Taxotere (docetaxel) is one of the most popular chemotherapy drugs in the United States due to its efficacy in treating cancer of the breast, stomach, lung, prostate, head, and neck. Like any chemotherapy medication, Taxotere is associated with a wide range of unpleasant and uncomfortable side effects, including hair loss.
However, with most chemotherapy drugs, this loss of hair is only temporary. Taxotere is the only drug in its class that's been linked to permanent hair loss. While not all Taxotere patients will lose their hair and suffer permanent baldness, those who do will be forced to live with this devastating daily reminder of their illness.
Taxotere Hair Loss
Whether patients receive Taxotere or a similar drug, most people undergoing chemotherapy treatments experience a similar timeline for hair loss and regrowth. The following is a typical hair loss and regrowth timeline:
- Approximately 10–to–14 days after the start of treatment: The average chemotherapy patient begins to experience hair loss during this period. Hair may fall out unevenly in clumps or in individual strands all over the head.
- Two months into treatment: Most patients see peak hair loss two months after the start of their chemotherapy treatments. For many patients, the hair loss may soon subside. However, some patients may continue to lose their hair even after chemotherapy has ended.
- Two or three weeks after the conclusion of chemotherapy treatment: For a lot of patients, this is when regrowth starts, which presents as a soft layer of fuzz appearing on the scalp. For some patients, hair loss may go on for another three–to–four weeks.
- One month after the treatment concludes: This is when true regrowth begins for most patients. The slow-growing, wispy fuzz that initially appeared after treatment ended is replaced by hair normal hair growing at a regular rate.
- Two months after the conclusion of treatment: At this point, most patients have at least one inch of growth.
Hair regrowth begins right on schedule for most Taxotere patients. However, between 6 and 15 percent of patients treated with Taxotere develop permanent baldness.
Taxotere Development and Approval
Taxotere is a taxane—a type of drug that interferes with microtubules, which inhibits cell division and in turn, blocks cell growth. The following timeline shows the development of taxanes, as well as Taxotere's approval progress.
- 1984: Phase I clinical trial of the first taxane, Taxol, begin.
- 1989: Researchers at Johns Hopkins report that 30 percent of patients with advanced ovarian cancer respond to Taxol treatment.
- 1992: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves Taxol for the treatment of ovarian cancer.
- 1996: The FDA approves Taxotere for the treatment of breast cancer.
- 1999: The FDA approves Taxotere for the treatment of locally advanced or metastatic non-small cell lung cancer.
- 2002: The FDA approves Taxotere for the treatment of unresectable (unable to be surgically removed), locally advanced, or metastatic non-small cell lung cancer
- 2004: The FDA approves Taxotere for the treatment of prostate cancer and operable node-positive breast cancer.
- 2006: The FDA approves Taxotere for the treatment of head and neck cancer, and gastric cancer.
- 2009: European regulatory agency adds “cases of permanent alopecia (hair loss) have been reported” to Taxotere's labeling.
- 2015: The FDA adds a warning to the Taxotere's box stating that is has received reports of cases of permanent alopecia.
As of June 2017, nearly 1,000 Taxotere patients have filed dangerous drug lawsuits against manufacturer Sanofi-Aventis, claiming the company was aware that the drug could cause permanent hair loss in some patients and not only failed to warn doctors and patients of the risks, but also continued to market Taxotere as a superior chemotherapy treatment.
The large number of cases was consolidated into a Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) by a U.S. Judicial Panel in 2016 and, as a result, all federal Taxotere hair loss lawsuits will be handled in Louisiana's Eastern District.
Are You Considering a Taxotere Lawsuit?
McGartland Law's experienced personal injury attorneys can help you pursue compensation for Taxotere-related permanent hair loss. Contact McGartland Law today to schedule a free initial consultation to discuss your case.