Taxotere (docetaxel) is a chemotherapy medication manufactured by Sanofi-Aventis that has been approved for the treatment of breast cancer, advanced stomach cancer, non-small cell lung cancer, metastatic prostate cancer, and head and neck cancer. Taxotere belongs to a class of drugs called taxanes, which are designed to prevent harmful cancer cells from growing and dividing, and the chemotherapy treatment is typically administered intravenously (IV) in a hospital once every three weeks. Taxotere is often administered in combination with other chemotherapy drugs, and was originally approved by the FDA for the treatment of locally advanced or metastatic breast cancer in patients for whom other chemotherapy attempts had failed.
There are plenty of severe adverse effects associated with chemotherapy treatment, but perhaps surprisingly, many patients report chemotherapy-induced alopecia (CIA), or hair loss, to be one of the more troubling effects of chemotherapy. A person’s hair is very much a part of who they are, and, particularly for women, baldness that persists during and after chemotherapy treatment can bring with it feelings of insecurity, loss of quality of life and lowered self-esteem. In fact, in a study of 18- to 38-year-old patients with cancer, both males and females reported feeling exposed and judged because of their hair loss. According to reports, chemotherapy-induced alopecia occurs with an estimated incidence of 65%, and may occur within days to weeks after beginning chemotherapy treatment, with complete hair loss occurring by two to three months. Unfortunately, while hair may grow back within one to three months after completing treatment for some patients with cancer, CIA may become permanent in others, with incomplete or no hair growth within six months after discontinuing chemotherapy. For some patients whose hair does grow back, differences in hair color, thickness or texture may occur upon regrowth.
The most serious side effect allegedly associated with Taxotere treatment is alopecia, or hair loss, which may be persistent or permanent. Alopecia occurs when immune system begins attacking hair follicles, causing the hair to fall out and preventing its regrowth. There are several different types of hair loss tied to Taxotere treatment, including: alopecia areata, or hair loss that presents as round, smooth patches of various sizes; alopecia totalis, or a total loss of hair on the scalp; and alopecia universalis, characterized by a loss of hair over the entire scalp and body. Other possible side effects of Taxotere treatment include:
Sanofi-Aventis faces a growing number of lawsuits filed on behalf of patients across the country who allege that side effects of Taxotere caused them to suffer permanent hair loss or baldness. Consider the following questions to determine whether you may be eligible for compensation from a Taxotere hair loss lawsuit.
Did you suffer from breast cancer? According to estimates, there are approximately 2.8 million women in the United States with a history of breast cancer, and of these, about 75% were prescribed the chemotherapy drug Taxotere. If you have been diagnosed with breast cancer, chances are, you may have been treated with the chemotherapy drug Taxotere.
Were you treated with Taxotere? Many cancer patients treated with Taxotere experienced hair loss that they were told would be temporary, and Taxotere lawsuits allege that Sanofi-Aventis failed to adequately warn consumers and the medical community about the potential for the chemotherapy drug to cause permanent hair loss (alopecia).
Have you suffered substantial permanent hair loss for longer than two months? Unlike most other cancer drugs, which are linked to temporary hair loss during the course of chemotherapy treatment, Taxotere has been linked to alopecia side effects that may be persistent or permanent. Sanofi-Aventis has indicated that up to 3% of Taxotere users may experience permanent hair loss, but other studies have estimated the percentage to be closer to 6.3%, or even as high as 10-15%.
Were you treated with Taxotere between the years of 2006 and 2016? Taxotere was approved by the FDA in 2006, and to date, has been used by millions of Americans diagnosed with breast cancer and other types of cancer. If you were treated with Taxotere between the years of 2006 and 2016, you may be eligible for financial compensation by filing a Taxotere lawsuit against Sanofi-Aventis.
January 2016 – A Taxotere lawsuit is filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, on behalf of a woman who was diagnosed with permanent alopecia after undergoing chemotherapy with Taxotere to treat breast cancer.
April 2009 – The FDA issues a warning letter to Sanofi-Aventis, indicating that a reprint carrier for Taxotere obtained at the American Society of Clinical Oncology annual meeting in June 2008 “is false or misleading because it presents unsubstantiated superiority claims and overstates the efficacy of Taxotere.”
December 2015 – The FDA approves changes to the Taxotere warning label to include information about the alleged risk of permanent hair loss from the chemotherapy drug.
2006 – According to a study conducted by Dr. Scot Sedlacek, 6.3% of breast cancer patients grow back less than 50% of their hair after being treated with Taxotere in combination with Adriamycin (docodubicin) and Cytoxan (cyclophosphamide).
August 2007 – Research published online by the journal Psycho-Oncology indicates that “hair loss consistently ranked amongst the most troublesome side effects [of chemotherapy treatment], was described as distressing, and may affect the body image.”
December 2007 – The European Journal of Oncology Nursing publishes a study indicating that “hair loss is often an unavoidable side effect of undergoing chemotherapy treatment for cancer, and it is often experienced as distressing or traumatic.”
May 2010 – Research published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology highlights an “increasing number of reports of permanent chemotherapy-induced alopecia.”
October 2012 – A study published in the journal Annals of Oncology reports that “permanent and severe alopecia is a newly reported complication of the FEC 100-docetaxel breast cancer regimen.”
November 2014 – The National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI) reports that 10-15% of patients who take Taxotere suffer permanent hair loss as a side effect of the chemotherapy drug.
February 2015 – Supportive Care in Cancer reports that “when asking the patients with cancer for their opinion, [chemotherapy-induced alopecia] appears to have a major impact, particularly on body image and quality of life.”
2015 – Research conducted by the Rocky Mountain Cancer Centers in Colorado indicates that “when docetaxel is administered after 4 doses of AC, there is a small but significant possibility of poor hair regrowth lasting up to 7 years.”
Millions of women diagnosed with breast cancer have been administered Taxotere during chemotherapy, and lawsuits state that if Sanofi-Aventis had properly warned the public about the risks of Taxotere treatment, cancer patients would have been prescribed another chemotherapy drug called Taxol, which may be more effective than Taxotere and does not result in permanent hair loss. Before the FDA updated the Taxotere warning label in 2015, the drug’s label indicated that “hair generally grows back” after completing chemotherapy treatment, but research conducted by Sanofi-Aventis itself suggests that 3% of patients administered Taxotere may experience long-term alopecia. As a result of hair loss side effects from Taxotere, users of the cancer drug may pursue claims against Sanofi-Aventis for:
Lawyers across the country are investigation claims on behalf of women who have been diagnosed with permanent hair loss after taking Taxotere, and many of these women argue that, had they been adequately warned about the alleged risk of irreversible alopecia side effects associated with Taxotere, they would have requested another chemotherapy drug that has not been linked to permanent baldness. If you believe you have been adversely affected by permanent alopecia side effects from Taxotere treatment, you may have grounds to file a product liability lawsuit against Sanofi-Aventis. Consult a knowledgeable Taxotere attorney today for legal help.