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Taxotere Hair Loss Lawsuits

Temporary hair loss is one of the serious side effects of chemotherapy that cancer patients must contend with. This is on top of extreme nausea and vomiting, weakness, constipation, diarrhea, mouth sores, body aches, and other unpleasant side effects.

While hair loss is one of the first visible indicators of a person undergoing cancer treatment, hair typically grows back after treatment ends. Sadly, for many patients who take the chemotherapy drug Taxotere, permanent hair loss is a constant reminder of their struggle with cancer.

The FDA approved Taxotere (generic name docetaxel) years ago. Doctors began prescribing the drug soon after to treat breast, prostate, and lung cancer. The taxanes in the drug help curb new cell growth. It is a commonly prescribed chemo drug for men with prostate cancer. But, many patients who have taken this drug have filed lawsuits against the drug manufacturer Sanofi-Aventis Inc.

If you or a loved one have suffered permanent hair loss (alopecia areata) after undergoing chemotherapy, Taxotere use or other products containing docetaxel may be the culprit. This article has more information about Taxotere, persistent hair loss, and legal options.

Taxotere at a Glance

Taxotere is the brand name for Sanofi's chemotherapy drug consisting of docetaxel. The FDA first approved the drug in 1996, and doctors use it for the treatment of breast cancer and other forms of cancer.

Doctors administer the drug intravenously. It slows or halts the division of fast-growing cancer cells. One of the reasons so many breast cancer patients take Taxotere is that they only need chemo once every three weeks. Many other chemo drugs require weekly treatment. Given the terrible side effects of many of these drugs, only having to undergo chemotherapy treatment once every three weeks is a comfort for many patients.

Hair Loss Is Common With Chemotherapy

Regardless of the type of cancer drug a patient takes, hair loss is likely. According to experts at the Mayo Clinic, this is a common side effect of most chemo drugs. Usually, a person's hair grows back once they stop treatment.

Many patients chose to sue Sanofi, but not because they suffered hair loss. They initiated their product liability litigation against the company because it stated that, after taking Taxotere, their hair would grow back. When patients' hair was still gone after months (or even years), they wanted someone to hold the drug manufacturer accountable.

Taxotere and Permanent Alopecia

Although Sanofi lists hair loss as a possible side effect of Taxotere, Sanofi's drug literature originally claimed that "hair generally grows back" after the patient completes treatments. But, many patients claimed they could not regrow hair after taking Taxotere, even years later.

Despite this, Sanofi chose not to investigate the matter further. The company was also reluctant to warn patients of this common side effect. In 2015, the FDA finally updated the warning label for Taxotere to include permanent hair loss. Taxotere's packaging now states that "in some cases (frequency not known) permanent hair loss has been observed."

A 2010 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that 9.2 percent of female patients suffered permanent hair loss 10 years after treatment. Researchers conducted this study five years before the FDA demanded that Sanofi add new warning labels.

Another study in the United Kingdom in 2021 confirmed these findings. A study published in the European Journal of Cancer Care found that 10% to 15% of all patients who used Taxotere and other cancer drugs containing docetaxel suffered permanent hair loss. The incidence was much higher than it was for other chemotherapy drugs.

Taxotere Hair Loss Lawsuits: Claims

Hattie Carson was one of the first plaintiffs to file a claim against Sanofi. Her lawsuit alleged that the drug manufacturer failed to warn physicians and patients about the risk of permanent hair loss.

Carson filed her complaint on Jan. 22, 2016. She claimed that Sanofi misled the public about Taxotere's risk of permanent alopecia. Her attorney argued that this was 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."

Carson sought damages for the following:

  • Past and future medical expenses
  • Psychological counseling and therapy expenses
  • Past and future loss of earnings
  • Permanent disfigurement
  • Mental anguish
  • Severe and debilitating emotional distress
  • Past, present, and future physical and psychological pain, suffering, and discomfort
  • Past, current, and future loss and impairment of the quality and enjoyment of life

Besides a failure to warn, plaintiffs in other Taxotere hair loss lawsuits have claimed that Sanofi was liable for the following:

Contact a product liability attorney if you suffered permanent hair loss from taking Taxotere or another chemotherapy drug.

Taxotere May Cause Eye Damage

Permanent hair loss is not the only adverse side effect of Taxotere. More than 12,000 people have filed lawsuits against Sanofi for its failure to warn about potential eye damage. Cancer patients who have used Taxotere claim that the drug causes severe eye damage.

Specifically, the drug is said to cause the following eye injuries:

  • Watery eyes
  • Vision loss
  • Damage to the tear ducts

The technical name for eye damage Taxotere causes is epiphora and canalicular stenosis. Plaintiffs who filed Taxotere lawsuits for eye damage argue that Sanofi knew their drug caused permanent eye damage and failed to warn patients and oncologists about the risk.

Once thousands of plaintiffs filed lawsuits against Sanofi for eye damage, the courts consolidated them into multidistrict litigation. A federal judge in the Eastern District of Louisiana oversees these cases and the hair loss lawsuits.

Taxotere Lawsuits Update

Most of the Taxotere cases against Sanofi are for permanent hair loss. But they are not filed as class-action lawsuits or mass tort cases. Instead, they are part of multidistrict litigation.

The federal court cases, both hair loss and eye damage, are being tried before Judge Jane Triche Milazzo in a Louisiana U.S. District Court.

In the early days of the Taxotere MDL, cases seemed to go the defendant's way. The first two bellwether trials resulted in verdicts favoring the drug manufacturer. But, in 2022, this changed.

The plaintiffs in the first bellwether cases appealed the verdicts in the lower court. On appeal, the judge found for the plaintiffs. This changed the direction of the Taxotere litigation.

To date, there has been no settlement of the Taxotere litigation. The judge still hears cases, and plaintiffs can file lawsuits against the defendant. But, the statute of limitations will expire, and new plaintiffs will have no recourse against the drug manufacturer. So, you must talk to an attorney sooner rather than later.

Experiencing Taxotere Hair Loss? Call an Attorney Today

Enduring several rounds of chemotherapy and successfully beating breast cancer is 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 or eye damage after taking Taxotere, you may have a valid claim against the manufacturer. Get started today and contact a local product liability attorney.

Find a lawyer with experience with dangerous drug cases. Call and schedule your free case evaluation.

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