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Taxotere Permanent Hair Loss Lawsuit

Taxotere lawsuits filed by 2,400 breast cancer survivors and their families say Sanofi-Aventis U.S. LLC hid the permanent hair loss risk of the chemotherapy drug Taxotere. Litigation is ongoing. No settlements have been announced. The first four cases are set to go to trial in 2019.

Suffering from complications related to Taxotere?

If you or a loved one suffered permanent hair loss after taking the breast cancer chemotherapy drug Taxotere, you may be eligible for compensation for medical bills and other damages.

Taxotere Lawsuit Stats
  1. Number of Lawsuits More than 2,400
  2. Plaintiff Injuries Permanent hair loss (alopecia)
  3. Defendants Sanofi-Aventis U.S. LLC
  4. Bellwether trial dates Jan. 28, 2019; April 8, 2019; July 15, 2019; Nov. 4, 2019
  5. MDL Location U.S. District Court Eastern District of Louisiana
  6. Class-Action Status None
  7. Litigation Status Active
  8. Top Settlement No global settlement announced as of yet
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Lawsuits say Taxotere’s manufacturer, Sanofi-Aventis, knew Taxotere could cause permanent hair loss, or alopecia, but failed to warn doctors and their patients of the risk. Plaintiffs also accuse the company of falsely marketing Taxotere (docetaxel), which is a chemotherapy drug widely used in the treatment of breast cancer.

The lawsuits — filed by breast cancer survivors and their families — have been centralized under a multidistrict litigation, or MDL, which aims to increase efficiency by allowing a single judge to oversee similar cases. Chief Judge Kurt D. Engelhardt is overseeing the MDL, known as MDL -2740 IN RE: Taxotere (Docetaxel) Products Liability Litigation.

The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation created the MDL in October 2016, transferring 33 lawsuits from 16 districts to the Eastern District of Louisiana. At the time, another 56 related lawsuits were pending in 25 districts. To date, Sanofi has faced more than 2,400 Taxotere lawsuits.

In September 2017, the court denied Sanofi’s motion to dismiss all counts. The company was still fighting 2,304 lawsuits over Taxotere permanent hair loss claims as of November 2017.

Taxotere MDL by the Numbers:

2,402

The total number of Taxotere lawsuits filed by breast cancer survivors and their families

2,304

The number of Taxotere lawsuits still pending in federal court in Louisiana

89

The number of Taxotere lawsuits pending when the MDL was created

25

The number of districts from which lawsuits were transferred to the MDL

Taxotere Lawsuit Settlement

No global settlement has been announced to resolve the more than 2,300 Taxotere lawsuits still pending in Louisiana.

In December 2016, the judge overseeing the litigation appointed settlement committees to engage in continuous general settlement discussions.

Meanwhile, the number of Taxotere lawsuits continued to grow, and the court moved forward with preparations for bellwether trials, or test trials that help both sides gauge the strength of their arguments.

Taxotere Bellwether Trials

In August 2017, Judge Kurt D. Engelhardt set dates for four bellwether trials in the Taxotere MDL. The judge and both parties involved in the litigation will select representative cases to be the first cases to go to trial. The outcome of these trials could influence how the other cases in the MDL proceed.

Upcoming Taxotere Bellwether Trial Dates:
  • Jan. 28, 2019
  • April 8, 2019
  • July 15, 2019
  • Nov. 4, 2019

Do You Qualify for a Taxotere Lawsuit?

Breast cancer survivors who were prescribed Taxotere before December 2015 and experienced permanent baldness (permanent alopecia) as a result of Taxotere use may be eligible for compensation through a lawsuit.

Did you take Taxotere to treat breast cancer and suffer permanent hair loss? Get a Free Case Review

Although hair loss is a common side effect related to chemotherapy drugs, permanent alopecia is not.

Permanent baldness is a disfiguring condition, especially for women. Women who experience disfiguring permanent alopecia as a result of Taxotere use not only suffer physical and emotional loss, but also financial loss, including loss of work or inability to work due to significant psychological damage.

