If you are considering filing a Taxotere lawsuit, you are not alone. Many women are filing lawsuits against Sonofi-Aventis as a result of Taxotere side effects, mainly permanent hair loss caused by the drug. If you have been effected by the use of this drug, getting help from a Taxotere lawyer may be in your best interest.
What is Taxotere?
Taxotere is a chemotherapy medication that interferes with cell division. Taxotere was first approved as a first line treatment for metastatic breast cancer in 1996 and then for operable node-positive breast cancers in 2004. Over the years, it has also been approved for a number of other cancers, including lung cancer, prostate cancer, gastric cancers, and inoperable cancers of the head and neck.
While the manufacturer, Sanofi-Aventis, did include a long list of warnings about the side effects from the use of their drug, one that was not included was that of permanent hair loss (alopecia). In some cases, patients have lost all body hair, including eyebrows and lashes. Needless to say, this disfiguring side effect is beyond distressing for patients, and as a result, too many patients have been devastated over what has happened to them.
Currently, complaints are still coming in from cancer patients all over the United States who have received this manufacturer’s chemo drug claiming that Sanofi-Aventis failed to warn them of the risk of permanent alopecia. Many are alleging that Sanofi may have intentionally hid this risk from both the public as well as health care providers who included Taxotere as part of their treatment.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t until 2015 that the FDA issued a warning about permanent alopecia resulting from the use of Taxotere. If cancer patients had been informed of this risk by Sanofi-Aventis, chemotherapy drugs that do not result in permanent hair loss could have been prescribed instead.
If you or a loved one has experienced Taxotere Alopecia as a result of receiving Sanofi’s chemotherapy drug, consultation with a reputable attorney may be the next step. You are not alone; cancer survivors and their families and are filing lawsuits now.
Taxotere and Alopecia (hair loss)
While hair loss is common with many chemotherapy treatments, the condition is not permanent. Taxotere is different, however; not only does hair fall out in clumps during the treatment phase, it does not grow back after treatment from the drug is discontinued. This is because Taxotere damages hair follicles permanently, preventing new hair regrowth. In fact, studies show this permanent loss occurs in 6.3% of patients using the drug.
In a clinical trial of 2045 patients, deaths due to toxicity from Taxotere accounted for 1.7% of the patients and incidence was increased in 9.8% of patients with elevated baseline liver function tests.
How does something like this happen?
- When drug companies sell drugs before properly and thoroughly testing them
- When the safety of the drug is determined before it is release for sale
- When the drug is sold without carefully and clearly disclosing all the dangers and risks associated with its use
- When advertising of the drug is misleading in any way
- When information about the drug is concealed from health care providers and the public
- When side effects of the drug are minimized or downplayed
In addition to permanent hair loss as a side effect, Taxotere has been known to cause:
- Neutropenia – A reduction of neutrophils, a type of white blood cell that helps the body fight off infection, occurred in 96% of patients.
- Anemia – Anemia was reported as an adverse side effect in over 90% of patients.
- Thrombocytopenia – This big word simply means that a decrease of platelets in the blood is occurring and results in bruising, bleeding, and slow clotting after injury occurs.
- Liver dysfunction – Side effects where the liver is involved are not at all uncommon. In fact, 10% will experience some type of increase in bilirubin, alkaline phosphatase, etc. (hepatitis).
- Fingernail and toenail changes – These changes were experienced in 31% of patients; the longer therapy continued the worse the damage to nails.
- Skin changes (rash, bruising, redness, itching, red pinpoints under skin) – Skin eruptions generally occurred one week after Taxotere infusion. Up to 54% of patients experience some type of cutaneous (skin) reaction while using this drug. Post marketing skin changes, such as scleroderma-like changes (hardening of the skin) preceded by peripheral lymphedema (swelling of the limbs).
- Fluid retention – Over 47% of patients with any type of tumor experienced excess retention of fluid, regardless of premedication, while 60% of those in the breast cancer group experienced this side effect.
- Nausea and/or stomach pain – Severe nausea and vomiting occurred in 35% of patients.
- Infections – Infections occurred in 22% of patients in clinical trials, while fever in absence of infection occurred in 31%.
- Unusual bleeding (from nose, mouth, rectum, vagina) – Up to 10% of patients experience some type of unusual bleeding while receiving this drug
- Extreme weakness and dizziness – Up to 16% will experience dizziness,
- Urinary tract problems – Post marketing renal (kidney) failure was reported to the FDA in 2010.
- Muscle and joint pain – A common side effect in 10% or more of patients; up to 33% report some type of myalgia (muscle pain).
- Severe vomiting or diarrhea
- Respiratory problems reported to FDA in 2013
- Visual disturbances and other eye disorders reported to FDA in 2013
- Dizziness due to alcohol content (FDA Warning issued in 2014)
Permanent Hair Loss is a Disfiguring Side Effect Impacting Quality of Life
Companies who pay more attention to the bottom line than to the well-being of patients need to be held accountable for their actions. Sanofi itself sponsored a study beginning in the late 1990s and continued through 2005 where it was found that 9.2% of women suffering from breast cancer and who used Taxotere suffered permanent hair loss as a result.
In 2006, a separate study by Dr. Scot Sedlacek revealed that more than 6% or women would have Taxotere induced permanent alopecia. In other words, Sanofi knew of this side effect, yet failed to warn. As a result, far too many cancer patients are suffering extreme impairment due to this terrible side effect. If you or loved one has been harmed in this way, talk to a Taxotere lawyer if you are considering filing a Taxotere lawsuit.