A woman from La Place, Louisiana has filed a Taxotere lawsuit that accuses Sanofi-Aventis of withholding information about the drug’s potential to cause permanent alopecia. The complaint, which is currently pending in the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana, claims that the company was negligent for failing to warn patients and doctors about this potential side effect.
According to the filing, Veronica A. Smith was diagnosed with Stage 3 infiltrating ductal carcinoma of the left breast in June 2008, and subsequently underwent five rounds of Taxotere chemotherapy.
“Neither Plaintiff nor her treating healthcare providers were aware of or informed by Defendants that disfiguring permanent alopecia can occur following treatment with TAXOTERE,” the complaint states. “As a result of Defendants’ wrongful conduct, Plaintiff has continued to suffer and will suffer in the future from disfiguring permanent alopecia as a result of receiving chemotherapy with TAXOTERE”
The lawsuit alleges that Sanofi and other defendants misled the Plaintiff, the medical community, and the public to believe that, as is the case with other chemotherapy drugs that cause alopecia, patients’ hair would grow back. The complaint asserts that in 2005, Sanofi was aware of a study called GEICAM 9805, which demonstrated that 9.2% of patients treated with Taxotere experienced persistent alopecia lasting for up to 10 years and five months, and in some cases longer. A year later, a Denver-based oncologist reported that over 6% of his Taxotere patients experienced disfiguring hair loss for years after their treatment stopped.
“Defendants have chosen to withhold this information in the United States despite advising physicians, patients, and regulatory agencies in other countries including the European Union and Canada that TAXOTERE causes an increased risk of permanent disfiguring hair loss,” the lawsuit asserts. Defendants instead continued to warn or advise physicians, healthcare providers, patients, and Plaintiff in the United States only with the generic, vague, and insufficient warning that “hair generally grows back” after taking TAXOTERE.”
.Court documents indicate that at least 33 Taxotere lawsuits involving permanent alopecia have been filed in federal courts around the U.S. Last month, plaintiffs proposed that the federal docket be centralized in a multidistrict litigation and transferred to a single U.S. District Court for the purposes of coordinated pretrial proceedings. Their July 22nd Motion for Transfer asserted that centralization of all pending and future federal Taxotere hair loss claims will promote judicial efficiency and preserve the resources of the courts, parties and witnesses. The Motion also suggested the Eastern District of Louisiana as an appropriate venue for the Taxotere MDL, as five cases have already been filed in that jurisdiction.