“I did not anticipate that years out of treatment I would be left with fine wisps of hair that grew in clumps around my head, but offered no coverage and no relief from the wigs and scarves that I had been wearing during the treatment,” said one breast cancer patient who told her story on A Head of Our Time, an online support group.

You may be eligible for compensation through a lawsuit if you:
  • Were diagnosed with breast cancer
  • Were prescribed Taxotere before December 2015
  • Stopped taking Taxotere at least six months ago
  • Suffer from permanent baldness or partial baldness

Allegations Against Taxotere Manufacturers

Women and families suing Sanofi allege the company was aware of the link between permanent hair loss and Taxotere use and failed to warn patients. The company also marketed Taxotere as more effective than other chemotherapy drugs when other drugs were equally effective without the associated permanent hair loss, according to the lawsuits.

Lawsuits accuse Sanofi of:
  • Selling Taxotere without properly testing it
  • Failing to determine whether Taxotere was safe
  • Selling the drug without disclosing the dangers or risks
  • Failing to properly warn patients and health care providers
  • Misleading the public in advertising and marketing
  • Manufacturing a dangerous drug
  • Concealing information from the public
  • Downplaying the dangers associated with the drug

Lawsuits Say Sanofi Hid Hair Loss Side Effects

According to lawsuits, Sanofi misled the public by falsely assuring them that hair would grow back after chemotherapy. But, the company should have known that their drug had a higher rate of permanent alopecia than similar drugs on the market.

Studies the company should have been aware of include:
  • 1998
    Sanofi sponsored a study called GEICAM 9805. By 2005, the company knew that the results of this trial revealed 9.2 percent of women who used the chemo drug suffered permanent alopecia.
  • 2006
    Dr. Scot Sedlacek of the Rocky Mountain Cancer Centers conducted a study that revealed Taxotere could cause more than 6 percent of women to suffer permanent alopecia.

Despite informing patients in other countries, Sanofi for years did not warn women in the U.S. of this risk. The words “permanent hair loss” or “alopecia” did not appear in any information published in the U.S., lawsuits say.

Sanofi Accused of Promoting Sales at Patients’ Expense

Taxotere lawsuits call into question Sanofi’s motives since Taxotere’s initial FDA approval in 1996.

They say Sanofi downplayed the risks of the drug and trained employees to misrepresent its safety and effectiveness.

According to a 2015 lawsuit filed by one of Sanofi’s former employees , the company engaged in illegal payment of “kickbacks” to health care professionals to prescribe the drug.

As a result of this misconduct, Taxotere’s sales soared, lawsuits say.

Questionable Motives
Lawsuits claim Taxotere’s sales escalated from $424 million in 2000 to $1.4 billion in 2004 through misrepresentation and illegal payment of kickbacks.

“Defendants preyed on one of the most vulnerable groups of individuals at the most difficult time in their lives [and] Defendants obtained billions of dollars in increased revenues at the expense of unwary cancer victims simply hoping to survive their condition and return to a normal life,” one woman wrote in her complaint.

Taxotere Manufacturers Facing Lawsuits

Sanofi S.A., Aventis Pharma S.A. and Sanofi-Aventis U.S. LLC are the drug companies named in Taxotere lawsuits.

These companies were involved in the designing, developing, manufacturing, distributing, labeling, advertising, marketing, promoting and selling of Taxotere.

In 2009, Taxotere made over $3 billion for Sanofi before the company lost patent protection.

Doctors prescribe Taxotere to treat the majority of breast cancer cases in the U.S., and each year about 300,000 women are diagnosed with the disease. The drug is also the most prescribed drug in its class.

Companies Named in Taxotere Lawsuits:
  • Sanofi S.A.
  • Aventis Pharma S.A.
  • Sanofi-Aventis U.S. LLC

Taxotere Class Action

There are currently no certified class action lawsuits over claims Taxotere causes permanent hair loss.

In December 2016, three women filed a Taxotere class action lawsuit. In April 2017, the women asked the court to certify the class, a step necessary for the class action to proceed. In July 2017, a judge denied the request for class action certification.

According to the court order denying class action certification, there were too many differences in the cases for them to be considered a class.

