“I find it interesting that TV ads regularly show men and women lamenting their thinning hair and bald spots with various companies offering treatments and potions to restore their manes. Words like ‘embarrassed,’ ‘devastated,’ ‘humiliated’ and ‘depressed’ are used to describe their feelings,” wrote Beth* in a post on the site A Head of our Time.
“When cancer patients use these terms with regards to how they feel about their Taxotere-induced hair loss, they have been ridiculed and maligned and told they should be happy to be alive. What’s the difference? If someone who is genetically predisposed to thin hair can elicit public attention and commiseration why can’t those who unknowingly took a drug to cure a life-threatening disease and suffered the consequences?”
A Head of our Time is a worldwide organization of cancer patients (mostly women treated for breast cancer) who have banded together to share emotional support, compare medical research, and educate health care providers, specifically about the risk of a potentially disfiguring side effect of permanent baldness after Taxotere chemotherapy.
When Beth underwent chemotherapy more than a decade ago, she understood that she would likely lose her hair. But she knew that it would grow back after treatment. What she later learned is that many women who have undergone treatment with the cancer drug Taxotere suffer permanent baldness, a condition called alopecia.
Taxotere contains the active ingredient docetaxel. It is a chemotherapy drug used to treat breast cancer as well as non-small cell lung cancer, advanced stomach cancer, head and neck cancer, and metastatic prostate cancer. It is manufactured by Sanofi-Aventis.
During clinical trials to approve the drug, researchers noted that some patients never grew back their hair after treatment. Women suing Sanofi-Aventis claim that the drug company never warned the medical community or consumers of this risk until 2015, when the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) required the company to update its safety labels to warn of the possibility of permanent hair loss.
More than 2,000 lawsuits are pending in a multi district litigation in the Eastern District of Louisiana accusing Sanofi-Aventis of failing to warn the public about this disfiguring Taxotore side effect. The first bellwether trial is scheduled to begin in early 2019.
Source: A Head of our Time