On Nov. 17, 2016, the United States District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana’s Judge Kurt D. Engelhardt issued Pretrial Order No. 2, appointing two New Orleans attorneys as Plaintiffs’ Liaison Counsel and one as Defendants’ Liaison Counsel in the Taxotere (Docetaxel) Products Liability Multidistrict Litigation (MDL).
Taxotere is a chemotherapy drug that is used to treat many kinds of cancers including breast, lung, prostate, stomach, and head and neck cancer. The manufacturer of the drug, Sanofi SA, is accused of illegally, untruthfully marketing Taxotere as superior to similar competing drugs, while concealing from American consumers that the drug caused permanent hair loss.
The order appointed 14 attorneys from across the country to the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee. Earlier in the month Texas Lawyer reported that there were more than 40 applications filed for these lead roles in the MDL.
All appointments will serve a term lasting a little more than one year, beginning on the date of the pretrial order and lasting until Jan. 1, 2018. The court will at that time appoint or reappoint committee members, liaison counsel, and special counsel for the next one-year term from applications that were submitted no later than Nov. 15, 2017.
One of the counsel appointed to the Plaintiff’s Steering Committee spoke to Texas Lawyer about her specific concern that there be female attorneys represented in the leadership of this Taxotere MDL. Five of the 14 appointed are women, including Karen Barth-Menzies, who is co-chairwoman of the American Association for Justice’s Taxotere litigation group.
“This litigation calls out for women involvement because it is so related to women’s health and women’s-related issues,” Barth-Menzies told Texas Lawyer. Although the alleged permanent hair loss side effect applies to both men and women who used Taxotere, the issue arguably is more traumatic for women.
“Although women might accept the possibility of permanent baldness as a result of the use of Taxotere if no other product were available to treat their cancer, this was not the case,” said one plaintiff who used the drug to treat her breast cancer, according to Law360. “There were already similar products on the market that were at least as effective as Taxotere and did not subject female users to the same risk of disfiguring permanent alopecia.”