According to Breastcancer.org, roughly 3 million women in the U.S. are living
with breast cancer. In 2016 alone, about 300,000 women will be diagnosed with the disease.
Chemotherapy is one of the most common treatments, and brings with it a symptom every cancer patient expects: temporary hair loss. However, patients that have taken the chemotherapy drug Taxotere (docetaxel) may find that their hair loss is not temporary after all.
Many breast cancer survivors are finding that while the drug is effective at extending survival, it may have an unwanted side effect: permanent hair loss, also called alopecia universalis.
Taxotere Warning Issued in 2015, But Other Nations Warned Earlier
Sanofi-Aventis, maker of Taxotere, is facing a growing number of lawsuits who say the company failed to warn them about the severity and permanence of the hair loss. Sold in the U.S. since 1999, docetaxel is used to treated patients with advanced or metastasized breast cancer, along with other forms of cancer.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration updated its Safety Information page in December 2015 to include the reporting of instances of permanent hair loss. However, patients have claimed that Sanofi-Aventis warned patients outside the United States about the side effects much earlier.
A lawsuit filed against the company (Carson v. Sanofi SE, et al, case number 1:2016-cv-00165 in the U.S. District Court for the North District of Ohio), alleges that Sanofi-Aventis had warned doctors and patients in Europe as early as 2005, and issued warnings in Canada in 2012 about the risk of permanent hair loss from Taxotere, but waited until a month after the FDA’s information update to warn Americans.
Manufacturer Accused of Pushing Patients Away from Cheaper, Safer Drug
A lawsuit filed recently accuses Sanofi-Aventis of not only failing to disclose the risk of permanent hair loss associated with the use of Taxotere, but also alleges the company conspired to hide the problem to increase the drug’s sales.
The suit alleges that the company sought to bury the risk of permanent hair loss in cancer patients to increase sales, a scheme that had a real impact on health outcomes.
Many patients were never told about the less-expensive, equally effective alternative drug, Taxol. A BreastCancer.org study shows that women who received the less expensive drug, Taxol, had a higher survival rate than women who were treated with Taxotere.
Taxotere is the most widely used breast cancer drug in its class, prescribed to as many as 75 percent of breast cancer patients.
For most cancer survivors, the regrowth of their hair is symbolic of their victory over breast cancer. When hair fails to grow back, many survivors feel like they are still fighting the disease.
“I did not anticipate that years out of treatment I would be left with fine wisps of hair that grew in clumps around my head, but offered no coverage and no relief from the wigs and scarves that I had been wearing during the treatment,” said one breast cancer patient who told her story on A Head of Our Time, an online support group. “The painful reality is that I will forever look like a cancer patient.”
A 2013 study published by the National Cancer Research Institute found permanent alopecia in 10-15% of patients who took Taxotere. Permanent alopecia is defined as absent or incomplete hair growth at least 6 months after chemotherapy.
Are you suffering permanent hair loss after taking Taxotere?
If you or a loved one has been effected by taking Taxotere (docetaxel), we urge you to contact our attorneys for a free case evaluation. Simply complete the free claim evaluation form below, or call us toll free at 800-277-0300. Let the experienced attorneys at Davis & Crump, P.C. fight for you.
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