April 19, 2016 — A woman from California who experienced permanent hair loss after undergoing chemotherapy with Taxotere has filed a lawsuit alleging that Sanofi-Aventis did not warn about the risk.
The lawsuit (PDF) was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California on March 14 (Case No. 4:16-cv-01251).
The plaintiff, Ami Dodson, is a woman from California who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2010. After undergoing a partial mastectomy, she met with her oncologist to discuss further treatment. After undergoing chemotherapy that included Taxotere, she suffered from disfiguring permanent alopecia.
Had she been warned about the risk of permanent baldness, she says she would have considered other chemotherapy treatments that have not been associated with the same risks. According to the complaint:
“Defendants [preyed] on one of the most vulnerable groups of individuals at the most difficult time in their lives. Defendants obtained billions of dollars in increased revenues at the expense of unwary cancer victims simply hoping to survive their condition and return to a normal life.”
She claims Sanofi-Aventis knew or should have known about the risk of permanent hair loss from Taxotere, but failed to provided adequate warnings. Warning labels were updated in both Canada (2005) and Europe (2012). It was not until December 2015 that permanent alopecia was added to labels in the United States.
In the meantime, the label reassured women that “hair generally grows back” after treatment. However, a study sponsored by Sanofi-Aventis in the 1990s found that hair loss persisted in 9.2% of women who were treated with Taxotere, Adriamycin, and Cyclophosphamide (TAC).
Taxotere, also known as docetaxel, is an anti-cancer drug that is used with other chemotherapy drugs to treat breast cancer, non-small cell lung cancer, stomach cancer, head and neck cancer, and metastatic prostate cancer.
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