Nothing is more devastating than a cancer diagnosis. Fortunately, many cancers are curable, albeit with painful and miserable treatments. What if the treatment has permanent undesirable side effects of which the patient was unaware? Who is to be held accountable then? Sadly, manufacturers of the drug Taxotere have created and marketed just such a treatment. If you have suffered serious or irreversible side-effects after being prescribed Taxotere, a personal injury attorney may be able to help you recover damages to compensate for your suffering.
Why is Taxotere Prescribed?
Taxotere is one of many IV chemotherapy drugs used in the treatment of breast cancer and other aggressive cancers such as advanced stomach cancer, prostate cancer, and non-small cell lung cancer. Chemotherapy drugs are designed to damage the RNA or DNA in cells, impairing a cell’s ability to copy itself and divide. When they cannot divide, they die, leading tumors to shrink. Some chemotherapy drugs, such as Taxotere, assault cells during multiple phases of cell division. But because the drugs cannot differentiate between cancerous and healthy cells, normal cells are also impacted. Typically, the mouth, bowel, stomach and hair follicles are most susceptible to the impacts of chemotherapy drugs, resulting in unpleasant symptoms. In the case of Taxotere, symptoms may be more dramatic due to the amplified potency of the drug.
Posted Side Effects
Makers of Taxotere acknowledge certain side effects will occur, including:
- Low white blood cell counts;
- Fluid retention resulting in swelling and weight gain;
- Sores in the mouth and/or throat;
- Changes in taste sensations;
- Neuropathy in fingers and toes;
- Nausea and vomiting;
- Weakness and/or fatigue;
- Hair loss;
- Changes in nail coloration or loss of nails;
- Pain in bones and joints;
- Increased risk of bleeding;
- Reduction in liver function;
- Allergic reactions including lowered blood pressure, flushing, rash and fever; and
- Inflammation, redness, swelling and discoloration of the vein at the infusion site.
Legal Claims Against Manufacturers of Taxotere
One of the most devastating side effects of Taxotere is permanent hair loss. Moreover, the manufacturer of the drug, Sanofi,-Aventis has known about the problem for decades. In their own research, it was revealed that nearly one in 10 women suffered this consequence. Instead of sharing these research results with doctors and their patients, Sanofi-Aventis buried the facts amid murky warnings that in no way prepared women for a future of hairlessness. While physicians in Europe received warnings in 2005, and Canadians in 2012, doctors in the USA were told of the potential hazards much later. In fact, labels warning of permanent hair loss were not provided in this country until late 2015.
The number of women who suffer permanent hair loss may be even higher than previously thought according to The Clatterbridge Cancer Center. Their study indicates that over 15 percent of women have been impacted by this life-changing symptom. Experts acknowledge that a woman’s quality of life may be significantly impacted by the condition. The Rocky Mountain Cancer Center calls it an “emotionally devastating” impact of cancer treatment, and one that should be considered when chemotherapy programs are designed for cancer patients.
Claims that Taxotere regimens have resulted in these serious complications have led women to turn to the courts for a legal remedy for their concerns.
Permanent Scalp Alopecia, or hair loss, is a particularly distressing side effect that has left many breast cancer survivors reeling. One cancer survivor put it this way: “It’s like having ‘I am a cancer sufferer’ tattooed on your forehead.” Hair loss may occur anywhere on the body, including the scalp, eyebrows, eyelashes, underarms, and genital area. Despite a variety of treatments including vitamins, psoralen, and ultraviolet A therapy, some patients never regain complete hair growth. Women assert that this permanent hair loss precludes them from living a normal, happy life, and studies confirm this. In one study, patients were evaluated based on specific impacts of permanent scalp alopecia on their lives, and were found to suffer deficiencies in a number of critical areas:
- Elevated awareness of symptoms;
- Levels of humiliation or discomfiture;
- Participation in daily activities outside the home;
- Choices in attire;
- Participation in leisure activities;
- Involvement in sports;
- Relationships, romantic and otherwise;
- Sexual problems;
- Confidence in treatments; and
- Negative impacts on work and/or school.
Coping With Hair Loss
For women, hair is often central to self-perception and identity. Managing the mental and emotional impacts of losing one’s hair can be difficult, particularly when the loss is permanent. Experts offer some suggestions to make the road easier:
- Learn what you can about the specific things that are happening to your hair follicles. Knowledge is power.
- Anticipate questions from friends, coworkers and family, and questioning looks from strangers. Be prepared with responses that you are comfortable with.
- Join a support group. You may gain a lot from the empathy and experience of others, and glean some coping strategies that might otherwise elude you. Even if you cannot find a local group of women with whom to meet, Internet groups are available.
- Find resources designed to assist individuals who are dealing with the side effects of cancer treatment. Organizations such as the American Cancer Society, Cancer Care, and Look Good, Feel Better are all places worth connecting with.
- Be honest with your children and grandchildren. They may have uncomfortable reactions to your hair loss, and need age-appropriate discussions about what is going on and how you are feeling.
- Take control of other aspects of your life. Fight back. You’ve already suffered through cancer, and now this new challenge confronts you. Don’t take it lying down. Fight for justice.
Your Fight for Justice
If you have been blind sighted with permanent hair loss following the use of Taxotere, it is possible to gain some level of satisfaction, not to mention financial remuneration, by going after the company that manufactured and distributed this dangerous drug.
At the Roger Ghai Law Offices, our legal team understands the physical and emotional distress you have suffered due to the deceptive and negligent actions of Sanofi-Aventis in relation to the drug Taxotere. It’s time to send a message to drug companies: when injuries occur due to negligence, a price will be paid. Contact us in Atlanta, Marietta and Kennesaw for a personalized consultation today.