Taxotere Patients Not Warned About Permanent Hair Loss, Suits Allege

Sanofi-Aventis Faces Mounting Taxotere Permanent Hair Loss Lawsuits

Plaintiffs suing over the chemotherapy drug Taxotere (generic: docetaxel) allege that drug maker Sanofi-Aventis failed to adequately warn about the risk of permanent hair loss. Cancer patients know that chemotherapy often causes hair to fall out, and that this is a common side effect associated with cancer treatment. Lawsuits allege that with Taxotere, however, there is a risk that the hair loss will be permanent. Plaintiffs allege that Sanofi-Aventis is aware of Taxotere irreversible alopecia, but failed to adequately warn patients or the medical community.

Parker Waichman LLP is a national law firm representing numerous clients in drug injury claims. The firm continues to offer free legal consultations to anyone with questions about filing a Taxotere permanent hair loss lawsuit.

Court records show that Taxotere lawsuits continue to mount in the federal multidistrict litigation (MDL) consolidated before U.S. District Judge Kurt Engelhardt in the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana. So far, the MDL contains roughly 800 Taxotere permanent hair loss lawsuits.

MDLs are a type of mass tort established by the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML). In an MDL, similar lawsuits are transferred to one court before one judge to streamline the legal process and make complex litigation more efficient. The JPML consolidated Taxotere permanent hair loss lawsuits after finding that cases shared “common factual questions arising out of allegations that Taxotere (docetaxel), a chemotherapy drug, causes permanent hair loss, that defendants were aware of this possible side effect and failed to warn patients. . . Plaintiffs in these actions each allege that they experienced permanent hair loss as a result of using Taxotere.”

The litigation continues to move forward, and court records show that several pretrial orders have been issued in the MDL so far. On Jan. 11, a pretrial order was issued to clarify that the MDL will contain lawsuits involving both brand-name Taxotere and generics.

Additionally, the court has ordered plaintiffs to submit a master complaint and short form complaint by Mar. 31. Judge Engelhardt has already approved a plaintiff fact sheet. Representatives from both sides have also been appointed to settlement committees.

A master complaint is used to replace individual complaints in an MDL; these are used to standardize and streamline the legal proceedings. A master complaint contains allegations that are common to all plaintiffs in the MDL, whereas a short form complaint contains allegations specific to each plaintiff.

The court issued its 12th pretrial order on Jan. 19, 2017 mandating that Service of Process be made on all non-Sanofi defendants by Feb. 15, 2017.
Plaintiffs in the litigation commonly allege that Sanofi-Aventis knew about the risks of permanent hair loss with Taxotere but failed to warn patients or their doctors. They point out that the Taxotere label has disclosed a risk of permanent baldness in Europe and Canada long before the warning was updated in the United States.

Contrary to warning about the risk of persistent alopecia, suits allege, patients were told that their hair growth usually resumes after treatment. Plaintiffs cite an earlier version of the patient brochure in which drug makers state, “Once you have completed all your treatment, hair generally grows back.”

The brochure has since been updated. “In most cases normal hair growth should return,” the new document reads. “In some cases (frequency not known) permanent hair loss has been observed.”

In December 2015, the FDA announced that the Taxotere label had been updated to warn that “Permanent cases of alopecia have been reported,” This information was added under the Postmarketing Experience section.

In arguing that Sanofi-Aventis has been aware of permanent hair loss associated with Taxotere, plaintiffs cite the GEICAM 9805 study. During this trial, permanent hair loss lasting more than a decade after treatment occurred in 9.2 percent of patients taking Taxotere, Adriamcycin, and Cyclophosphamide.
In 2012, the Annals of Oncology published a study citing cases of permanent hair loss in patients treated with Taxotere. “Permanent and severe alopecia is a newly reported complication of the FEC 100–docetaxel breast cancer regimen,” the authors noted. “Considering the increasing role of taxane-based therapies in adjuvant treatment, physicians and patients should be aware of this new distressing side-effect,”

At the Rocky Mountain Cancer Center, researchers found that 6.3 percent (7 out of 112) women developed persistent hair loss after taking Taxotere. “Such an emotionally devastating long term toxicity from this combination must be taken into account when deciding on adjuvant chemotherapy programs in women who likely will be cured of their breast cancer,” the researchers said.

5 Taxotere Users Die of Fatal Complications in France

Parker Waichman notes that recently, French doctors were notified about reports of five patients who died of neutropenic enterocolitis, an inflammation of the small intestine and colon, after using docetaxel, the generic name for Taxotere. Following this information, the Institut Curie in Paris said it had stopped using docetaxel and instead uses Paclitaxel.

In a Feb. 16, 2017 press release, the Institut Curie said it reported a death related to Taxotere in February. The research institution also reported another fatality that occurred last June. “As a precaution, given the occurrence within an unusually short period of time, of these two similar cases at the Institut Curie and those at other healthcare facilities in France, the Institut Curie has stopped using docetaxel to treat breast cancer. It has been replaced with paclitaxel,” according to the release.

French oncologists were informed of the deaths by the ANSM (French National Drug and Health Product Safety Agency). The age of the patients ranged from 46 to 73 years old. The first three fatalities were reported in August, and ANSM has been investigating ever since.

Filing a Taxotere Lawsuit

If you or someone you know suffered permanent hair loss after taking Taxotere, you may have valuable legal rights. Parker Waichman offers free, no-obligation case evaluations. For more information, contact our firm today by filling out our online form or calling 1-800-YOURLAWYER (1-800-968-7529).

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