Taxotere Lawsuit: The Truth behind Hair Loss Claims

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Researcher: Ariana Arce​

Researcher: Ariana Arce​

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Journalist: Aaron Vivanco

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Editor: Daniela Polo

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Taxotere Lawsuit: The Truth behind Hair Loss Claims

Many patients with cancer who have taken Taxotere have experienced side effects such as permanent hair loss and eye damage. Claiming inadequate warnings and failure to disclose such side effects, patients who have suffered significant and long-lasting hair loss have sued the manufacturer. These legal actions seek compensation for physical, emotional, and financial damages due to Taxotere-induced hair loss.

A sealed box of Taxotere.

What is Taxotere?

Taxotere is a highly effective chemotherapeutic medication used to treat breast cancer. Developed by Sanofi, Taxotere belongs to a family of cytotoxic drugs known as taxanes. Taxanes are made from yew trees, and unlike other cytotoxic drugs, they over-stabilize the cancer cell structure to prevent its division, making reproduction impossible. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the use of Taxotere, which was first introduced in 1996, for treating patients with locally advanced or metastatic breast tumors that are resistant to other treatments.

Administered either intravenously or orally, Taxotere considerably slows down the growth and division of cancer cells, preventing them from metastasizing to other locations. Its efficacy has been much praised by healthcare professionals, and several clinical studies have been conducted to determine its long-term effectiveness. However, this medication can also cause severe side effects.

Taxotere Side Effects

Taxotere is used to treat various types of cancers. While it has been proven effective in treating these diseases, Taxotere also comes with a range of side effects, some of which are more severe than others. Permanent hair loss (alopecia) is the side effect that led to the current lawsuit against Sanofi. However, other side effects of this medication include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Bone pain
  • Muscle pain
  • Joint pain
  • Risk of infections
  • Low red blood cell count (anemia) and others

You can read the full list of side effects at Mayo Clinic.

Relationship between Taxotere and Hair Loss

The first association between Taxotere and alopecia occurred in 2006 with research conducted at the Rocky Mountain Cancer Centers in Denver. Oncologist Dr. Sedlacek discovered that full or permanent hair loss occurred in 6.3% of patients with breast cancer who received Taxotere.

A study conducted by Cancer Treatment Review reported that Taxotere has no additional benefits over its competitor, Pacliataxel. Doctors often prescribed higher doses due to drug resistance, and they always assured their patients that their hair would grow back eventually, which was not true. Another study that administered docetaxel, a generic form of Taxotere, to UK Taxotere users discovered that 15.8% of them had developed permanent alopecia.

Taxotere was not labeled with alopecia warnings in the United States until 2015, over 20 years after its launch. As previously stated, studies as early as 2005 suggest a relationship or correlation between this chemotherapeutic medication and alopecia.

Is There a Lawsuit?

Yes, all legal actions brought against Sanofi, the company that manufactures Taxotere, were consolidated into multidistrict litigation in 2016:

MDL: 2740 Taxotere (Docetaxel) Products Liability Litigation

Judge: Honorable Jane Triche Milazzo

Court: Eastern District Court of Louisiana

The claims allege that Sanofi failed to sufficiently alert physicians and patients to the possibility of irreversible hair loss associated with the use of Taxotere. This association was first deduced by Dr. Scot Sedlacek’s study in 2006 although it has subsequently been asserted that Sanofi was aware of such concerns as early as 2005, thanks to Sedlacek’s Adverse Event Reports.

Since the initial filing of lawsuits in 2015, hundreds of women have claimed that they suffered permanent alopecia (hair loss) after receiving treatment with this medication. However, in 2015, the FDA ordered Sanofi to change the warning label of Taxotere to include the risks of permanent hair loss and alopecia. This caused federal Judge Jane Triche to dismiss approximately 200 claims of permanent hair loss owing to Taxotere use because these claims were filed after the warning label had been changed.

 Can I File a Taxotere Hair Loss Lawsuit?

If you have received Taxotere as part of your cancer therapy, it is important to determine whether you qualify to file a lawsuit. If you have suffered permanent or semipermanent hair loss or eye damage from using Taxotere, then you may be eligible for compensation depending on the state in which you live. Each state has its own statute of limitations, which is typically 2 years since the injury was discovered. If injuries were noticed after Sanofi updated its warning label in 2015, then your case for hair loss may be dismissed. However, the first step to compensation is to contact a legal advisor or get a case review to determine whether you qualify for the lawsuit.

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