Information on Hair Loss from Taxotere to be Provided in Plaintiff Fact Sheet
As part of the coordinated pretrial proceedings in hundreds of Taxotere hair loss lawsuits being pursued by women nationwide, the U.S. District Judge presiding over the litigation has approved the format of a Plaintiff Fact Sheet, which must be completed by each individual who is pursuing a case, providing written information under oath about the details surrounding their claim.
There are currently more than 750 complaints pending against Sanofi-Aventis, each raising similar allegations that the drug maker failed to adequately warn women and the medical community about the risk of permanent hair loss from Taxotere chemotherapy treatments, known as alopecia.
While alopecia is a normal side effect of chemotherapy, it is typically expected to be temporary. However, women indicate that they have been left with permanent and disfiguring hair loss after receiving Taxotere, claiming that there are equally effective breast cancer treatments that do not carry the same risks.
Given the similar questions of fact and law raised in the complaints, all federal Taxotere cases are centralized before U.S. District Judge Kurt Engelhardt in the Eastern District of Louisiana as part of a federal MDL, or multidistrict litigation, which is designed to reduce duplicative discovery into common issues, avoid conflicting pretrial rulings from different judges and serve the convenience of the parties, witnesses and the courts.
In a pretrial order (PDF) issued on February 14, Judge Engelhardt approved the form and questions that will be the operable Plaintiff Fact Sheet in the MDL, providing details about each plaintiff, including medical information, their use of Taxotere and descriptions of the claimed injury.
The form was approved just days after Judge Engelhardt called for the creation of a Master Complaint, to be filed by March 31, which will outline all of the common allegations raised in the litigation. This process is also expected to result in a more streamlined process for filing new Taxotere lawsuits through a Short Form Complaint, which will adopt certain allegations that apply to each case.
Judge Engelhart previously approved the direct filing of Taxotere cases in the Eastern District of Louisiana, to avoid the delays associated with transferring cases from U.S. District Courts nationwide. However, following coordinated discovery and any bellwether trials, if Taxotere settlements are not reached to resolve the litigation, each claim may ultimately be remanded back to the venue where it should have originally been filed for a separate trial date.
Taxotere Hair Loss Problems
Taxotere (docetaxel) is a high potency taxane-based cancer drug, which was introduced by Sanofi-Aventis in 1996 as a superior alternative to existing low-potency taxanes, such as Taxol. However, lawsuits allege that the drug is actually no more effective at treating breast cancer, yet carries a risk of permanent hair loss, or alopecia, which has not been associated with low-potency taxanes.
According to allegations raised in Taxotere hair loss cases filed in U.S. District Courts nationwide, Sanofi-Aventis provided false and misleading information for consumers and physicians in the United States, withholding reports of on-going hair problems experienced by users of the high-potency taxane.
Plaintiffs maintain that Sanofi-Aventis knew or should have known about the link between Taxotere and hair loss problems that continue for years following treatment, yet placed their desire for profits before consumer safety.
As early as 2005, studies have found that women face a substantial risk of permanent hair loss with Taxotere, including findings that indicate one out of every 10 patients treated with Taxotere suffered hair loss that lasted up to 10 years and five months following chemotherapy, and in some cases longer.
While Taxotere warnings in several other countries included information about the permanent alopecia risk, that same information was not provided to American women or doctors.
According to allegations raised in the complaints, permanent Taxotere hair loss can have a substantial impact on a woman’s overall quality of life, and mental health. Among information that will be collected on the Plaintiff Fact Sheet are details about the extent of hair loss, any treatment sought for the condition, any lost wages or earning capacity due to the hair loss, as well as before and after photographs.
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