Listerine and Oral Cancer – Is There a Connection?

Listerine mouthwash was connected to the cause of a recent lawsuit filed in July 2011 by the Oral Cancer Prevention International Inc. (OCPI) against the manufacturer.

OCPI, the multinational American business conglomerate is suing for $60 million on a charge of fraud and an additional $10 million apiece for three other separate counts.

The issue in conflict is a contractual agreement that was signed in February of 2010 between OCPI and OraPharma, a former subsidiary of Johnson and Johnson. The contract gave OraPharma exclusive sales rights for the Oral CDx Brush Test Kit, a product produced by OCPI to detect abnormal pre-cancerous cells in the red and white spots frequently seen in the mouth. OCPI claims that dentists who have used this brush test have saved more than 21,000 people from developing oral cancer in the last decade.

OraPharma, a fledgling specialty pharmaceutical company that specializes in oral health care, would seem like the perfect outlet for a dental tool designed to spot early signs of oral cancer. OCPI charges that Johnson and Johnson, who purchased OraPharma in 2002 and sold it to Walter Street Healthcare Partners later in 2010, deliberately and effectively sidelined promotion of this product by insisting that OraPharma sales people offer the Oral CDx Brush Test only to those dentists who would react unfavorably.

It seems that Johnson and Johnson was influenced by a 2008 Australian Dental Journal Report that connected incidences of oral cancer to mouthwashes with high-alcohol content. Although the ADA refuted these findings in 2009 and continues to do so, Johnson and Johnson may have felt that promoting both Listerine, with its 21.6 to 26.9 percent alcohol level, and an oral cancer detection kit might appear to imply a relationship between the two products. In fact, sales of Listerine dropped by 50 percent in Australia when the 2008 findings were made public. Johnson and Johnson sells $1 billion of Listerine in the United States annually, so a similar reaction would represent a significant financial loss.

OCPI contends that 584 cases of oral cancer in New Jersey and 7300 cases across the United States could have been prevented if American dentists had been allowed access to the Oral CDx Brush Test. At this time, the product can be purchased privately in the U.K. for £80, but, in truth, it is rarely used. The U.K. reports about 5000 cases of oral cancer each year. Both regular Listerine and its new sister product, alcohol-free Listerine Zero, are also available. Johnson and Johnson maintains that it has done nothing illegal and is looking forward to settling the matter in court.



No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
Latest Drug Injury News

Paxil Possibly Linked To Breast Cancer Risk

Cancer researchers from the City of Hope National Medical Center announced a possible link between Paxil and breast cancer. Research focused on Paxil’s estrogen effect Researchers found that Paxil has a weak estrogen effect that could increase women’s breast cancer risks. According to lead author and chairman of City of Hope’s Department of Cancer and […]

Big Pharma under Fire for Kickbacks to Docs

Trust and honesty are the cornerstones to a doctor-patient relationship. With so many doctors receiving financial incentives to use certain medications or medical devices, patients need to know if money drives the decision making process. Doctors are required to disclose potential financial conflicts to each other at conferences, but there currently is no law forcing […]

Dietary Supplements Damage Liver

A recent study revealed a significant increase in liver damage related to dietary supplements. The study, conducted by a national network of liver specialists, found a 13% increase in serious liver damage over a 10 year span. Some of these patients required liver transplants and some have even died due to liver failure. Authors of […]

FDA Advisory Committee Supports Approval of Gilead’s HIV Reducing Drug

The pharmaceutical industry may be on the verge of one of the greatest breakthrough’s that this generation has ever seen.

U.S. Health Regulators Issue New Restrictions For Gilenya, Novartis AG’s’ Multiple Sclerosis Pill

In December 2011, the FDA issued a Drug Safety Communication concerning a patient with multiple sclerosis (MS) who died within 24 hours of taking the first dose of Gilenya (fingolimod).

Latest Medical Device Injury News

Report Raises Concerns Over Heart Defibrillator Leads

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has just announced that they received a report that a St. Jude Durata cardiac defibrillator lead conductor became externalized; meaning the wire carrying electricity from the heart defibrillator to the heart was exposed through its insulation, a potentially dangerous and life-threatening defect.

HeartSine Class 1 Defibrillator Recall

HeartSine sent out a letter to customers in September, warning that the defibrillators may intermittently turn on and off, eventually depleting the battery.

FDA Medical Device Approval Based On Little Evidence

More than half of the high-risk cardiovascular devices approved in the past decade had no supporting active control data.

St. Jude Medical Gets FDA Warning

St. Jude Medical Inc. said it received a FDA warning about manufacturing and quality-control problems at its Sylmar, California, plant.

Hospira Still Facing Manufacturing And Regulatory Issues

Hospira has sent out 11 device notifications so far in 2013, including recall and device corrections. The company also said it sent notices to customers about some of its infusion pumps that had to either be recalled, fixed or adjusted.