August 2, 2016 — Lawyers for dozens of women who experienced permanent hair loss after using Taxotere have asked a panel of federal judges to centralize the lawsuits in a Multi-District Litigation (MDL).
On July 22, plaintiffs Veronica Smith and Kelly Gahan filed a motion (PDF) requesting the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana.
Five lawsuits are already pending in Louisiana. There are currently 33 Taxotere lawsuits pending in 16 district courts nationwide.
All of the lawsuits were filed by women who survived breast cancer but now must live without hair. Sanofi-Aventis is accused of downplaying the risk of permanent hair loss (alopecia) until December 2015, when the label was updated.
Like a class action, the MDL process improves efficiency and convenience. Unlike a class action, individual lawsuits remain independent. The advantage is that lawyers can coordinate discovery, trials, and settlements.
Lawyers say they believe thousands of lawsuits could ultimately be filed, due to the widespread use of Taxotere and the “significant percentage” of women affected.
In 2005, Sanofi-Aventis sponsored a clinical trial known as GEICAM 9805 that found 9.5% of patients who used Taxotere had persistent hair loss for up to 10 years and 5 months, and in some cases longer.
In 2006, a Denver-based oncologist found that 6.3% of patients who were given Taxotere suffered from hair loss for years. In both of those studies, Taxotere was used with other chemotherapy drugs.
Taxotere (docetaxel) is a chemotherapy drug that is primarily used in women with metastatic breast cancer, usually in combination with other chemotherapy medications. While hair loss is a common side effect of chemotherapy, permanent hair loss is not.
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