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Women Struggle with Permanent Hair Loss After Taxotere Chemotherapy

Feb 15, 2017
Women Struggle with Permanent Hair Loss After Taxotere

For some patients who have been treated with the chemotherapy drug Taxotere (docetaxel), the usual physical and emotional effects of chemotherapy are compounded by an unexpected effect: permanent hair loss.

Most people undergoing chemotherapy experience temporary hair loss, though hair usually begins to regrow within three to six months. But some women still have no hair regrowth years after their Taxotere treatment has ended.

Permanent hair loss can be emotionally devastating, especially when added to the physical and emotional toll of the cancer itself. Many women also suffer economic losses, when they lose their job or are unable to work. Because hair loss is seen as a sign that someone is undergoing cancer, women with long-term or permanent hair loss have to deal with people considering them sick long after their cancer treatment has ended. Increasing numbers of these women are filing lawsuits over Taxotere hair loss and the litigation is moving forward in the courts.

The personal injury attorneys at Parker Waichman LLP are knowledgeable about Taxotere hair loss and other side effects. The firm can answer questions from women who are considering filing a Taxotere lawsuit.

Popular Chemotherapy Drug

Popular Chemotherapy Drug

Taxotere has been a widely used chemotherapy option because it allows a shorter course of treatment than the drug Taxol-four rounds of Taxotere rather than up to twelve rounds with Taxol. But women who have experienced permanent hair loss say they would have chosen the longer Taxol regimen if they had known of the greater risk of permanent hair loss with Taxotere.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved docetaxel in 1996 for the treatment of breast cancer. The approval has since been extended to the treatment of head and neck cancer, gastric cancer, prostate cancer and non-small cell lung cancer. Taxotere is a member of the class of taxane drugs. These chemical compounds are widely used in chemotherapy. They were originally derived from plants in the Taxus (yew) genus. Taxotere works by inhibiting cell division, which stops the disease from progressing.

About three to nine percent of women treated with Taxotere experience permanent hair loss. One woman who suffered permanent hair loss after 2003 Taxotere treatment said she has visited numerous medical and cosmetic facilities to see if anything could be done about the hair loss. This woman and others with permanent hair loss say wigs and eyebrow tattoos should be classified as prostheses so they are covered under insurance plans. The women argue that they should receive tax breaks for their spending on hairpieces and other treatments.

Legal documents in Taxotere lawsuits allege that as early as 2005 Sanofi-Aventis was aware of a study showing that 9.2 percent of Taxotere patients suffered alopecia (hair loss) for as long as 10 years after treatment 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 Taxotere treatment had ended. Plaintiffs assert that the warnings on the Taxotere label prior to 2015 were "generic, vague and insufficient" with an indication that "hair generally grows back."

The lawsuits allege that Sanofi-Aventis was aware of the increased risk of permanent hair loss after Taxotere treatment, but did not share that information with doctors and patients in the United States. The U.S. medical community was told that "hair generally grows back" after Taxotere treatments, without acknowledging the possibility of permanent hair loss. Health regulatory agencies in the European Union and Canada were advised that Taxotere causes an increased risk of permanent hair loss after chemotherapy.

A 2011 article in the American Journal of Dermatopathology said certain chemotherapy regimens can cause dose-dependent permanent hair loss. The authors discussed ten cases of permanent hair loss after chemotherapy. In six of those cases, the patient had taken Taxotere.

In the U.S., Taxotere did not carry warnings about the risk of permanent hair loss until December 2015. In 2014, the FDA had warned patients that Taxotere is formulated with alcohol and patients receiving using intravenous Taxotere treatment could experience symptoms of intoxication during and following treatment, and should be cautious about such activities as driving and operating machinery.

Legal Help for Those with Taxotere Hair Loss

If you or someone you know has experienced permanent hair loss after chemotherapy treatment with Taxotere, please contact the attorneys at Parker Waichman LLP for a free, no obligation case evaluation. To reach the firm, fill out the contact form or call 1-800-YOURLAWYER (1-800-968-7529).

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