSmithKline (Poligrip) and Procter & Gamble (Fixodent) failed to warn consumers about the dangers of their products.
Although zinc is a required mineral in small doses, ingesting too much can lead to low copper levels in the body, which in turn can cause nerve damage. Neuropathy may initially cause symptoms such as poor balance and loss of sensation in the extremities and in severe cases, could lead to paralysis. Many of the injured plaintiffs bringing suit have been forced to stop working and require a cane, walker, or wheelchair to get around and some may require lifelong care. The physical, emotional, and financial impact of such injuries are immense, and are why many plaintiffs are seeking compensation from denture cream manufacturers such as GSK and P&G.
The allegation that these drugmakers failed to warn the public about the dangers of denture cream zinc, as well as the expectation of compensation by injured consumers, are supported by product liability laws. These laws provide protection for individuals injured by products by holding the entities that make those products available, including manufacturers, distributors, suppliers, and retailers, responsible for injuries they cause. Denture cream plaintiffs are specifically invoking “marketing defect” (or “failure to warn”) product liability laws.
When the University of Texas study was first published, GSK and P&G maintained that their products were safe when used in recommended amounts. But with lawsuits beginning to mount, GSK removed the zinc from its Poligrip products. P&G, arguing that Fixodent contained only half the zinc as Polident, continues to manufacture denture cream containing zinc. It remains to be seen how either company’s stance affects the pending litigation against them. Hard to overlook, however, is the fact that neither manufacturer even listed zinc as a denture cream ingredient until the University of Texas findings were published.
Which begs the questions: What did the manufacturers know and when did they know it? Although denture cream is regulated by the FDA, its qualification as a “Class I” medical device means it is considered low risk, and makers are not required to list ingredients on their labels. Nonetheless, all manufacturers owe consumers a duty to protect them from harm, and based on the availability of scientific literature linking zinc to nerve damage, it would seem that some denture cream manufacturers violated this duty.
For decades there has been a well-established link between excessive zinc levels and depleted copper levels. In 1992, a study was published that tied copper deficiency to neurological disorder. And earlier this decade, two studies were published that demonstrated zinc’s potential neurotoxicity and ability to cause nerve damage. Thus, even though studies such as the one from the University of Texas only recently established a relationship between the zinc in denture cream and neuropathy, the connection between zinc toxicity and nerve damage has been known for quite some time. A prominent Vanderbilt University neurologist who published findings that support those of UT researchers stated that the link between excess zinc and neurological disorders are “…nothing new. If you researched the field, you would find out.”
Which means that GlaxoSmithKline and Procter & Gamble either did not research or else knowingly withheld the results of their pharmacological sleuthing. If the attorneys representing injured denture cream users can prove the latter, this would certainly entitle their plaintiffs to compensation. But it also seems reasonable that international corporations that regularly spend millions of dollars on research and development would uncover the catastrophic side effects of the products they sell. If the courts determine this, it could also mean financial reparations for denture cream injury victims.
If you used a denture cream such as Fixodent or Poligrip and developed hyperzincemia (zinc poisoning), hypocupremia (low copper levels) or neuropathy, then you too may have cause to take legal action against GSK, P&G, or another manufacturer. To discuss the validity of your Fixodent or Poligrip lawsuit, contact the Rottenstein Law Group today. Our product liability attorneys have been helping injured consumers take on large corporations for more than 25 years. We know what it takes to hold negligent companies liable for their actions and will treat you with the compassion you deserve during this trying time.
Have you experienced complications from using Poligrip as your denture cream? Learn more about Poligrip lawsuits and see what you can do.