The District Court presiding over the federal Taxotere litigation has finally set a schedule for the first Taxotere trial to begin in September 2019 to determine if the manufacturer deliberately misrepresented the cancer drug’s safety and efficacy.
Currently, there are more than 12,000 lawsuits pending against Sanofi-Aventis over the company failing to warn patients, consumers and the medical community about the significant risk of permanent hair loss from Taxotere compared to other safer, less toxic and equally effective breast cancer treatments.
Cancer patients expect hair loss from chemotherapy. However, these women allege that Sanofi took advantage of them during a critically vulnerable time by providing false and misleading information that indicated hair regrows after treatment as it does with other cancer drugs. However, thinning and balding continues to remain a factor in women’s lives far after treatments are over.
Due to striking similarities in the lawsuits at the federal court level, the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) centralized the litigation to expedite the judicial process by eliminating conflicting pretrial rulings and scheduling. District Judge Jane Triche Milazzo is presiding over the multidistrict litigation (MDL) in the Eastern District of Louisiana.
Bellwether Program and First Taxotere Trial Schedule
As part of the MDL proceedings, the Court established a bellwether program. This involves the Court preparing small groups of cases for early trial dates. These “test” trials give parties in the litigation the opportunity to evaluate the relative strengths and weaknesses in their cases.
Judge Milazzo originally scheduled the bellwether trials to begin in May. However, this past month, the Court announced that delays had pushed back the start date of the first Taxotere trial to September 16. Judge Milazzo issued a Case Management Order this past week, detailing the Court’s schedule leading to that trial.
The schedule for the first Taxotere trial calls for parties to submit all supplemental briefs and motions by June 3. They also must complete a final witness list by July 3, jury questionnaire by July 12, and motions in Limine by July 16. The Court has scheduled the final pretrial order for August 23 and the final pretrial conference for August 30.
The outcomes of these bellwether trials are not binding on other claims remaining in the litigation. However, they could potentially lead to Sanofi reaching settlement agreements to resolve the litigation and circumvent the need for thousands of separate trials throughout the country.