Zinc Risks Prompt Glaxo to Stop Making 3 Super PoliGrip Varieties

Citing dangers from excessive exposure to zinc, GlaxoSmithKline announced today that it would voluntarily stop manufacturing, marketing and advertising three Super PoliGrip denture cream products. Glaxo is being sued by scores of people who say they suffered nerve damage and other injuries from high levels of zinc intake from the products.

The products affected by today’s announcement include Super PoliGrip ‘Original’, ‘Ultra Fresh’ and ‘Extra Care’. Glaxo said it would be reformulating the Super PoliGrip adhesives, and new zinc free varieties could be available by Mid April.

Glaxo currently makes several zinc-free Super PoliGrip varieties. Those products – Super PoliGrip ‘Free,’ Super PoliGrip ‘Comfort Seal Strips’, or Super PoliGrip ‘Powder’ – are not affected by today’s announcement.

A small amount of zinc is necessary for a balanced diet. However, being exposed to an excessive amount of zinc can result in copper depletion and serious negative adverse neurological effects. 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. The article specifically linked excess zinc in Super PoliGrip to “profound neurologic disease” in the patients reviewed.

Glaxo maintains that Super PoliGrip ‘Original’, ‘Ultra Fresh’ and ‘Extra Care’ are safe to use as directed, but noted that some consumers may apply more adhesive than directed, or use it more than once per day. In a statement posted on its Web site, Glaxo said it took today’s action as a precautionary measure to minimize any potential risks to consumers. The company also said it had discussed the matter with the Food & Drug Administration (FDA), and no further action is necessary.

Glaxo’s statement also advised that consumers who have used excessive amounts of any of the three Super PoliGrip products over many years to stop using them immediately. Such individuals should consult with their physicians and seek a zinc-free alternative, the statement said.

In a statement issued this morning, Parker Waichman Alonso LLP, a national law firm representing plaintiffs in Super PoliGrip lawsuits, said it commended GlaxoSmithKline for its actions. Parker Waichman Alonso also urged Proctor & Gamble to act in a similar fashion to protect the public from the risks posed by Fixodent, the other zinc-containing denture cream on the market.

Dozens of denture cream zinc poisoning lawsuits have been consolidated in the Denture Cream Products Liability Multidistrict Litigation currently pending in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida, Miami Division, before the Honorable Judge Cecilia Altonaga (MDL No. 2051). In an order filed on July 13, 2009, Judge Altonaga appointed Andres F. Alonso Esq., a partner with Parker Waichman Alonso, as Co- Lead Counsel to the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee in the Denture Cream Products Liability Litigation.

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