Lack of Taxotere Warnings Over Blocked Tear Ducts Justify Lawsuits Moving Forward

Sanofi claims the lawsuits are preempted because Taxotere warning label included information about blocked tear ducts since 2002, despite plaintiffs' arguments the warnings are too vague

Plaintiffs pursuing Taxotere eye damage lawsuits are urging a federal judge to reject Sanofi’s motion to dismiss the litigation, arguing that the claims over failure to warn about Taxotere causing blocked tear ducts should not be preempted by federal law.

Taxotere (docetaxel) is a chemotherapy injection approved for treatment of individuals with locally advanced or metastatic breast cancer, which competes with several treatment alternatives that are equally effective. However, lawsuits over the Taxotere warnings allege Sanofi has known for years the drug may cause tear ducts to become blocked, leaving women with debilitating and chronic watery eyes.

Sanofi already faces more than 12,000 product liability lawsuits brought by women who allege they were left with permanent hair loss after the Taxotere treatment, indicating that false and misleading information was provided that suggested hair would regrow after chemotherapy. However, the growing number of Taxotere tearing lawsuits are now being pursued by women left with eye problems, known as lacrimal damage, indicating that the issues could have been avoided if proper warnings and information had been provided for consumers and oncologists.

In response to the growing number of Taxotere lawsuits filed against Sanofi throughout the federal court system over the tear duct problems, the litigation has been centralized and consolidated before U.S. District Judge Jane Triche Milazzo in the Eastern District of Louisiana, as part of an MDL, or multidistrict litigation.

Late last month, Sanofi filed a motion to dismiss Taxotere eye damage litigation, claiming the chemotherapy drug has carried a warning approved by the FDA regarding excessive tearing and tear duct obstruction since 2002. However, plaintiffs urged Judge Milazzo at a hearing last Thursday to allow the cases to continue, indicating that the Taxotere warning labels were inadequate, justifying the litigation moving forward over Sanofi’s objections.

Plaintiffs say the warnings over Taxotere causing blocked tear ducts were too vague and underplayed the seriousness of eye injury risks, never warning of the possibility of permanent tear duct damage.

As part of the Taxotere MDL process, Judge Milazzo is presiding over coordinated discover and pretrial proceedings in the cases. If the litigation is not dismissed or otherwise resolved during pretrial proceedings, it is expected that a series of bellwether trials will be scheduled to see how juries respond to evidence and testimony about the link between Taxotere and tear duct obstructions, which would likely be repeated in most cases.

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