What is Taxotere?
Taxotere (generic: docetaxel) is a chemotherapy medication used to fight various types of cancer including breast cancer, lung cancer, prostate cancer and stomach cancer. The drug works by interfering with the growth and spread of cancer cells in the body. Taxotere is made by Sanofi-Aventis, and was first approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) in 1996.
How is the Drug Administered?
During chemotherapy, Taxotere is typically injected into the veins as a concentrate once every 3 weeks by a healthcare professional. The drug is administered to cancer patients for as long as chemo is required. An estimated 75% of women who undergo chemotherapy for the treatment of breast cancer receive Taxotere.
What Side Effects Have Been Linked to Taxotere?
The most serious and distressing side effect associated with Taxotere use is permanent hair loss, also known as permanent significant alopecia or PSA. However, the drug has also been linked to a number of other side effects including:
- Pain / swelling at the injection site
- Excessive tearing
- Loss of appetite
Have Studies Confirmed the Link Between Taxotere and Permanent Hair Loss?
Evidence linking Taxotere to permanent significant alopecia goes back at least a decade:
- In 2006, a study conducted by Dr. Scot Sedlacek at the Rocky Mountain Cancer Centers in Colorado found that 6.3% of breast cancer patients grew back less than half their hair after being treated with Taxotere, especially when the drug was administered in combination with Adriamycin (doxorubicin) and Cytoxan (cyclophosphamide).
- A 2011 study published in the American Journal of Dermatopathology determined that “there is increased evidence that certain chemotherapy regimens can cause dose-dependant permanent alopecia,” including Taxotere for breast cancer.
- The European Society of Medical Oncology reported in 2012 that “permanent and sever alopecia is a newly reported complication of the FEC 100-docetaxel breast cancer regimen.”
Did Sanofi Hide Evidence of Permanent Alopecia with Taxotere?
Taxotere warning labels previously stated that side effects may include hair loss, but that hair “generally grows back” after treatment with the drug is complete. The risk of permanent alopecia was never mentioned until December 2015, when the FDA issued a label change indicating that cases of permanent hair loss had been associated with Taxotere.
Lawsuits allege that Sanofi has known for years that hair growth after chemo treatment with Taxotere could never return in some women. In fact, the drug’s labeling was updated with information about this risk in Europe (2005) and Canada (2012), but the same warning wasn’t provided to American consumers until late 2015.
Can Alopecia be Reversed?
Unfortunately, there is no cure for permanent hair loss. However, cold caps — tightly fitting, strap-on hats filled with cold gel — may help lessen chemotherapy-induced alopecia. These devices constrict blood vessels beneath the scalp, reducing the amount of Taxotere that reaches the hair follicles. With less medication in the follicles, the hair may be less likely to fall out.
Has Taxotere Been Recalled?
Despite being linked to permanent hair loss and baldness, no recall has been issued for Taxotere or any of its generic equivalents in the U.S., and the drug continues to be prescribed to cancer patients around the country.
Is There a Class Action?
Sanofi is being investigated for failing to warn about the risk of permanent alopecia with Taxotere. To date, no class action lawsuit has been filed in the litigation. Instead, our lawyers are reviewing potential individual claims on behalf of people who were injured by the drug.
Lawsuits allege that although hair loss is a known side effect of chemotherapy, permanent alopecia is not. Plaintiffs claim that Sanofi mislead consumers into believing that, as with other cancer medications that cause hair loss, Taxotere would allow patients’ hair to grow back once chemotherapy has ended.
Are Cases Being Settled?
The Taxotere litigation is still in its early stages and there have been no significant settlements reached over injuries associated with the drug. However, our lawyers are reviewing potential lawsuits for cancer patients who suffered permanent hair loss after Taxotere treatment. If we find that you have a valid claim, you may be eligible to receive compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages.
Is There a Time Limit to File a Claim?
Yes. Each state has its own statute of limitations regarding the amount of time consumers have to file a lawsuit for an injury. If you suffered permanent alopecia or baldness after being treated with Taxotere, you should act now to protect your legal rights.