Family Claims Poligrip Caused Miami Man’s Death

GlaxoSmithKline, the maker of <"">Poligrip denture cream, has been named in a lawsuit by the family of a Miami man who died in 2008. The widow and daughter of Rodney Urbanek claim that excessive exposure to zinc in Poligrip caused his paralysis and death.

We’ve long been reporting on the problems linked to zinc-containing denture creams like Poligrip, as well as Fixodent. The human body does need zinc – but only in small amounts. Studies show that consuming at least 50 milligrams of zinc a day for a few months could lead to copper deficiency, which can cause anemia, bone loss, nerve damage and other problems. Ingesting 80 or 100 milligrams or more for months or even years can lead to irreversible damage.

In August 2008, the peer reviewed journal “Neurology” reported on four patients suffering from neuropathy and other neurological symptoms typical of zinc poisoning and copper depletion. Normal blood levels of copper range from 0.75 to 1.45 micrograms per milliliter (mL), but levels for the patients in the report ranged from less than 0.1 to 0.23 micrograms per mL. The top normal number for zinc blood levels is 1.10 micrograms per mL, but patients had levels ranging from 1.36 to 4.28 micrograms per mL. The article specifically linked excess zinc in denture cream to “profound neurologic disease” in the patients reviewed.

According to his family’s lawsuit, Rodney Urbanek had been using Poligrip for 14 years. While he was healthy in 2007, a short 14 months later Urbanek was paralyzed below the waist, confined to a wheelchair and unable to lift his arms. He died not long after, and his family claims the cause was a toxic level of zinc in his system, brought on by Poligrip.

Scores of people from across the country have also filed lawsuits alleging zinc poisoning from products like Poligrip and Fixodent. Denture cream lawsuits claim that the manufacturers of these products failed to warn about their risks and failed to provide adequate warnings about the zinc in their products, or adequate instructions to prevent deviation from accepted use.

Last fall, the many denture cream lawsuits pending in federal courts were consolidated for centralized and coordinated pre-trial proceedings in the Denture Cream Products Liability Litigation in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida, Miami Division, before the Honorable Judge Cecilia Altonaga (MDL No. 2051).

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