Denture cream formula will change after News 8 investigation

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by JANET ST. JAMES / WFAA

wfaa.com

Posted on February 18, 2010 at 10:29 PM

Updated Friday, Feb 19 at 12:38 AM

NEWS 8 INVESTIGATES

A potentially dangerous product is now off the market following a four-year News 8 investigation.

GlaxoSmithKline, the maker of the world's most popular denture adhesive, Super Poligrip, says it will change the formula of that product line because of serious health concerns related to one of its primary ingredients: zinc.

Tammy Baugh needs a walker to get around her Collin County home.

"I have numbness from my waist down, from my legs to my feet," she explained. "It feels like they're asleep, but they also feel heavy and I have a lot of pain and numbness."

For a long time, doctors couldn't figure what caused the 41-year old's painful nerve damage, called neuropathy. Experts has suspected every thing from leukemia to multiple sclerosis.

All those those tests were negative.

After seeing a News 8 report last year, Baugh asked her doctor for another test that finally showed the truth.

"I was poisoned from zinc," Baugh said matter-of-factly.

Zinc is an ingredient in the denture creams Baugh has used since being fitted with false teeth eight years ago.

Several studies involving denture wearers now prove excessive amounts of zinc can be absorbed into the body, causing anemia, weakness, and neuropathy.

Now, GlaxoSmithKline has announced it will quit making Super Poligrip Original, Ultra Fresh and Extra Care. The company says growing reports about problems and lawsuits have convinced them to reformulate the products without zinc as an ingredient.

There are an estimated 30 million denture wearers in America. GlaxoSmithKline says their products account for about 28 percent of the market, roughly eight million consumers.

In a statement, Attorney Andres F. Alonso, a partner with Parker Waichman Alonso LLP and co-lead counsel to the plaintiffs' steering committee in the Denture Cream Products Liability Litigation, says GlaxoSmithKline's action "...comes too late for some of our clients who have struggled, sometimes for years, trying to find the source of their problems."

He's calling for a full recall of the products. He's also urging Procter and Gamble — the maker of Fixodent, another denture adhesive that also contains zinc — to remove their product from market as well.

"I was mad that they didn't put anything on their boxes or labels to say that this could happen," Tammy Baugh said. "If it would have been caught early, I sincerely think it wouldn't have got this bad."

She, too, is suing, hoping to make the company pay for health problems that, for her, are now permanent.

E-mail jstjames@wfaa.com

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