Almost everyone who undergoes chemotherapy experiences temporary baldness, but permanent baldness is uncommon. Unfortunately, Taxotere has been linked to several dozen cases of permanent baldness. The manufacturer is facing lawsuits for failing to warn about the 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 permanent baldness, you should contact our lawyers immediately. You may be entitled to compensation by filing a lawsuit.
Baldness, also known as alopecia, occurs when cancer drugs like Taxotere attack hair follicles. About half of women consider it to be the most traumatic side effect of chemotherapy.
What is the problem?
Taxotere (docetaxel) is a cancer drug that was approved by the FDA in May 1996. It is used in combination with other chemotherapy drugs to treat patients with metastatic breast cancer as a “last resort” after other treatments have failed. Because it is very powerful, Taxotere is also very toxic and comes with serious side effects.
Permanent Baldness Warnings Added to Taxotere Label
In December 2015, the FDA updated the label on Taxotere to warn that cases of permanent baldness (known as alopecia) had been reported.
Warning Signs & Symptoms
- Gradual thinning hair on top of the heard
- Circular or patchy bald spots
- Sudden loss of clumps of hair
- Full-body hair loss
- Changes in texture or color of regrown hair
Studies Linking Taxotere and Baldness
In the 1990s, Sanofi-Aventis sponsored GEICAM 9805, a study of Taxotere in combination with other drugs for the treatment of breast cancer. By 2005, researchers were aware of 49 women (9.2% of patients) who experienced permanent baldness during the 10-year follow-up period.
In 2006, a study by Dr. Scott Sedlacek of the Rocky Mountain Cancer Center estimated that 6.3% of patients who were given Taxotere plus Adriamycin (docorubicin) and Cytoxan (cyclophosphamide) — a combination known as TAC — regrew less than half of their hair.
Chemotherapy and Baldness
Chemotherapy drugs cause baldness because they target all rapidly-dividing cells, including healthy hair follicles as well as cancer cells. Hair loss usually begins within 7-10 days of starting Taxotere and increases during the first one or two months. In most cases, hair starts growing back within 3-6 months after the last treatment ends.
For some women, hair never grows back. Baldness is a devastating side effect that can negatively impact self-esteem and quality of life. It can cause painful emotional reminders of cancer. It can also cause economic impacts for patients who are too embarrassed to work.
Taxotere Baldness Lawsuits
A growing number of lawsuits have been filed by people who were injured by permanent baldness. Plaintiffs say Sanofi-Aventis knew or should have known about the risk, but chose to reassure patients that “hair generally grows back” once treatment ends. Instead, many patients have been left permanently disfigured and angry because they were never warned.
In March 2016, a lawsuit (PDF) was filed in federal court in Illinois by a woman who was diagnosed with permanent baldness. The plaintiff says she would have considered other cancer treatments had she known about the risk of permanent baldness. According to the lawsuit:
“Thousands of women were exposed to the risk of disfiguring permanent alopecia without any warning. … Defentands 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.”
Need a Taxotere Lawyer in Texas?
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