Public Health Watchdog Breaking News
Public Health Watchdog Breaking News

Sanofi’s chemotherapy drug, Taxotere, is the most widely used drug in its class and is prescribed to as many as 75 percent of breast cancer patients in the United States. A Taxotere hair loss lawsuit alleges that Sanofi was aware of the increased risk for permanent hair loss linked to its cancer drug, but minimized the risk. The drug manufacturer also allegedly did not reveal that there were drugs available on the market that were as effective as Taxotere (docetaxel), but without the heightened risk for permanent hair loss.

Taxotere Studies

The hair loss (alopecia) risk has been assessed, according to studies, at anywhere from six to ten percent. That risk percentage is not just hair loss, which is not uncommon during cancer treatment, but the relative risk of hair that once it has fallen out, may not grow back for years, if ever. There appears to be evidence that some physicians have been less than forthcoming with more complete information concerning permanent hair loss and Taxotere. Studies show that Taxotere is effective in extending survival, but breast cancer survivors who used the drug are unprepared for the unexpected and disfiguring side effect, according to drugwatch.com.

Taxotere was initially approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1996. It was subsequently approved to treat a variety of cancers including non-small cell lung cancer, stomach cancer, prostate cancer, and head and neck cancer. Approximately three million women in the U.S. are living with breast cancer.

The attorneys at Parker Waichman LLP have extensive experience representing clients in drug injury lawsuits. Our lawyers are actively reviewing potential lawsuits on behalf of individuals who have been injured by pharmaceuticals, including Taxotere.

How Taxotere Works

Like other kinds of chemotherapy drugs, Taxotere works by stopping cells from dividing and multiplying. Normal, healthy cells stop dividing when they are around similar cells. Cancer cells are damaged and are unable to stop dividing, which is how cancer continues to spread. Chemotherapy drugs such as Taxotere, attack the cancer cells’ DNA or RNA so the tumor can no longer copy itself and spread. When it can no longer replicate, it dies.

Taxotere Linked to Permanent Hair Loss

Although chemotherapy is known to cause hair loss, most cases resolve in three to six months after the treatment is over and hair completely regrows. One of the most distressing side effects of treatment is alopecia. Studies reveal it has a direct impact on quality of life and can be devastating, reports drugwatch.com.

Some of the studies now show that Taxotere may cause irreversible hair loss.  All body hair is affected, including eyelashes, eyebrows, and pubic hair. The GEICAM 9805 funded by Sanofi showed that approximately 9.2 percent of patients suffered hair loss that lasted ten years or longer, according to the data presented in a Taxotere lawsuit.

Another study conducted by Dr. Scott Sedlacek of the Rocky Mountain Cancer Centers revealed that Taxotere could cause six percent of women to suffer permanent alopecia.

A 2012 study published in the Annals of Oncology by Kluger et al. followed 20 women. Of the women who received Taxotere, 19 of the 20 had permanent hair loss, including eyebrow and eyelash loss. One patient treated for reoccurring breast cancer previously underwent chemotherapy with different drugs and had complete hair regrowth. After taking Taxotere, she experienced permanent hair loss.

“Considering the increasing role of taxane-based therapies in adjuvant treatment, physicians and patients should be aware of this new distressing side-effect,” wrote authors in the Kluger et al. study.

Taxotere Hair Loss Lawsuits

Sanofi is now facing an increasing number of lawsuits filed by women who allege the company never warned about the severity and possible permanence of hair loss. The women claim if they had known the potential for permanent alopecia, they might have opted for a different choice of treatment.

One cancer patient joined an online cancer chat group in March 2013. She noted that her oncologist had advised changing from a treatment she had been on to Taxotere and Cyclosphosphamide. Having done her research, the woman was concerned about the possibility of permanent hair loss and Taxotere., but was assured by her oncologist her hair would regrow.

The woman’s previous treatment would have lasted seven months as opposed to three months on Taxotere. The shorter treatment window has been an attractive feature for many cancer patients anxious to get on with their lives as soon as possible. The woman in the chat group remained apprehensive about the Taxotere/Cyclophosphamide treatment as the combination showed a six percent chance of irreversible hair loss.

The cancer patient expressed her concern about Taxotere’s link to permanent hair loss to her doctor who allegedly said he had never heard of anyone suffering this side effect. This disturbed her as this information was readily available on the internet.

There are over 1,000 Taxotere plaintiffs who have fallen within the six to ten percent risk group who allege to have experienced permanent hair loss and have decided to battle their Taxotere hair loss cases in court.

Legal Information for Taxotere Users

If you or someone you know suffered permanent hair loss due to Taxotere, you may have valuable legal rights. Parker Waichman LLP personal injury lawyers offer free, no-obligation case evaluations. We urge you to contact our attorneys at 1-800-YOURLAWYER (1-800-968-7529).