Some products are so ordinary and seemingly simple that we are surprised when problems arise. One series of lawsuits at a potential turning point this month surrounds an every day household item—denture cream. About 34 million Americans use dentures, appliances to replace missing teeth. One-third of those use denture cream to temporarily “glue” the dentures in their mouth, so they can do everyday things like eating apples and talk confidently knowing their teeth will stay in their mouth (you’ve seen the commercials).
The denture cream lawsuits allege that two manufacturers of denture cream, Glaxo Smith Kline (Poligrip) and Proctor and Gamble (Fixodent) failed to warn of the dangers their products pose to users. The science, according to a 2008 article in the medical journal Neurology cited by lawyers, is basically that some users suffer from zinc poisoning. The manufacturers include zinc in their products to help make the dentures stick. That’s not a problem if the dentures are perfectly fitted and consumers only have to use a small amount of cream. However, anecdotally, it seems that most denture wearers complain that they never fit right. The result is that many consumers must liberally apply denture cream in order to keep their teeth locked in place. A company that makes denture cream would probably know that.
Zinc poisoning can cause a host of problems, including paralysis, numbness, tingling, muscle weakness, neuropathy (reduction in strength of extremities, lack of balance), bone marrow failure and anemia. These injuries have been misdiagnosed as multiple sclerosis, demyelinating syndrome, chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy (CIDP) and Guillain-Barré syndrome. Because denture cream is a class-I medical device, no warning labels are technically required. Additionally, the FDA does not require manufacturers to show how much zinc their products contain. So, consumers have no way of knowing that these products can be dangerous. That’s what makes the company’s responses to the denture cream lawsuits so insulting.
Glaxo Smith Kline reported that “[o]ur product, Super Poligrip, is safe and effective for daily, long-term use when used as directed.” That may be true, but a company that knows their product’s use often deviates from the directions (i.e., consumers often use more than the recommended amount) has an obligation to warn them about the negative effects associated with such use. Otherwise, consumers don’t realize the danger they are in.
Yesterday, the U.S. Judicial Panel on MultiDistrict Litigation (JPML) heard oral arguments regarding whether the denture cream lawsuits should be consolidated for pretrial discovery. The petition for consolidation was brought by plaintiffs in two lawsuits, which noted that there are 11 denture cream lawsuits pending in 10 different U.S. federal courts. Decisions typically come within a few months of the hearing.
Our lawyers are investigating denture cream injuries. If you want to speak with a denture cream lawyer about potential lawsuits involving zinc poisoning, call 800-553-8082 or click here for a free denture cream lawsuit case evaluation.