Taxotere (docetaxel) is a popular chemotherapy drug made by French pharmaceutical company Sanofi-Aventis and used to treat breast cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, doctors in the United States diagnose approximately 300,000 new cases of breast cancer each year. Taxotere is the most-prescribed drug in its class, thanks to doctors who have made it their go-to treatment for their breast cancer patients.
However, despite Taxotere's efficacy for preventing cancer cells from dividing and reproducing, it has been linked to a number of serious side effects and complications, including devastating permanent hair loss, also known as alopecia. In turn, the permanent hair loss itself can lead to concerning emotional and psychological secondary side effects.
Taxotere Hair Loss
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Taxotere in 1996 to treat a variety of cancers, including breast cancer, advanced stomach cancer, non-small cell lung cancer, head and neck cancer, and metastatic prostate cancer. In the years since Taxotere secured FDA approval, numerous patients—mostly women—have come forward, claiming that Taxotere is the cause of their permanent and irreversible hair loss.
Data from at least two studies appears to support their claims. A study conducted at the Rocky Mountain Cancer Center in Colorado found that as many as 6.3 percent of Taxotere patients experience long-term hair loss; while a study at the Clatterbridge Cancer Centre in the United Kingdom placed the risk of Taxotere-related alopecia at a much higher 15.8 percent. Both of these figures are significantly higher than what Sanofi-Aventis has reported: the drugmaker claims that permanent hair loss only occurs in approximately 3 percent of patients.
In response to reports of permanent hair loss, the FDA added a warning to Taxotere's packaging in December 2015 stating that permanent alopecia was a potential side effect.
Psychological Effects of Taxotere Hair Loss
Cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy know to brace themselves for the inevitable hair loss. However, this hair loss is expected to be temporary—not permanent. When hair doesn't start to grow back according to schedule, or at all, the realization that their current baldness will be permanent can be crushing for cancer patients, particularly female patients.
For many women, hair is more than just “hair”—it's something that's intricately tied to their femininity, identity, and self-esteem. Unexpectedly losing one's hair can be so traumatic that it triggers emotional and psychological problems, such as severe anxiety and depression. For some patients, their permanent baldness serves as a permanent, and unpleasant, reminder of their battle with cancer.
Unfortunately, for those suffering Taxotere-related hair loss, there are precious few treatment options capable of effectively jump-starting the hair growing process. However, doctors can prescribe medication, or recommend counseling, to address the secondary emotional and psychological effects of permanent alopecia. Additionally, patients can seek out and join alopecia support groups.
Taxotere Hair Loss Lawsuits
Dozens of women have filed dangerous drug lawsuits against Sanofi-Aventis, claiming that the company continued to market and promote Taxotere, despite knowing of the drug's potential to cause permanent hair loss in some patients. Many of these women claim they weren't warned that permanent alopecia could be a side effect and, as a result, were deprived of the ability to make informed decisions about their health and medical care.
Did Your Taxotere Treatments Cause Permanent Hair Loss?
If you were diagnosed with permanent alopecia after receiving chemotherapy treatment containing Taxotere, you have legal options. Personal injury laws allow the victims of dangerous drugs to pursue compensation for economic and non-economic damages. In Taxotere hair loss lawsuits, non-economic damages are often a main focus. These types of damages may include pain and suffering, disfigurement, humiliation, and reduced quality or enjoyment of life.
Are you considering filing a lawsuit against Sanofi-Aventis? We can help. McGartland Law has three decades of experience handling personal injury lawsuits for clients all across the country. Contact us today to schedule an appointment for a free consultation to discuss your potential Taxotere hair loss lawsuit.