Plaintiffs pursuing Taxotere lawsuits over the chemotherapy drug’s alleged association with permanent alopecia have asked a panel of federal judges to consolidate their claims in a single U.S. District Court. In a Motion for Transfer filed with the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) on July 22nd, they assert that centralization of the federal Taxotere docket will promote judicial efficiency and preserve the resources of the courts, parties and witnesses.
Court records indicate that at least 33 Taxotere hair loss cases have been filed in 16 federal courts around the U.S. All of the complaints similarly allege that the medication is defective and unreasonably dangerous in that it causes permanent hair loss. Plaintiffs further claim that the drug’s manufacturer, Sanofi-Aventis, was aware of this potential side effect, but concealed this information and failed to provide doctors and patients with adequate warnings regarding persistent alopecia. As a result, women across the nation have suffered serious injuries, physical and mental pain and suffering, as well as economic loss.
The Motion proposes that the Taxotere multidistrict litigation be established in the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana, where five of the hair loss cases are pending. Plaintiffs assert, among other things, that centralization will allow the parties to coordinate document discovery, as well as a single set of depositions of key witnesses.
Taxotere is a chemotherapy agent that is usually administered with other cancer drugs to treat breast cancer, head and neck cancer, gastric cancer, prostate cancer and non-small cell lung cancer. Most chemotherapy drugs can cause temporary hair loss. But according to Taxotere lawsuits, a number of studies suggest that the medication is more likely to cause permanent alopecia compared to other, equally effective chemo agents. And while labeling for the drug in several other countries includes information about permanent hair loss, similar warnings were not provided to doctors and patients in the U.S. Instead, plaintiffs assert that the U.S. labels only included a “generic, vague and insufficient” warning that “hair generally grows back.”
The U.S. Food & Drug Administration initially approved Taxotere in 2006 to treat breast cancer. In December 2015, the agency ordered Sanofi to modify the Adverse Reactions section of the drug’s label to note that cases of permanent alopecia have been reported in patients treated with the drug.