Denture cream maker agrees to remove zinc

Written by Andrew Traub

February 19, 2010

GlaxoSmithKline said Thursday it Will remove zinc from its denture cream after reports that excessive use over many years can cause neurological damage and blood problems in consumers.

The British manufacturer will stop making and marketing Super Poligrip Original, Ultra Fresh and Extra Care products in the U.S. The company plans to reformulate the creams without zinc.

The company said that the products are safe when used as directed but that some patients use extra cream to help with ill-fitting dentures. Zinc is believed to help with adhesion.

Denture creams containing zinc were first approved by the Food and Drug Administration 15 years ago.

In 2008, researchers at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas described a possible link between denture cream zinc and nerve damage.

Glaxo’s voluntary action comes as hundreds of patient lawsuits are poised to go to trial, alleging that Poligrip caused nerve damage, leading to a loss of balance and loss of sensation in the hands and feet, leaving patients unable to walk.

“They made the right decision in the sense that it’s going to prevent the crippling of more people,” said attorney Andy Alonso of Waichman Alonso LLP. “But it’s too late for many of my clients, unfortunately.”

Alonso represents more than a hundred users of denture cream in Miami federal court, where several hundred lawsuits are being consolidated. He said about 30 million people in the U.S. wear dentures and use products like Poligrip

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