Chemo drugs and treatments are commonly known to cause temporary hair loss. In most cases, hair that is lost during cancer treatment will grow back within a few months after treatments have ended. Patients who were given Taxotere as part of a chemotherapy treatment regimen may have suffered permanent alopecia which unlike hair loss from other medications, was permanent.
Taxotere’s manufacturer, Sanofi-Aventis has been accused of failing to warn patients that hair loss they suffer during chemotherapy may be permanent. This may have robbed patients of the ability to choose other treatments which would not cause permanent hair loss. Many of these patients have filed lawsuits against Sanofi-Aventis for permanent hair loss caused by Taxotere.
Six to nine percent of patients using Taxotere may have experienced permanent baldness or alopecia which may be partial or total hair loss and may contribute to psychological problems including:
- Low self esteem
- Loss of identity
- Poor body image
- Difficulty resuming normal life
Seven out of 10 patients who suffer permanent partial or total baldness may also decide that they need scarves or wigs to hide their baldness, further complicating psychological and self-esteem challenges.
Sanofi-Aventis is facing hundreds of lawsuits for Taxotere hair loss which they failed to inform patients of. The company knew of the potential for permanent hair loss as early as 1998, though they did not publicly disclose the risk until 2015.
Taxotere Side Effects
Taxotere (docetaxel) is a chemotherapy drug and is classified as a “taxoid” which is synthesized from plant material and which works to treat cancer by inhibiting cell division. It can be used alone but is mostly given as part of a multi-drug regimen with other chemotherapy agents like cisplatin, fluorouracil, cyclophosphamide or doxorubicin.
Taxotere is approved to treat:
- Breast cancer
- Non-small cell lung cancer
- Prostate cancer
- Gastric adenocarcinoma
- Head and neck cancer
Like all chemo medications, Taxotere may cause a number of side effects which are common including:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Loss of appetite
- Skin inflammation
- Mucous membrane inflammation
- Unusual or loss of sensations
- Muscle pain
- Constipation or diarrhea
- Fluid retention
- Hair loss
Some side effects caused by Taxotere may be treatable with other medications.
In other cases, Taxotere severe side effects may be more serious including:
- Liver impairment
- Neurologic damage
- Eye disorders
- Hematologic effects
Taxotere FDA Warnings
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires that Taxotere include a “black box” warning on all prescribing information. A black box or boxed statement warning is the most severe safety alert that can be issued and must be printed at the top of prescribing information or labelling.
Taxotere’s boxed statement indicates that the medication may cause:
- Hypersensitivity reactions
- Liver toxicity
- Low white blood cell counts
- Severe fluid retention
- Toxic death
The warning information about Taxotere indicates the risk of death associated with use of the medication is unrelated to cancer that the patient is diagnosed with. Patients who receive higher doses, who have abnormal liver function or who have been treated more than once are more likely to experience a fatal reaction.
Taxotere Lawsuit Settlements
Evidence shows that as far back as 1998, Sanofi-Aventis was aware of the risk of permanent hair loss. A study funded by Sanofi (GEICAM) showed that patients who used Taxotere had better outcomes for cancer but that about 9.2% experienced permanent hair loss. Still, the side effect was not mentioned in marketing information which stated that the medication was both more effective and better tolerated than other types of treatment.
Hundreds of patients have already filed Taxotere hair loss lawsuits and the company may ultimately be facing thousands of legal cases involving permanent baldness and other serious side effects. Federal hair loss lawsuits have already been consolidated into multidistrict litigation as case MDL 2740 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, but more lawsuits may have been filed in state and local courts. To date, no trial dates or settlem4e4nts have been announced.
People who used Taxotere alone or as part of a chemo treatment regimen and experienced severe side effects such as permanent hair loss may be eligible for compensation. Past medical injury cases have involved compensation for medical costs, therapy costs, pain and suffering, lost wages and other financial needs. There are no guarantees but those who have been injured by Taxotere use should seek assistance from a lawyer.
Notwithstanding claims relating to this product, the drug/medical device remains approved by the U.S. FDA.
- Chemotherapy-induced alopecia and effects on quality of life among women with breast cancer: a literature review, Psycho-Oncology (4/2008)
- MDL – 2740 Taxotere (Docetaxel) Products Liability Litigation, United States District Court Eastern District of Louisiana (12/2018)
- Taxotere Prescribing Information, RxList (3/2019)