The denture cream legal lawsuits allege product liability, negligence, failure to warn, fraud and consumer protection claims against GlaxoSmithKline, which manufactures Poligrip, and Proctor & Gamble, which makes Fixodent. This page is focused on Poligrip.
Plaintiff's allege that two manufacturers of denture cream, GlaxoSmithKline (Poligrip) and Proctor and Gamble (Fixodent), failed to warn of the dangers of excessive zinc in their cream. According to an article in the medical journal Neurology written by Dr. Sharon P. Nations from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, which has been cited by Poligrip denture cream lawyers, zinc poisoning can occur with the use of high amounts of denture cream. Dr. Nations' study identified four patients with various neurological abnormalities in the setting of hypocupremia and hyperzincemia. Each of these patients wore dentures and used very large amounts of denture cream chronically. The result is copper deficiency myeloneuropathy (CDM).
Sure, Dr. Nations’ study just involved four patients. But let's apply some complex calculus. 2+2=4 it is well known that zinc poisoning can cause hosts of neurological problems, including paralysis, tingling, muscle weakness, numbness, neuropathy (reduction in strength of extremities and loss of balance), bone marrow failure and anemia. Sure the manufacturers of Poligrip are going to argue that the patients used excessive denture cream. But that argument is going to fail. Are they surprised that some denture cream users consumed a great deal of denture cream? Here's the kicker: the FDA does not require manufacturers of Class I medical devices like denture cream to show how much zinc their products contain. So, consumers have no way of knowing that these products can be dangerous.
Zinc is not a bad thing in small amounts and it serves its purpose in helping loose fitting dentures stick. That’s not a problem if the dentures are perfectly fitted and the Super Poligrip denture users only need a small amount of denture cream. But many don't have perfect fitting dentures. This led many unknowingly into a great deal of zinc.
Common causes of CDM include zinc toxicity, due to either zinc supplements, prescribed zinc, or zinc-containing denture cream, or malabsorption due to gastrointestinal surgery or other causes of malabsorption.
Because doctors often do not know their patients are wearing dentures, there was a real dealy in understanding that large amounts of zinc were in denture cream. Many injuries that should be denture cream lawsuits will never see the light of day because many denture wearers are not going to link their neurological problems with zinc poisoning. But with 35 million denture wearers, injuries from zinc overdose from denture cream may be more significant than even denture cream lawyers fully appreciate right now.
The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) heard oral arguments on June 1st regarding whether the denture cream lawsuits should be merged together for pretrial discovery (a class action lawsuit for discovery purposes). The petition for consolidation was brought by plaintiffs in two lawsuits. The motion sought to consolidate the cases in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida. Alternative venues proposed by Poligrip denture cream lawyers were Colorado or New York. On June 9, 2009, the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation agreed that these lawsuits should be consolidated in Florida.
2019 Post-Script: The monetary compensation in many of these cases was very high. Most of these cases have resolved. Glaxo spent over $120 million to resolve these cases.