A new Taxotere lawsuit has been filed in San Diego federal court on behalf of a woman who allegedly experienced permanent hair loss following treatment with the chemotherapy medication. Like similar cases currently pending in courts around the U.S, the lawsuit accuses Sanofi-Aventis of concealing information linking Taxotere to persistent hair loss.
Taxotere is approved to treat a number of cancers, including early-stage breast cancer. In fact, it is estimated that the majority of breast cancer patients will receive Taxotere as part of their treatment regimen. While temporary hair loss is a side effect of most chemo drugs, this new lawsuit claims that Taxotere is more likely to result in permanent baldness compared to alternative treatments.
The complaint asserts that as early as 2005, a study commissioned by Sanofi-Aventis indicated that patients undergoing treatment with Taxotere were more likely to suffer permanent alopecia. The lawsuit also points out that warnings about this potential side effect have been included on the drug’s labeling in Canada and Europe for several years. However, the U.S. label was only modified this past January to note that cases of permanent alopecia had been reported among some Taxotere patients. The filing also highlights a warning letter that Sanofi-Aventis received from the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) in 2009, which cited the company for making allegedly “false or misleading statements concerning unsubstantiated claims of Taxotere’s superior efficacy.”
“There were already products on the market at least as effective as Taxotere that did not subject users to the same risk of permanent alopecia, but users of Taxotere were not presented with the opportunity to make an informed choice as to whether the benefits of Taxotere were worth its associated risks,” the lawsuit states. “Defendants engaged in a pattern of deception by overstating the benefits of Taxotere as compared to other alternatives while simultaneously failing to warn of the risk of permanent alopecia.”
Court documents indicate that more than 30 Taxotere lawsuits that put forth similar hair loss allegations have been filed in courts around the U.S. Last month, a motion was entered with the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) to have all federally-filed Taxotere alopecia cases transferred to a single U.S. District Court for the purposes of coordinated pretrial proceedings. Plaintiffs who filed the motion have suggested that the multidistrict litigation be located in the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana, and assert that centralization will allow the parties to coordinate document discovery, as well as a single set of depositions of key witnesses.
The JPML will hear Oral Arguments on the matter during its September 29th Hearing Session in Washington, D.C.