Sanofi Cleared of Liability in Bellwether Lawsuit Over Permanent Chemotherapy Hair Loss from Taxotere

Defense verdict in second Taxotere trial out of more than 12,000 lawsuits pending throughout the federal court system over permanent hair loss after the chemotherapy treatment

A federal jury has returned a defense verdict in favor of Sanifi Aventis, finding that the drug maker provided adequate warnings about the risk of permanent chemotherapy-induced hair loss associated with Taxotere, providing the drug maker a second bellwether trial win.

Sanofi faces more than 12,000 Taxotere lawsuits brought by women nationwide, each raising similar allegations that they were led to believe that hair lost after the breast cancer chemotherapy treatment would regrow. However, the lawsuits claim information was withheld from consumers and the medical community about the risk of permanent chemotherapy-induced alopecia with Taxotere, which is not associated with other breast cancer treatments.

Given similar questions of fact and law raised in complaints filed throughout the federal court system, the cases are all centralized as part of a multidistrict litigation (MDL) in the Eastern District of Louisiana, where U.S. District Judge Jane Triche Milazzo has been presiding over coordinated discovery and a series of early “bellwether” trials, which are designed to help the parties gauge how juries are likely to respond to certain evidence and testimony that will be repeated throughout the litigation.

After a first Taxotere bellwether trial ended in a defense verdict in September 2019, a claim filed by Elizabeth Kahn was scheduled as the second case to go before a jury, but the trial was delayed several times due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Following evidence and testimony presented in a trial that began on November 8, the jury returned a verdict (PDF) late last week, finding that the plaintiff failed to establish by a preponderance of the evidence that Sanofi failed to take reasonable care to warn Khan’s prescribing physicians about the hair loss risk with Taxotere.

According to an original case management order issued, at least two additional Taxotere trials are expected to go before juries as part of the bellwether process. While the outcomes of these cases have no binding effect on other plaintiffs, they are expected to have a big impact on any Taxotere settlements that may be offered by the drug maker to avoid thousands of individual cases being remanded back to U.S. District Courts nationwide for individual trials.

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