Fixodent and forget it? Not if you’re left with a crippling neurological disorder.
That’s what several former Fixodent users who are now wheelchair-bound are claiming in a class action lawsuit against Procter & Gamble for failing to warn consumers that the zinc in its Fixodent denture adhesive can eventually lead to debilitating nerve damage when used over prolonged periods of time. And now, a recent investigation by ABC News shows the manufacturer may have manipulated a 2008 study that connected excessive denture cream use with zinc poisoning.
The connection between Fixodent and neurological damage was first made five years ago by researchers at the University of Texas, who studied four denture wearers with neurological disease. All four reported they were using very large amounts of denture cream, and all four had high zinc levels in their blood.
The study was completed in 2006 but its publication was delayed two years because of a peer review by Dr. Kenneth Shay, a dentist who harshly criticized the study and called the link between excessive use of denture cream and neurological disease “little more than speculation,” and said the authors “didn’t understand the nature of the material they are writing about.”
A recent investigation by ABC News, however, found that at the time Shay reviewed the study, he was a paid consultant to Procter & Gamble, the maker of Fixodent. Documents obtained by ABC News showed that Shay not only made recommendations that, according to the doctors, led them to water down the study’s findings, but also sent draft reports of the study to Procter & Gamble, a gross violation of professional medical ethics.
It wasn’t until after the study was published that Procter & Gamble added a new label information warning to Fixodent packages warning that “prolonged zinc intake may be linked to adverse health effects.”
Nearly 35 million Americans wear dentures, and many of them use Fixodent and Super Poligrip, which also at one time contained zinc before GlaxoKlineSmith announced last summer it would remove zinc from its products in the U.S.
Plaintiffs in the Fixodent class action lawsuit accuse Procter & Gamble of failing to tell consumers for years that the denture adhesive contains zinc, which when ingested or absorbed in large amounts over time can lead to serious nerve damage. Procter & Gamble insists that Fixodent only contains a minimal amount of zinc to help dentures stay in place, and that the amount of zinc in its product is less than what one would find in an average multivitamin or serving of raw beef. This reassurance, however, has not stopped several crippled Fixodent users from filing a class action lawsuit against Procter & Gamble.
Symptoms of zinc poisoning can include dizziness, lethargy, tingling in the hands or feet, numbness in the toes and other extremities, weakness and balance problems.
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