Cancer survivors across the United States and Canada are now finding they are victims of drug induced permanent baldness ("alopecia") as a result of a side effect of Taxotere, a chemotherapy drug.
"I had a normal head of hair and I am now completely bald," shares Cynthia MacGregor, who has been diagnosed with alopecia universalis, as a result of Taxotere's effects. "It's devastating."
While temporary hair loss is a common chemotherapy ("chemo") side effect - permanent hair loss and baldness are not.
Victims across the U.S. are filing lawsuits to get repaid for the loss of dignity, and pain, that their hair loss has caused them. If you, or a loved one, have taken Taxotere or been a victim of permanent hair-loss because of chemotherapy, here's what you should know:
What is Taxotere?
Taxotere (docetaxel) is a cancer drug, marketed worldwide by Sanofi-Aventis, a French multinational pharmaceutical company. Taxotere was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1996 for breast cancer treatment, but is also now used to treat head, neck, gastric, prostate, and lung cancers.
The treatment plan for Taxotere is once every three weeks, unlike paclitaxel which is weekly. Since treatment is administered less frequently, Taxotere is understandably attractive to many patients.
Doctors may over-recommend Taxotere to their patients as a matter of convenience and slick corporate marketing, but numerous studies show a competing chemotherapy drug, Taxol (paclitaxel), is just as effective, may cause fewer side effect, and is less prone (as Taxotere is) to cellular drug resistance via a variety of different mechanisms. And, as a generic chemo drug, Taxol also happens to cost less.
A Harmful Taxotere Side Effect: Permanent Alopecia
Sanofi's own studies suggest 3% of cancer patients experienced persistent or permanent hair loss as a side effect of Taxotere following treatment. However, a recent study published by the National Cancer Research Institute found permanent Taxotere hair loss (i.e. "long term significant scalp alopecia") as a side effect in up to 15% of patients.
It's unclear why regulators in both Canada and Europe (in 2005) were alerted previously to the danger, but Sanofi-Aventis failed to notify the FDA until late 2015, leaving millions of American consumers uninformed and at risk.
In December 2015, the FDA issued a warning that Taxotere may induce permanent hair loss, and issued an update to the Taxotere boxed warning. Before the FDA's update, the Taxotere label stated that hair generally grows back after completing treatment.
Pushing Taxotere on U.S. Patients
In Canada, where permanent hair loss as a Taxotere side effect has been on record since 2005, oncologist Hugues Bourgeois gives patients a choice of whether to undergo more Taxol treatments with a "tiny" risk of permanent hair loss, or fewer Taxotere treatments and a heightened risk of permanent hair loss.
But many patients, particularly in the U.S., were not given this option. In fact, they were encouraged to take the drug over Taxol. In 2009, the FDA sent a letter to Sanofi warning Taxotere's marketing was "false or misleading" due to "unsubstantiated superiority claims and overstat[ing] the [drug's] efficacy."
If patients had been warned of these side effects of Taxotere, and told about the other equally effective treatment options, they may have opted for Taxol, which is also cheaper and safer than Taxotere. Unfortunately, thousands of women were not given this choice.
Permanent balding and hair loss are unnecessary and painful reminders of the difficult journey that cancer survivors have endured. Often, survivors feel embarrassed about their hair loss and frustrated that many people think they're still sick.
Patients across the country are filing class action lawsuits to hold Sanofi accountable for pushing its drug, without proper warnings, on them - leading to permanent hair loss, and harming their dignity.
Victims of Taxotere hair loss who file a successful suit against the company may be eligible to receive compensation for their pain and suffering.
Contact Our Team
If you or a loved one have been treated with Taxotere, or another chemotherapy drug, and experienced permanent hair loss or baldness as a result of treatment, you may be eligible to file a claim for the compensation that is rightfully yours.
Contact our office today for a free consultation. You can reach us online, or call us at 1-888-285-3333.