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Taxotere Breast Cancer Drug and the Risk of Permanent Hair Loss

Mar 3, 2017

Taxotere is a breast cancer treatment drug made and marketed by Sanofi-Aventis, as a safe, effective, and superior drug treatment as opposed to other chemotherapy drugs. But, before its approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in May 1996, Taxotere had already been doubted by the FDA in 1994 because of its toxicity.

Discontinuation of Taxotere Use in France

Taxotere Breast Cancer Drug & Risk of Permanent Hair Loss

The Insitut Curie is based in Paris and is one of the leading media research centers specializing in the treatment of cancer. A February 16, 2017 press release said that five fatal cases of patients treated with Taxotere since August 2016, had been reported to the ANSM (French National Agency for Medicines and Health Products Safety), the equivalent of the FDA in France.

The use of Taxotere (a version of docetaxel) has been discontinued in France. The press release said, "As a precaution, given the occurrence within a short period of time, of these two similar cases at the Institut Curie and those at other healthcare facilities in France, the Institut Curie has stopped using docetaxel to treat breast cancer. It has been replaced with paclitaxel."

The product liability attorneys at Parker Waichman LLP have extensive experience representing clients in drug injury lawsuits. Our lawyers are actively reviewing potential lawsuits on behalf of individuals who have been injured by pharmaceuticals, including Taxotere.

Taxotere Lawsuits

There is now a flood of lawsuits involving permanent hair loss from cancer patients who were given the chemotherapy drug during their treatment. The plaintiffs maintain they were not adequately warned of Taxotere's dangers. The drug is hardly new and just "celebrated" 20 years of being on the United States market.

Lawsuits allege that Sanofi-Aventis has had knowledge of reports and studies linking Taxotere to permanent hair loss following chemotherapy as far back as its 1996 approval. It is estimated that 75 percent of breast cancer patients were taking Taxotere. Sadly, 6.3 percent of individuals given Taxotere suffered permanent hair loss. The FDA issued a Taxotere label change warning in December 2015. The warning stated the risk of potential permanent hair loss.

In 2009, the FDA demanded that the manufacturer Sanofi-Aventis stop marketing Taxotere as having superior results to the competitor's drug – the very drug the Institut Curie changed to in mid-February – paclitaxel.

Taxotere lawsuits claim that, in spite of knowledge of their drug's association with permanent chemotherapy hair loss, Sanofi-Aventis opted to conceal this information from patients and the medical community. In addition, it is alleged that because Sanofi-Aventis promoted Taxotere as similarly safe and effective to other available chemotherapy drugs, in spite of the risk of alopecia (hair loss), thousands have patients have been exposed to Taxotere's devastating side effects.

In the U.S. District Court of New Orleans, federal multidistrict litigation (MDL) is about to begin for the recently consolidated product liability lawsuits alleging that the chemotherapy drug Taxotere caused permanent hair loss, known as alopecia, in women. Even though hair loss is a typical temporary side effect of chemotherapy, permanent alopecia is not.

MDL is a process designed to streamline complex litigations. It allows for similar cases to be consolidated in one court, before one judge, thereby creating a faster and more cost-efficient procedure.

These lawsuits claim that Sanofi-Aventis neglected to update the warnings for Taxotere and failed to reveal the results of additional studies despite their learning facts about the risks of Taxotere. It is also alleged the manufacturer fraudulently hid the fact that Taxotere caused permanent alopecia unlike other chemotherapy drugs used for breast cancer treatment and engaged in a fraudulent marketing scheme that included paying kickbacks and providing other unlawful incentives to attract physicians to prescribe Taxotere.

There are approximately 90 cases pending in the MDL that have been consolidated into the Federal court for the Eastern District of Louisiana with U.S. District Judge Kurt D. Engelhardt presiding.

Breast Cancer Statistics

Breast Cancer Statistics

Even though Taxotere has been available for over two decades, it was only in December 2015 that Sanofi-Aventis began warning women in the U.S. about the potential permanent hair loss.

Although it is always a daunting diagnosis, if caught early, the mortality rate of many cancers is quite low. The five-year relative survival rate for women with stage I breast cancer is close to 100 percent. For women with stage II breast cancer, the five-year relative survival rate is about 93 percent. Other cancers may be equally survivable.

The fact that the Taxotere manufacturer did not warn anyone is particularly harmful to women. If you are a 35-year-old woman with stage I breast cancer and take Taxotere that then leads to being bald for life, possibly long after the cancer is gone, that is a devastating outcome. Women in Europe and Canada were warned by the manufacturer about the possibility of permanent hair loss, but not in the U.S. until recently. Women should at least, be given the option of an informed choice.

Legal Information and Advice for Taxotere Users

If you or someone you know suffered adverse side effects involving the use of Taxotere, you may have valuable legal rights. Parker Waichman LLP personal injury lawyers offer free, no-obligation case evaluations. We urge you to contact our attorneys at 1-800-YOURLAWYER (1-800-968-7529).

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