Thursday, 1 April 2010

Weak Regulatory Policies Expose American Consumers to Deadly Toxins

The numerous product liability lawsuits filed against Glaxo Smith Kline arising from neuropathy caused by the company’s denture adhesive cream, Poligrip show that American consumers are at a risk from toxins in the everyday products they use. According to this New York Times report, far from being a nanny state that strictly regulates the kind of ingredients that make it to your toothpaste and cereal, the US has lax policies that constantly expose citizens to product risks.

Take Poligrip, for instance. The risks from excessive zinc levels in dental adhesives have been studied for decades, but it was only in 2008 that conclusive studies established a strong link between zinc-containing adhesives and a high risk of neuropathy. It was only earlier this year however, that Glaxo Smith Kline pulled off the product from the market. Its closest competitor, Procter & Gamble's Fixodent continues to be on the market, and is used by millions of consumers. Procter & Gamble's excuse for not withdrawing its adhesive from the market is that its product contains half the zinc found in Poligrip.

But is that lower amount of zinc safe enough? The problem is that when it comes to consumer safety concerns, there is still much that citizens and California pharmaceutical liability lawyers don’t know. Companies are notoriously averse to sharing information about the chemicals that are in their products. Federal regulatory agencies like the Food and Drug Administration and the Consumer Product Safety Commission do not have the powers to withdraw products until they can show that there is a serious defect in it. Proving that the product is dangerous to consumers is easier said than done.

Too much of consumer safety in the US depends on a company's willingness to do the right thing when it comes across proof that its products are harming consumers, and pull it from the market. Unfortunately, as Los Angeles product liability lawyers know, that rarely, if ever, happens. Companies are wired to maximize profits only, and consumer safety ranks second, if it all, on their list of priorities.

However, there could be some changes in the works. The Environment Protection Agency now has a chief who seems to take toxic chemical risks much more seriously than early administrators. This year, Congress will also take up a bill that will enhance protections against toxic contamination.

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