What should I know about Taxotere® permanent hair loss lawsuits?

young bald womanTaxotere is the most commonly prescribed chemotherapy drug for breast cancer patients in the United States. However, studies linking Taxotere to the development of permanent baldness, as well as a rash of lawsuits filed by affected women, have many chemotherapy patients concerned.

We've compiled answers to a number of frequently asked questions regarding Taxotere. Should you have additional questions, don’t hesitate to contact our office to schedule an appointment for a free initial consultation.

What is Taxotere?

How does Taxotere work?

What is alopecia and how is it linked to Taxotere?

Does Taxotere cause permanent hair loss?

Is there any way to reduce the risk of permanent hair loss when using Taxotere?

Why are women filing Taxotere lawsuits?

When was Taxotere approved by the FDA?

Has Taxotere been recalled?

What are the manufacturer warnings for Taxotere?

What are the most common adverse reactions and side effects associated with Taxotere?

What studies have linked Taxotere and permanent hair loss?

Was the manufacturer of Taxotere aware of the risk of permanent hair loss and baldness?

How do I know if Taxotere was used in my chemotherapy?

What should I do if I have developed permanent hair loss after taking Taxotere?

Is there a Taxotere class action?

Have Taxotere lawsuits already been filed?

How long do I have to file a Taxotere hair loss lawsuit?

How much does it cost to file a Taxotere lawsuit?

What damages can I recover in a Taxotere lawsuit?

How long will a Taxotere lawsuit take?


Q: What is Taxotere?

A: Manufactured by French pharmaceutical company Sanofi-Aventis, Taxotere (docetaxel) is a popular chemotherapy drug used to treat women with breast cancer. Approximately 300,000 new cases of breast cancer are diagnosed each year in the United States, according to the American Cancer Society, and Taxotere is the most-prescribed prescription drug in its class. Taxotere can also be used to treat head and neck cancer, non-small cell lung cancer, metastatic prostate cancer, and advanced stomach cancer.
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Q: How does Taxotere work?

A: In cancerous tumors, abnormal cells grow and divide uncontrollably, destroying the surrounding body tissue. Chemotherapy medications work by attacking the cancer cells for the purpose of halting their division. Derived from plants, plant alkaloid chemotherapy drugs such as Taxotere attack the cells' supporting structures, making them very stiff and, hopefully, halting cell growth and reproduction.
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Q: What is alopecia and how is it linked to Taxotere?

A: Alopecia, the medical term for hair loss, is a common side effect associated with chemotherapy treatments. When these drugs attack fast-growing cancer cells, they can also damage hair follicles and other healthy cells. Most of the time, chemotherapy-related hair loss is only temporary. However, several studies have linked permanent alopecia to Taxotere and other chemotherapy drugs containing taxanes (chemotherapeutic agents that inhibit cancer cell division).
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Q: Does Taxotere cause permanent hair loss?

A: Yes, it can. However, not all women treated with Taxotere will experience this side effect. A number of independent studies suggest that approximately 9 percent of women whose chemotherapy treatment included Taxotere will suffer from permanent alopecia or hair loss that lasts three years or longer. Sanofi’s internal studies show that as many as 10 percent of patients suffer from permanent hair loss, while an unrelated presentation at the 2014 National Cancer Conference estimated that the percentage of patients Taxotere patients suffering from long-lasting hair loss could be as high as 15 percent.
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Q: Is there any way to reduce the risk of permanent hair loss when using Taxotere?

A: There may not be a sure-fire way to reduce the risk of Taxotere-related permanent alopecia. However, there are a few things that patients can do to potentially reduce or slow chemotherapy-related hair loss, including wearing special “cold caps” before, during, and after each treatment; limiting washing to twice a week; using mild shampoos and conditioners; and covering hair with a soft scarf or hat while sleeping. Patients should also avoid coloring, bleaching, perming, or heat-styling their hair while undergoing chemotherapy treatments.
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Q: Why are women filing Taxotere lawsuits?

A: For many women, their hair is more than just hair—it's a part of their identity. Having that taken from them unexpectedly can have a profound impact on their self-worth. Many of the women filing Taxotere lawsuits claim that representatives of Sanofi-Aventis knew that the drug could cause permanent hair loss in some patients and, by failing to warn patients of that risk, they took away their ability to make an educated decision regarding their chemotherapy treatment.
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Q: When was Taxotere approved by the FDA?

A: Manufactured and marketed by French pharmaceutical company Sanofi-Aventis, Taxotere was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1996 for the treatment of various types of cancer. While Taxotere is primarily used to treat breast cancer, it can also be used to treat advanced stomach cancer, head and neck cancer, metastatic prostate cancer, and non-small cell lung cancer.
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Q: Has Taxotere been recalled?

A: Taxotere has not been recalled in the United States due to claims of permanent hair loss. However, in December 2015, the FDA added a warning to the drug's box stating that cases of permanent alopecia had been reported.
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Q: What are the manufacturer warnings for Taxotere?

