Taxotere Questions and Answers
By Victoria Ipri – Staff Writer
Taxotere is a chemotherapy drug approved for the treatment of breast cancer, and also used in the treatment of stomach, head and neck, prostate and non-small cell lung cancer. Administered intravenously, Taxotere belongs to the family of drugs known as taxanes.
Although drugs like Taxotere are used to fight deadly cancers, the side effects can be quite toxic. Among the many side effects of Taxotore is permanent alopecia, or loss of hair. While the manufacturer, Sanofi-Aventis, was aware of this side effect, cancer patients assert that the maker failed to properly warn them and their physicians of the risk of permanent alopecia. Proper warning would have allowed patients to refuse treatment with Taxotere and choose an alternate drug like Taxol, proven more effective and without the accompanying hair loss.
In December of 2015, The U.S. Food and Drug Administration demanded that the manufacturer place a warning on the Taxotere label. This leaves patients wondering how to proceed if they or a loved one has been harmed by Taxotere. A drug maker who fails to provide full and accurate instructions to guide doctors in making treatment decisions can be held liable for injuries that result.
These questions and answers can help.
How many cancer patients experience permanent alopecia after using Taxotere?
Approximately three to six percent of patients given Taxotere will experience permanent hair loss although some estimates are as high as eight to ten percent.
What are some side effects of Taxotere?
- Permanent hair loss
- Nausea and vomiting
- Nerve toxicity (Numbness, tingling, burning, or pain in hands or feet, ringing in ears)
- Bone marrow suppression (anemia, neutropenia, thrombocytopenia)
- Fluid accumulation (weight gain, swelling of hands or feet, fluid in abdomen or lungs)
- Flu-like symptoms
- Nail changes
- Allergic reactions
Have studies proven that Taxotore causes baldness?
A study of twenty female breast cancer patients receiving chemotherapy with Taxotere was conducted from 2007-2011. Another 2011 study was also conducted and published in the American Journal of Dermatopathology. Both studies found that:
- no regrowth of the scalp occurred, even with the addition of vitamins and ultraviolet A therapy
- “increased evidence exists that certain chemotherapy regimens can cause dose-dependent permanent alopecia”
Are people currently suing Taxofere’s manufacturer?
Yes. The plaintiffs allege that Taxotore does not have superior efficacy over other types of taxanes, as the manufacturer had claimed, engaging in “a fraudulent marketing scheme, paying kickbacks, and providing other unlawful incentives to entice physicians to use” Taxotere. Lawsuits allege that while hair loss is a common side effect of chemotherapy, permanent baldness is not; therefore, the manufacturer misled the public and the medical community.
Has Taxotere been recalled?
Taxotere has not been recalled as of March 2016. In December 2015, the FDA issued a warning that permanent hair loss could occur with use of Taxotere, and required the maker to place a warning label on the product. Even though the drug has not been recalled, patients can file lawsuits based on the manufacturer’s failure to warn patients of the known side effects.
Is there a pending Taxotere class action?
No Taxotere class action is pending as of March 2016. Taxotere hair loss lawsuit attorneys generally doubt this will occur. Rather, if multiple lawsuits are filed against Sanofi-Aventis alleging injuries and other damages, these will likely be consolidated for use in discovery and pretrial proceedings. In federal court, this type of action is known as multidistrict litigation (MDL), which offers a method for more efficiently and effectively managing pharmaceutical claims.
Which types of damages can I sue for?
- Medical expenses
- The permanency of the injury
- Pain, suffering, and mental anguish
- Loss of income or ability to work
- Conscious pain and suffering of a loved one prior to death
- Pain, suffering, and mental anguish from the loss of a loved one
- Funeral expenses
Patients who have suffered permanent hair loss or other side effects after taking Taxotere are encouraged to consult with a Taxotere lawsuit attorney to understand their rights and remedies.