Differences surrounding the claims that prevented class action certification include:
  • Whether brand name Taxotere or a generic equivalent was administered
  • What combination of chemotherapy agents was utilized in connection with Taxotere or its generic equivalent
  • The dosage of Taxotere or its generic equivalent that was administered
  • The number of treatment cycles that took place
  • The description of the alleged injury
  • The damages sought

Studies Show Hair Loss Diminishes Quality of Life

Hair loss consistently ranks as one of the most distressing side effects of cancer treatment and has a profound impact on well-being and quality of life.

In some studies, about 9 percent of breast cancer patients suffered alopecia that lasted for a decade or more, severely decreasing their quality of life, negatively affecting body image, and causing depression and distress.

Impact of Hair Loss on Women with Breast Cancer

Lemieux et al. published a 2008 review of 38 articles analyzing the impact of hair loss on women with breast cancer. Study authors looked at quality of life relating to anxiety, body image, distress, sexuality, social functioning, self-esteem and the ability to return to work.

Study Results
Results showed that “hair loss consistently ranked amongst the most troublesome side effects, was described as distressing, and may affect the body image.”

Effects of Permanent Hair Loss After Taxotere Treatment

Klugel et al. published a 2012 study in the Annals of Oncology that followed 20 patients who used Taxotere as a part of their therapy. All 20 suffered permanent hair loss after treatment. Despite various alopecia treatments, the women were left with incomplete, sparse and clumpy hair regrowth.

Out of these women, about 40 percent showed scores that indicated “severe impairment” of quality of life. One woman in the study said, “‘she would have preferred not to receive any chemotherapy for her breast cancer’ rather than being affected by such a distressing and permanent side-effect.” About 70 percent of the women in this study wore wigs or scarves to cover their heads.

Study Results
Compared to a healthy population, women who suffered permanent hair loss after treatment showed “significant impairment” of quality of life.

Ami Dodson is one of the first women to file a permanent alopecia lawsuit against Sanofi. According to court documents, Dodson had a left breast biopsy on March 3, 2010. Doctors found a tumor in her breast. After she had a partial mastectomy, Dodson spoke with her doctor about chemotherapy.

Neither she nor her doctor was aware of the risk for permanent alopecia. Following her treatment, her hair never grew back.

“Before Defendants’ wrongful conduct resulted in thousands of women being exposed to the side effects of Taxotere, there were already similar products on the market that were at least as effective as Taxotere and did not subject female users to the same risk of disfiguring permanent alopecia as does Taxotere,” Dodson wrote in her complaint.

Please seek the advice of a medical professional before making health care decisions.

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6 Cited Research Articles

  1. U.S. District Court Eastern District of Louisiana. (2017, April 25). Motion to Certify Class. Retrieved from https://www.pacer.gov/
  2. U.S. District Court Eastern District of Louisiana. (2017, July 17). Order and Reasons. Retrieved from http://www.laed.uscourts.gov/sites/default/files/taxotere/Taxotere.MDL_.2740.Order_.and_.Reasons.Deny_.Class_.Certification.Ref_.16-17731.7-17-17_0.pdf
  3. Dodson v. Sanofi, et al. (2016). U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. Complaint and Demand for Jury Trial. Case no. 3:16-cv-01251 Retrieved from https://www.pacer.gov/
  4. Kluger, N. et al. (2012). Permanent scalp alopecia related to breast cancer chemotherapy by sequential fluorouracil/epirubicin/cyclophosphamide (FEC) and docetaxel: a prospective study of 20 patients. Annals of Oncology. Retrieved from http://annonc.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2012/05/09/annonc.mds095.full.pdf
  5. Potts, J. (2015, September 3). I survived cancer - but drugs left me with permanent alopecia. The Telegraph. Retrieved from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/lifestyle/wellbeing/healthadvice/11841436/I-survived-cancer-but-drugs-left-me-with-permanent-alopecia.html
  6. Lemieux, J. et al. (2008, April 17) Chemotherapy-induced alopecia and effects on quality of life among women with breast cancer: a literature review. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17721909
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