PEMBROKE PINES, FL - JANUARY 12: A new set of dentures is held up in preparation at the Affordable Dentures lab on January 12, 2009 in Pembroke Pines, Florida. Statistics show that the number of people loosing all their teeth has declined 60 percent in the United States since 1960. The reduction is attributed to the program of fluoridation begun in the 1940s as well as education on proactive dental hygiene. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
The widow and daughter of a Miami man who died at a South Carolina nursing facility in 2008 have filed a lawsuit against the maker of his denture adhesive, claiming his paralysis and death were a result of toxic Poligrip.
The family of Rodney Urbanek claims the 64-year-old ingested deadly levels of zinc through the product, causing him paralysis and ultimately death through pneumonia. It may be the first denture death in the U.S., the family's attorney claims.
GlaxoSmithKline, the company that makes Poligrip, said they couldn't give any specific comments on the case since it's still in active litigation.
"The case reports mentioned in the media involved excessive use or misuse of denture adhesive on a chronic basis. When the product is used as directed, the amount of zinc that might be swallowed is small and is not harmful," the company said in a statement.
Urbanek had used Poligrip for approximately 14 years, according to his family.
The lawsuit, filed in Miami, claims Urbanek was completely healthy in 2007, but just 14 months later, he was paralyzed below the waist, confined to a wheelchair and unable to lift his arms. Urbanek died a short time later, and his family's attorney said the main cause was a toxic level of zinc in his system, brought on by Poligrip.
"Rodney's case is a troubling example of what can happen when manufacturers fail to warn consumers about the risks associated with their products," said attorney Ed Blizzard, in a released statement. "The makers of these denture adhesives knew full well that high levels of zinc posed a serious threat to the health of their consumers, but did nothing."