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Taxotere Lawsuit

Hair loss is a temporary consequence of many chemotherapy treatments, but one drug in particular has been blamed for permanent alopecia – a side effect that was not made known, according to cancer patients. Those who have filed Taxotere lawsuits claim that if the drug manufacturer, Sanofi S.A., had adequately warned about permanent alopecia risks, they would have chosen chemotherapy drug Taxol, which is just as effective but without danger of long-term hair loss.

Grounds for filing a Taxotere alopecia lawsuit

  • Failure to warn – Claimants contend that while the Taxotere (docetaxel) product information suggested that hair loss was indeed possible, the label made no indication that docetaxel side effects could be lasting in nature. Plaintiffs who have filed suit against Sanofi S.A. contend that the defendants failed to warn patients of the risk of disfiguring permanent alopecia in the United States. Consequently, thousands of women and their doctors were deprived of the opportunity to make an informed decision about Taxotere benefits versus risks.
  • Fraudulent misrepresentation – Plaintiffs may sue on grounds of fraudulent misrepresentation, claiming Sanofi falsely represented the concept that Taxotere had been subject to rigorous testing and was determined to be safe and effective for its intended use.
  • Misleading marketing – Despite alleged knowledge of alopecia risks related to Taxotere, plaintiffs claim that the defendant continued with deceptive marketing materials, leading patients and the medical community to believe that Taxotere hair loss was temporary, and hair would grow back. Sanofi also allegedly made false and misleading statements which promoted the “superior efficacy” of Taxotere compared with competing chemo drug Taxol. In 2009, Sanofi received a warning letter from the FDA, stating that such claims were unsubstantiated.
  • Concealed knowledge of hair loss risks – Armed with relevant findings from the GEICAM 9805 study which showed long-term hair loss in Taxotere patients, in addition to reports from female patients who had taken the drug and experienced permanent disfiguring hair loss, Sanofi allegedly covered up this information to U.S. patients and health care providers.

Does Taxotere cause permanent hair loss?

Anecdotal reports and scientific research suggests that Taxotere can lead to permanent baldness in some patients. According to research findings published by the National Cancer Research Institute, 10-15 percent of patients who received Taxotere suffered from permanent hair loss, or baldness. The GEICAM 9805 study, which was partly sponsored by Sanofi in 2005, found that persistent alopecia was evident in 9.2 percent of patients who were given Taxotere drug treatment.

A separate 2011 study published in the Annals of Oncology found that severe alopecia – an emotionally distressing side effect among female patients – was a reported complication of the docetaxel breast cancer regimen.

Taxotere class action lawsuit

At this point in time, Taxotere lawsuits regarding permanent hair loss have been filed on an individual basis. However, there is the possibility of a class action – a type of litigation that joins a group of plaintiffs who have suffered similar injuries and side effects from a common product. In a Taxotere class action lawsuit, an individual or small group would represent the interests of the “class” and seek resolution in a single court proceeding. Any settlement monies would be split by the group, and all class members are bound to whatever verdict is handed down.

Complex pharmaceutical litigation that shares common facts and injuries is more likely to be consolidated as a mass tort – either on the state or federal level. Multidistrict litigation (MDL) centralizes civil complaints before one district judge for purposes of investigation and discovery. Each plaintiff’s case shares in these pre-trial processes, but retains full autonomy in regards to final resolution. If a Taxotere MDL is established, each case is still treated separately, allowing plaintiffs to have their own day in court, unlike those in a class action. The perceived benefits of multidistrict litigation include increased convenience and economy for both parties, less burden on the judicial system, and fewer chances of inconsistent pretrial rulings.

Taxotere hair loss settlement

Litigation involving Taxotere related alopecia is just emerging, with several cases being filed in state and federal courts. Accordingly, Sanofi has not discussed the possibility of a Taxotere lawsuit settlement with any plaintiffs. Product liability complaints alleging serious drug side effects generally take several years to resolve in the court system, whether as part of a mass tort or class action.

Traditionally, manufacturers are reluctant to negotiate settlements until they understand their true legal and financial risk – a risk they will know after the first few Taxotere cases are tried in court.

Plaintiffs can seek a number of damages in a Taxotere settlement or jury verdict that account for both economic and non-economic losses.

Monetary compensation may be awarded for:

  • Past and future medical expenses
  • Past and future loss of earnings
  • Physical and mental pain and suffering
  • Loss of future earning capacity
  • Therapy costs
  • Psychological counseling
  • Emotional distress
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Permanent disfigurement from alopecia

Every state imposes a statute of limitations for filing a claim. Failure to take legal action within this time frame may prevent alopecia victims from recovering compensation.

Taxotere lawsuits resources

  1. Journal of Clinical Oncology – The Price We Pay for Progress: A Meta-Analysis of Harms of Newly Approved Anticancer Drugs
  2. A Head of Our Time, Living with Persistent Chemo-Induced Alopecia
  3. ProductsSanofi, TAXOTERE®
  4. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology – Permanent chemotherapy-induced alopecia: case report and review of the literature.
  5. CBS News, Sanofi’s Latest Challenge: Women Who Say Its Chemotherapy Left Them Permanently Bald
  6. The Telegraph, I survived cancer – but drugs left me with permanent alopecia