Manufactured and marketed by French drugmaker Sanofi-Aventis, Taxotere (docetaxel) is a plant-derived alkaloid chemotherapy drug. Approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1996, Taxotere is used for the treatment of breast, head and neck, stomach, non-small-cell lung and metastatic prostate cancers.
In the years since its approval, Taxotere has become the most-prescribed chemotherapy drug in its class for breast cancer patients. While Taxotere has proven its efficacy in killing cancer cells and stopping their growth and reproduction, it's also been linked to harmful side effects and complications such as permanent hair loss, which has led many prospective patients to search for other, safer treatments.
Fortunately for breast cancer patients concerned about developing permanent alopecia, alternatives to Taxotere are available. However, while these alternatives aren't associated with long-term hair loss, they lack Taxotere's convenient dosing features.
Taxotere Alopecia Lawsuits
Hair loss, also known as alopecia, isn't uncommon among chemotherapy patients. After all, when these cancer-fighting drugs attack cancer cells, they can also damage healthy cells, including hair follicles. For most patients, this hair loss is temporary and regular hair growth resumes a couple of months after ending their chemotherapy treatment.
However, after beating their cancer, some Taxotere patients find its treatment has left an unexpected and indelible mark on their lives, and made real their fears of never looking as they did before their diagnosis.
While not all women treated with Taxotere will develop permanent alopecia—and Sanofi-Aventis insists that the actual percentage of women likely to experience this complication is quite small—various independent studies show that approximately nine percent of Taxotere patients will experience hair loss lasting three years or more. Other studies, including internal studies conducted by Sanofi-Aventis, estimate that an ever greater percentage of women will be affected by long-term or permanent hair loss.
As a result, dozens of women have sued Sanofi-Aventis, claiming the drugmaker was aware of the risks associated with Taxotere, but failed to warn doctors and their patients, preventing them from having the information they needed when making decisions about treatment.
Taxol and Abraxane
For breast cancer patients, there are two main alternatives to Taxotere: Taxol® (paclitaxel), manufactured by Bristol-Myers Squibb; and Abraxane® (albumin-bound or nab-paclitaxel), marketed by Celgene (formerly Abraxis BioScience).
Like Taxotere, Taxol and Abraxane are taxanes: plant-derived drugs that interfere with cellular structures, and block cancer cell growth and division. However, there are important differences between both Taxotere and these drugs, and between both Taxol and Abraxane. Most importantly, unlike Taxotere, Taxol and Abraxane have never been linked to long-term or permanent hair loss.
Taxol, like Taxotere, is a solvent-based chemotherapy treatment, meaning that before it can be injected into a patient, the drug's active ingredients must be dissolved into a chemical solvent. For Taxol, the solvent of choice is Cremophor EL, a highly toxic solvent derived from castor oil. As the solvent can be hard on patients, they're often given an accompanying drug to mitigate its effects. Also, like Taxotere, Taxol is usually administered once every three weeks.
Made with a different form of paclitaxel than what's used in Taxol, Abraxane treatments aren't delivered via chemical solvents. Instead, Abraxane's active ingredients are bound to the human protein albumin. As a result, Abraxane treatments are much easier for patients to handle and don't require doctors to prescribe additional drugs to combat solvent-related side effects. Some studies show that Abraxane may be more beneficial in treating metastatic breast cancer than solvent-based taxane treatments. However, unlike Taxotere and Taxol, Abraxane treatments are often administered weekly.
Are You Considering a Taxotere Hair Loss Lawsuit?
If your hair failed to grow back after completing chemotherapy treatments containing Taxotere, you may be eligible to seek compensation from Sanofi-Aventis for damages, including pain and suffering, disfigurement, reduced enjoyment of life, and more. Contact McGartland Law today to schedule a free initial consultation to discuss the details of your case with personal injury professional.