Glaxo to make zinc-free denture cream

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In light of recent stories of zinc-poisoning among users of several denture creams, and a subsequent wave of lawsuits, pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline, the producer of Poligrip products, announced that it will remove zinc from its denture creams, the Associated Press reports. In the meantime, Glaxo issued a press release emphasizing that, when used as instructed, zinc-containing products are safe. (Often people end up using several times the recommended amount of the denture cream in the course of a week, increasing their zinc exposure.) Hundreds of lawsuits have been filed against denture cream manufacturers, including a case brought by 26-year-old Texas resident Elizabeth Gilley, who lost the use of her legs and experienced symptoms ranging from labored breathing to widespread numbness after prolonged use of denture cream. The young woman had a genetic condition that affected her teeth and caused her to begin using dentures as a teen.

While attorneys trying denture cream cases lauded the voluntary move from Glaxo as a step in the right direction—being careful to emphasize that it was too late to benefit their clients—others viewed the move as a clear-cut indication of guilt on the company’s part. As Ronald Beaver, a 62-year-old Florida resident and a plaintiff in a massive denture cream case being heard in Miami, told the AP: “It’s like a complete admission. They went from outright denial to a complete admission.”

Whatever the longer-term legal ramifications of the Glaxo decision to remove zinc, attorneys trying cases against the company said they anticipate similar moves from Procter & Gamble, the maker of Fixodent, another widely sold denture cream. Yet, in response to such suggestions, a P&G company spokeswoman likened the amount of zinc in Fixodent to that in a standard hamburger, saying it was half the amount found in Glaxo products, the AP reports.