Taxotere, a breast cancer chemotherapy drug, has been linked to permanent hair loss in breast cancer patients. The drug’s manufacturer, Sanofi-Aventis, is accused of failing to warn both patients and physicians about the risks of permanent alopecia (hair loss) when using Taxotere. Though temporary hair loss is common with chemotherapy drugs, Taxotere’s potential for permanent hair loss was not disclosed in the safety label for Taxotere until December 2015 when the FDA ordered Sanofi-Aventis to update Taxotere’s safety label to warn of the risk of permanent hair loss.
Our attorneys represent injured patients in lawsuits against pharmaceutical companies who have failed to warn about side effects. If you have suffered from permanent hair loss following chemotherapy for breast cancer, you may be eligible for compensation. Experienced at representing individuals who have been injured by prescription drugs and devices, we are following these cases closely and are prepared to do everything we can to ensure your story is told and justice is served.
What is Taxotere?
A chemotherapy drug approved by the FDA for the treatment of breast cancer, stomach cancer, head and neck cancer, metastatic prostate cancer and non-cell small lung cancer, Taxotere (docetaxel) falls within the family of drugs referred to as taxanes. Taxotere is administered intravenously and is designed to prevent cancer cells from multiplying and causing even more serious damage.
Taxotere and Hair Loss
The manufacturer of Taxotere is accused of failing to warn doctors and potential patients about the risk of permanent hair loss from taking the drug. Victims argue that those who were prescribed the drug prior to December 2015 were not given the opportunity to choose an alternate drug to avoid the risk of permanent hair loss. After receiving post-marketing reports of permanent hair loss from patients on Taxotere, the FDA ordered Sanofi-Aventis to update the label to include disclosure of this risk. However, prior to the update, the label on Taxotere stated that “hair generally grows back” once chemotherapy treatment has been completed. Research estimates that nearly 10 percent of Taxotere patients have experienced persistent or permanent hair loss.
Taxotere was originally marketed as more effective and stronger than its rival, Taxol. Over the last decade, the medical community has learned that this claim cannot be substantiated. In fact, in 2009, the FDA warned Sanofi-Aventis over issuing misleading statements in marketing materials claiming Taxotere was superior to Taxol (paclitaxel) in the treatment of patients with locally advanced or metastatic breast cancer. The FDA’s letter declared that there was not “substantial evidence or substantial clinical experience to support these claims.” However, it is feared that doctors who were not aware of the lack of evidence supporting the claims may have continued to favor the drug in treating breast cancer patients without knowledge of the additional risk of permanent alopecia from Taxotere.
For some chemotherapy patients, hair loss is the most traumatic side effect of cancer treatment. Polls show that this is especially true for female patients with some women indicating that they would reject lifesaving chemotherapy to avoid the associated temporary hair loss. Even temporary hair loss can cause psychological damage and emotional distress for patients. It is believed that if patients had been informed of the risk, many would have chosen an alternative drug which did not carry the risk of permanent hair loss.
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