More than 50 Taxotere lawsuits have been filed in federal courts on behalf of cancer patients who allegedly experienced permanent alopecia due to treatment with the chemotherapy agent. The number of such cases has nearly doubled since July, when just 33 claims were reported to be pending.
Taxotere (docetaxel) is manufactured by Sanofi Aventis. When it was introduced in 1996, the medication was indicated to treat breast cancer. Taxotere is now approved to treat several other forms of the disease, including head and neck cancer, gastric cancer, prostate cancer and non-small cell lung cancer.
All chemotherapy agents cause hair loss, though it is usually temporary. However, a growing number of Taxotere lawsuits allege that the drug is more likely to cause permanent baldness than alternative agents. Plaintiffs claim that Sanofi Aventis has long been aware of this fact, but concealed this information from patients and doctors. While the company did provide such information to individual patients and regulatory agencies overseas, it wasn’t until December 2015 that the words “permanent hair loss” or “permanent alopecia” appeared on the Taxotere label.
“As a direct result of Defendants’ failure to warn patients of the risk of disfiguring permanent alopecia in the United States, thousands of women, including Plaintiff, as well as their health care providers, were deprived of the opportunity to make an informed decision as to whether the benefits of using Taxotere over other comparable products was justified,” the complaints charge.
In July, one Taxotere plaintiff filed a Motion with the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) seeking the centralization of all federal hair loss claims in a single U.S. District Court for the purposes of coordinated pretrial proceedings. At the time, 33 Taxotere cases were pending in various federal jurisdictions.
On September 7th, two other Taxotere plaintiffs filed a Response with the JPML in support of the earlier Motion. The document noted that more than 50 permanent alopecia lawsuits involving Taxotere are now pending in 27 different U.S. District Courts.
“Transfer and coordination of the Related Actions will eliminate the risk of inconsistent rulings from various courts throughout the country, conserve limited judicial resources, reduce litigation costs for all parties, and permit the cases to proceed to trial in an efficient manner,” the response states. “There has been overwhelming support from the plaintiffs in these actions for consolidation, and even the Defendants agree that consolidation and transfer is the best course of action. With such overwhelming support from the parties, the Panel should find consolidation and transfer would be ‘for the convenience of parties.’”
The JPML is scheduled to hear Oral Arguments on this matter on September 29th, during its next Hearing Session in Washington, D.C.