Survivors of breast cancer are now coming forward claiming permanent hair loss as a result of taking the chemotherapy drug Taxotere (docetaxel), a side effect not disclosed by the manufacturer. As a result, lawsuits are being filed across the country.
The lawsuit filed against manufacturer Sanofi-Aventis allege that the manufacturer failed to warn physicians and patients of the increased risks of permanent hair loss, also called permanent alopecia. Our Cleveland Taxotere lawyers are accepting clients who took this dangerous drug and suffered permanent hair loss.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) first approved the medication in 1996. Taxotere is defined as “a cancer medication that interferes with the growth and spread of cancer cells in the body.” The medication can be used to treat breast cancer, lung cancer, prostate cancer, stomach cancer and head or neck cancer. It is most commonly known for its treatment for breast cancer.
The medication has taxanes, which is what interferes with the ability for the cancer cells to divide. This drug is typically given in combination with chemotherapy medicines or used after surgery. Generally, Taxotere is used to treat:
Taxotere is injected into a patient’s vein through an IV, usually once every three weeks. The drug stood out from others because treatments were typically every three weeks instead of once a week. Even though hair loss was a recorded side effect, permanent hair loss was not.
It is estimated that 75 percent of women undergoing treatment for breast cancer were taking Taxotere. Sanofi-Aventis is currently under investigation and facing several lawsuits because they hid the fact that this drug is linked to permanent hair loss, also known as alopecia. Breast cancer patients in the U.S., Europe, and Canada are coming forward about permanent hair loss they’ve suffered as a result of taking Taxotere.
In 2015, the FDA updated the warning label for the medication. It also released the information that this medication causes an adverse reaction and there are cases of permanent alopecia that have been reported.
Prior to that report, Sanofi-Aventis knew the risk of permanent hair loss that Taxotere caused. The warning labels for Canada were updated in 2005, and for Europe in 2012. It took an additional 12 years for the U.S. to receive the same label.
According to allegations found in several Taxotere lawsuits, not only did Sanofi-Aventis bury the risk of hair loss associated with Taxotere, they also “illegally pushed inaccurate marketing materials” for the drug on both doctors and patients. Specifically, the manufacturer claimed that this drug was a more effective treatment than other medications, such as paclitaxel, better known as Taxol, when, in fact, it wasn’t.
As a result, patients did not hear about Taxol, which is a less expensive and equally, or in some instances, a more effective drug. A BreastCancer.org study found that patients who took Taxol were 27 percent more likely to be alive and breast cancer-free after 5 years, as compared to those who took this medication. In fact, in 2009, the FDA sent a warning letter to Sanofi-Aventis, calling the company out for misleading suggesting that Taxotere was a superior drug compared to Paclitaxel.
Taxotere is the only breast cancer drug linked to permanent hair loss. Specifically, multiple studies have been conducted, which prove there is a link between hair loss and taking Taxotere for cancer treatment. In 2006, Dr. Scot Sedlacek held a study that found 6.3 percent of patients grew back less than 50 percent of their hair back after taking the drug.
In another study conducted by the National Cancer Research Institute, it found that 10 – 15 percent of patients may have permanent hair loss after taking the medication.
As you can imagine, side effects of alopecia aren’t limited to hair loss. Alopecia impacts self-esteem, body-image, and self-confidence. Hair loss may cause depression, low self-esteem, altered self-image and less frequent social engagement.
If you or a loved one suffered from permanent alopecia as a direct result of taking the medication to treat breast cancer, you could be entitled to compensation for your losses. Contact one of our Cleveland Taxotere lawyers today. Call today or fill out an online form for a free consultation. Our attorneys are ready to hear your case and advise you on your next steps. We can also arrange weekend and evening appointments, and we can come to you.