Taxotere Lawsuits: Docetaxel Causes Permanent Hair Loss

Recent studies suggest the drug company Sanofi-Aventis may have known that its breast cancer treatment drug Taxotere causes permanent hair loss, but for competitive reasons chose to hide the problem from physicians and patients. Taxotere lawsuits have followed.

This has resulted in the exposure of thousands of patients to the drug’s toxic side effects, most notably an increased risk of permanent alopecia (loss of hair). Many post-treatment patients have been diagnosed with alopecia universalis, a loss of nearly all body hair, including eyebrows and eyelashes.

Although alopecia is a common side effect related to chemotherapy drugs, permanent hair loss is not typically to be expected. Patients regularly expect that hair growth will resume when chemo treatments are discontinued.

Sanofi may have intentionally misled the public, and the medical community in downplaying the severity of hair loss. Thousands treated with Taxotere are now confronted with permanent physical injury, psychological damage, and depression.

What is Taxotere?

Taxotere (docetaxel) is an intravenous chemotherapy drug. It is part of the taxanes family of drugs, designed to prevent the growth of cancer cells within a patient’s body. It is commonly used in the treatment of breast cancer, and other cancers such as prostate and stomach cancer.

Taxotere went  generic in 2011, and there are now at least seven different generic versions of the drug (docetaxel).

Cancer Treatment Victims Face Unnecessary Risks

There is significant public outrage at this large corporation taking advantage of very ill, vulnerable individuals. Had Sanofi notified physicians and patients of associated risks, many may have chosen alternative drugs. Existing products on the market, such as paclitaxel, are as effective as Taxotere, and do not cause permanent alopecia (hair loss).

This was apparently reason for Sanofi to misrepresent their product. Rather than properly warn of the possible severe alopecia, Sanofi instead elected to increase revenues at the expense of cancer victims. Sales of Taxotere in 2010 were reportedly over $1.2 billion. Victims and consumer rights advocates demand that drug manufacturers be held accountable for their damaging, profit-based decisions.

Deceptive Drug Marketing

Sanofi marketed Taxotere as a superior treatment for breast cancer, but no study supported these claims, resulting in a warning letter from the FDA in 2009, which sternly shows no tolerance for the company’s “violations.”

The FDA’s Division of Drug Marketing stated: “These claims misleadingly suggest that Taxotere is superior [to similar treatment],” and “overstate the efficacy of Taxotere.” The FDA stated it was “unaware of substantial evidence to support these claims.”

Faulty Taxotere Warnings

Sanofi, a French-based corporation, published warnings in other countries regarding Taxotere and the possible risk of permanent hair loss, but not openly in their U.S. labeling. Taxotere lawsuits assert that the company withheld pertinent information from U.S. customers, providing only a murky warning that “hair generally grows back.”

On the market since 1996, Sanofi-Aventis allegedly did not notify the FDA of these particular concerns until the winter of 2015. The drug is still under investigation, and the FDA has forced Sanofi to place a new warning on the product label.

Taxotere Lawsuits & Studies

Data from a recent study which was published in the Annals of Oncology suggests that “severe and permanent” female hair loss is a side effect of Taxotere (docetaxel).

The study noted that hair regrowth therapies have been found ineffective.
Another study published by the National Cancer Research Institute in 2013 found permanent hair loss as a side effect in 10-15 percent of patients who took the medication. Researchers reported “Long term significant scalp alopecia.” As a direct result, patients confirmed a significant impact on their current quality of life.

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Taxotere Side Effects

In addition to permanent hair loss, according to its prescribing information, Taxotere treatment may be associated with the following conditions:

•    Nerve damage
•    Heart issues
•    Gastrointestinal disruption
•    Nausea
•    Bone, muscle, and/or joint pain
•    Fatigue
•    Mouth/throat sores
•    Fluid retention
•    Numbness of fingers and/or toes

Joe Lyon is a highly-rated Cincinnati recall lawyer and Ohio product liability attorney representing victims of drug injury nationwide. Call 800.513-2403 for a free consultation regarding Taxotere lawsuits.