Chemotherapy Injection Side Effects Caused Breast Cancer Patient to Suffer Eye Damage: Lawsuit
According to allegations raised in a recently filed product liability lawsuit, side effects of a breast cancer chemotherapy treatment caused permanent eye damage for a Montana woman, after disrupting the ability of tears to drain properly, lubricate the cornea and eliminate debris.
The complaint (PDF) was filed by Chanteele Nash in the U.S. District Court for the District of Montana on January 3, presenting claims against Sandoz, Inc., the manufacturers of Docetaxel Injections, which are commonly administered for women with breast cancer.
Docetaxel Injections are part of chemotherapy treatment, and also sold under the brand name Taxotere, for individuals with locally advanced or metastatic breast cancer. The drug competes with several other breast cancer treatment alternatives, which are equally effective. However, this lawsuit alleges Sandoz has known for years that side effects of Docetaxel Injections cause eye damage known as canalicular stenosis, which may develop quickly.
To maintain eye health, tears are naturally produced throughout the day. However, canalicular stenosis from the chemotherapy drug may prevent these tears from draining properly, resulting in excessive tearing or epiphora.
According to the lawsuit, a simple preventative procedure at the onset of chemotherapy-induced tearing would have allowed Nash to continue her Docetaxel Injection regimen, while removing the likelihood of permanent eye damage. This would have involved the temporary placement of silicone stents, but doctors and patients were never warned about the risk of eye damage from the chemotherapy treatment.
“Although Sandoz warns that ‘excessive tearing which may be attributable to lacrimal duct obstruction has been reported,’ Sandoz failed to warn patients and oncologists of the risk that the damage can occur quickly and can be permanent,” the complaint states. “Further, Sandoz failed to report the severity and frequency of this risk to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Worse, Sandoz misled patients and oncologists about the severity and frequency of this devastating side effect even though this condition can be entirely preventable with early intervention and treatment during chemotherapy.”
The permanent eye tearing problems from the chemotherapy injections have had a devastating impact on Nash as she recovers from breast cancer, according to the complaint.
“Plaintiff is grateful for the chemotherapy that helped to save her life; however, that gratitude is diminished by the fact that she now must endure a permanent and life-altering condition that could have been prevented with an adequate warning to her physicians,” the lawsuit states. “For those who have never experienced epiphora, the condition might seem like a minor annoyance. However, for cancer survivors like Mrs. Nash, the irritated, swollen, watering eyes and the ongoing medical management of the condition affect their work, self-esteem, interpersonal relationships, daily activities like driving or reading a book, and their general ability to return to a normal life after defeating cancer.”
The case joins a growing number of Taxotere eye damage lawsuits now being pursued, with most claims coming against Sanofi, which developed and sold the brand-name version of the drug. Sanofi already faces more than 12,000 hair loss lawsuits over Taxotere, alleging that the drug maker provided false and misleading information that hair would regrow after chemotherapy.
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