Breast Cancer Survivor Files Lawsuit over Permanent Hair Loss after ChemotherapyOct 5, 2016
The plaintiff, Carole, was diagnosed with invasive cancer in her left breast in in August 2014. She underwent a lumpectomy and then was treated with Taxotere, Top Class Actions reports. She received four Taxotere treatments from October to December 2014.
Carole was aware hair loss is a frequent side effect of chemotherapy but she said neither she not her doctor was aware that she could suffer permanent hair loss (alopecia) after chemotherapy. Taxotere leaves 3 to 9 percent of women with permanent hair loss after chemotherapy.
The lawsuit alleges that Taxotere's manufacturer, Sanofi-Aventis, was aware of the possibility of permanent hair loss, but did not share that information with doctors and patients in the United States. Health regulatory agencies in the European Union and Canada were advised that Taxotere causes an increased risk of permanent hair loss after chemotherapy, Top Class Actions reports. The U.S. medical community was told that "hair generally grows back" after Taxotere treatments, without acknowledging the possibility of permanent hair loss.
Many women choose Taxotere for their chemotherapy because only four to six treatments were required. With other chemotherapy options, the patient needs 12 treatments. Many of these women say they would have endured a longer course of treatment to avoid the risk of permanent hair loss.
Legal documents allege that Sanofi-Aventis knew as early as 2005 of a study showing that 9.2 percent of Taxotere patients suffered alopecia for as long as 10 years and sometimes even longer. In 2006, a Denver oncologist reported that 6.3 percent of his Taxotere patients suffer from permanent and disfiguring hair loss for years after their Taxotere treatment had ended.
Though there have been several label changes since 1995, Sanofi did not use the terms permanent alopecia or permanent hair loss in any publications circulated in the United States until December 2015.
Carole alleges that she suffered severe and permanent personal injuries. Because of the hair loss, she has incurred medical and psychological counseling expenses, and expects such expenses to continue into the future. She says the hair loss has impaired her earning capacity.
For most cancer patients, their hair usually begins to regrow three to six months after they finish chemotherapy. But some women treated with Taxotere experience permanent, irreversible hair loss affecting all body hair, including eyebrows, eyelashes and pubic hair. Permanent hair loss can cause lasting psychological effects. Because hair loss can be a sign that someone is undergoing chemotherapy, women with long-term or permanent hair loss say others continue to view them as s sick long after their cancer treatment has ended.
Sanofi-Aventis promoted Taxotere as a better alternative to other chemotherapy treatments, when in reality, it allegedly was only more concentrated and dangerous. The dose may be a factor in the risk for permanent hair loss.