The chemotherapy drug docetaxel, known by the trade name Taxotere®, is the subject of numerous hair loss lawsuits. However, the medication is still widely prescribed and used to treat cancer patients nationwide. In an effort to ensure that all patients stay informed of all the risks of potentially dangerous drugs, we have compiled a list of drugs and foods that can affect the effectiveness of Taxotere, as well as how to lessen the risk of infection after chemotherapy.
Drugs and Foods to Avoid When Taking Taxotere
While some drugs are known to cause problems with Taxotere, there may be many more that not yet identified. The best way for patients to avoid drug interactions is to keep a list of all of their current and past medications and discuss any new prescriptions with their doctors. Patients should also review potential interactions of vitamins, over-the-counter medications, and herbal supplements.
To date, Taxotere is known to interact with the following foods and medications:
- Antifungals. Patients treated with ketoconazole for fungal infections may suffer increased exposure to given doses of docetaxel.
- Protease inhibitors. Patients treating HIV/AIDS using protease inhibitors (such as ritonavir) may feel increased effects of Taxotere and take longer to pass the medication through their systems.
- Nuedexta. Nuedexta and other medications containing dextromethorphan can affect how quickly certain drugs are eliminated from the body, increasing the potency or effects of Taxotere.
- Other chemotherapy drugs. Taxotere is often given in combination with other cancer treatments. Palifermin IV increases the toxicity of Taxotere and may increase the side effects of capecitabine, another common chemotherapy medication. These drugs should be administered with enough time between them and in the proper dosages to prevent interactions.
- Quinine medications. Quinine, commonly used in heart medications, can affect the effectiveness of Taxotere. Patients should speak with their doctors when using Quinadure, Quinagen, Quinaglute, Quinalan, Quinatime, and other foods and drugs containing quinine.
- Grapefruit or grapefruit juice. Grapefruit contains a quinine-like compound that impacts the way Taxotere is absorbed into the body.
Risk of Infections and Blood Changes When Taking Taxotere
Patients taking Taxotere should also be aware of the medication’s ability to cause a low white blood cell count, also known as leukopenia or neutropenia. Patients with fewer white blood cells are less able to fight off an infection, making the contraction of and recovery from common infections potentially life threatening. If you experience a sore throat, runny nose, coughing, shortness of breath, burning urination, open sore, or a fever over 100 degrees, seek medical attention right away.
The following methods can help prevent the spread of infections while undergoing chemotherapy treatments:
- Wash your hands frequently and ensure your family and visitors do the same.
- Bathe and change clothes daily.
- Brush teeth gently each day and treat any mouth sores promptly.
- Avoid crowds and stay away from people who have colds or who are regularly exposed to sick people.
- Wear long pants, hats, gloves, and other protective clothing when in public.
- Avoid handling garbage or pet waste.
- Clean and dress any cuts or skin ulcerations immediately.
- Have a doctor address ingrown nails and perform a supervised cuticle trim.
- Do not wear fake nails.
- Do not schedule dental appointments or medical procedures while your white blood cell count is low.
- If possible, schedule any vaccinations for a time when your immune system isn't compromised.
The red blood cell count can also be reduced during Taxotere treatments, causing patients to feel tired or weak. Some patients may suffer lower platelet counts (thrombocytopenia), making it harder for blood to clot. In these cases, small nicks or cuts can bleed profusely and cause patients to require a blood transfusion. Small changes in daily activities can help reduce the risk of bleeding, such as avoiding sports or other activities that cause injury, switching to an electric razor for shaving, carefully brushing teeth, and avoiding medications that prevent clotting.
If you have suffered permanent alopecia due to treatment with Taxotere, the McGartland Law Firm can fight for compensation on your behalf. Fill out our online contact form today to speak to an attorney about your legal options.