GlaxoSmithKline, the manufacturer of Poligrip denture cream, will stop making formulas that contain zinc, such as Super Poligrip Original, Ultra Fresh and Extra Care. The company made the decision to discontinue the product due to hundreds of lawsuits being filed that claimed years of excessive use of the cream may cause neurological damage and blood problems in consumers; some consumers were allegedly crippled. Excess zinc can purge the body of copper, which is necessary for normal brain and nervous system function. The company has stated it will reformulate the cream to not include this chemical. While the company does state the cream is safe when used as directed, it acknowledges that some consumers may use more cream in order to correct ill-fitting dentures.
Glaxo’s voluntary action comes after hundreds of lawsuits were filed claiming the cream caused nerve damage, leading to loss of balance, loss of sensation in the hands and feet, and some patients were left paralyzed. The plaintiffs argue that Glaxo failed to warn consumers about potential risks associated with the cream. According to health experts, women are only supposed to receive eight milligrams of zinc a day, and men should receive eleven milligrams; Poligrip contains thirty-eight milligrams per ounce. Although Glaxo had denied any wrongdoing in the past, their decision on zinc products will put pressure on other manufacturers of zinc-containing denture cream, such as Proctor & Gamble’s Fixodent, to change their product also. A representative for Proctor & Gamble stated the company has no plans to reformulate its product since Fixodent contains half of the amount of zinc as Poligrip, the same amount found in hamburgers. The denture creams were first approved by the FDA fifteen years ago, however even with the potential hazards, the agency still has yet to issue a safety warning on the product.