The Taxotere Lawsuits
Taxotere (docetaxel) is manufactured by Sanofi-Aventis. Currently, the company is facing several lawsuits from patients who suffered permanent hair loss, or “alopecia”, after being treated with the chemotherapy medication as part of their regimen battling prostate, ovarian, or breast cancer. Although other common chemotherapy drugs can cause temporary hair loss, these tend to list that risk among their side effects – and the patient’s hair grows back once the treatment with that medication has ended. In the case of Taxotere, however, it appears that patients who lost their hair during treatment will never grow it back. The claim that taxotere has permanently disfigured unwitting cancer patients is at the center of these “class action” lawsuits.
In addition, when Taxotere was first marketed, its manufacturer advertised the drug as being more effective than a close competitor, paclitaxel (manufactured under the brand names Taxol and Onxol). While the relative effectiveness of these drugs in treating different types of cancer is still a subject of study and research, it does appear that Taxotere has considerably more dangerous potential side effects than its closest competitors.
Currently, lawsuits that have been filed against Sanofi-Aventis over the use of Taxotere tend to make similar claims. These claims include:
- That Taxotere is defective and unreasonably dangerous for human use,
- That Sanofi-Aventis was negligent in the way it manufactured Taxotere,
- That Sanofi-Aventis failed to test Taxotere properly,
- That Sanofi-Aventis failed to warn doctors and patients of the risks of permanent hair loss and other serious or potentially fatal side effects,
- That Sanofi-Aventis had evidence of these dangers but concealed it, misrepresenting Taxotere’s safety and effectiveness in its marketing materials instead.
In particular, Sanofi sponsored a study called GEICAM 9805, which began in the late 1990s. By 2005, the study had revealed that 9.2 percent of patients who used Taxotere had permanent hair loss. A repeat study by the Rocky Mountain Cancer Centers in 2006 found that more than 6 percent of patients studied had permanent hair loss. Nonetheless, Sanofi-Aventis continued to sell and market Taxotere without mentioning the risk of permanent hair loss, giving patients no chance to plan, prepare, or make another choice.
As of November 2016, 188 claims have been consolidated as a multidistrict litigation (MDL) currently pending in the Eastern District of Louisiana as “MDL 2740 The Taxotere (docetaxel) Products Liability Litigation”.
The Honorable Judge Kurt D. Engelhardt, Chief Judge USDC has been assigned to oversee the proceedings. Pretrial orders establishing guidelines for filing requests for summons and summons returns have been issues but no settlements have occurred at this time.
If you have used Taxotere and would like more information regarding settlements or would like to know if you qualify to join pending litigation, please complete the “Free Taxotere Case Evaluation” form on this page.
Taxotere (docetaxel), also sold under the brand name Docefrez, is a medication used to treat many different types of cancer, including cancer of the breasts, lungs, stomach, prostate, and head or neck. It is especially common in the treatment of breast cancer, hence the central issues in the pending lawsuits of permanent hair loss in women.
Taxotere works by interfering with the growth of cancer cells, slowing down their growth rate and making it more difficult for them to spread to other areas of the body. Currently, it is one of the most commonly-prescribed drugs in its class. In 2009 alone, Taxotere’s manufactuer, Sanofi-Aventis, made $3 billion from Taxotere sales.
Taxotere is administered by injection to patients, about once every three weeks. Some patients receive other cancer medications at the same time, depending on the treatment plan created by their doctors. Often, patients will receive corticosteroids, such as prednisone, before their Taxotere dose in order to help control certain side effects, such as swelling.
Taxotere has a number of known and listed side effects, such as nausea, diarrhea, numbness in fingers and toes, swelling, skin problems, and a reduced white blood cell count that makes it more difficult for the patient’s body to fight infections. Some patients have also reported a low red blood cell count (anemia), which can cause symptoms like fatigue and dizziness. Because of side effects such as these, Taxotere carries a number of warnings.
However, many patients have reported side effects and medical conditions that are not listed in Taxotere’s warnings.