Taxotere Permanent Baldness Risk Withheld From Breast Cancer Patients, Doctors: Lawsuit

Sanofi-Aventis allegedly withheld information from women with breast cancer, as well as the medical community, about the risk of permanent baldness from Taxotere, according to one of the latest in a growing number of product liability lawsuits filed against the manufacturer of the controversial chemotherapy drug.

The complaint (PDF) was filed by Brenda Dunn in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana on on February 1, indicating that she has been left with permanent hair loss, known as alopecia, since undergoing breast cancer treatment involving Taxotere.

Dunn indicates that she was diagnosed with breast cancer in November 2008, and underwent bilateral mastectomies, followed by Taxotere treatments during four cycles of chemotherapy. Although temporary hair loss is a known and accepted risk of chemotherapy, Dunn indicates that that Sanofi-Aventis failed to adequately warn about the risk of permanent baldness linked to their drug, which is no more effective than alternative cancer treatments that are not associated with the same problems.

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Taxotere Lawsuits

Side effects of Taxotere may cause sudden eye problems or result in permanent hair loss. Lawsuits reviewed nationwide.


“Plaintiff did not know or suspect until 2016 that she was suffering from continuing hair loss as a result of taking docetaxel (Taxotere),” the lawsuit states. “Plaintiff has continued to suffer and will suffer in the future from disfiguring permanent alopecia as a result of receiving chemotherapy with docetaxel (Taxotere).”

Sanofi-Aventis introduced Taxotere (docetaxel) in 1996, as a high potency taxane-based cancer drug. Although it was marketed as a superior alternative to existing low-potency taxanes, such as Taxol, Dunn alleges that studies show it is no more effective, yet causes women to face an increased risk of hair loss and balding that may be permanent.

Although the drug maker allegedly knew about the Taxotere permanent baldness risk, Dunn maintains that Sanofi-Aventis wrongfully withheld information from physicians, healthcare providers, patients and the public.

The case joins a growing number of similar Taxotere lawsuits filed on behalf of women nationwide who have experienced permanent alopecia after receiving the drug, pursuing damages for disfiguring baldness that often results in great mental anguish, as well as economic damages due to inability to work or engage in other daily activities due to the psychological damage.

While Taxotere warnings in several other countries were previously updated to include information about the risk of permanent baldness, that same information was not provided to American women and doctors, according to the complaint.

As early as 2005, studies found that women face a substantial risk of permanent hair loss caused by 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.

In October 2016, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) ordered all Taxotere hair loss cases filed in federal courts nationwide consolidated in the Eastern District of Louisiana for pretrial proceedings.

It is likely that a small group of cases will be prepared for early “bellwether” trials to help gauge how juries may respond to certain evidence and expert testimony that will be repeated throughout the litigation. While the outcome of such early trials will not be binding in other cases, they may help the parties reach Taxotere settlements for women suffering permanent baldness or hair loss problems, avoiding the need for dozens of individual trials in courts throughout the U.S.


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