Taxotere is a synthetic chemotherapy drug often used to treat breast cancer that was falsely promoted by its manufacturer, Sanofi-Aventis, as a more effective treatment option than the already established chemotherapy drug Taxol. As a later to market drug, the Sanofi-Aventis sales team illegally provided material to doctors stating that their drug was more effective than Taxol even though the FDA later stated it was not and subsequently sent Sanofi-Aventis a letter reprimanding them for this unethical behavior. Sanofi-Aventis also intentionally failed to warn doctors and women about the risk of permanent hair loss associated with this drug even though they were aware of this as early as 2002 and likely earlier.  Sanofi-Aventis had warned doctors and patients in Europe as early as 2005, and issued warnings in Canada in 2012 about the risk of permanent hair loss from Taxotere.

Taxotere Safety & Side Effects // Consumer Safety Watch

Taxotere and Permanent Hair Loss

The potential link between Taxotere treatment and permanent hair loss is not new. In one study published back in 2006, researchers found that 6.3% of breast cancer patients grew back less than 50% of their hair after being treated with a combination of Taxotere, Adriamycin and Cytoxan, and research published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology in 2010, warned about “an increasing number of reports of permanent chemotherapy-induced alopecia.”

According to another study published by the National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI) in 2013, 10-15% of patients who take Taxotere experience permanent hair loss as a side effect of the chemotherapy medication. Alopecia, or hair loss, can occur anywhere on the body, with hair falling out entirely, in sections, or all at once, and in some cases, the hair will simply become thin and may appear dryer or duller. The most common types of hair loss from Taxotere include:

  • Alopecia areata – hair loss that presents as round, smooth patches of various sizes
  • Alopecia totalis – a total loss of hair on the scalp
  • Alopecia universalis – a loss of hair over the entire scalp and body

Why Taxotere Lawsuits Are Being Filed

Lawsuits claim:

  • Sanofi manufactured a defective medication.
  • The manufacturer failed to warn patients about the risk of permanent hair loss from Taxotere.
  • The manufacturer deprived patients of their right to make an educated decision about their cancer treatment.
  • Sanofi misrepresented the safety of Taxotere treatment.
  • Sanofi concealed the true risk of permanent baldness with Taxotere therapy.

According to a study published by the National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI) in 2013, 10-15% of patients who take Taxotere experience permanent hair loss as a side effect of the chemotherapy medication.

What is Taxotere?

Taxotere (docetaxel) is a chemotherapy medication primarily used to treat breast cancer, but the drug is also sometimes prescribed for the treatment of prostate cancer, lung cancer, stomach cancer and head/neck cancer. Taxotere was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1996, and is manufactured by Sanofi-Aventis. It is typically administered intravenously in a hospital once every three weeks, and works by interfering with the growth and spread of cancer cells in the body.

Taxotere has been hailed by some as a “wonder drug” for the treatment of breast cancer. However, permanent baldness is a potential side effect of Taxotere treatment, and it wasn’t until December 2015, when the FDA updated the Taxotere label to include the risk of permanent alopecia, that chemotherapy patients were finally warned about the risk of permanent hair loss from the cancer medication. Before this update, the Taxotere label indicated that “hair generally grows back” after completing chemotherapy treatment, even though Sanofi’s own studies have shown that 3% of patients typically experience persistent or permanent baldness from Taxotere.

How a Taxotere Lawsuit Can Help

For patients who suffered permanent alopecia after taking Taxotere, pursuing compensation via a product liability lawsuit can assist with:

  • Medical expenses and hospital bills
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress, lowered self-esteem and decreased quality of life
  • Lost wages

Taxotere Lawsuit Information

According to the Taxotere prescribing information, “Loss of hair occurs in most patients taking Taxotere (including the hair on your head, underarm hair, pubic hair, eyebrows, and eyelashes). Hair loss will begin after the first few treatments and varies from patient to patient. Once you have completed all your treatments, hair generally grows back.” While hair loss is a small price to pay for the treatment of cancer, permanent hair loss from Taxotere may be avoided if patients choose a different chemotherapy drug that isn’t associated with persistent or permanent baldness. Patients who underwent chemotherapy treatment with Taxotere and have since experienced permanent hair loss may be eligible for compensation, which they can pursue by filing a Taxotere injury lawsuit against Sanofi-Aventis.

Estimates indicate that there are about 2.8 million women in the United States with a history of breast cancer, and of these, approximately 75% were prescribed Taxotere as a treatment for their symptoms. Unfortunately, many of these women were unaware of the potential link between Taxotere and permanent hair loss side effects when they were prescribed the drug, which means they were deprived of the option to choose another chemotherapy medication that is not linked to permanent baldness.

If you took the chemotherapy treatment Taxotere, and you have since experienced permanent hair loss, contact a knowledgeable product liability lawyer today to discuss your legal options.

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