Patients who used the drug Taxotere are filing lawsuits against Sanofi-Aventis after the chemotherapy drug failed to warn patients of permanent hair loss. Used to treat several cancer types including breast, lung, and stomach tumors, docetaxel is a highly toxic medicine whose side effects include alopecia, anemia, diarrhea, and weight loss. The pharmaceutical company Sanofi-Aventis, however, never warned the patients that in some instances baldness would be a permanent side effect.
Medication Type: Chemotherapy agent
Total Cases: 700+
Settlement Amounts: EST – $400,000 over $1,000,000
Bellwether Trial Start Date: Unknown
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What Type of Medication is Taxotere?
Taxotere (docetaxel) is a drug of the “taxane” class used to treat many cancer types including gastric, breast, lung and prostate cancer. Originally manufactured by Sanofi-Aventis, this chemotherapy agent was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1996. It is an anti-mitotic agent that acts by disrupting cellular division. Since tumor cells replicate at a much higher speed than normal ones, this medicine can stop them in their tracks while they spread through the body (metastasis).
It is usually administered intravenously over the course of a hour-long infusion cycle that is then repeated every 3-4 weeks. This chemotherapy agent is generally used in combination with other drugs such as doxorubicin, cyclophosphamide, fluorouracil, capecitabine, and cisplatin to fight off cancer and improve the patient’s chances of survival. While it was a branded medication, Taxotere was one of the most sold medicines worldwide, with over $1.2 billion sales from the US market alone. Before its patent expired in 2010 and the market was flooded with generic competition, the average cost of an 18-weeks treatment in Europe was about $7,500.
Cancer types for which Docetaxel is approved
Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) | Breast cancer | Prostate cancer | Gastric cancer | Head and neck cancer
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What Damages Qualify For Compensation?
For years Sanofi-Aventis kept reassuring patients that the drug was safe and effective, even though it knew a terrible truth. The pharmaceutical company knew the results of the GEICAM 9805 clinical trial back in 2005, a study that revealed that 9.2 percent of patients who used the medication suffered from irreversible alopecia.
Lawyers are currently filing cases of permanent alopecia (baldness) caused by Taxotere. Irreversible hair loss is a serious adverse reaction which may negatively affect patients’ quality of life and body image. Its effects may hamper social functioning, self-esteem, and sexuality, leading to significant distress, anxiety, and depression. The Big Pharma purposely decided to withheld crucial information which prevented our clients them from choosing another chemotherapeutic agent for their cancer therapies.
Taxotere side effects
Taxotere side effects are experienced by up to 90 percent of the patients treated, and the drug’s toxicity must be closely monitored since it may even reach potentially lethal levels. In 2014, the FDA also found that some formulations of this medication contained significant quantities of ethanol and caused several cases of alcohol intoxication. Patients treated with this antiblastic agent should be warned before driving vehicles or operating machinery. This taxane has been classified as “Pregnancy Category: D”, meaning that there is positive evidence of fetal risk, especially if administered during the first trimester. Pregnant women who took it to treat their breast cancer later gave birth to babies with congenital malformations such as gastric stenosis and cerebral birth defects.
The most frequent adverse reactions of docetaxel are:
Neutropenia | Alopecia (hair loss) | Anemia |Thrombocytopenia | Nausea | Infection | Fever |Stomatitis |Esophagitis | Weight loss | Severe diarrhea | Leukemia | Heart failure |Neurosensory disturbances |Fluid retention | Nail discoloration
Multidistrict Litigation Trial Location
In October 2016, 33 hair loss lawsuits were been filed in 16 federal courts across the country. Taxotere attorneys thus asked a panel of judges to centralize all claims in a single U.S. District Court to speed up the proceedings and preserve the resources of the parties and courts by coordinating the discovery phase.
On July 22, 2016, a Motion for Transfer has already been filed with the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML). On October 4, the Panel consolidated the cases in the products liability litigation MDL no. 2740 in the Eastern District of Louisiana, overseen by Chief Judge Kurt D. Engelhardt after being reassigned from Honorable Judge Lance M. Africk. To date, on January 2017, at least 700 victims decided to step forward and tell their stories by filing a legal dispute, and the litigation is expected to grow even further within the next few months.
Taxotere Litigation Cases
Kimberly Free v. Sanofi-Aventis, et al.
On April 2016, plaintiff Kimberly Free filed another dispute against Sanofi in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas. The woman was treated with docetaxel from October 2012 through February 2013 to fight off her breast cancer. More than three years later her hair still didn’t grow back, leaving her self-esteem scarred and causing her immense distress. According to Free’s claim, defendants concealed the existence of studies that proved the risk from the regulators, doctors, and patients. The woman holds the company liable for negligence and failure to warn, breach of warranty, fraudulent concealment and misrepresentation, fraud and deceit.
Ami Dodson Alopecia Lawsuit Case
One of the first permanent hair loss litigations filed against the manufacturer of Taxotere was Ami Dodson’s one. According to court documents presented in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, the woman was diagnosed with breast cancer on March 3, 2010. After she had undergone breast surgery (mastectomy), Dodson had to choose her chemotherapy regimen, but neither she nor her doctor knew of the risk for long-lasting alopecia. Even long after her treatment was over, the woman’s hair never grew back, leaving her with a lifelong disfigurement. The plaintiff now seeks just compensation for all the damage she had to endure, as well as the emotional challenges and struggles she faced. In her lawsuit, Dodson claims that the company only gave a vague warning about the risk of baldness, but they never said that this side effect could be irreversible.