The Taxotere permanent hair loss MDL is continuing to move forward
Pretrial Orders in Taxotere Hair Loss MDL. The Taxotere permanent hair loss multidistrict litigation (MDL) is continuing to move forward, as several pretrial orders have been issued. On Jan. 19, 2017, the court issued its 12th Pretrial Order requiring that Service of Process be made on all non-Sanofi defendants by Feb. 15, 2017. Lawsuits are filed on behalf of plaintiffs who suffered permanent hair loss after using the chemotherapy drug; Sanofi-Aventis allegedly knew that ‘Taxotere’ was associated with a higher risk of permanent hair loss compared to other drugs, but failed to warn patients or their physicians.
Parker Waichman LLP is a national law firm representing numerous clients in drug injury claims. The firm continues to offer free legal consultations to anyone with questions about filing a Taxotere permanent hair loss lawsuit.
The court has also directed Liaison Counsel to submit proposed deadlines for submission of a Master Complaint, Short Form Complaint, Master Answer and Motions to Dismiss. Federal Taxotere lawsuits have been consolidated into an MDL in the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana. Previously, a Jan. 11 Pretrial Order was issued clarifying that the MDL will include lawsuits filed over brand-name Taxotere and generic versions of the drug.
According to court records, there are over 700 lawsuits pending in the Taxotere MDL. An MDL is a type of federal mass tort, where similar lawsuits are grouped together in one court to make legal proceedings faster and more efficient. When cases are consolidated into an MDL, it eliminates duplicate discovery and other pretrial proceedings. In the Taxotere MDL, plaintiffs similarly allege that Taxotere caused permanent hair loss and that Sanofi-Aventis knew about this risk but failed to warn patients and the medical community in the United States.
Unlike a class action lawsuit, plaintiffs in an MDL are treated separately. Even though cases are grouped together in one court, lawsuits are filed individually.
Among other things, plaintiffs point out that Sanofi-Aventis warned of permanent hair loss with Taxotere in other countries, including Europe and Canada. In the United States, however, the Taxotere label was not updated until 2015. Plaintiffs allege that the warning label in the United States was misleading, as it told patients that “hair generally grows back” after using Taxotere.
One plaintiff developed permanent hair loss after using Taxotere from December 2010 to March 2011. According to her lawsuit, she suffers from psychological damage due to the unexpected hair loss. She alleges that Sanofi-Aventis failed to adequately warn about the risks of using Taxotere, and that she would have chosen a different treatment option if she were fully informed. Taxotere-associated hair loss has negatively impacted her and her husband’s lives, the lawsuit alleges.
The complaint states, “Permanent alopecia is a disfiguring condition, especially for women. It is socially acceptable for a man to be bald much more so than it is for women. And this can have very traumatic psychological consequences,”
The plaintiff cites a study called GEICAM 9805, in which 9.2 percent of patients taking the chemotherapy drug developed permanent hair loss more than a decade after use. “Despite Defendants’ knowledge of the relevant findings from the GEICAM 9805 study, as well as reports of patients who had taken Taxotere and suffered from permanent alopecia, Defendants failed to provide accurate information and proper warnings to physicians, healthcare providers, and patients in the United States, including Plaintiffs,” according to the complaint.
Some Taxotere users have shared their stories with various media outlets. In 2010, The Globe and Mail published an article on the topic. One woman emphasized the unexpectedness of the alopecia, stating “They absolutely told me my hair will grow back,”
“I will never be well of breast cancer because of this. My life is not over, but my life is drastically changed,” she said.
The same year, U.K. Daily Mail interviewed a Taxotere user who said, “There never seemed to be any doubt that my thick, shoulder-length auburn hair – my crowning glory – would grow back,”
“I wore scarves and hats quite happily until I finished treatment in early 2006 and waited patiently for my hair to appear – yet it only came back in an extremely sparse way that resembles male-pattern baldness and means that I have to regularly shave my head because it looks even worse than having no hair at all.”
Taxotere Label Updated to Include Permanent Alopecia
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Taxotere in 1996. The chemotherapy drug, known generically as docetaxel, is approved to treat cancers of the head and neck, breast, prostate cancer, and other forms of cancer.
In 2015, the FDA updated the warning label on Taxotere to include the risk of permanent hair loss, or alopecia. The “Postmarketing Experience” section was revised to state that “Cases of permanent alopecia have been reported” with Taxotere. Plaintiffs in the Taxotere litigation allege that Sanofi-Aventis should have updated the label sooner.
Parker Waichman notes that other research studies have documented a risk of permanent hair loss with Taxotere. Researchers at the Rocky Mountain Cancer Center found that 7 out of 112 women, or 6.3 percent, experienced persistent hair loss after taking the drug. “Such an emotionally devastating long term toxicity from this combination must be taken into account when deciding on adjuvant chemotherapy programs in women who likely will be cured of their breast cancer,” researchers said.
In 2010, a study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology noted “an increasing number of reports of permanent chemotherapy-induced alopecia.”
In 2012, the Annals of Oncology published a study documenting permanent hair loss associated with Taxotere. “Permanent and severe alopecia is a newly reported complication of the FEC 100-docetaxel breast cancer regimen,” the authors concluded. “Considering the increasing role of taxane-based therapies in adjuvant treatment, physicians and patients should be aware of this new distressing side-effect,”
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