Chemotherapy drug Taxotere is at the center of a class action lawsuit alleging the drug’s manufacturer (Sanofi-Aventis) failed to warn patients and treating physicians of the increased risk of permanent hair loss – known as alopecia – for those patients who were taking this prescription drug. The lawsuits claim if these cancer patients had been prescribed an alternate chemotherapy drug, Taxol, it not only would have been more effective but the patients would not have suffered from alopecia as a side effect. All the cases that have been filed against Sanofi-Aventis in federal court have been consolidated into one case before a New Orleans federal judge as a result of multi-district litigation.
In the fall of 2015, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) updated Taxotere’s label, warning the public about the risk of permanent hair loss.
Taxotere, also known as docetaxel, is an FDA-approved chemotherapy drug for the treatment of several cancers including: breast, non-small cell, lung, head and neck, advanced stomach, and metastatic prostate cancers. A member of the family of drugs known as “taxanes,” Taxotere is administered intravenously through the veins. Taxotere’s purpose is to try to prevent cancer cells from growing, dividing, and multiplying.
Generally, Taxotere is used in combination with other drugs in the fight against cancer and often provides patients with a higher chance of survival. Some drugs that are used in combination with Taxotere include cisplatin, capecitabine, doxorubicin, fluorouracil, and cyclophosphamide. Taxotere acts as an antimitotic agent, which means it prevents cellular division. Typically the intravenous administration of the drug consists of a one-hour long infusion cycle repeated every three to four weeks.
Statistics show doctors prescribe Taxotere to treat the majority of breast cancer cases in the United States. It is estimated that as many as 300,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer every year. In fact, Taxotere is the most prescribed drug in its class, yielding its manufacturer Sanofi-Aventis more than $3 billion in profits in 2009 before the company lost its patent protection on the drug.
Side Effects of Taxotere
The most serious possible side effect for a cancer patient being treated with Taxotere is neutropenic enterocolitis. This is a rare – but fatal – inflammation of a small pouch located at the top of the large intestine. As can be seen by the current class action lawsuits against the drug’s manufacturer, another potentially devastating side effect of Taxotere is permanent hair loss (alopecia). Research shows about nine percent of breast cancer patients suffered alopecia that lasted at least 10 years.
Other side effects of Taxotere include:
- fatigue and weakness,
- bone pain,
- muscle pain,
- joint pain,
- risk of infections,
- low red blood cell count (anemia),
- fluid retention,
- weight gain,
- swelling of the ankles,
- swelling of the abdomen,
- low white blood cell count,
- nail discoloration
- peripheral neuropathy,
- sores in the mouth or throat; and
- changes in taste.
Taxotere Litigation Allegations
Among the several allegations in the class action lawsuit against Sanofi-Aventis include that:
- The drug s both defective and unreasonably dangerous;
- The drug was negligently manufactured by Sanofi-Aventis;
- Sanofi-Aventis failed to properly test the drug;
- Sanofi-Aventis failed to properly warn doctors and patients of the potential risk of permanent hair loss;
- Sanofi-Aventis concealed available research and evidence of the dangers of the drug; and
- Sanofi-Aventis misrepresented the safety and effectiveness of the drug in its marketing and promotional material.
A Cancer Treatment Review published study revealed Taxotere produced no more benefits over its competitor, Paclitaxel (also known as Taxol and Onxol), and often required treating physicians to prescribe higher doses due to drug resistance. Moreover, alopecia warnings were not indicated for Taxotere that was sold in the United States until 2015 – this is almost two decades after the chemotherapy drug was introduced into the American marketplace. As early as 2005 and 2006 studies were revealing a trend of permanent alopecia in patients who took the drug for cancer treatment. A 2010 paper published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology pointed out an increase in the number of reports of permanent alopecia – and Taxotere was thought responsible for some of these.
Recovering Damages in a Taxotere Lawsuit
Women who are suffering from chemotherapy-related hair loss suffer emotional and psychological side effects beyond the physical difficulty of battling with cancer. The loss of hair has been linked to lowered self-esteem, feelings of depression and loss, decreased self-confidence and other emotional issues. While both genders can be affected by the psychological impact of hair loss, women are often hit especially hard.
A personal injury lawsuit on behalf of someone who has suffered injuries as a result of taking Taxotere during chemotherapy treatment may provide monetary compensation for damages suffered. These include:
- Medical expenses, including therapy and psychological counseling;
- Lost wages, both past and future;
- Mental anguish;
- Emotional distress;
- Permanent disfigurement; and
- Diminished quality of life.
Because each individual’s case is as unique as the parties involved, the amount of damages that may be available through a personal injury lawsuit depends on the harm suffered by the victim as well as other factors.
In order to be eligible to possibly have a valid claim against Sanofi-Aventis in a Taxotere lawsuit you must have: (1) taken the drug as part of chemotherapy treatment prescribed by your doctor; (2) developed permanent hair loss (alopecia), as diagnosed by a doctor; and (3) suffered a demonstrable loss as a result of the diagnosis.
Taxotere Litigation Attorneys
Breast cancer chemotherapy drug Taxotere has been linked to a higher risk of permanent hair loss, known as alopecia, than other chemotherapy drugs. Because women are on average more likely to develop breast cancer than men, thousands of women have reported this side effect. Individuals who have experienced permanent alopecia may be eligible to file a lawsuit if it can be shown that its manufacturer, Sanofi-Aventis, failed to provide patients and their doctors appropriate warnings about the risk of this condition. The knowledgeable attorneys at the Roger Ghai Law Offices have years of experience representing the injured.Click here today to schedule your initial, free, case evaluation.
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