Temporary hair loss is nothing new for most cancer patients, who also tend to suffer extreme nausea and vomiting, weakness, constipation, diarrhea, mouth sores, body aches, and other unpleasant side effects when undergoing chemotherapy. While baldness is often the first visible indicator that an individual is undergoing cancer treatment, hair typically grows back after treatment ends. But for many women given a chemotherapy drug commonly used for breast cancer called Taxotere (generic name docetaxel), permanent hair loss has become a constant reminder of their struggle with cancer. As a result, Taxotere hair loss lawsuits are being filed against drugmaker Sanofi-Aventis Inc.
If you or a loved one has suffered permanent hair loss (alopecia areata) after undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer, Taxotere or other products containing docetaxel may be the culprit. Below, you will find more information about the drug Taxotere, persistent hair loss, and your legal options.
Taxotere at a Glance
Taxotere is the brand name for Sanofi's chemotherapy drug consisting of docetaxel. The drug was first approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1996 and has since been widely used to treat breast cancer and certain other forms of cancer. The drug is administered intravenously and is meant to slow or halt the division of fast-growing cells, preferably cancer cells, in a targeted fashion. Taxotere is administered every three weeks, which is desirable to patients because other chemotherapy drugs in its class (namely paclitaxel) are administered weekly.
Taxotere and Permanent Alopecia
Although hair loss is listed as a possible side effect of Taxotere, Sanofi's drug literature originally claimed that "hair generally grows back" after treatments are completed. A significant number of women claimed that they were unable to regrow hair after being treated with Taxotere, even years later, but Sanofi was reportedly reluctant to release data or investigate the matter further. The FDA finally updated the warning label for Taxotere in December 2015 to include permanent hair loss. Taxotere's packaging now states that "in some cases (frequency not known) permanent hair loss has been observed."
Some studies conducted prior to the FDA's labeling update support claims of the drug's marked increase in permanent hair loss, including one published by the Clatterbridge Cancer Centre (2014) in the United Kingdom. The study concluded that 10 to 15 percent of patients using Taxotere (and other products containing docetaxel) suffered long-term scalp alopecia (baldness) as much as 3.5 years after the completion of treatment.
A study first published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2010 had similar results, with 9.2 percent of women patients suffering permanent hair loss 10 years after the completion of treatment.
Taxotere Hair Loss Lawsuits: Claims
Hattie Carson was one of the first plaintiffs to file a claim against Sanofi for failing to warn physicians or patients about the true risks of permanent or long-term alopecia. Other claims include design and manufacturing defects, negligence, breach of express and implied warranty, and fraudulent misrepresentation. Carson's complaint, filed on January 22, 2016, claims that Sanofi misled the public about its risk of permanent alopecia, describing it as a "disfiguring condition, especially for women," and that the company should have known that these risks were "far greater than with other products available to treat the same condition."
Her complaint seeks damages for the following injuries:
Other Taxotere hair loss lawsuits against Sanofi make similar claims.
Experiencing Taxotere Hair Loss? Call an Attorney Today
Enduring several rounds of chemotherapy and successfully beating breast cancer is quite an achievement. The last thing you need as you move past your illness and get your life back on track is a permanent, visible reminder of the disease. If you've suffered permanent hair loss as a result of taking Taxotere, you may have a valid claim against the manufacturer. Get started today and contact a local product liability attorney.
Contact a qualified product liability attorney to make sure your rights are protected.