Taxotere (docetaxel) is a cancer drug manufactured by Sanofi-Aventis, which may be used as part of chemotherapy treatment for breast cancer.
While alopecia or hair loss is a common side effect of chemotherapy, permanent baldness or hair problems are not. According to allegations raised in lawsuits being pursued by women throughout the United States, Taxotere side effects may cause alopecia symptoms that continue for years after hair would have been expected to regrow.
For women who experience on-going hair-loss or permanent baldness from Taxotere, this may have a devastating psychological impact and severely detrimental impact on their life, potentially causing:
- Embarrassment or Mental Anguish
- Diminished Ability to Work
- Inability to Participate in Activities
- Impact Social or Sexual Relationships
- Loss of Enjoyment of Life
The lawyers at Saiontz & Kirk, P.A. are reviewing potential Taxotere hair loss lawsuits for women nationwide who may be entitled to financial compensation as a result of the drug maker’s failure to adequately warn about the alopecia risk. Request a free consultation and case evaluation.
Taxotere Risks and Lack of Benefits
Taxotere was introduced in May 1996, as a new member of a family of drugs known as Taxanes, which are widely used during chemotherapy.
The drug works by binding and stabilizing tubulin, a protein that is involved in cell division and moving materials through the cell, preventing cell death. It also inhibits vascular endothelial growth factor and can induce inflammatory responses.
The drug was introduced to compete with Taxol, which is another Taxane-based breast cancer drug that had been on the market since 1992.
Developed as a “more potent” Taxane, it appears that this caused increased toxicity and side effects of Taxotere, particularly with regard to the risk of hair loss or alopecia.
Despite the potential Taxotere hair loss risks, Sanofi-Aventis continued to push their breast cancer treatment as a superior alternative to Taxol, even though that was not the case. Amid illegal and reckless promotion, Taxotere sales increased from $424 million in 2000 to $1.4 billion by 2004.
In 2008, a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) found that there are no Taxotere benefits over Taxol with regard to efficacy.
Researchers enrolled nearly 5,000 women, and found that those receiving weekly Taxol breast cancer treatment actually had improved outcomes and overall survival when compared to Taxotere.
Over the past two decades, thousands of women nationwide may have been unnecessarily exposed to Taxotere’s increased toxicity side effects, which includes an increased risk of disfiguring hair loss, known as alopecia.
Taxotere and Alopecia Side Effects
Alopecia is a medical condition that can occur naturally, but is also commonly linked to chemotherapy treatments.
When chemotherapy is involved, it is the result of damage to the cells that cause hair to grow. However, in the vast majority of cases, alopecia is temporary.
Following chemotherapy, the cells typically heal and the hair is expected to eventually grow back, generally within one to three months after treatment ends. In some cases it may take six to 12 months for the hair to regrow back completely, but permanent baldness or hair loss is not a normal or expected side effect of chemotherapy.
Although women may have accepted the risk of permanent alopecia with a breast cancer treatment if no other alternatives were available, Taxol and other products may be at least as effect and do not pose the same risk of permanent alopecia as Taxotere.
It appears that Sanofi-Aventis knew or should have known about the link between Taxotere and alopecia hair loss before the medication was ever introduced, or at least within a few years of FDA approval.
In 2005, the findings of a study known as GEICAM 9805 were released, which indicated that 9.2% of patients treated with Taxotere suffered persistent alopecia. For these women, after Taxotere treatment they continued to experience hair loss for 10 years and five months or longer.
This study was sponsored by Sanofi-Aventis, and began in the late 1990s. As a result, the drug maker knew or should have known about the potential Taxotere hair loss risks shortly after they introduced the drug.
These findings were supported by a Denver oncologist, who reported in 2006 that 6.3% of his patients treated with Taxotere suffered permanent hair loss that continued for years after the last chemotherapy treatment.
Lawsuit for Failure to Warn About Hair Loss Side Effects of Taxotere
As a result of Sanofi-Aventis’ apparent decision to place their desire for profits before consumer safety, financial compensation may be available for women nationwide who have been left with ongoing Taxotere hair loss problems.
Rather than warning about the alopecia risk with Taxotere, the drug maker provided false and misleading information for women and the medical community, and recklessly continued to promote the drug as a superior breast cancer treatment.
While Taxotere warnings provided in some other countries provide better information for consumers, doctors and regulators, the information provided in the United States does not contain any indication of “permanent alopecia” or “permanent hair loss.”
To review whether you or a loved one may be entitled to a Taxotere alopecia settlement, contact the lawyers at Saiontz & Kirk, P.A. for a free consultation and case evaluation. There are no fees or expenses unless a recovery is obtained.