Hair loss can be expected with many chemotherapies, with regrowth returning after treatment has stopped. But, many women who received the chemotherapy drug Taxotere for at least six months say they have been unable to grow new hair, a condition called alopecia.
Taxotere is used to treat a variety of cancers including cancer of the breast, prostate, lung, head and neck, and stomach. It contains the active ingredient Docetaxel and is a member of a family of drugs called taxanes. Taxotere works by slowing cell growth. The medication promises to shorten the length of treatment when combined with other therapies.
But at least 2,300 people in the U.S. have filed lawsuits against Sanofi Aventis, maker of Taxotere. The lawsuits claim that the company knew the drug could cause permanent hair loss but failed to warn doctors or patients in the U.S. of this risk until it was required to in 2015 by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Coincidentally, 10 years earlier, the company did warn patients outside the U.S. that use of Taxotere was linked to alopecia.
Furthermore, studies dating back to the 1990s when Taxotere was still in clinical trials showed that 9.2 percent of study participants who completed treatment with Taxotere had persistent hair loss over a 10-year period.
The lawsuits also claim that Taxotere is twice as potent as a safer and more effective treatment called Taxol, which does not have the potential for causing permanent hair loss.
The cases are consolidated into a multidistrict litigation under U.S. District Judge Kurt D. Engelhardt in the Eastern District of Louisiana. The first bellwether trial is scheduled for Sept. 24, 2018, four other trials scheduled for January, April, July and November 2019.
The Global Dispatch