The Blackwell Law Firm is investigating claims of permanent personal injury related to the chemotherapy drug Taxotere (docetaxel). Taxotere is manufactured by Sanofi-Aventis.
Taxotere is frequently used to treat breast cancer in the United States. It is the most widely prescribed breast cancer drug in its class. Taxotere is administered intravenously. The drug works by inhibiting tubulin, a protein essential for cell division. This prevents cancer cells from growing and dividing.
A breast cancer diagnosis is devastating. Patients who require chemotherapy expect hair loss during the treatment. It is a common side effect – a temporary one. Many cancer survivors view the regrowth of their hair as part of their victory over the disease.
However, many women treated by Taxotere have suffered permanent hair loss. This permanent hair loss is a devastating injury and a constant reminder to breast cancer survivors of their struggle with the disease. This injury is more than physical. It is a devastating emotional injury. A cancer survivor who told her story in an online support group said, “The painful reality is that I will forever look like a cancer patient.”
A 2013 study by the National Cancer Research Institute found permanent hair loss (permanent alopecia) in 10-15% of the patients who took Taxotere. Ongoing investigations indicate the manufacturer Sanofi-Aventis knew the disturbing truth years earlier but chose to continue selling the drug for use in cancer patients without warning.
Women who use Taxotere did not prepare themselves for permanent hair loss. They were not warned of the risk. Without a proper warning, patients could not make an informed choice. Other drugs provide similar results without the risk of permanent hair loss. If Sanofi-Aventis had provided an honest warning, women could have made a different choice.
Read the words of one cancer survivor as reported in a British newspaper:
My oncologist prescribed me a cocktail of chemotherapy drugs, one of which, Taxotere, can cause permanent baldness in some women who have the treatment. That wasn’t explained to me fully at the time.
If I had known the side effects, would I have refused the drug? Absolutely. There is another drug, Taxol, which is as effective and the risk of permanent hair loss is negligible. Instead, today, I am almost bald.
It took me seven years to grieve my former flame-haired self. For so long, I’d go to sleep in floods of tears and wake up feeling like a freak.
In December 2015, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) updated its safety information page to include reports of permanent hair loss. Sanofi-Aventis finally updated Taxotere’s warning label. Yet, this warning comes far too late for the many cancer survivors in the United States injured by Taxotere.
Why did Sanofi-Aventis wait so long to warn patients in the United States? Why did Sanofi-Aventis wait when it knew the risk of harm years earlier? Why did Sanofi-Aventis wait when it had already warned doctors in other countries years earlier? Was Sanofi-Aventis more concerned with the huge sales of Taxotere in the United States? These are important questions the company needs to answer. Women across the United States have begun to file lawsuits seeking justice for the harm they have suffered.