In early October, a decision was made to consolidate Taxotere lawsuits brought by patients who were prescribed the drug for treatment of breast cancer. The suits allege that Taxotere caused severe and permanent hair loss in patients who took it. Plaintiffs also argue that manufacturer Sanofi-Aventis did not warn patients that the hair loss could be permanent and promoted the use of Taxotere over other treatments that had been proved equally effective but did not carry a risk of hair loss.
Taxotere lawsuits centralized
Across the U.S., a minimum of 33 claims have been brought in 16 separate U.S. District Courts. The allegations in each are similar.
As a result, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) moved to centralize pretrial proceedings, to take place before U.S. District Judge Lance Africk in the Eastern District of Louisiana.
Consolidation of suits is intended to reduce duplicative discovery into common litigation issues. Consolidation is also designed to eliminate any potential of conflicting rulings from various judges. Centralization will also ensure the convenience of witnesses, all parties, and the courts.
The Louisiana judge will oversee all pretrial proceedings in the Taxotere cases. As in many instances of consolidated litigation, it is likely that a small group of bellwether cases will be tried initially. The outcomes of bellwether cases are often used to predict how juries will respond to other cases transferred to the MDL.
Claims center around Taxotere hair loss
Taxotere (docetaxel), which came on the market in 1996, was marketed by Sanofi-Aventis as a better treatment than low potency taxanes such as Taxol. Taxotere is a high potency taxane-based cancer medication.
The lawsuits, however, claim that Taxotere carries a risk of permanent hair loss, known as alopecia, and that said risk is not an issue with low potency taxanes such as Taxol. Moreover, the suits claim that the breast cancer treatment is not significantly more effective with high potency taxanes than with low potency ones.
Studies on Taxotere as far back as 2005 indicated that women treated with it had a significant risk of permanent hair loss. Ten percent of Taxotere-treated patients experienced hair loss that lasted as long as 10 years and five months after their chemotherapy treatment. In some cases, the hair loss lasted longer.
Chemotherapy often causes hair loss. This side effect, however, is usually temporary. Plaintiffs also allege that Sanofi-Aventis withheld reports of the long-lasting hair loss, and that it provided false and misleading information to U.S. physicians and consumers and physicians in the United States.
Taxotere carried warnings about permanent alopecia as a possible side effect in several countries, but not in the U.S.
The suits allege that the manufacturer either knew or should have known about the connections between Taxotere regimens and hair loss issues but placed the company’s profits before the safety of patients.
It is expected that hundreds and perhaps thousands of claims will join the suits currently pending.
Free case review with Taxotere attorneys
Bonsignore Trial Lawyers have extensive experience litigating defective drug claims against pharmaceutical companies. If you are thinking about filing a lawsuit regarding Taxotere-related hair loss, we invite you to contact our attorneys for a free case review.