A: Like many other prescription drugs, Taxotere isn't suitable for everyone, which is evident when you read the manufacturer warnings. According to Sanofi-Aventis, patients who have liver problems; compromised immune systems due to low neutrophil counts; a history of edema and alcohol sensitivities; or who become pregnant should not receive Taxotere as part of their treatment. 
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Q: What are the most common adverse reactions and side effects associated with Taxotere?

A: According to the literature included with Taxotere, the most common side effects and adverse reactions include infections, pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, anemia, difficulty or labored breathing, neuropathy (nerve damage), fluid retention, febrile neutropenia (development of fever and other signs of infection), constipation, alopecia (hair loss), nail disorders, hypersensitivity, physical weakness, muscle pain, anorexia, dysgeusia (persistent unpleasant tastes in mouth), skin reactions, and inflammation of the mucus membranes. Severe side effects can include life-threatening allergic reactions, thrombocytopenia (low platelet count), neutropenia (low neutrophils count), and death.
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Q: What studies have linked Taxotere and permanent hair loss?

A: There are several studies that suggest a link between Taxotere and permanent alopecia, including one sponsored by Sanofi from the late 1990s to 2005 called GEICAM 9805, which revealed that up to 10 percent of Taxotere chemotherapy patients suffered permanent hair loss.

Other studies showing links between Taxotere and permanent hair loss include:

  • A 2006 study conducted by Dr. Scot Sedlacek of the Rocky Mountain Cancer Centers, which found that more than 6 percent of patients developed long-lasting alopecia.
  • A 2011 study published in the American Journal of Dermatopathology, which linked taxanes in drugs like Taxotere to permanent hair loss.
  • A 2012 Annals of Oncology study that showed that Taxotere treatment was associated with a higher risk of developing permanent alopecia.

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Q: Was the manufacturer of Taxotere aware of the risk of permanent hair loss and baldness?

A: Women who are suing Sanofi-Aventis, Taxotere's manufacturer, claim the company knew of the risks associated with use of the chemotherapy drug, but failed to inform women of those risks. Sanofi-Aventis sponsored a Taxotere study called GEICAM 9805, which found that up to 10 percent of patients developed permanent alopecia.
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Q: How do I know if Taxotere was used in my chemotherapy?

A: As the leading chemotherapy drug in its class, Taxotere (docetaxel) is prescribed to approximately 75 percent of new breast cancer patients each year. If you were diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent chemotherapy, there's a good chance that Taxotere was a part of your treatment. If you have questions about whether Taxotere was included in your chemotherapy regimen, talk to your doctor.
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Q: What should I do if I have developed permanent hair loss after taking Taxotere?

A: If you suffer from permanent hair loss after undergoing chemotherapy treatment containing Taxotere, documenting your condition—with the help of your doctor—is imperative. You should also contact a reputable personal injury attorney to discuss the details of your case if you're interested in pursuing legal action to seek compensation for damages.
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Q: Is there a Taxotere class action?

A: There isn't a current class-action lawsuit for Taxotere hair loss cases. Instead, all federal lawsuits alleging Taxotere-related permanent hair loss will be consolidated and handled in multidistrict litigation Number 2740, per a 2016 ruling by the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation. As a result of the ruling, all pretrial case handling will be performed in Louisiana's Eastern District.
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Q: Have Taxotere lawsuits already been filed?

A: Yes, a number of women have already filed Taxotere hair loss lawsuits. In fact, as of October 2016, there were at least 33 federal complaints against Sanofi-Aventis in 16 states, alleging the company continued to market and promote Taxotere as a superior treatment, even though it was aware that the drug could cause permanent alopecia in some patients.
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Q: How long do I have to file a Taxotere hair loss lawsuit?

A: How long a plaintiff has to file a lawsuit is governed by a rule known as the statute of limitations. These statute of limitation laws vary by state. In personal injury cases, it's usually two years from the date you discovered the injury, so you would have to file a lawsuit within two years of developing Taxotere-related permanent alopecia. Failure to file a lawsuit within the prescribed time period will result in dismissal of your case. Act quickly to avoid losing your right to take legal action.
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Q: How much does it cost to file a Taxotere lawsuit?

A: Many people are worried that they can’t afford to hire the quality legal counsel they need and deserve. However, it is important to know that we take Taxotere hair loss cases on a contingency fee basis, which means there is no up-front cost to our clients. Instead of charging an hourly fee for our services, we instead take a percentage of the compensation. We only bill you if we win.
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Q: What damages can I recover in a Taxotere lawsuit?

A: In a dangerous drugs personal injury lawsuit, plaintiffs can seek compensation for a wide variety of economic damages, such as medical bills related to the injury; lost wages and loss of earning potential; and non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering, disfigurement, humiliation, and loss of enjoyment of life.
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Q: How long will a Taxotere lawsuit take?

A: Lawsuits can be as unique as the people involved in them, which makes it difficult to determine just how long a Taxotere lawsuit will take to resolve. The time frame could be weeks, months, or even years, depending on the case. After discussing the details of your case, an experienced lawyer may be able to give you a better estimate of just how long your lawsuit might take.

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