Women are filing Taxotere lawsuits in greater numbers because of one very devastating potential side effect that may affect up to 15 percent of patients using the drug. Taxotere is a chemotherapy drug used to treat several different types of cancer, including breast cancer. While it is well-known that these drugs can cause alopecia, or hair loss, what many women claim they never knew was that this particular chemotherapy drug could cause persistent or even permanent hair loss.
Taxotere is an essential medication for treating certain types of advanced cancers and tumors that have spread, but many patients feel that the maker, Sanofi A.S. failed to warn patients of all the possible risks. Many women were thrilled to beat cancer, but shocked to find they might live the rest of their lives with no hair. As a result, numerous lawsuits are likely to be filed against the company who may have known of the risk and promoted the drug anyway.
Taxotere and Cancer Treatment
Taxotere was first developed by French drug company Sanofi-Aventis, which is now called Sanofi S.A. and was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 1996. The generic name of the drug is docetaxel, and since the patent on it ran out, it is available under other names and made by other companies.
Docetaxel is a chemotherapy drug, an anti-cancer agent that is given to cancer patients as an intravenous injection over the course of an hour. It belongs to a class of drugs called taxanes, which shrink tumors by preventing cancer cells from dividing, multiplying, and spreading. Taxotere is twice as potent as some of the other taxane drugs, but has not necessarily been found to be any more effective
When the FDA approved Taxotere it did so for very specific uses. One of these, and one of the main reasons it is leading to so many lawsuits from women, is for the treatment of breast cancer. Women with breast cancer that is locally advanced, that failed to improve with other chemotherapy drugs, or that has metastasized, may be given Taxotere.
Taxotere is also indicated for treating an advanced type of stomach cancer, for prostate cancer that fails to respond to hormone-based treatments, for locally-advanced or metastasized, non-small cell lung cancer, and for head and neck squamous cell carcinoma that is either locally-advanced or cannot be treated with surgical methods.
Common Taxotere Side Effects
Treatment with chemotherapy drugs is always expected to cause side effects. These drugs are designed to kill living cells and they may not always target tumor cells alone. Many people undergoing chemotherapy will experience the death of healthy, non-cancerous cells, which causes other side effects.
With Taxotere, some of the more common side effects are not severe or permanent and are considered worth the benefits of the treatment. These include a skin rash, tingling or numbness in limbs, tiredness and weakness, appetite loss, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, temporary hair loss, muscle pain, congestion, sore throat and dryness, and mouth ulcers.
More serious are the changes in white blood cells and platelets that Taxotere can cause. A lowered white blood cell count can make a patient vulnerable to infections. Lowered platelet levels can lead to bruising, bleeding, and slow clotting. Taxotere may also cause nerve damage, anorexia, and trouble breathing.
Black Box Warnings
The FDA has required that Taxotere carry several black box warnings, the warnings that the agency uses for the most severe and the potentially life-threatening side effects of a drug. One such warning for Taxotere is that patients with liver problems, like abnormal liver function, are at a greater risk of dying from being treated with Taxotere. Another is that Taxotere can cause severe fluid retention, which can cause other serious health complications. There is also a possibility that Taxotere will cause some patients to anaphylaxis, a severe allergic reaction that is fatal if not treated immediately.
Persistent Hair Loss
There are many different possible side effects caused by Taxotere, which is expected with a chemotherapy drug. Hair loss is a very common effect of most types of chemotherapy because these drugs target cells that grow and divide quickly, like both cancer cells and hair follicles. The death of the cells that make hair result in hair loss, but this is usually reversed once treatment with the drug stops.
Taxotere lawsuits are beginning to be filed against Sanofi A.S. over hair loss in patients because it is too often persistent or even permanent. Because Taxotere is a drug used for breast cancer, many women have been put at risk for this type of hair loss. These women expected to lose hair, but they also expected it to grow back and feel that the company didn’t warn them that permanent hair loss was possible.
Research and reports of persistent hair loss with Taxotere treatment didn’t emerge until many years after the drug came on the market. In one study researchers found that between 10 and 15 percent of women had hair loss lasting as long as three or four years after treatment. This is a significant amount of women and the warning of the possibility was too late for many.
Consequences of Permanent Hair Loss and a Need for Lawsuits
While to some people it may seem that hair loss is a small concern compared to treating cancer, for women who have to live with permanent lack of hair, this is a devastating reality. Women facing permanent or long-term hair loss may be vulnerable to serious consequences, not least of which include declines in self-confidence and self-esteem.
With such serious hair loss many women may withdraw from social events, from family and friends, and even from work out of feelings of embarrassment and shame. A woman who has to live with no hair is bound to have a lower quality of life and may completely lose enjoyment for life. She may also experience negative impacts to her intimate relationships. These consequences are serious and warrant lawsuits if Sanofi A.S. failed to adequately warn patients that hair loss that persists was possible with their medication.
Women and their legal representatives are currently finding evidence to make a case against Sanofi A.S. over persistent and permanent hair loss. Many believe that the company may have known about this risk and promoted their drug anyway. Some research has even pointed out that Taxotere is not more effective than other, less potent chemotherapy drugs and that these alternatives cause fewer side effects and is not likely to cause permanent hair loss. Plaintiffs in potential cases believe that Sanofi A.S. did not just fail to warn them about the risk; it promoted a drug knowing about the risk and knowing that there were safer alternatives that may have been just as effective.
Cases are expected to multiply against Sanofi A.S. and Taxotere for all of these reasons, but mostly because women have suffered and they weren’t given all the information needed to make choices about cancer treatment. If you also struggled with hair loss from Taxotere, you may want to file a lawsuit and doing so may just win you the compensation that could take the sting out of hair loss that is persistent or permanent.