Alopecia (hair loss) is a common side effect of chemotherapy, but permanent hair loss is not. The FDA has recently warned about permanent alopecia from Taxotere, a popular breast cancer drug made by Sanofi-Aventis. The drug-maker is facing a growing number of lawsuits for failing to warn about this risk.
Need a Texas Taxotere Lawyer? Collen A. Clark is a true advocate for his clients and is passionate about helping Texans that have been injured or wronged. If you or a loved one was diagnosed with alopecia, you should contact our lawyers immediately. You may be entitled to compensation by filing a lawsuit.
What is the problem?
Alopecia is the medical term for hair loss. About 65% of people undergoing chemotherapy experience alopecia. While temporary hair loss is common, permanent alopecia is not. For many cancer patients, alopecia is one of the most devastating side effects of chemotherapy. In 2010, a study found that 47% of women consider it to be the most traumatic aspect of chemotherapy and 8% would decline chemotherapy due to fears of alopecia.
Taxotere and Alopecia
Taxotere (docetaxel) is an injection chemotherapy drug that was approved in 1996 for metastatic breast cancer when other treatments have failed. It is a powerful “last-resort” medication for severe breast cancer, but also very toxic. In December 2015, the label on Taxotere was updated to include permanent alopecia. Before this update, the label reassured patients that hair loss was temporary: “Once you have completed all your treatments, hair generally grows back.”
Taxotere Alopecia Lawsuit
Sanofi-Aventis, the manufacturer of Taxotere, is accused of failing to warn about the risk of permanent alopecia. A number of patients have filed lawsuits saying they would have considered other cancer treatments it they had been provided with adequate warnings.
In 2005, Sanofi-Aventis sponsored a study known as GEICAM 9805 that found 9.2% of patients on Taxotere experienced long-term hair loss for up to a decade, and sometimes longer.
In March 2016, a Taxotere lawsuit (PDF) was filed by Erma Spann in federal court in Illinois (Case No. 1:16-cv-03038). She says Sanofi-Aventis knew or should have known about the risk of alopecia, but concealed this information:
“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. … [T]here 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 as does Taxotere.”
Other Studies of Taxotere and Alopecia
In 2006, Colorado oncologist Dr. Scott Sedlacek published a study that found 6.3% of breast cancer patients grew back less than half of their hair after being treated with Taxotere in combination with Adriamycin (docorubicin) and Cytoxan (cyclophosphamide).
In 2012, the Annals of Oncology published a study of 20 women who were diagnosed with permanent alopecia after treatment with Taxotere plus fluorouracil / epirubicin / cyclophosphamide (FEC).
In June 2011, the American Journal of Dermatology published a study involving six women with breast cancer who were diagnosed with alopecia after using Taxotere. Patients complained that scalp hair grew no longer than 10-cm, showed altered texture, and had more fibrous streamers (stelae).
Chemotherapy and Alopecia
Chemotherapy drugs attack rapidly-growing cancer cells. They also attack other rapidly-growing cells, including hair follicles. Most people undergoing chemotherapy experience alopecia all over their body during treatment, but the amount varies between mild thinning and complete baldness.
During chemotherapy, hair starts falling out within 7-10 days of the first treatment increases during the first 1-2 months. Hair usually starts growing back 3-6 months after the last treatment ends. The regrown hair may be a different color, texture, duller, or dryer. The changes are usually temporary, but sometimes hair never grows back.
Need a Taxotere Lawyer in Texas?
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