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Many Patients Opted To Use Taxotere For Chemotherapy Because They Did Not Know It Could Cause Permanent Hair Loss

What is an acceptable sacrifice for using medicine that could save a life? Usually, patients or their representatives are allowed to weigh benefits and drawbacks before starting a new therapy. When drug makers deprive them of this right, they may have recourse. This is exactly what happened with Sanofi’s cancer-treating drug, Taxotere. Taxotere was approved by the FDA for treating metastatic breast cancer in 1996. The drug, made and marketed by Sanofi, was positioned as the strongest treatment for chemotherapy-resistant strains of breast cancer. Because it was much more potent than other choices and had been shown to increase survival, many women chose the medication for their chemotherapy regimen. Now, they are learning that Sanofi failed to warn about serious side effects of the drug including:

  • Permanent hair loss (alopecia)
  • Toxic (treatment-related) death
  • Kidney damage
  • Serious allergic reactions

Taxotere was marketed in misleading ways and, for years, recommended to patients without adequate warning labels. If you or a loved one experienced any of these effects after taking Taxotere, you may be able to file a lawsuit against Sanofi.

Our lawyers have helped many patients who were fed false promises or suffered unwarned injuries due to medications. Schedule a free consultation or call (217) 516-3451 if you are interested in filing a claim.

Weighing The Benefits And Risks Of Taxotere

For women with metastatic breast cancer, choosing which drug to use for chemotherapy is a critical decision. It can literally be a matter of life or death. Many patients who were recommended Taxotere had already tried other chemotherapy medicines and seen no results. Because of its high toxicity, Taxotere had the potential to work where other drugs had not. When making the decision about which treatment to use, patients deserve to have the full data about a drug: Not only its effectiveness compared to others, but also its potential side effects, even if they only affect a small percentage of users. Aside from metastatic breast cancer, Taxotere has been approved to treat:

  • Non-small-cell lung cancer
  • Prostate cancer
  • Squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck
  • Stomach adenocarcinoma
  • Gastroesophageal junction adenocarcinoma

Though most patients who used the drug were undergoing treatment for metastatic breast cancer, other cancer patients who suffered its unwarned side effects could also be eligible to bring a lawsuit.

Alopecia, Or Permanent Hair Loss, Due To Taxotere

Most chemotherapy patients expect hair loss during their treatment, but also assume they will regain their hair after finishing their regimen. Taxotere’s original warning label supported this assumption, stating, “hair generally grows back” after its initial loss. However, this assertion didn’t match the experiences of those who used the drug. Many Taxotere patients are still suffering from partial or total hair loss. Initial studies of Taxotere found that around 6% of the drug’s users could sustain permanent hair loss. Further studies placed that number higher: A long-term study that contacted patients 3½ years after they had completed their chemotherapy found that around 10-15% were still experiencing loss of hair on the head and other parts of the body. One study with a small sample size found that almost all patients had reduced hair growth 4-6 months after finishing their treatment.

Taxotere Warnings Were Withheld From Patients

After Taxotere’s launch, a UK investigator found that Sanofi was not tracking the incidence of serious side effects among users—a standard, and expected, practice for pharmaceutical companies after a new drug is approved for wide use. In 2005, the company admitted there was an increased risk of hair loss for patients and updated their warning labels—in the UK. Canadians didn’t receive updated warning labels until 2012, and Americans had to wait until 2015 to learn of the drug’s links to alopecia. By then, many had already suffered irreversible hair loss.

Filing A Taxotere Lawsuit For Alopecia

The development of partial or full alopecia after treatment with Taxotere is well documented, which could help you bring a successful suit against Sanofi. If your hair loss followed the same pattern as many other patients’, they may find it hard to argue your symptoms are unrelated to your use of the medication. Studies have shown Taxotere can cause:

  • Total or partial loss modeling male-pattern baldness
  • Loss of terminal body hair
  • Bald spots and patches that progress across the body
  • Loss of eyelashes and eyebrows

Many of us consider our hairstyle a part of how we express ourselves, and permanently losing one’s hair can have a negative impact on one’s quality of life. Many patients turn to wigs or scarves to cover their baldness because they are unhappy with the way they look without hair. Some have even said they wouldn’t have chosen to use Taxotere if they’d known about its potential for alopecia at the time. The emotional distress related to unexpected side effects, even if they are more aesthetic than medical, cannot be ignored. If you suffered permanent hair loss or a decline in hair growth after using Taxotere, you may be able to ask for damages for your suffering.

Reach out to our team online or call (217) 516-3451 to talk to a knowledgeable lawyer today.