Taxotere Manufacturer, Guilty of Violating Patients’ Trust?
Hair loss is a common symptom among patients undergoing chemotherapy; their hair usually grows back within three to six months after treatment has stopped. About 10-15% of women, who were treated with Taxotere, however, reported no hair growth for as long as ten years after chemotherapy treatments. Permanent hair loss, or Alopecia, comes in many different forms, including:
- No hair growth under arms or around genitals;
- Lack of eyebrows and eyelashes; and,
- Total hair loss on the scalp and body (this is the most common result reported of Taxotere use; this special form of alopecia is called “alopecia universalis”)
Taxotere (with the Generic name Docetaxel) is an intravenous chemotherapy drug manufactured by Sanofi-Aventis. It was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for treatment of various cancers including non-small cell lung cancer, prostate cancer, breast cancer, gastric cancer, and head and neck cancer. Specific use of Taxotere (in combination with doxorubicin and cyclophosphamide) for treatment of operable node-positive breast cancer in women was approved by the FDA on August 18, 2004.
The law firm Williams Kherkher explains in its website that, as early as 2005, patients outside of the U.S. were warned about permanent hair loss. Sanofi-Aventis, however, only began warning patients in the U.S. of the risk of permanent alopecia in December of 2015, after it was mandated to do so by the FDA.
Currently, lawsuits have been filed by women who have, or formerly had, breast cancer and are now suffering permanent alopecia due to treatment with Taxotere. Besides the hair loss condition, these women, through their lawsuits, also want to understand why equally effective alternative chemotherapy drugs were not prescribed to them despite the risk that come with Taxotere use.
The lawsuits need to prove claims that Sanofi-Aventis deliberately concealed the risks associated with using Taxotere despite its awareness of the drug’s side-effects as early as the 1990s, as well as allegations that it incentivized doctors to continue prescribing the drug to unsuspecting women.